Founder of Just For Laughs, Television Personality and Quebec Tourism Industry Icon
Gilbert Rozon is a creative and passionate entrepreneur, recognized for his boldness and vision. He has contributed in positioning Montréal as an international cultural, recreational and touristic capital. His path, which is paved with accolades and successes, is closely related to the Festival that he founded.
When Gilbert Rozon realized that most major art forms had their own international festivals, except comedy, he set out to change that. The Montreal-born founding president of the Just For Laughs/Juste Pour Rire Group started his career in events management in 1980, creating a celebratory festival (la Grande Virée) for the town of Lachute, QC., which attracted 60,000 people in its inaugural year. Prior to la Grande Virée, he’d explored careers in just about everything, from law to real estate and even as a gravedigger, but he eventually found his calling in comedy. Just For Laughs made its debut in 1983 and is today among the most important cultural and touristic events in Canada and is the biggest comedy event in the world, attracting more than 1.25 million visitors every summer. The event has an annual economic impact of nearly 100 million dollars in Montréal.
Rozon has since grown his comedy empire to include festivals in Toronto, Chicago and Paris, TV series such as Just for Laughs Gags and Funny as Hell, live shows featuring the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K., and talent management. Over the past thirty years, he has presented some of the most famous French and English comedians: Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Drew Carey, Jay Leno, John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Jean--‐Marc Parent, Stéphane Rousseau, Lise Dion, Yvon Deschamps, Franck Dubosc, Gad Elmaleh, Roland Magdane, Fabrice Luchini and Pierre Richard are only some of the great artists who have been presented by the Festival.
Gilbert Rozon involved himself in all the facets of the comedy industry: discovering new talent and artist management, producing comedy shows and festivals and an annual comedy conference and market for the industry producing and distributing television shows, founding and operating offices in Paris, Los Angeles and London, as well as today, the Just For Laughs Festivals are held annually in Montréal, Toronto, Chicago and Sydney.
At the heart of Gilbert Rozon’s entrepreneurial commitment, the economic and touristic repercussions of which are undeniable, is his passion and love for Montréal, a city which has had a deep significance for him and what he cherishes. For Gilbert Rozon, this confluence of two cultures and languages, which is becoming more diversified, is the very example of “the creation of the modern world.” He passionately loves his city and every time that Just for Laughs shines throughout the world, it is Montréal, worldwide cultural capital, and its recreational and touristic activities that benefits.
Gilbert Rozon is a member of Boards of Directors for the RÉMI, Festivals and Major Events Canada, Montréal Festimania, Chambre de Commerce du Montréal Métropolitain (Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal), École Nationale de l’Humour (National School of Humour) and Fondation de la Maison du Père (La Maison du Père Foundation). He is also actively involved with the Montreal Festivals Collective.
In 2010, Québec’s Minister of Tourism, Mme Nicole Ménard asked Gilbert Rozon to preside the Comité performance de l’industrie touristique du Québec (Performance Committee of the Québec Tourism Industry), which presented its report at the Tourism Convention on May 30, 2011. Formed by twelve leaders of the industry, members of academia and industry consultants, this committee had the mandate of proposing a 2012--‐2020 vision to position tourism as a generator of economic development, to harness a larger share of the international growth and face increased competition with a regional development perspective. Through his involvement, Gilbert Rozon contributed to important budget measures pertaining to tourism development announced in the 2012--‐2013 Budget of the Québec government. He currently presides over the Tourism Steering Committee, which participates in the Minister’s Strategic Table.