Gilda’s LaughFest, the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, has announced its selection of artists performing at the 2016 10-day festival, which runs March 10-20.
The formal announcement for the sixth annual festival is happening this evening at 7:30 pm at the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Cook Auditorium and is free and open to the public. So, read about it here, and then hie thee down to GRAM and schmooze to your heart’s content.
So, what’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, for starters, last year, 45,000 people attended LaughFest. So, yeah, it’s a huge deal.
This time around, Seth Meyers, an Emmy Award-winning writer and former Saturday Night Live cast member, who currently hosts NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers headlines the Signature Event on March 12 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.
Two-time Emmy and Grammy Award-winning comedian, writer, producer and television personality, Kathy Griffin is also headlining the event. And then there’s Marlon Wayans, an actor, producer, comedian, writer, and film director–who will be starring in the upcoming comedy spoof Fifty Shades of Black.
Could these people be any more multi-talented? OK, stupid question.
We could just list them all here, but where’s the fun in that when you can go directly to the website and see photos of the funny people. While they are all worth mentioning here, cash is king and anytime we see a cash prize listed, we write about it.
The Best of the Midwest Competition, underwritten by Wolverine Worldwide, will feature eight Midwestern comics battling for a $2,500 cash prize. Competitors are Sydney Adeniyi, Chris Bowers, Kate Brindle, Jim Flannigan, Rob Jenkins, Chris Knutson, Paul Strickland, and Russ Williamson.
New this year, LaughFest is collaborating with DisArt to bring in recent runner up on America’s Got Talent, Drew Lynch. DisArt, a nonprofit arts and culture organization based in Grand Rapids, works to promote community growth by leveraging the best examples of contemporary, Global Disability Arts. Their 2015 DisArt Festival was one of the largest festivals of its kind, bringing in talented visual artists and performers from several different countries.
LaughFest 2016 will include more than 200 free and ticketed shows featuring over 100 artists at more than 40 venues in Grand Rapids and Lowell, Michigan during the 10 days of the festival. Ticket packages start at $32 and will be available to the public beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 4 online or by phone at (616) 735-HAHA (4242).
Tickets for Meyers’ performance during the Signature Event are currently available for purchase.
Hey! Want a table sponsorship? Several are available for $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 for tables of 10. Individual tickets are available for $250 (and $100 of the individual ticket cost is tax deductible).
During LaughFest, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids will again raise funds to support its children’s programs through the “High Five” campaign. Money raised through this campaign will go towards children living with cancer or grief, and for in-school emotional health programs. Want to donate to the “High Five” campaign? Just purchase a button for a $5 donation at participating restaurants and business in West Michigan, or through the LaughFest website.
Individual tickets are priced from $7 to $57.50, excluding the Signature Event. These will be available beginning Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 at the Van Andel Arena Box Office, Ticketmaster outlets, LaughFest Central, when it opens in mid-February, through the closing day of LaughFest, and at ticketmaster.com.
Gilda’s LaughFest was created by a team at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids in 2011 to celebrate laughter for the health of it. Past LaughFest headliners have included George Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Billy Gardell, Jay Leno, Lily Tomlin, Mike Birbiglia, Margaret Cho, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg, Rodney Carrington, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon, Wayne Brady, Joel McHale, Lewis Black and Brian Regan.
Proceeds from the festival will go to support the free cancer, grief and emotional health programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Visit laughfestgr.org, or call 616-735-HAHA (4242) to learn more about Gilda’s LaughFest.
About Gilda’s Club
Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is a free emotional health support community of children, adults, families and friends on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death due to any cause. The organization runs entirely on charitable donations and currently serves more than 10,000 individuals each year at its clubhouses in Grand Rapids and Lowell, Mich., in various schools and community centers. For more information, visit their website.