The organizers of the Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival, filmmaker Michael Moore and comedian Jeff Garlin, have already proved that this Northern Michigan event can not only raise your temperature a bit, it can heat up Northwest Michigan’s economy, too. Fifteen thousand people showed up at last year’s inaugural event.
This year, when the festival takes place from February 10-12, expect some surprises, like festival founder, filmmaker Michael Moore, taking the stage to do stand-up; a spoof on late-night talk shows involving comedians who are participating in the event; and a slew of unusual comedy films, including one called “Exporting Raymond.”
“There’s an opening night party at the City Opera House for 25 dollars,” says Executive Director of the Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival, Deb Lake. “It was huge amounts of fun last year. I think people were really surprised. Most of the comedians were there. I think that made it a lot of fun.” Then, at 8:30 that night, (Friday, February 10th) it’s the kick-off stand up act by comedian Bob Saget of TV’s “Full House”, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “How I Met Your Mother” fame.
Lake says the State Theater, The City Opera House, The Old Town Playhouse, and Horizon Books are the main venues for the festival. In addition to Saget’s performance at the Opera House Friday night, there will be standup comedy at the Old Town and State Theatre as well. Friday and Saturday night at midnight, Horizon Books on Front Street is the venue for an event called “Jeff Garlin’s Late Night Combo.” “It’s kind of like he holds his own talk show, ” says Lake. “He interviews the other comedians who attend the festival. He doesn’t announce who comes in advance. It’s a surprise.” And, Lake says, it’s free. “It’s part of our commitment to making sure that every event we have has something to offer for people of all income levels. That was a really popular event last year. We’re looking forward to that again.”
Some of the headlining acts include Bob Saget, Caroline Rhea, Patton Oswald and Jeffrey Ross.
If you’re worried about the “F” word, Lake says the festival offers up special comedy acts just for kids. “It’s called Comedy Sports. It’s family friendly improv. So there’s no swearing or anything inappropriate for anyone of any age. It’s a great way to introduce kids to improv and the idea of what comedy can be. Families who went last year had a great time. We got lots of requests to bring it back.”
Since filmmaker Michael Moore is one of the founders of the festival, it’s no surprise that comedy films are part of the event. “We’ll be bringing in a premier of a commercial comedy.” Lake says. “ A big release. We’ll also be premiering the film called “Exporting Raymond” about making the TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond” in Russia. It’s hilarious.”
Finally, on Sunday, all day long at the State Theatre, Lake says you’ll be able to view Cohen Brother’s Comedies throughout the day. “We have four of them. You can get an all day pass to go to all of them for ten dollars. We have a couple of midnight movies as well: “Heathers” and “Cheech and Chong Up in Smoke.” And a kid’s comedy matinee on Saturday for 25 cents.”
For more information on the TC Comedy Arts Festival, including the latest news and updates, visit comedyartsfesttc.org.