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Programming Profile

ComediHa! offers a barrel of laughs


With cheering programming in high demand these days, comedy content provider ComediHa! is looking to lift spirits around the world, as its playlist on C21 Digital Screenings this week shows.


Those used to pacing up and down the floors of the Palais des Festival in Cannes during MipTV and Mipcom over the years will be familiar with the large video screens that face them as they leave after a busy day.


One of these in recent years has been rented out by Quebec City-based company ComediHa!, which specialises in creating comedic content for the live entertainment, television and online markets.


Viviane Rheault, ComediHa!

Speaking from Montreal, Viviane Rheault, who recently joined the company in the newly created position of distribution director, sales and acquisitions, says the recent Mipcom Online+ highlighted the continuing demand for comedy content in 2020.


Reporting to VP of marketing and business affairs Alexandre Avon, Rheault has joined to spearhead the international exploitation of ComediHa!’s catalogue of readymade programmes and comedy formats across genres such as sketch comedy, dramedy, scripted and factual. “Comedy is always relevant during difficult times, so we feel extremely fortunate to specialise in it,” she says.


The company’s slate is led by flagship series LOL ComediHa! (154×30′), which is made up of non-verbal sketches, many of which have been shown on the aforementioned video screens in Cannes as a way to direct delegates to the producer/distributor.


Filmed in locations such as Cuba, Las Vegas, Morocco, Greece, Switzerland and Mexico, the clips centre on incompetent nuclear engineers, remorseless ambulance drivers, impatient chefs and unlucky parachutists, with the show’s 11th season recently finishing post-production and ready for airing in early 2021.


LOL ComediHa!
LOL ComediHa!

Some broadcasters have been chopping up the episodes and scheduling a short hit of sketches before or after the evening news as a way to sweeten the bitter pill that is 2020 with some light relief.


The Phoenix (6×60′), meanwhile, is a new scripted dramedy, which Rheault describes as a female buddy comedy addressing the universal themes of grief, friendship, parenthood and personal growth.


It follows two best friends who leave everything behind to dispose of one woman’s late husband’s ashes and is ideal for escapist viewing, adds Rheault, showcasing the eye-catching landscape of eastern Canada.


The Phoenix
The Phoenix

Another show available as both a readymade and a format is scripted comedy Anyway (30×30′), about the loving but stormy relationship between a mother and her two adult children.


She joins them in the big city where her return sows emotional chaos in the children’s lives. Rheault says the show has been well received in French-speaking Canada, where it has been airing on TVA for three seasons.


The latter two series were acquired by ComediHa! as part of a multi-series distribution deal with Montreal-based Productions Casablanca, alongside dark comedy Writer’s Block (22×60′), scripted series The Invincibles (35×60′) and web comedy The Elevator (35×5′).


Writer's Block
Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block follows two TV showrunners at the end of their rope who, after the resounding failure of their implausible procedural series, decide to get some authentic criminal experience to spice up their second season.


The Invincibles, which has been sold as a format and adapted by Arte in Europe, follows four friends on the cusp of turning 30 who throw caution and maturity to the wind and decide to take a break from everyday life before it’s too late.


Shortform series The Elevator, meanwhile, follows a man aiming to get his dues from his former job after being fired as he encounters an array of exasperating and irritating people who test his patience to the limit.


Vintage Curves of Cuba
Vintage Curves of Cuba

ComediHa! also deals in light-hearted factual content, with documentary series Vintage Curves of Cuba (10×30′) following two automobile fanatics through Cuba’s sun and culture on a historic car journey.


Their quest often strays away from their original goals, but the adventures they dive into and the personalities they meet are as flashy as the cars they seek, bringing Cuba’s creative ingenuity and history to life, says Rheault.


The company is also shopping the live performance special Angèle Dubeau & La Pieta (1×75′), which features Canadian violin virtuoso Angèle Dubeau. The only title outside of the company’s niche.


Hammer Ed: Screwy Plans
Hammer Ed: Screwy Plans

On the other end of the spectrum is screwball comedy Hammer Ed: Screwy Plans (10×30′), which Rheault describes it as “completely over the top.” It parodies classic renovation shows and tutorials by featuring hilarious off-beat DIY advice served up by an eccentric personality.


Rounding off the slate are scripted series Line Up (26×30′) and The Boys (73×30′), while Rheault emphasises the company is on the hunt for more comedy programming to add to its catalogue.


Dealing with universal themes, Line Up follows two multi-generational families waiting in line – a simple backdrop that allows us to see how they get along or, more accurately, don’t.


The Boys
The Boys

Finally, The Boys, which originally aired between 2007 and 2012 on Radio-Canada, is one of the biggest French-Canadian TV franchises of all time and comes with five standalone movies and five series (73×30’).


A comedy about life, love and sports, it centres on the friendship of a group of people from different walks of life who play ice hockey together once a week.


Rheault points out the format could be tweaked to feature any other sport and still be as successful as the series addresses the ups and downs of everyday life portrayed by fun and endearing characters.