Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival Fri, 25 Mar 2016 03:28:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 April Showers Bring… A Cancelled ComFest! Sun, 13 Mar 2016 16:57:09 +0000 For five years, it has been our privilege to bring you much-needed laughter and levity during the most dire winter months of our frozen northern existence. The Traverse City Comedy Festival has been a lot of fun, bringing nationally-renowned performers to our little corner of the world: Bill Maher, Judd Apatow, John Waters, Roseanne Barr, Dick Gregory, Rosie O’Donnell, Aubrey Plaza,  Bob Saget, JB Smoove, and many others.

This year, for various reasons, we decided to try holding it in April (the next to last month of winter up here). But pulling it off turned out to be more difficult than expected: we weren’t able to bring the talent we hoped to bring, and the City Opera House wasn’t available as our largest venue (it had already been rented out). After looking at the bottom line, we decided there was no way we could operate this year’s comedy festival in the black.

So I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news: we have decided we must call off the 2016 comedy festival.

Later this year we will reassess and decide whether or not to continue the ComFest in 2017. Meanwhile, our President and Founder Michael Moore has asked us to refocus on our core mission: celebrating and supporting the art of cinema in all its facets as a force for creativity, conscience, and building a better Traverse City and a better world. We have created one of the most respected film festivals in the U.S. and we operate two world-class theaters — one of them in its 100th year, and rated as the #1 movie theater in the world by the MPAA. We’ve also helped to restore other movie palaces around Michigan. We need to do more of that.

Thank you for your support of the Comedy Festival over the years.

See Comedy in Traverse City:

Kevin Nealon at the City Opera House, May 19, 2016

Uncorrect Comedy

Good on Paper Improv

Rotten Cherries Open Mic

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Check out Comedy in Traverse City Sun, 13 Mar 2016 15:05:59 +0000 Check out what else Traverse City has to offer this spring!
Kevin Nealon at the City Opera House, May 19, 2016
Kevin Nealon sets himself apart from other comedic performers with his unique sense of humor, dry wit and likeable demeanor. Nealon is best known for his nine-year stint as a cast member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and has received critical acclaim for his role in the Showtime series, Weeds.
Uncorrect Comedy
A production company focusing on producing live standup comedy shows and a sketch comedy web series at ECCO | Traverse City.
Good on Paper Improv
The six-person cast of ‘Good on Paper’ has been performing for the past six years as the area’s only professional improv comedy group and can be seen locally on the second Saturday of every month. Every 90-minute comedy experience is completely improvised from audience suggestions collected on-the-spot throughout the show and from their “Can O’ Words” prior to show time. The cast is quick, the jokes are fast, and no two shows are ever the same. Good on Paper has been featured on TV 7&4, WKLT and WTCM radio stations, and in the Northern Express, Record-Eagle, and Traverse Magazine.
Rotten Cherries Open Mic
Rotten Cherries is a comedy open mic every 1st & 3rd Monday at The Workshop Brewing Company at 8pm. 
Comedy on the Bay
West Bay Beach Resort is proud to host comedy shows in View nightclub the first Wednesday of each month. Join them Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 7:30 pm for comedians Stewart Huff & Dusty Slay. Book your tickets here.
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Announcing the 2016 Winter Comedy Festival! Wed, 06 Jan 2016 19:26:05 +0000 I know what you’re thinking — there’s no better way to show your love for your Valentine than to convince him or her to come to frozen Traverse City for the weekend to attend the annual comedy festival.But what if I were to offer you an even better deal? No, I can’t pay for a romantic dinner for two at U&I. But I could move the comedy festival deeper into the winter. After all, winter doesn’t end here until Memorial Day.

In order to help us with our talent bookings, not to mention Jeff Garlin’s taping schedule for “The Goldbergs,” we’ve decided to move the Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival to the weekend of April 8-9, 2016. It’ll be the same superstars of comedy that you’ve come to love — just without the frostbite and the weather-related cancelled flights. And, it’s April — so up here, it will still be winter!

There are other mitigating circumstances. Last year, it was so cold, almost no one could make use of the free winter activities on Front Street. And, due to snow conditions and shut down airports, twice in the past two years we’ve had to pay for a private jet to get comedians here when commercial flights were canceled. That’s just not affordable.

Plus, we want people to be able to drive here from Detroit and Chicago, and there’s a greater chance of that happening in April than in February.

So, we’ve decided to move ComFest to April for this year. April is our national comedy month: there’s April Fools’ Day, there’s the birthdays of Eddie Murphy, David Letterman, Martin Lawrence, and Jerry Seinfeld. And my b-day, too!

Make your plans now for April 8-9. The schedule will be announced the week of March 14. Tickets will go on sale Friday, March 18. It’s going to be a great weekend and we’re going to have a lot of fun. And don’t worry, it will still be winter.

Michael Moore

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Open Mic 2015 Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:28:14 +0000

Our Open Mic night at InsideOut Gallery was a huge hit! Thanks to Dave Basey for hosting this event and a huge thanks to all of our participants. Be sure to check out the next local open mic night, Rotten Cherries, on February 23rd at InsideOut!

16540536385_e63d005245_oPaula Fekken “La Jr.” – TC
Hedges Macdonald -TC
Kenny Lafevre – Flatrock
Ellen Wesley – TC
Norm Bowbeer – TC
Marti Johnson – TC
Rob Porter – TC
Drew Campbell – Saginaw
Jr Williams – Gaylord
Cassandra Chase – TC
Jon Armanet – Grand Rapids
Scotty Bruce – TC
Heather Schalge – TC
Doug Porter – TC
Kyle Forsyth – Waterford
Jay Harrington – TC
Dick Norman – Onaway
Justin McLeod – Detroit
Jeremy West – TC
David Graves – TC
Eric Fadie – Detroit
Josh Paul – TC


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Window Shopping 2015 Mon, 16 Feb 2015 21:47:50 +0000 The judges reviewed all of this year’s entrants into our annual ComFest Window Contest and the competition was a close one. Some might even say it was a “stand-up” effort! Puns aside, everybody did a great job of embodying the spirit of the festival and we cannot thank the downtown merchants enough for being such a fun a part of the festivities. So, without further ado:

First Place: Great Lakes Bath & Body/Cherry Republic/Paperworks Studio
First Runner Up: Ella’s
Second Runner Up: Kay’s

Congratulations to all the winners!




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Just Added! Live From Traverse City, It’s Sunday Night! Fri, 13 Feb 2015 16:47:47 +0000 Just added! A very cool (and very FREE) event to cap off a weekend of hilarity in honor of the ruby anniversary (Well, isn’t that special?) of the world’s most beloved sketch comedy show. And we’re showing it live, for free, this Sunday, on the largest screen in Northern Michigan.

Not sure what we’re showing on the State’s big screen? Talk amongst yourselves. Legal refused to let us tell you, but can you say “Cheezborger! Cheezborger! Cheezborger!!!” Come one, come all — we’ll have everything…well, except human parking cones. Amazing prizes for best costumes. Themed food. Coneheads. Cowbells. And pizza for sale. Shwiiiiiing!

Sunday, February 15 at 8:00 pm at the State Theatre – FREE Admission! 


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Update From Michael Moore: Welcome to the Coldest Little City in the World! The Comedy Festival is Here! Fri, 13 Feb 2015 16:46:52 +0000 The Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival starts tomorrow! It kicks off with my new one man show, GREETINGS FROM UPNORTHISTAN — a few tix are left for the show Friday at 7 pm. And then get ready, because at 7:01 pm, an arctic blast of over a dozen world-renowned comedians will take TC by storm — and we’ve still got tickets to the winter’s best party!

Don’t have yours yet? What are you waiting for? 80 degree weather? Get over yourself! This is the only chance to dispense with the despair and get down to Front Street for some major laughs. Order your tickets online now or come down to the State Theatre box office and pick them up.

If you want to get in on all the fun downtown, we’ve got your hot Q&As right here.

Don’t have a Presidents’ Day gift idea yet? Treat your Valentine, or better yet, Treat Yo Self, to an unforgettable night of laughter, right here in little ole TC!

Haven’t picked up your tickets yet? Skip the lines at the venues and get them ahead of time in the State Theatre box office, open tomorrow and Saturday beginning at 9 am.

Not familiar with some of our comedians? Take a chance! Expand your horizons! See the people we’re calling the superstars of tomorrow today, right here in our own frigid backyard. I promise it’ll be more entertaining than watching the morning 9&10 farm report.

Want to go to a show that might already be sold out? We have a few door sale tickets available. Come down one hour before showtime and we’ll see who we can get in.

Have you procreated? We have great events for the younger set, too! In addition to the outdoor Free on Front activities (Ferris wheel, ice skating rink, frozen mini golf, sledding) we’ve got “Frozen Sing-Along” screenings complete with interactive goodie bags and…drumroll please…The World Famous Kids Joke Contest. Don’t tell Doug Benson, but this just may be the funniest show of the entire weekend.

Looking for something FREE to do on Sunday night?  Well, look no further than “Live From Traverse City, It’s Sunday Night” — FREE on Sunday at 8 pm at the State. Not sure what we’re showing on the big screen? Legal refused to let us tell you, but can you say “Cheezborger! Cheezborger! Cheezborger!!!” Talk amongst yourselves. We’ll have everything… well, except alien coneheads. Amazing prizes for best costumes. Themed food. Church ladies. Cowbells. And pizza for sale. Shwiiiiiing!

What are our go-to suggestions for happiness this weekend?

Real life couple Natasha Leggero (“Modern Family,” “Let’s Be Cops,” “Suburgatory”) and Moshe Kasher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The League”) in a Valentine co-headlining show.

Comedian, podcaster, philanthropist, extreme jet skier, and Michigan native Kurt Braunohler (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Roustabout”).

Louis C.K.’s go-to fluffer, Todd Barry! He just played Madison Square Garden, and now he’s here in TC.

Stalwart of both the New York and Traverse City comedy scenes, Ted Alexandro (“Inside Amy Schumer”) left teaching behind to become one of the most respected stand-ups in the biz.

Love movies AND comedy?!? See Doug Benson and buddies riff on everyone’s favorite feel-good prostitution story, “Pretty Woman,” in a very special Valentine edition of The Benson Movie Interruption. It would be a “big mistake” to miss it! Friday, February 13 at the State Theatre at 11:30 pm. And it’s a high-class bargain at $15.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here this weekend with Bill Maher, Judd Apatow, and Sinbad. This is truly going to be our best ComFest yet.

See you on the Ferris wheel! I’ll be the one accidentally spilling the hot chocolate on the people below me. Sorry!


P.S. Continuing our love affair with counter-programming, all weekend long we’re showing great Oscar-contending films at the Bijou THAT ARE NOT FUNNY. See my pick for Best Documentary of the year, “Citizenfour,” and one of the most brilliant films made this year, “Foxcatcher.”  Screenings all day, every day, this week at the Bijou.

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Natasha Leggero & Moshe Kasher – Our Funny Valentines Mon, 09 Feb 2015 01:06:01 +0000 Love is in the air this ComFest/Valentine weekend and we hope you know that the perfect gift for any boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/life partner/BFF/crush/friend with benefits/human is a ticket to one of our great comedy shows.

And if it’s romance with a dose of laughter you’re after, you should definitely check out real-life couple Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher’s show at the City Opera House on Friday, February 13 at 7:30 pm.

One of the hottest couples in comedy, lovingly referred to in tabloid circles as “Moggero,” they’ve escaped the “Bennifer” curse and both successfully star in Leggero’s hit web series “Tubbin’ with Tash.”

On “Tubbin’ with Tash,” you can find Natasha interviewing the top names in comedy like Tig Notaro (ComFest ’14), Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, and Weird Al Yanlovic from a hot tub with the assistance of her obedient spa boy Pig Bottom (Kasher).

But no need to dial up the YouTube, you can see them live on stage right here in Traverse City!

And there are even more chances to see both Natasha and Moshe. You can catch Natasha with Ben Bailey on Saturday, February 14 at 9:30 pm at the State Theatre and Moshe Kasher with Nikki Glaser on Saturday, February 14 at 7:00 pm at the Old Town Playhouse.

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A ComFest Update from Michael Moore Fri, 06 Feb 2015 03:10:45 +0000

Well, Bill Maher, as you know, sold out in five minutes — all online. Then his backstage reception sold out. Then his simulcast at the State. And an hour later, Judd Apatow sold out. And tickets for everything else are flying! What an amazing first week it has been. Thank you.

So this is my nudge for you to get whatever other tix you want ASAP!

The shows with the FEWEST tickets left are mine and Sinbad‘s. My one man show will be staged at the Old Town Playhouse, an intimate setting where I will perform and share things I just can’t say on Fox News (where they’re always “sniping” at me, those silly willies!).

So I’ve kept the really good stuff just for you on February 13. But on one condition — you don’t tell your conservative brother-ln-law (who is a subscriber to Bill O’Reilly Premium) anything I might say! Actually, why don’t you bring him! Tell him it’s all going to be funny. Just don’t tell him it might be dangerous (remember the last time I did something like this in 2011 — and the TC police “raided” us right during the show!).

Speaking of my friends at Fox News, I thought, considering this is a comedy festival, why don’t we bring one of the reporters on Fox News and make him part of the festival? So, my treat for you: I’m bringing Fox News reporter, funnyman, and Traverse City native Bill McCuddy to be the opening act for Todd Barry and Ted Alexandro on February 13 at the State and Kurt Braunohler and Ted Alexandro on February 14 at the Old Town Playhouse.

Sinbad — the smash hit of last year’s festival — is back and ready to rock the City Opera House! I don’t know when I’ve laughed so hard. I begged him to come back and do his new act this year and be our big first ever closing night show — and he said, “get off your knees, man, you had me at Bill McCuddy!” His tickets will be gone by this weekend. Get one. Oh please don’t miss this show. You’ll thank me as I’m getting warm at Captain’s Quarters!

So many great comedians, so little time. Check out the full schedule and make your plans now!


Michael Moore

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Todd Barry – Fluffing for Louis C.K. Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:12:33 +0000 Louis C.K.’s main go-to guy and a returning ComFest favorite Todd Barry talks about his recent experience warming up a 14,000 person crowd at Louis C.K.’s recent Madison Square Garden concert in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Read the full writeup below and see Barry right here in TC on Friday, February 13 at 9:30 pm at the State Theatre and Saturday, February 14 at 9:30 pm at the City Opera House. Tickets available now!

Todd Barry

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