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LaughFest 2013

April 11, 2013 update:

The nation's only ten day community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda's LaughFest, had more than 53,000 admissions during its third annual event.  LaughFest began on March 7 with 1,532 individuals wearing false mustaches, breaking a Guinness world record.

Preliminary numbers indicate 53,566 attended LaughFest's 261 events (69 ticketed and 192 free) at 65 stages in Grand Rapids, Lowell and Holland. A total of 33,509 tickets were sold to the various events and visitors came from 538 U.S. zip codes, which include 33 states, plus Canada.  Attendances at the free events totaled 20,057.

In addition to the attendance figures, LaughFest officials are estimating the third year of the festival will have net proceeds of $210,000, which includes $74,790 raised specifically for the children's grief support programs at Gilda's Club Grand Rapids through LaughFest's "High Five" donation campaign. The $74,790 was matched by the Wege Foundation generating a combined total of nearly $285,000, which will be used to support free emotional healthcare programs for children and adults living with cancer, grief and loss provided through Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.

"We are thrilled with the outcomes of LaughFest in year three. The results indicate the community supports the festival and the important role laughter plays in emotional health," said Leann Arkema, president and CEO, Gilda's Club Grand Rapids. "LaughFest provides for a positive impact on our local economy and is raising the visibility of Grand Rapids and West Michigan on a national level as well."

"This was only LaughFest's third year," said Steve Heisler, a national comedy writer, who writes for VarietyGQ and Fast Company and was in town for this year's LaughFest. "They're poised to become the best comedy festival for fans in the country. They've cracked the code: book great comics and get out of their way."

There were 160 headliners and artists who participated in the ticketed events during LaughFest, and a total of 763 people from 20 states & Canada (California, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Washington and the District of Columbia) performed during the free showcases.

"We are grateful to all those who participated in this year's festival," said Arkema. "The festival is successful because of the investment of our 306 sponsors and partners, 1,374 volunteers and all who

attended LaughFest 2013. The success of LaughFest is traveling well beyond Grand Rapids and that's not just us saying it, it's the reaction from the artists attending as well."

Myq Kaplan, 2010 "Last Comic Standing" finalist and participant in LaughFest 2011 and 2013 commented, "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." 

"Gilda's LaughFest was an outstanding festival that I was honored to take part in," said Kelly Epperson, who participated in the LaughteRx series. " The level of entertainers and the level of organization for this 10-day fest were beyond impressive. Sharing the benefits of laughter and humor and happiness makes a lasting impact, for Gilda's Club, the community and everyone who had any kind of involvement."

Visit or call 616-735-HAHA (4242) to learn more about Gilda's LaughFest.




January 8, 2013 update:

Individual tickets for Gilda's LaughFest, the nation's only community-wide festival of laughter, go on sale beginning Friday, Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at (search LaughFest), by calling 800-745-3000 or at the Van Andel Arena or DeVos Place box offices.  LaughFest opens March 7 and runs through March 17.

LaughFest organizers announced the addition of several shows to this year's lineup. Additional ticketed shows announced today include:

· Out of the Box Comedy Show:  Join an unforgettable evening hosted by Grand Rapids native and comedian Hen Sapp with special guests sure to entertain.

· Don't We Boys & Charles: The Don't We Boys and Charles are critically acclaimed, nationally touring sketch comedy groups who will take you on a hilarious sketch improv adventure.

· Forever Plaid: This comedic musical revue is about a quartet of high-school chums and their dream of recording an album.

· Giggle Groove: In this fun, off the hook walking tour, participants will eat, dance and create serious fun at some of the best bars and restaurants Grand Rapids has to offer.

· MP Talent Showcase: A fun-filled evening of comedy, music, burlesque, puppetry and so much more!

· Francesca Amari: "A Love Song to Gilda Radner" A cabaret performance chronicling the life of Gilda Radner.  It will feature her loves, life stories and her brave battle with cancer – all told through song and Gilda's own words.

· Seriously Funny Adventure Challenge: This fun-filled challenge will involve teams* (of two or four) racing through downtown Grand Rapids engaging in fun and exciting timed challenges requiring fast thinking.



Ticket prices range from $7 for family-friendly events, such as the Super Saturday Kids Zone, to $55.50 for premium seating to headliner Lewis Black. In addition, individual tickets are available for $250 to attend Gilda's Club Grand Rapids' annual fundraising dinner event featuring headliner Wayne Brady. Full tables for 10 guests can be purchased for the annual fundraiser for $2,500 by calling Gilda's LaughFest headquarters.

Other entertainers who have already been announced for this year's LaughFest include: Jim Breuer, Bill Burr, Joel McHale, Brian Regan, Gary Valentine, Justin Willman, Eric Andre, Neal Brennan, Loni Love, Pete Holmes, Fortune Feimster with Myq Kaplan and Michael Yo, W. Kamau Bell, the Shaquille O'Neal Presents... All-Star Comedy Jam, and others.

"When ticket-package sales closed, on Friday, Jan. 4, there was a 9.4 percent increase in sales over last year with over 2000 packages being sold," said Wendy Wigger, vice president of communications. "There are still plenty of opportunities for the public to see the top artists participating in this year's LaughFest, including top sellers Lewis Black, Brian Regan and Joel McHale."

Due to the number of ticket packages sold, premium level seating options are limited for Lewis Black's performance, but mid-tier and upper level seats are still available. There are no tickets available for Garfunkel and Oates' March 8 performance at 8:00 pm. The Clean Comedy showcase has no tickets available for the 7 p.m. shows on March 8 and 9, but there are plenty of seats for the six other performances. One of the eight performances during the Stand-Up Competition with a cash prize of $10,000 has no tickets left.



Gilda's LaughFest, the nation's only community-wide festival of laughter, announced today that ticket packages for the 2013 festival will go on sale Friday, Nov. 30.  Ticket packages will be sold online at or by calling (616)735-HAHA(4242) through Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. Individual tickets sales will open to the general public on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.  The 10-day festival of laughter will open in Grand Rapids, March 7, 2013 and run through March 17, 2013. 

Reserved seats have been added to all headliner (section one) LaughFest shows.  Purchasing festival ticket packages early will ensure securing the best seat available before individual tickets go on sale. Ticket package specifics include:

· Build-your-own package: To make package purchases easier, LaughFest officials are offering a "Build-your-own" package.  Buyers must select from two different sections.  A minimum of one ticket in each of the two sections must be purchased. Build-your-own packages start at $29.50.

  • You Pick - $25 gift certificates: Purchase individually or add to any ticket package order.  In $25 increments, gift certificates are good towards any ticket package and must be redeemed by Jan. 4, 2013.

  • Premium ticket packages: Premium ticket packages, which range in price from $250 to $750, include a variety of VIP extras, which may include entrance into various LaughFest parties and events.
      • WHITE DIAMOND: $750 - includes Wayne Brady Signature Event Dinner/Show ticket and one show per day of your choice plus many VIP extras.
      • PLATINUM: $500 - includes any single show (excluding the Signature Event) each day of your choice plus VIP extras.
      • SERIOUSLY FUNNY: $250 - includes one ticket to seven shows of your choice (excluding the Signature Event).

· Pre-built ticket packages: Pre-built packages, which range in price from $36.50 to $142.50, allow ticket holders to see three shows for one price. 

§ FAMILY FRIENDLY PACKAGE: $41.50 (adult), $36.50 (child) – Strawberry Shortcake: Follow your Berry Own Beat! With special guests, The Doodleboops; Super Saturday Kids Zone; and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

§ LATE NIGHT PACKAGE: $57.50 – Garfunkel & Oates, Pete Holmes, and Loni Love.

§ COMEDY LOVERS PACKAGE: $82.50 – Fortune & Friends, Nerdist Podcast Live!, and Bill Burr.

§ CLEAN COMEDY PACKAGE: $107.50 – Brian Regan, Clean Comedy Showcase and Dinner, and Jim Breuer.

§ HEADLINERS PACKAGE: $142.50 – Shaquille O'Neal's All-Star Comedy Jam, Lewis Black, and Joel McHale.





Gilda's LaughFest, a 10-day festival celebrating laughter for the health of it, announced it will hold its third year of events March 7 through 17, 2013. Details of the 2013 events, schedule and talent lineup will be released later this fall.

"The minute we finished our second year, the community and sponsors were asking for the dates for next year," said Leann Arkema, president and CEO of LaughFest and Gilda's Club Grand Rapids. "We had tremendous support for the festival this year, great turnout, great support from sponsors and the community. And it showed in the numbers. The festival exceeded its goals and the planning is well on its way for a third year of laughter."

In 2012, the festival proceeds were approximately $211,000, bringing the two-year income stream from the festival and the signature dinner events to a grand total of $541,000. All dollars raised support the free cancer, grief and emotional health programs offered through Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.

"We are thrilled with the results of this year's financial outcome. Ticket sales revenues were up 25 percent. We are ahead of where we thought we might be in only our second year," added Arkema.

Studies during and after the festival that were headed up by Paul Isely, chair of economics, and Jennifer Pope, associate professor of marketing, at Grand Valley State University's (GVSU) Seidman College of Business, demonstrated that LaughFest made a positive impact on the region's economy as well.


Isley said, "Working with teams of students, we found that 40 percent of the surveyed respondents indicated they came to Grand Rapids primarily for LaughFest. And, once they were here, many spent money on meals, lodging and more. When we apply the survey results to the total number of visitors, we have an estimated $2 million in direct and indirect spending in Grand Rapids related to LaughFest."


"In addition to the economic impact of LaughFest, we were equally excited to find 85 percent of those surveyed were aware that LaughFest was developed, in part, to highlight the importance of the role of laughter in emotional health," said Wendy Wigger, vice president of community relations for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids. "One of our festival objectives is to increase the awareness and dialogue about the important role emotional health plays in our lives."

Wigger added, "We were also pleased the study reflected that the event reached individuals of all ages and socioeconomic levels. Our goal was to provide a festival that would provide something for everyone. We believe that the study results show we achieved that goal."

An estimated 56,294 people attended the second year of LaughFest, which included 323 events, 217 of which were free and 106 were ticketed. More than 200 hundred headliners and artists participated in the ticketed events and a total of 727 people from 15 States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas)  and Canada performed at the free showcases on one of the 62 festival stages in Grand Rapids, Lowell and Holland.  More than 40,524 tickets were sold to the various events and visitors who came from 25 states and Canada. Visit or call 616-735-HAHA (4242) to learn more about Gilda's LaughFest.




Details for LaughFest 2013 have been announced. Headliners lineup: Joel McHale, Lewis Black, Wayne Brady, Jim Breuer from SNL, Brian Regan, D.L. Hughley (part of Shaq's All-Star Comedy Jam), Chris Hardwick, Fortune Feimster, Garfunkel and Oates and more. 

All High Five buttons ($5) sold in advance or during Laughfest will go to Gilda's Childhood Grief program. Each $5 donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $50,000.

Tickets on Sale November 30


Dates: March 7-17, 2013

Thursday, March 07, 2013
 All Day Event


Downtown Grand Rapids locations
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Event Contact Info
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