by Tyler Lecceadone
Gilda’s LaughFest today announced that this years Signature Event will celebrate the festivals fifth year, and five years of smiles in West Michigan, with a lineup of returning LaughFest comedians coming together for the first time ever. Additionally, LaughFest has announced the remaining acts for the 2015 Festival, which runs from March 5 to 15.
The Signature Event will take place on Tuesday, March 10 at DeVos place and will be hosted by Michael Kosta, the winner of LaughFest’s 2011 stand-up competition. The event will feature headlining acts from LaughFest’s past years including Jim Breuer, Kathleen Madigan, Sinbad and Justin Willman. Additional LaughFest acts announced today include Cristela Alonzo, Orny Adams, Hen Sapp, Improv Cinema and Dont We Boys with Dubalicous.
“This is our fifth festival and Signature Event, so to celebrate those five years of smiles and Gilda Radner’s legacy of laughter, along with the fifteen year anniversary of Gildas Club Grand Rapids, were bringing back some of LaughFests most talked about acts to our Signature Event,” said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and LaughFest.
”These performers will come together for an amazing evening of laughter and entertainment while supporting the mission of Gildas Club.”
Breuer was named one of Comedy Centrals 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time, and is known for his charismatic stage antics, dead-on impressions, and family-friendly stand-up. Following three years on Saturday Night Live, Breuer also appeared in several television shows and movies, including Zookeeper, Late Night with Conan OBrien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He currently hosts, Friends with Breuer, a weekly Sirius/XM Radio show.
”I’ve always been aware of the way that Gilda paved the way for female comics”, said Breuer. ”She left such a lasting impression on the comedy industry and SNL fans. While she left us way too soon, her legacy lives on through the incredible work of Gildas Club. I had a great time at LaughFest in 2013 and cant wait to get back to Grand Rapids to be a part of this amazing event.”
Winner of the American Comedy and Phyllis Diller awards for Best Female Comedian, Madigan has a successful comedy career that spans 25 years. She has appeared with late night performers Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan OBrien and Craig Ferguson. Her third hour-long special, Madigan Again, was named one of the best comedy albums of 2013 by iTunes.
“I was really happy to hear that I was invited back to Gilda’s LaughFest in Grand Rapids,” said Madigan. “I did it in 2011 and was blown away with this relatively small city that just blew the doors off of how to do a festival. I’ve been correctly quoted that’s it’s the best festival in the country right now. No politics, just all funny people. I was a big Gilda Radner fan and paying tribute to her with a great festival is perfect. And, from performing in Michigan for 25 years, it’s hard to find better crowds. I’m coming early to watch other comics. Can’t wait!”
A two-time LaughFest veteran and Michigan native, Sinbad is also internationally known for his movie roles including Planes, Jingle All the Way, Houseguest and Necessary Roughness. He also appeared in five of his own HBO comedy specials, his annual HBO music concert series, and has found great success with his two Comedy Central specials, 2010s Where U Been and 2014s Make Me Wanna Holla.
Willman is a magician, comedian and TV personality. He is a frequent guest on the Tonight Show, Ellen and Chelsea Lately. He also hosts hits shows Cupcake Wars, and Win, Lose or Draw. The Los Angeles Times dubbed him, a new breed of magician whos making magic cool again for grown-ups. Time Out says his live show has to be seen to be disbelieved.
Kosta, a Michigan native, is currently the resident clown on Fox Sports 1s flagship series Crowd Goes Wild. There, Kosta and Regis Philbin lead a panel of sports experts in a lighthearted look at the world of sports. He has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Chelsea Lately and Conan. He also starred in his own special on Comedy Central, and can currently be seen as a correspondent for E!s The Soup Investigates.
”What Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids has done is truly amazing,” said Kosta. “To have a festival of this caliber in my home state makes me so proud, and I was honored to be the winner of the inaugural year’s stand-up comedy competition.
“When I was here for LaughFest, I had the opportunity to tour Gilda’s Club and learn more about the important work they are doing for people living with cancer and grief, and I’m so proud to be associated with it. I’ve been trying to get back to the festival for years. I’m glad they finally invited me back to be part of such a special event!”
Signature Event tickets are currently available for purchase. Table sponsorships are available for $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 for tables of 10. Individual tickets are available for $250. $100 of the individual ticket cost is tax deductible.
In addition to the Signature Event performers, LaughFest also announced the final five shows for the 2015 festival. Tickets for these shows are on sale now.
- Cristela Alonzo will perform on March 7 at Wealthy Theater. She has topped several comedy lists in the past year, including Variety’s Top 10 Comics to Watch, Top 10 Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014 by L.A. Weekly, Cosmo Latinas 8 Women You Should be Following on Twitter, Time Out’s Comics to Watch, Cosmos 13 Female Comedians to Watch For in 2014, and One of the 50 Comedians You Should and WILL Know by Vulture.com
- On March 11, Orny Adams will perform at GVSUs Kirkhof Center in conjunction with Spotlight Productions. Adams rose to prominence after co-starring in Jerry Seinfelds documentary Comedian. Named by The Hollywood Reporter as a favorite comedian to watch, he has made several appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman.
- On March 13, Grand Rapids native and comedian Hen Sapp will host A Night of Skittles at Kentwood Community Church. This event will feature Sapp and his special guests, Vyck Cooley, Gilbert Esquivel, Tyreece Guyton and Lisa Mills, for a night of comedy, music, and more!
- On March 13, Compass College will host Improv at the Movies with special guests Lethal Action Force. Improv at the Movies features a team of comedic artists, from West Michigan, updating a famously bad film in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Comics will improvise new dialog and sound effects as films are projected live on the screen, playing off the sometimes bad plot lines and poor acting. Following the movie, improv group Lethal Action Force will perform an improv show influenced by action movies from the 1980s and 1990s.
- Dont We Boys with Dubalicous will perform on March 14 at Compass College. Dont We Boys is a fast-paced sketch comedy show that has received positive reviews at comedy festivals across the country. This show is similar in tone to Comedy Centrals Key & Peele. Dubalicous combines the thrill of long form improv with hilarity of dubbing. Troupe members Lauren Bickers and Cara Trautman met during their first term at Second City Detroit many, many years ago.
Entertainers previously announced for LaughFest 2015 include: George Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Billy Gardell, Patton Oswalt, Bo Burnham, Pete Holmes, Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood, Lavell Crawford, Jerrod Carmichael, Brian Posehn, Costaki Economopoulos, Big Jay Oakerson with Ben Roy, Jim Jefferies, Ryan Hamilton, and Nick Thune and Brody Stevens.
LaughFest 2015 will include more than 200 free and ticketed shows featuring over 100 artists at more than 40 venues in Grand Rapids, Lowell and Holland during the 10 days of the festival.
Individual tickets are priced from $7 to $70, excluding the Signature Event. All shows are on-sale now, and tickets can be purchased at the Van Andel Arena Box Office or at Ticketmaster outlets, or LaughFest Central, when it opens in mid-February, through the closing day of LaughFest.
Gilda’s LaughFest was created by a team at Gildas Club Grand Rapids in 2011. Since inception, LaughFest has averaged 55,000 attendees per year. 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.