Updated: Friday, 21 Jan 2011, 5:24 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 17 Nov 2010, 6:34 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Bill Cosby and Betty White will headline a 10-day laughfest in Grand Rapids next year -- a fundraiser for Gilda's Club.
The official announcement was made Thursday morning at The BOB. Earlier this week, smiley face signs popped up throughout the city, with a promise that something "seriously funny" would be announced.
Gilda's LaughFest will take place March 10-20, 2011. It is "designed to engage people throughout the region and beyond in all aspects of humor," according to a news release. All proceeds will benefit the cancer, grief and support programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, according to its website. The event is in celebration of the organization's 10th anniversary.
Mike Birbiglia and Kathleen Madigan will join Cosby and White, and 46 other comedians at 25 venues throughout the city.
Other entertainment includes multiple showcases, Dan Zane & Friends, laughter yoga, guest authors, incredibly funny pet contests, a showing of the Best of SNL, and funny films.
In the coming weeks, the community will be invited to join in on the fun with their own version of “what’s funny” through a community talent showcase. The public will also have the opportunity to purchase individual or packages of tickets in addition to LaughFest merchandise.
The first 20 venues have already been secured and include DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place, Grand Rapids Community College Ford Fieldhouse, St. Cecilia Music Center, UICA, Grand Rapids Art Museum and bars and restaurants, such as The B.O.B., Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, JW Marriott.
A variety of ticket options will be offered and include individual event tickets from $7 to $77, and all festival passes start at $250. There will also be a number of events free to the public. Details on ticket sales will be announced in time for holiday purchases.
Gilda's Club is named after Gilda Radner, an original cast member of "Saturday Night Live." Gilda died of ovarian cancer in 1989.
"I'm so excited about what Grand Rapids is doing to pass along the gift of laughter to everyone in their community and beyond, especially for those families living with cancer and grief," Michael Radner said in a news release. "My sister, Gilda, loved to laugh, and after she was diagnosed with cancer, she found out that finding the funny, even in a cancer journey, was so important. I applaud all community investors, volunteers, ticket buyers and even the comedians who are coming in, who are helping to celebrate laughter for the health of it.”
Planning for LaughFest began 18 months ago, according to Leann Arkema, president and CEO of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.
"Since Gilda's gift to cancer was permission to laugh, we wanted to pass that permission along to people in our community and beyond, through Gilda’s LaughFest," Arkema said. "We believe people in Michigan can use laughter to face difficult situations and our goal is to show how laughing together can lift the human spirit in life, work and play. It’s about laughter for the health of it."