Apply By Dec. 10 to Join Wanda Sykes at Gilda's LaughFest 2015

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Monday December 8, 2014

Nearly 350 applications have already been received to take part in Gilda's LaughFest 2015 series of free Community Showcases. LaughFest, the nation's first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, is accepting applications through Wednesday, December 10 for individuals of all ages and groups of any size to showcase their talents in the Community Showcases.

"Our free showcases have been a great way to involve the community, as well as a wide range of regional and national talent in the festival," said Joanne Roehm, festival director. "We believe it's important to make this festival accessible to talent from all corners of the country and beyond, and as such we are one of the only festivals that does not charge a fee to be a part of the showcases. This allows attendees to feature great acts with all levels of performance experience."

Applications for the 2015 festival have come from 24 states and Washington D.C., and two provinces in Canada. These applicants represent a diverse group of individuals, including: an internationally published fiction writer, 2013's Chicago Readers Best Stand-Up Comedian; speech writer for the State Senate; individuals living with multiple sclerosis; a mom of eight kids, a kindergarten teacher; the 2010 World Dreidel Spinning Champion; and a nine-year-old coming from Texas.

During LaughFest 2015, officials expect to host more than 100 community showcases and other free events at various locations in downtown Grand Rapids, Lowell, and Holland. The categories for these showcases include stand-up comedy, music, short-film, sketch/improv, dance and kids' jokes. These non-ticketed events will be free of charge and will be held at various times throughout the 10 days of LaughFest, March 5-15, 2015.

Gilda's LaughFest, a multi-day comedy festival to benefit Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, has announced the 2015 headliners. They include George Lopez, Patton Oswalt, Wanda Sykes and LaughFest veterans Bo Burnham, YouTube star and singer/songwriter comedian; Pete Holmes, who will perform two shows and record a live podcast; and Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Other acts announced for LaughFest 2015 include Lavell Crawford of "Breaking Bad"; Billy Gardell, star of CBS' "Mike and Molly"; and stand-up comedian and podcaster Brian Posehn.

The festival will continue to feature the Blue & Late Night Comedy Series, presented by Bud Light. Two of the artists announced include Jerrod Carmichael of the recent feature film "Neighbors," and Iliza Schlesinger who is the only female and the youngest comedian to hold the title of NBC's "Last Comic Standing."

The Best of the Midwest Competition, underwritten by Wolverine Worldwide, will feature 10 Midwestern comics battling for a $2,500 cash prize. Competitors are Jeff Arcuri, Tom Brady, Katrina Brown, Danny Kallas, Bryan McCree, Mike Merryfield, Carmen Morales, Tommy Ryman, Norm Stulz, and BT.

Bissell Presents the Clean Comedy Showcase with two showcases featuring eight comedians who specialize in providing clean adult humor. Artists include Todd Andrews, Tracey Ashley, Sid Davis, Erin Foley, Dale Jones, Joe List, Andrew Norelli and PJ Walsh, who previously performed at LaughFest.

The Gun Lake Casino National Stand-Up Comedy Showcase returns to the festival and features 10 nationally-known comics: Joe DeRosa, Kyle Grooms, Ian Karmel, Randy Liedtke, Jared Logan, Alingon Mitra, Sara Schaefer, Dan Soder, Liza Tryeger and Sheng Wang.

Those interested in showcasing their talents during the festival of laughter may sign up for free at or via phone 616-735-HAHA (4242). Applicants will be notified in early February.

Gilda's Club Grand Rapids provides free emotional healthcare to children adults, families and friends on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death of someone in their life due to any cause. The comprehensive program, delivered by licensed healthcare professionals includes education, structured sharing times, networking, lectures, workshops and social activities. Gilda's Club Grand Rapids is one of the largest and busiest of the 52 affiliates in North America. The organization runs entirely on charitable donations and currently serves more than 10,000 individuals each year at its clubhouses in Grand Rapids and Lowell, Mich., in various schools and in five community centers.

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.