JFL42 or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Laugh

A few months ago, a Facebook friend was looking for someone to join her for the Louis CK show. I clicked on the link and bought a ticket, not because I'm a huge Louis fan, but rather because the concert performance show (what do you call it?) was part of a festival that revolved almost entirely around social media (go, go, work-related tax deduction!) JFL42 marked what I would like to call the triumphant return of the Just For Laughs (Ooooh! That's what JFL stand for!) in Toronto. Basically, by buying a ticket to Louis CK, you got credits that you could use to get tickets to any one of the other 40-something acts included in the festival.

And here's where the social media comes in: in the beginning, none of the other acts were confirmed. You first had to "show an interest" in the performer and, once a certain number of people applied, the festival would confirm the performer and his or her venue. You'd then get an email telling you to go reserve your spot. If lots of people reserved, a performer might get bumped to a bigger venue or get additional shows based on demand.

Most people would then link their pass to their Facebook account, letting others know what they were attending and giving JFL42 some free advertising to boot.

Once the festival was up and running, you could then "check in" to an event on your smartphone and get your credits back, which could then be used for more performances.

You were also encouraged to take photos and tag them on Twitter & Instagram using #JFL42.

Todd Barry's wonderfully funny jokes about the credit system aside, I thought the whole thing was awesome and worked out pretty darn brilliantly for a first time out of the gate. It's like they created a whole festival just for me and my social media geekery!

I won't get into the individual performances (though you can check out my pal Sharilyn's Third Beat Magazine for some great coverage), but I will say that I had an absolute blast, especially since I didn't even know most of the performers to begin with.

I saw Patton Oswalt, Amy Schumer, the incredibly hilarious Fringe hit Pomme is French for Apple, Todd Barry, Todd Glass, Mark Little, Andy Kindler, K Trevor Wilson, the Nerdist Podcast, and, of course, Louis CK (whom I had the pleasure of seeing twice, once from the fourth row of the Comedy Bar when he showed up for a surprise set during Andy Kindler's Alternative Show!)

All that said, my point in going to this festival was to observe how social media could be used not only in the promotion, but in the creation of an event. I'd love to be a fly on the wall during the JFL42 debrief and I am curious to see what they are going to come up with next year. After all, this year's festival rested solely on Louis CK's shoulders. Can they fins someone else who would be as much of a draw, selling out a 3000 seat theatre 4 times over? Whatever they decide to do, I hope that a full schedule grid is part of the plan, because figuring out what you could see, when and at what time was a huge pain.

My head is also buzzing with opportunities right now for all the little indie productions out there. I think there is a lot to be learned from JFL42. Could getting people to "show an interest" ahead of time lead to better venue selections? Or will it just become another Facebook "maybe"?

I don't have an answer yet, but I am excited for the possibilities.