It’s no secret that Gilda Radner was one of the funniest ladies in comedic history. Shortly after she passed away from ovarian cancer, her husband (Gene Wilder), along with her cancer psychotherapist Joanna Bull and film critic Joel Siegel, launched Gilda’s Club. The organization is a network of clubhouses where people living with cancer, as well as their family and friends, can come together and learn how to cope with the diagnosis.
In March 2011, a Gilda’s Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched Gilda’s LaughFest. The festival is a community-wide event that has become well loved by the attendees and the artists involved every year. The 10-day LaughFest brings together a diverse audience to honor laughter- because it is an essential part of our daily and healthy lives.
When the first LaughFest took place, the event featured over 600 artists such as Betty White, Bill Cosby, Kevin Hart, Gabriel Iglesias, Margaret Cho, Mike Birbiglia, and Stephen Lynch. From improv, stand-up, authors, film, and community showcases, whatever makes you laugh the most can be found each year at LaughFest. That inaugural fest even kicked off with a Guinness Book World Record for Largest Rubber Chicken Toss!
As the fest continued throughout the last few years, more and more people from all over the world flocked to Michigan to receive some of the best medicine there is- laughter. In 2014, over 1,600 sunglasses were donned in the dark to set a new Guinness World Record.
More than 50,000 attendees come to LaughFest every year. Will you be one of them for 2016? Tickets are on sale now for this year’s event, which takes place from Thursday, March 10th, to Sunday, March 20th. All proceeds benefit the cancer, grief and support programs offered through Gilda’s Club in Grand Rapids.
This year’s performers include Seth Meyers, Kathy Griffin, Jim Norton, Bridget Everett and so many more. For a complete list of comedians, showcases, improv teams, films classes, tickets, and other events (including a Funderwear Run!) throughout the festival head here.