Earlier this month, the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, announced the first round of talent and shows for the festival’s eighth year, slated for March 8–18, 2018. Headliners included Trevor Noah, performing during Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids Signature Event, Tiffany Haddish and returning LaughFest veterans Maria Bamford and Cameron Esposito, among other diverse artists including some festival newcomers and other returning favorites. The artists revealed are in addition to the previously announced “Weird Al” Yankovic event happening in partnership with Live Nation and 20 Monroe Live, and the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Second City’s Guide to the Symphony.
This year’s Signature Event will be held Saturday, March 10 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Signature Event features Trevor Noah, host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, which has been nominated for a Writers Guild Award. In addition to Noah, other headliners announced include Haddish, who recently starred in Universal’s “Girls Trip” alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall, and in August, debuted her comedy special for Showtime titled, “Tiffany Haddish: SHE READY! From the Hood to Hollywood”; as well as returning artists Bamford and Esposito. Bamford is the creator and star of “Maria Bamford: the special special special” and of the cult hit web series “The Maria Bamford Show.” Esposito hosts her own weekly stand-up show at the famed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles and is the co-creator and co-star of GLAAD award nominated “TAKE MY WIFE.” Other returning LaughFest veterans include Anjelah Johnson, who has guest starred on shows such as “The Shield,” “Ugly Betty” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; and Bert Kreischer, host of the Travel Channel’s “Trip Flip” and “Bert the Conqueror.” New to LaughFest and headlining this year is Greg Hahn, who has appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Comedy Central, MTV and CMT.
Other returning LaughFest veterans include Anjelah Johnson, who has guest starred on shows such as “The Shield,” “Ugly Betty” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; and Bert Kreischer, host of the Travel Channel’s “Trip Flip” and “Bert the Conqueror.” New to LaughFest and headlining this year is Greg Hahn, who has appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Comedy Central, MTV and CMT.
“We’re thrilled to bring such diverse talent to LaughFest 2018,” said Joanne Roehm, director of strategic initiatives and LaughFest.
The 10-day festival will feature the Clean Comedy Showcase, March 8–10, with two showcases. Artists announced for Clean Comedy Showcases include Jordan Carlos, Nore Davis, Aaron Kleiber, Grant Lyon, Nathan Macintosh, Keith McGill and Emma Willmann.
The National Stand-up Comedy Showcase will be held, March 16–17, featuring Sean Patton, who has performed on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “Conan”; Taylor Tomlinson, top ten finalist on season 9 of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”; and Ryan O’Flanagan, comedian, actor and writer who can be seen in the Netflix Original Series “American Vandal” as well as in Comedy Central’s “Corporate.” Four other nationally known comics featured are Janelle James, Chris Garcia, Tim Dillon and Joel Kim Booster.
The Best of the Midwest competition will feature seven Midwestern comics battling to be crowned as the region’s best comic in 2018. Competitors are Geoffrey Asmus, Reena Calm, Mickey Housley, Joe Kilgallon, Holly Lynnea, Martin Morrow and Ali Sulton.
Other seriously funny shows announced include Pop Scholars, River City Improv, Rockin’ Homegrown Jam, LaughFest’s Best and the Dirty Show.
During the 10-day festival, LaughFest 2018 will include more than 200 free and ticketed shows featuring over 100 artists at more than 40 venues in Grand Rapids, Lowell, and new this year Wayland’s Gun Lake Casino.
LaughFest Badges are available at laughfestgr.org, or over the phone at 616-735-HAHA (4242). Badges are priced at four levels and will allow individuals to create customized ticket options for shows before individual tickets go on sale. The badges will include access to insider perks, such as exclusive parties, early access to additional single ticket sales, early seating at free shows, merchandise discounts and an exclusive t-shirt. Individual ticket sales will be available beginning January.
Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is again seeking to raise funds to support its programs through the “High Five” campaign. Money raised during LaughFest through this campaign will support the free cancer, grief and emotional health support programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Individuals interested in donating to the “High Five” campaign may do so by purchasing a button for a $5 donation at participating restaurants and businesses in West Michigan, or through laughfestgr.org.
“The High Five campaign during LaughFest has allowed us to help raise awareness and funds for people in our community navigating some of life’s toughest chapters,” said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and LaughFest.
Gilda’s LaughFest was created by the team at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids in 2011. Designed to celebrate laughter for the health of it and raise visibility of Gilda’s Club mission, LaughFest features free and ticketed events including stand-up, improv, film, showcases and a variety of seriously funny stuff.