First there was ArtPrize, now there’s LaughFest. As a former Grand Rapidian, I admit I’m a bit biased in this category, but Grand Rapids sure seems to be getting good at incubating fun cultural events.
LaughFest is, as the organizers describe it, a “tidal wave of funny” washing over Grand Rapids – a series of free and paid performances, lectures and other events that starts today. Basically, it’s a ten-day festival of funny - with proceeds to benefit the local Gilda’s Club, a cancer support organization that works with children, adults, family and friends dealing with cancer.
The organization, founded by comedian Gilda Radner, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Comedians including of-recent SNL fame Betty White, Bill Cosby and public radio darling Mike Birbiglia are all doing shows.
The idea is celebrating the healing power of laughter, said Rick Treur, who’s on LaughFest’s talent committee.
“Whatever makes people laugh: funny pictures, videos, improv, stand-up, even funny music,” he told me. (Full disclosure: Rick is also a friend of mine – a few years ago, we served on Calvin College‘s alumni board together. This assignment was my editor’s idea. But being Rick’s friend means I can also personally vouch for how funny he is.)
To see for yourself, here’s a video from Rick and the others about LaughFest from this morning on Fox17. To kick things off tonight, after the first LaughFest show Rick and others are trying to break the world record for rubber chicken tosses. (That one only had 265 chickens, so I think the 500 or so planned tonight should do the trick.) My personal favorite is how the reporter finally acknowledges she’s completely lost control of her segment (as the rubber chickens starting flying!). Laugh away: