The Just for Laughs and ComediHa! used different procedures to compensate for the absence of spectators in their televised comedy galas, pandemic obliges. While the first added audiences digitally, the second chose to hire around fifty extras to play the spectators.
At the end of September, the announcement fell: due to the pandemic, the Legault government decided to close the theaters for a period of at least 28 days. For Just for Laughs, this news couldn’t come at a worse time, as the festival had eight carte blanche evenings on the schedule for the following days.
Because it “had to save the boat”, the organization decided to film the shows in an empty hall and then used a technological process to digitally add the audience. It was Pierre-Luc Gosselin (Les Satiriques) who was responsible for adding the spectators, with archival images, to give the illusion of a full St-Denis Theater.
“What people see on the screen [sur les ondes de Noovo], it’s the audience of 2019 with the jokes of 2020! », Laughs the director of Just for Laughs TV, Jonathan Racine.
At ComediHa !, after postponing the recording of galas for several months, hoping that the situation would improve with the pandemic, we had the idea of hiring between 50 and 70 extras for the shootings, which took place in the last days at the Capitole de Québec.
According to the measures of Public Health, the extras were masked and placed with distance in the room. “It was important for comedians to have a direct response to the jokes,” said Narimane Doumandji, vice-president of business development for ComediHa !. And for the broadcast of the galas on TV, we will emphasize [l’ambiance] with laughter from past editions. ”
For comedian Phil Roy, who participated in both festivals, the experience was very different from past years. At Just for Laughs, he notably hosted two galas with Pier-Luc Funk in a completely empty St-Denis Theater.
” After each joke, it was hard to hear the sound of the robot camera walking around, he said. I thought it turned a gala day into a very long day of filming. “
“I put myself in the place of the comedians for which it was the first gala,” he continues. It’s such a big moment, in addition to adding the “no audience” factor to it. I was wrong for them. So backstage, we laughed loudly, very loudly, to encourage each other. “
The comedian is however “surprised and happy” with the editing that Just for Laughs has made. “It comes out so well! I was a little scared at first when they talked about digital additions of people. “
► The Just for Laughs carte blanche evenings will be broadcast every Wednesday until March 3, at 8 p.m., on Noovo. The ComediHa galas! will be presented from February 5, at 9 p.m., on ICI Télé.