GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It was such a huge success last year so officials decided to bring it back.
Gilda's LaughFest 2012 begins Thursday in downtown Grand Rapids. The nation's only community-wide festival of laughter has 266 events on 62 stages. All proceeds from the event, which lasts through March 18, benefit the cancer, grief and other support programs offered through Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.
Things get kicked off with an attempt to set the inaugural Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing animal noses -- specifically chicken beaks -- at one venue. If you would like to participate go to Rosa Parks Circle at 5 p.m. Thursday as you will be given an official Gilda's LaughFest chicken beak and instructions. Practice begins at 5:45 and the official attempt will be at 6 p.m.
Other opening events include LaughFest chicken dinners at 11 area restaurants. A portion of the money from every dinner sold will be donated to Gilda's Club. The LaughFest chicken dinners will be available beginning at 6 p.m.
Limited tickets for certain comedy shows are still available at LaughFest Central, any Ticketmaster outlet and Ticketmaster.com.
The headliners include Whoopi Goldberg, Sinbad, Mike Epps, Rodney Carrington, Jim Gaffigan and Kathleen Madigan.
Other acts include --
- "Alive From Grand Rapids It's Saturday Night!" with Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Alan Zweibel
- The Bob & Tom Comedy All-Stars hosted by Kristi Lee
- Patch Adams
- The Laurie Berkner Band
- Anthony Jeselnik
- Anjelah Johnson
- Bo Burnham
- Amy Schumer
- Hannibal Buress
- Marc Maron
Showcases and competitions returning to this year's LaughFest include Best of the Midwest, Stand-up Comedy Competition, Clean Comedy Showcase, and the Out of the Box comedy show.
New this year is the Bud Light Blue and Late Night Comedy Series.
Family-friendly entertainment includes Baby Loves Disco, Super Saturday Kids Zone and The Verve Pipe.
Clean comedians Patti Vasquez and Greg Morton are performing in Lowell.
Taylor Mason, a ventriloquist, musician and comedian, will perform his family-friendly show in Holland.
Also new this year is Fast Pass, which guarantees a seat at a free event as long as you are seated at least 15 minutes prior to the beginning of a show. At that time, walk-up seating will begin and passes will no longer be valid. A percentage of seats at Fast Pass venues will be kept open for walk-ups. Fast Passes can be picked up at LaughFest Central and are available for most of LaughFest's free events. But Fass Passes are event specific and must be determined when you pick up the passes. They are available the day of the show until 3 p.m. and then after that you will have to get them at the actual venue.
Also new for 2012 is the iPhone and Android apps, which you can use to check out show times, locations, events, etc.
LaughFest officials told 24 Hour News 8 more than 55,000 people from 25 states and Canada came to last year's festival, which made a profit of $330,000 for Gilda's Club.
No more volunteers are needed for LaughFest 2012 but they are welcomed for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.
Michigan authorities say this year's deer harvest appears to be down significantly from 2012 because of weather, disease and rule changes.
Thirty-three-year-old Ronald T. Smith II grew up in Warren.
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