Did you know that the world’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter takes place every spring in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Launched in 2011, the festival has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s marquee events for both participants and performers. Over the years, LaughFest has hosted such comedy legends as Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Hart, Jay Leno, George Lopez, Howie Mandel, Seth Meyers, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Lily Tomlin, Chris Tucker, and Betty White, as well as many up-and-coming comedians that have gone on to great acclaim.
LaughFest was created by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, a FREE emotional support community for people affected by cancer, to celebrate laughter for the health of it. Proceeds from LaughFest benefit Gilda’s Club, and 100% of those funds stay in West Michigan.
Here’s what you need to know for your LaughFest visit:
Will there be a LaughFest 2024?
Yes! LaughFest 2024 takes place March 6-10. As in years past, it will feature stand-up, improv, showcases and a variety of other seriously funny stuff.
What’s new for LaughFest 2024?
In addition to brand-new slate of comedy headliners every year, LaughFest is always changing something up. This year, it’s hosting a What Makes You Smile Art Exhibit for the first time. West Michigan students were asked to think about what makes them smile and write or illustrate it on a LaughFest smile card. These smiles will be on display at the Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids clubhouse for the duration of the festival.
There’s also a first-time presentation of Mel Brook’s Silent Movie accompanied by a live organist at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (March 8) and a new musical improv show, In the Key of Comedy, hosted by The Comedy Project (also March 8).
How long does LaughFest in Grand Rapids last?
LaughFest runs for five days – every one of them jam-packed with events and activities for all ages. In terms of longevity, 2024 is the 14th year of the event.
Where is LaughFest located?
LaughFest events and activities take place at venues throughout Grand Rapids, including year-round comedy destinations The Comedy Project, Dr. Grins Comedy Club, Midtown at Studio Park, Golden Age at Creston Brewery, Spectrum Entertainment Complex and Wealthy Theatre. Additional events will be held in Lowell and at Gun Lake Casino in Wayland (both about 20 minutes from downtown GR).
Which comedians are appearing at LaughFest in 2024?
This year’s lineup includes nationally known comedians Tammy Pescatelli (March 7 & 8), Josh Johnson (March 8 & 9), Piff the Magic Dragon (March 8), Demetri Martin (March 9) and Tom Papa, who will headline the Red Door Gala fundraiser on March 14.
LaughFest also includes fun-filled events and shows like LaughFest: Night at the Museum (March 6), LaughFest Trivia Night of Stars (March 6), Clean Comedy Showcase & Dinner (March 7, 8 & 9), KaraJOKEe (March 8), Family Improv (March 9) and The Dirty Show (March 9). Local stand-up comedians and improv groups on the schedule, too.
Visit the LaughFest website for dates and details on these shows and many more.
Can I participate in LaughFest?
One of the best things about LaughFest is the opportunity to take part in the proceedings. Gather your squad of six to compete against local media personalities at the LaughFest Trivia Night of Stars. Attend the Family Improv Workshop with your loved ones. Let your kids take the mic for Kids Joke Time. Make some joyful noise at Drums for All! with Josh Dunigan (March 6 & 9).
The Laughter Rx Symposium is a conference that offers continuing education credit opportunities for healthcare professionals and social workers. It is available in a hybrid format with in-person and virtual attendance options. It will take place March 8 this year.
Following the festival on March 14, Gilda’s Club will host its annual Red Door Gala at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The Red Door Gala is a fundraiser that celebrates the thousands of lives impacted by Gilda’s Club and provides entertainment from a nationally known comic talent. This year’s entertainer is Tom Papa, star of five Netflix stand-up specials and host of the Breaking Bad with Tom Papa podcast.
Is LaughFest appropriate for kids?
LaughFest includes shows and activities for all ages, including a Clean Comedy Showcase featuring comedians pre-selected for their unique ability to bring laughs without vulgarity. LaughFest provides a Content Guidance Key for all its events, rating them as Family Friendly, Clean Adult Laughs or Anything Goes! to help you decide about the entertainment you want to experience.
What is the cost of admission at LaughFest?
LaughFest offers a range of ticketed and free events. Free events include The Cancer Survivor Showcase (March 6), Drums for All! (March 6 & 9), Kids Joke Time Holland (March 9), Family Improv (March 9), Cooking and Comedy (March 10), and Sunday Night Funnies (March 10). Tickets for ticketed events may be purchased at the LaughFest website or by searching LaughFest at ticketmaster.com. It’s a good idea to buy tickets early because many events sell out.
Can I volunteer at LaughFest?
Yes! Volunteers serve in various roles, from welcoming attendees, providing directions, and answering questions on the Smile Team to serving on special teams that oversee merchandise, transportation, photography, and more. Anyone 16 years old or older can volunteer.
How do I get around LaughFest?
The LaughFest website includes a page on parking and mobility options, including a venue accessibility guide.
Sometimes the weight of life calls for a healthy dose of the best medicine out there: laughter. If you’re on the prowl for a proper belly…
Receive admission into many cultural attractions around Grand Rapids as well as additional exclusive discounts with our $20.00 Culture Pass.