Saturday, 30 January 2016 23:03

10 Can’t-Miss Moments of LaughFest 2016

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Ron Funches is a must-see at this year's LaughFest Ron Funches is a must-see at this year's LaughFest COURTESY PHOTO

Now in its fifth year of laughing for the health of it, LaughFest returns to Grand Rapids March 10-20. The annual event benefits Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a free, supportive community for families and others coping with cancer, grief and emotional health.

This year’s lineup features over 200 events ranging from free family-fun activities to adults-only performances by some of the hottest comics in the country. This year’s headliners include NBC Late Night host and former Saturday Night Live cast member Seth Meyers, My Life on the D-List star and Grammy-winning stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin, and writer/comedian Marlon Wayans, among many others.

While you’re likely familiar with the aforementioned celebs, here’s our rundown of 10 other can’t-miss LaughFest events.

Tickets are on sale now at laughfestgr.org.

Anjelah Johnson
Fountain Street Church
March 11, 8 p.m.
From Internet sensation to Mad TV cast member to top-tier stand-up, Anjelah Johnson has shattered the ceiling on what a Latina comedian can do. She’s beloved by fans for her clean humor, as well as her now-legendary nail salon routine and popular Bon Qui Qui character. Her latest special, Not Fancy, premiered last fall on Netflix.


Ron Funches
The Pyramid Scheme
March 11 & 12, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
Sweet and sensitive, Ron Funches is an unabashed nerd/gentle giant. He’s made his career in comedy on the unlikeliest of comedic attributes: Kindness. Just don’t think he’s soft and fluffy all the time. Take his turn as a gangster in the movie Get Hard, alongside Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell, for example. Currently, you can catch him on the live NBC sitcom Undateable, where he co-stars alongside fellow LaughFest 2016 performer Chris D’Elia.


Bridget Everett
Wealthy Theatre
March 12, 8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
The breakout star to watch for at this year’s LaughFest is Bridget Everett. Her unique mix of comedy and cabaret can be seen in her first-ever Comedy Central special, Bridget Everett: Gynecological Wonder, and heard on her album Pound It! with her band The Tender Moments (featuring Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys). Already a scene-stealer on Inside Amy Schumer and HBO’s Girls, don’t miss Everett when she joins Maria Bamford on the upcoming Netflix series Lady Dynamite later this year.


Jim Norton
Fountain Street Church
March 12, 8 p.m.
The raunchiest of all the featured comedians at this year’s LaughFest, veteran comic Jim Norton has an acid tongue. His humor has found the perfect home on Sirius XM Radio, where he is free to say whatever he wants on the Opie with Jim Norton show. Naturally, the title to his 2012 stand-up special, Please Be Offended, should turn away any person with delicate sensibilities. But for those with a thick skin and a foul mouth of their own, Norton’s New Jersey-raised, razor-sharp wit cuts right to the funny bone. Look for his other specials, American Degenerate and Contextually Inadequate — now streaming on Hulu.


River City Improv
Ladies Literary Club
March 12 & March 19, 7:33 p.m.
Only one of several local comedians featured as part of this year’s LaughFest, River City Improv brings the audience in on the laughs with skits, songs and more — all based on your suggestions. Performing regularly at Calvin College, the 12-person ensemble keeps things completely clean and positive, but will always keep you guessing about what they’ll do next.


Funderwear Run
GRCC Ford Fieldhouse
March 13, 10 a.m.
Register at laughfestgr.org/funderwear-run
One of the most interactive events at LaughFest and a longtime fan favorite, the third-annual Funderwear Run invites those who dare to don their funniest undergarments and get out for a brisk 5K run. Note: This is mid-March in Michigan, so appropriate running attire is highly suggested. Though you may want to leave the FitBit at home — this morning jog is all about the laughs, not laps.


Best of the Midwest competition
Dr. Grins
March 16, 7 p.m.
Packed with fresh talent from all-around the Midwest, this showcase will pit eight new comics against each other in a comedy royale. Up for grabs: a $2,500 cash prize. Catch a rising star before they break big so you can brag to your friends. Or just laugh and have a few beers at the best place for comedy in Grand Rapids all year round.


Drew Lynch
Wealthy Theatre
March 17, 7 p.m.
After being inflicted with a stutter following a severe softball injury, Lynch discovered how to laugh all over again when he found his own unique voice as a stand-up comedian. Presented in conjunction with DisArt, Grand Rapids’ own Disability Arts Festival, this America’s Got Talent star will inspire and delight anyone who’s found the humor in the hardest of times.


David Cross
Fountain Street Church

March 18, 8 p.m.
Revered as one of the top comics of all time by both Comedy Central and Rolling Stone, David Cross redefined sketch comedy in the mid-’90s with his friend Bob Odenkirk on the legendary HBO series Mr. Show before going on to co-star as Tobias Funke on the cult-classic series Arrested Development. Since then he’s brought his scathing social commentary to the stage, screen, and page. Last year, he reteamed with Odenkirk for the Netflix series With Bob and David, and earlier this year he returned to television with the third season of his IFC series The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.


The Grawlix
The Pyramid Scheme
March 18 & 19, 7 & 9:30 p.m.
Recommended for fans of alternative comedy outfits like Kids In The Hall and Upright Citizens Brigade, this comedy trio out of Denver made a name for itself with a monthly stage show and mockumentary web series on Funnyordie.com. Together, Adam Clayton-Holland, Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl tackle fame and friendship, onstage and off, in their pursuit of creating what they call “The World’s Best” comedy show. Also look for the premiere of their new series Those Who Can’t, a show that follows three inept schoolteachers, debuting Feb. 11 on truTV.


Roy Wood Jr.
Wealthy Theatre
March 19, 8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
Crossing racial and cultural lines, Alabaman comedian Roy Wood Jr. has opened for everyone from D.L. Hughley to Bill Engvall. A finalist on Last Comic Standing, and now a correspondent for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Wood developed his emphatic style by making priceless prank calls, in addition to logging mile after mile on the road. Check out his one-of-a-kind commentary when he returns to GR as part of this year’s festival.

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