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LaughFest Central opens doors

February 22, 2016
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Gilda's LaughFest stage and microphone
Gilda's LaughFest is a 10-day comedy festival across the Grand Rapids area produced by the nonprofit Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, which offers free emotional health care programs to those dealing with cancer or grief. Photo via fb.com

LaughFest Central opens today inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum, ahead of the 10-day comedy festival next month.

LaughFest Central will serve as festival headquarters for all LaughFest information, as well as a site to purchase merchandise and pick up Fast Passes.

The festival runs from March 10 -20.

A team at the nonprofit Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids created Gilda’s LaughFest in 2011.

Fast Passes and hours

Fast Passes guarantee holders a seat for free LaughFest shows, as long as they’re seated 15 minutes prior to the event start time. At that time, walk-up seating will begin and Fast Passes will expire.

Fast Passes are available for most free events with a percentage of seats at Fast Pass venues reserved for walk-ups.

Prior to the festival, LaughFest Central will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

From March 6 to 16, hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

LaughFest lineup

LaughFest also announced a complete list of ticketed and non-ticketed events is now available online at laughfestgr.org, including a lip sync competition, writing workshops, youth events and the Seriously Funny Family Adventure Challenge.

LaughFest 2016 will include more than 200 free and ticketed shows, featuring more than 100 artists at more than 40 venues in Grand Rapids and Lowell during the 10 days of the festival.

Artists previously announced include several headliners: Seth Meyers, performing during Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids Signature Event, Kathy Griffin, Ron Funches, Anjelah Johnson, Roy Wood Jr., Chris D’Elia, Bert Kreischer and Heather McDonald.

Newly announced events

The LaughFest Celebrity Lip Sync is a singing competition where local media personalities compete against one another for the best celebrity lip sync. It is a free, Fast Pass event on March 13 at 2 p.m. at The B.O.B.’s third floor.

Two time Emmy-winning producer, writer and storyteller Teresa L. Thome is back with her Unleash Your Creativity writing workshop. During the three-hour session, people will learn fun, creative writing and improvisational exercises to inspire their best creative selves. Registration is $25, and the workshop will take place on March 14 at Campau Square Plaza, at 99 Monroe Ave. NW, above Panera Bread.

Named 2013’s Funniest Person in Grand Rapids, Nardos Osterhart brings her one-woman show, “Halfrican,” to LaughFest, where she shares her life story about moving from Africa to America when she was five years old and how she juggles the two different worlds. Tickets are $10, and the performance will take place at the Wealthy Theatre on March 16 at 8 p.m.

Seriously Funny Family Adventure Challenge is a fun-filled race open to teams of two or four that features a series of obstacles and challenges spanning across downtown Grand Rapids. This event is free, and pre-registration online is encouraged. The event will take place on March 20 at 1 p.m. at GRCC Ford Fieldhouse.

Voted one of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch” in 2015, Tone Bell currently stars as “Russell” on NBC’s Truth Be Told. He had previously starred on NBC’s “Whitney” and “Bad Judge” and MTV’s “Jerks with Cameras.” Bell will perform at Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof Center in partnership with Spotlight Productions in Allendale on March 20. Tony Bell’s performance is free, and Fast Passes will be available at LaughFest Central.

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