Spotlight on LGBTQ+ community at Just for Laughs Festival

Artists say festival promoted diversity and inclusivity, making it enjoyable for them

Witch Prophet singing at the annual Just For Laughs Toronto Festival.
Witch Prophet sings at the annual Just For Laughs Toronto Festival. (Madiha Karim/Toronto Observer) 

The LGBTQ+ community took over the annual Just for Laughs Toronto Festival on Sept. 24, as the day was sponsored by Pride Toronto.

Just for Laughs is the largest international comedy festival in the world. It started 40 years ago in Montreal, and this was the 11th year the festival took place in Toronto.

The festival ran Sept. 21–30, featuring more than 350 artists and 186,000 fans attending it.

From Sept. 22 to 24 the street festival was held at the Beneva Stage at Front Street East and Scott Street.

Many talented artists were featured in the event and made the show inclusive for all groups and ages.

Teeno, Witch Prophet, Tynomi Banks and Gay Jesus were some of the artists that performed at the free festival. The show ended with a performance from the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 5, Jinkx Monsoon.

Nino Brown on the left and Young Teesh on the right, perform the DJing on Beneva Stage. (Madiha Karim/Toronto Observer)

“When we see an institution like this trying to be inclusive, you know, it has to start from somewhere. So we’re down to support and down to be part of it,” said Nino Brown from Teeno.

Tynomi Banks, a Canadian drag queen, performs on stage.(Madiha Karim/Toronto Observer)

Just For Laughs mission is to be supportive of all artists and performers. They try to represent all communities to reach a wider audience and have diversity.

The 2022 festival was a huge success compared to the last pre-pandemic edition, organizers said. The number of artists and shows increased by 93 per cent and festival patrons by 86 per cent.

This year’s festival was even bigger.

Their team worked hard to have shows for everyone and tried to have representations of the LGBTQ community throughout the festival, according to organizers.

“We’re all about diversity, inclusivity and the stuff that we put on. So this stage in particular that we were asked to do kind of really is promoting that,” Brown said.

The crowd and environment were supportive of all performances, performers found.

“A lot of people come here with good energy, a light heart and are ready to have a good time,” said Bonnie Jordan, working for Ellevents hired by Just for Laughs.

There were also other things to do throughout the festival and a variety of food choices to pick from.

“This weekend is the free section where you can come to the ticketed area or you can also watch free live music sometimes during the day,” Jordan said. “There’s kids’ stuff, games and food trucks. At the near end of the night, there’s a headliner.”

A variety of food trucks provided food to eat at the festival.(Madiha Karim/Toronto Observer)

Supreme Poutine, Caffeine Cruiser and Rancho Relaxo were some of the food trucks at the festival.

Local restaurants also took reservations for indoor and patio dining throughout the weekend. Biff’s Bistro, Fresh On Front and The Sultan’s Tent & Café Moroc were some of the eateries that participated.

“I think that’s a really good place for it here in Toronto. Everybody’s welcome, so it’s been a good one to share,” said Georgia Pattison, a volunteer at the Just For Laughs Festival.

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Posted: Oct 7 2023 11:50 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News