With the festival just one month away, Gilda's LaughFest announced the eighth annual event will offer more than 100 free events, including LAUGHsketball, the first annual LaughFest basketball game, and returning events such as People & Pets.
Comedians will take on local celebrities in LAUGHsketball, LaughFest's family-friendly game of basketball, Tuesday, March 13. Doors will open at 5:30. The game will begin at 6 p.m. at DeltaPlex Grand Rapids. LAUGHsketball will feature activities for all ages, including a chicken toss, silent auctions, mascots and some seriously special guests.
People & Pets will be returning for LaughFest this year on March 18. Participants are encouraged to bring their furry (or not so furry) friends to the Grand Rapids Community College Ford Fieldhouse from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate how funny pets can be. There will be contests for best costume, best pet trick, best look-a-like and most unique pet. Winners in each category will receive a trophy and a prize bag filled with goodies. Registration for contests will be from 11 a.m. to noon, and contests will start at 12:30 p.m.
People & Pets will also feature vendor tables, a photo booth, giveaways, entertainment and activities such as paw print painting, bandana embroidery, a silent auction and nail clippings. LaughFest is accepting vendors for the People & Pets event. Registrations are due Wednesday, March 7. Those interested may register on laughfestgr.org.
Produced by the Emmy award winning company, Fubble Entertainment, six West Michigan performers will come together for a Women in Comedy Panel on March 13. The performers will talk about their comedy idols, share stories about how they got started in comedy and muse about today's industry trends. Women in Comedy will be hosted by Patrick Ziegler, producer and The Artist's Way educator.
Also in partnership with Fubble Entertainment, LaughFest will present "Lighten Up! A comedic writing approach to life's tough stuff" on March 11 at 4 p.m. As part of the LaughteRx series presented by Comfort Research, this Fountain Street Church event will focus on the emotional health benefits of laughter.
"What's So Funny? Black Comedians and Social Change," is an exhibition that will be open to the public every day during LaughFest, March 8–18 from noon to 5 p.m. in the Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives. This exhibition will trace history surrounding the emergence of the African American comic with special interest in the "stand-up" routine. Books, photos, posters and artifacts that document the early beginning of comedy in the African American community up to present day comedians will be featured, as well as the changing of routines from universally funny jokes in the 1950s to a more biting humor focused on civil rights and social issues in the 1960s and '70s.
"Tonight Tonight," Grand Rapids' only late-night talk show hosted by local comedian Stu McCallister, will be held March 12 at 8 p.m. in the Holiday Bar. Inspired by David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Grand Rapids-based talent, "Tonight Tonight" is a live show for individuals ages 21 and up including a monologue, sketches and guest interviews.
For the full lineup of free events visit laughfestgr.org.
LaughFest 2018 will include more than 150 free and ticketed shows featuring over 100 artists at more than 40 venues in West Michigan. LaughFest individual tickets are available for purchase at laughfestgr.org, or over the phone at 1-800-745-3000. Proceeds from the festival will go to support the free cancer, grief and emotional health programs offered through Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.