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Just For Laughs ComedyPRO Announces Its 2017 Pitch Competition Winners

July 31, 2017

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Two animated series caught the attention of the judges at the 2017 Just For Laughs pitch competition, this year composed of two separate programs — the CBC Comedy Originals Pitch Program and Stand Up ’N Pitch. In all, four projects were selected as part of this year’s competition.

The first of the two animated projects to be recognized was Diversity League: Social Justice Division from the Toronto-based comedy writing team of Christophe Davidson and Courtney Gilmour; selected as part of the CBC Comedy Originals Pitch Program.

The second project, Doug and Devi from the LA-based writing and animation team of Courtney Karwal and Natalie Young, was the winner in the From Set to Screen: TV, OTT, SVOD and More program. It tied with Angry Black Women from the LA-based creative team of Dahéli Hall and HaJ.

The final project, Hit on Me from creators Marvin Kaye and Elizabeth Whitmere, won in the Beyond the Box: Playing It Short category. The digital series concept is backed by Lauren Corber of Toronto-based LoCo Motion Pictures who has successfully produced two previous Stand Up ’N Pitch finalists — My 90-Year-Old Roommate and How to Buy a Baby.

In its inaugural year, the CBC Comedy Originals Pitch Program featured five projects — both TV and short form — from Canadian creators. The panelists led by Michelle Daly, CBC Comedy Senior Director, selected Diversity League: Social Justice Division as one of five competing projects for further development as part of CBC Digital Originals.

Diversity League: Social Justice Division tells the story of the most culturally, politically and sexually diverse crime fighting team in the universe. Co-creator Christophe Davidson is a comedian-writer who has toured throughout Canada, including appearances at the Just For Laughs Festival and JFL42. His project partner, Courtney Gilmour, is a comedian-writer and was this year’s co-winner of the ‘Homegrown’ Comics Competition.

Created by comedian-writer Courtney Karwal and animator Natalie Young, Doug and Devi centres around an unlikely partnership between two monstrous lovers: Devi, a Yeti, and Doug, a Sasquatch. Courtney Karwal studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, has written for Comedy Central, and is the co-creator of a web series called Check Your Surroundings (Funny or Die). Natalie Young has worked on several animated productions, including Bojack Horseman, Lucas Bros., Mr. Pickels, Axe Cop and Major Lazer.

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Boldly spoofing its derogatory title, Angry Black Women is a humorous, hyper-realistic tale of two black females: an actress and a writer striving against all odds in Hollywood. The series is the creation of Dahéli Hall and HaJ. Co-creator Dahéli Hall is best known as a cast member and writer on the Emmy Award-winning sketch comedy show, MADtv (Fox). HaJ is an Emmy Award-nominated and award-winning writer, performer and producer and the creator and founder of Tickles.TV. A web series version of the concept debuted at the 2016 New York Television Festival (NYTVF).

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Hit on Me is a romantic comedy about love, longing and killing people from creators Marvin Kaye and Elizabeth Whitmere. Marvin Kaye is a writer-actor-singer-director. He is the co-creator and Executive Producer of the multi-award winning series, Less Than Kind, which ran four seasons on HBO Canada. Elizabeth Whitmere is an actress-producer with multiple film and digital shorts to her credit, including the acclaimed short film This Is Not What You Had Planned.

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The winners of From Set to Screen: TV, OTT, SVOD and More will be invited to participate as “Official Artists” at the 2017 New York Television Festival in October, enjoying exclusive benefits extended only through NYTVF Connect.

Winners of Beyond The Box: Playing It Short will receive a complimentary one-year membership to the IAWTV as well as tickets to attend the next IAWTV Awards. The winners will also receive a free trip (flight, hotel and festival pass) to the 2018 edition of the Just For Laughs Festival.

From Set to Screen: TV, OTT, SVOD and More was presented by Project 10 Productions in conjunction with the New York Television Festival (NYTVF).

The judging panel for From Set to Screen included Bill Lundy, Production Executive: Comedy for Bell Media; Colin Davis, Senior Director of Original Programming for TBS; Monika Zielinska, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and Development West Coast for Comedy Central; and Rob Gati, a comedy executive in Hulu’s Original Programming department. Moderator was Andrew Barnsley, President and Executive Producer at Project 10 Productions where he is currently the Executive Producer on Schitt’s Creek.

Beyond the Box: Playing It Short was presented by Some Spider Studios in conjunction with the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV).

The judging panel for Beyond the Box included Josh Poole, VP of Development for Above Average; Laura Schwartz, Manager of Development at New Form Digital; Peter Putka, Executive Producer of Content Development & Production at Some Spider Studios; Spencer Griffin, Executive Producer and Senior Vice President of Big Breakfast; and Zoe Friedman, Head of Comedy Development for Blue Ribbon Content. Moderator for this year’s Beyond the Box pitch program was Sandra Payne, an award-winning writer/director/producer and the Vice Chairman of the International Academy of Web Television, a division of The Caucus.

Finalists were selected from over 200 submissions received. Submissions for the 2018 edition of Stand Up ’N Pitch open early March 2018.

About ComedyPRO:
Just For Laughs ComedyPRO is a unique, annual global gathering of the biggest players in the comedy industry. The event takes place during the peak industry/media/performer dates of the Just For Laughs Festival. You simply cannot get any closer than this to the people who truly make comedy happen! Registrants for this one-of-a-kind, four-day industry experience gain exclusive access to some of the most sought-after events in all of comedy, including keynotes, panels, ‘In Conversation’ sessions, industry luncheons, cocktail parties, and exclusive live performances from comedy’s buzziest podcast hosts.

About the Just For Laughs Group:
Founded in 1983, the Just For Laughs Group has had but one goal in its 30-plus years of operation: make people happy. To achieve this goal, the Just For Laughs Group has focused on four major products: festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney; television production including Gags seen in over 130 countries and on over 75 airlines and stand-up specials; live shows, such as Canadian tour dates for Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan and the Just For Laughs Comedy Tour; and talent management. The Just For Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival is the world’s largest and most prestigious comedy event welcoming on average 1.35 million visitors to Montreal each summer and generating approximately $80 million for the city’s economy. The Group has offices in Montreal, Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto, London and are all connected to each other via the Internet.

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