Gilda’s LaughFest, the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, has quickly earned a reputation for being one of the nation’s marquee events for both participants and artists. This major 10- day Midwest festival is based in Grand Rapids and includes events throughout West Michigan. Created by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and launched in March 2011 to celebrate laughter for the health of it, the festival features stand-up, improv, film, authors, community showcases, and a variety of seriously funny stuff.
We are serious about our funny here. LaughFest brings together a diverse audience of children and adults every March to honor laughter as an essential part of emotional health and wellbeing. And what better time for a laughter festival than when it’s typically cold, icy, and distinctly un-funny outside?
The inaugural LaughFest took place in March 2011 and attracted guests from 25 states and Canada. With over 228 events across 49 different stages, the event featured 642 artists including Betty White, Bill Cosby, Kevin Hart, Gabriel Iglesias, Margaret Cho, Mike Birbiglia, and Stephen Lynch. The event kicked off with a Guinness Book World Record for Largest Rubber Chicken Toss, garnering international media coverage.
During the second LaughFest in March 2012, there were 323 events, 217 of which were free. 727 artists performed at 62 festival stages in Grand Rapids, Lowell and Holland. These artists included Martin Short, Kevin Nealon, Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Gaffigan, Patch Adams, The Laurie Berkner Band, Sinbad, and many more! The second festival kicked off with setting a Guinness Book World Record for the most people wearing animal noses.
The third LaughFest in March 2013 attracted people from 33 states and Canada. There were 261 events, 192 of which were free. 1,532 false mustaches were worn. 923 artists from 20 states and Canada performed on 65 festival stages in West Michigan including Lewis Black, Brian Regan, Joel McHale, D.L. Hughley, Fortune Feimster, Garfunkel & Oates, and Pete Holmes.
In addition, each year of LaughFest has attracted an average of 55,000 attendees to West Michigan!
Won’t you join us for LaughFest 2014?
“Performing at LaughFest is one of the most positive comedy experiences I’ve had in my 10+ years of doing comedy. The audiences are wonderful, the comedians are super, the hospitality is amazing, and the town is fun. LaughFest should be happening around me all the time.” Myq Kaplan, Comedian