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NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Montreal's annual Just For Laughs comedy festival is expanding to the United States by partnering with cable channel TBS for a five-day event that will kick off in Chicago in summer 2009.
The Montreal version, which attracts top comics from around the world, celebrated its 25th anniversary this past summer.
"It is very important for us to build our presence outside our well-established Montreal event," Just For Laughs chief operating officer Bruce Hills said. "We have a presence via our TV shows in many countries and have now moved to Toronto and Chicago" to reach audiences there via live events.
However, he emphasized that Chicago will see a festival that is in sync with that market's sensitivity and taste.
The Chicago Just For Laughs will include a TBS special to be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, a series of stand-up shows by top names; improv and sketch shows, including a collaboration with the famed Second City comedy troupe in the Windy City; Latino and urban comedy specials; and a film component.
TBS, which is replacing corporate sibling HBO as Time Warner's comedy festival specialist, also said it will put on the fourth annual Comedy Festival in Las Vegas in November. Promoter AEG Live will again serve as partner. The event had been organized by AEG and HBO, with TBS serving as title sponsor. DeGeneres is also on board.