Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:28:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Open Mic 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 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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Kurt Braunohler – Our New Hero! Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:09:00 +0000 Not only is Kurt Braunohler a hilarious comedian who’s already getting his winter puns ready for his appearance in Traverse City, but for his creative, absurdist, and joyous fundraising efforts he’s become the ComFest’s new hero.tumblr_nisqznk9OG1r72qmwo1_500

Kurt, joined by some of his famous friends like Kristen Schaal, Kyle Kinane (ComFest ’11), and Wyatt Cenac, jet skied the length of the mighty Mississippi to raise enough money for Heifer International to send 500 goats and 1,000 chickens to Africa — and got into some pretty amusing hijinks along the way.

You can watch some of Kurt’s antics on “Roustabout” available for viewing on Comedy Central Online or get a taste of his incredible efforts below.

We were so inspired, the ComFest staff donated a goat to help create a sustainable economy for African communities and you can do the same, or learn more, by visiting Heifer International.

So, basically, if all this doesn’t make you want to hug Kurt Braunohler, or come to one of his shows at ComFest, we don’t know what is wrong with you.

See Kurt on Friday, February 13 at 7:00 pm at the State Theatre and on Saturday, February 14 at 9:30 pm at the Old Town Playhouse.

Roustabout: Kurt Braunohler Gets Wet for Goats from Heifer International on Vimeo.

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Ben Bailey – “You Guys are in the Cash Cab!” Sun, 25 Jan 2015 19:35:24 +0000 You loved him on Discovery’s hit game show “Cash Cab” where unsuspecting people hopped into a Manhattan cab only to find themselves inside a trivia game show. Now you can see the Emmy-winner as he brings his hilarious standup show to Traverse City.

You can catch Ben Bailey live in concert Friday, February 13 at 7 pm at the State Theatre and Saturday, February 14 at 9:30 pm at the State Theatre. Tickets available now!

In honor of the trivia guru’s upcoming appearance at this year’s ComFest, we challenge you to test your smarts and learn a little more about Mr. Ben Bailey with the questions below.

True or False? In order to host “Cash Cab” Bailey had to become a licensed cab driver in New York?

-TRUE! Bailey successfully passed New York’s demanding taxi driver school and is an official member of the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission.

What triathlon race that includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike trek, and a 26.2 mile run has Bailey completed in?

-Ironman Triathlon

Bailey hails from what state, known for having the most diners and car thefts in the world?

-New Jersey

Name the famous, and supposedly haunted, Los Angles Comedy Club on the Sunset Strip that is that is where Bailey got his start in stand-up?

-The Comedy Store

Name Bailey’s favorite sports team, which shares MetLife Stadium with the New York Jets and is the NFL’s longest-established team in the Northeastern United States.

-New York Giants

Bailey appeared as a contestant on what popular American television show hosted by Ed McMahon?

-“Star Search”

Bailey attended what Virginia University that derives its name from one of Virginias’s state nicknames, given to the state by King Charles II of England for remaining loyal to the crown during the English Civil War.

-Old Dominion University

Bailey’s won an Emmy three times for Outstanding Game Show Host. Name the now-retired man who has won more awards in this category than any other host, with 14, for hosting what remains the longest-running daytime game show in North American TV history.

-Bob Barker, “The Price is Right”

See him in “Cash Cab” action below.

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Comedy King JUDD APATOW, SINBAD to Join BILL MAHER and Me at the Star-Studded 2015 Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival! Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:07:16 +0000 Friends,

Here it is! The star-studded lineup for the fifth Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival — the world’s ONLY festival that has six words in its name.For our fifth anniversary, we are throwing you a party the likes of which neither Traverse City nor even Rapid City have ever seen. Appearing at our festival,February 13-15, will be none other than comedy superstars BILL MAHERJUDD APATOW, and SINBAD! They will all be here, live, performing in a place so far north of God’s Country, even God doesn’t have a GPS good enough to find us.

With a lineup this stellar, plus a hand-selected group of new comedians who will be the comic legends of tomorrow, how can you not be in TC for what is destined to be an unforgettable Valentine’s Day / Presidents’ Day Combo Weekend Celebration?

As you may have heard, BILL MAHER is coming to Traverse City! Each weekend, after doing his “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday night show on HBO, he travels the country playing huge halls and arenas. But on Valentine’s Day, as a personal favor to me, he’s offering his time, free of charge, to do a rare show in a 600-seat venue, the City Opera House, as a benefit to the ComFest’s Free on Front and the people of northern Michigan. In addition to his stand-up, he also asked that I do something he and I have never done before — comedy, together, Bill & Me, on stage, for an uncensored, no-holds-barred duet of ideas, laughs, and things we hope no one will repeat outside the Opera House!

JUDD APATOW is the most successful writer-producer-director in American comedy today. He has launched a new Hollywood comedy generation, discovering Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Melissa McCarthy. He’s brought us blockbuster after blockbuster: “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Anchorman,” “Bridesmaids,” “Step Brothers,” “Superbad,” and “Heavy Weights.” After quietly making underground appearances recently in New York and Los Angeles, he’s decided to come to Traverse City for one of his first public appearances outside of those two cities. This is going to be a huge event and will be the subject of national media coverage — so get your tickets to see Judd Apatow ASAP.

But wait, there’s more. After selling out last year’s ComFest in record time, the man, the myth, the legendary SINBAD will return to TC for a very special Sundayevening closing night event. Named one of Comedy Central’s top 100 comedians of all time, Sinbad’s larger-than-life persona and genuine good humor have made him one of the most beloved comics ever. You know this Michigan native from film (“Houseguest”) and TV (“The Sinbad Show”), as well as his recent appearance on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Keeping it PG (he hasn’t sworn on stage in over 30 years), Sinbad tells jokes his dad “taught him back in the day.” We love him, and you will, too. Ask anyone who was there last year and they’ll tell you: “DO NOT MISS THIS SIDE-SPLITTING SHOW!!!”

We are also thrilled to reveal our fantastic lineup of new and fresh comedy stars, hand selected by Doug Benson and me, to come to Traverse City. Even if you haven’t heard of some of them already, there is no doubt in my mind that they are already well on their way to becoming household names. Remember, this comedy festival (and our film festival) was where you first met then-unknowns like Lena Dunham, Whitney Cummings, Pete Holmes, Kyle Kinane, Ian Edwards, and Aubrey Plaza.

This year, right here on the stages of Traverse City, you can catch:

*Natasha Leggero (“Chelsea Lately” “Suburgatory,” “Community,” “Neighbors”), pausing work on her upcoming Comedy Central series to bring her saucy “Tubbin’ with Tash” energy to the Great White North.

*Moshe Kasher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The League”), acting every inch of the Variety Magazine’s “Ten Comics to Watch,” LA Times’ “Faces to Watch,” and iTunes’ “Comic of the Year” that he is.

*Ben Bailey (“Cash Cab”) driving his acclaimed, affable, and Emmy-winning self right on in to TC.

*Nikki Glaser (“Nikki & Sara LIVE,” “Inside Amy Schumer”), sharing the quick-witted and sassy stand-up that has made her a veritable comedic prodigy.

*Kurt Braunohler (“Bob’s Burgers,” “New Girl”) goofing around and charming audiences the way only a Variety, Timeout NY & LA, Comedy Central, and the NY Comedy Festival “Comic to Watch” can.

*Todd Barry (“Louie,” “The Wrestler”) has been on all the big shows and has won all the awards; he’s done movies and radio and TV. He’s bored with all of that, so he’s bringing his wry observations back to Michigan.

*Ted Alexandro (“Inside Amy Schumer,” “Louie”) returning to TC by popular demand after touring with Louis CK, and appearing on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel.

And don’t forget the wise, warm, and wonderful DOUG BENSON, who helped us put all of this together. Traverse City’s beloved adopted son (“Super High Me,” “Friends,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Best Week Ever”) returns to host this year’s ComFest, and he’ll be doing his blunt stand-up, his famous Benson Movie Interruption, and the always animated taping of the Doug Loves Movies podcast. Thanks, Doug!

Finally, I will perform a new version of my one-man show, kicking off the fest at 7 pm on opening night at the Old Town Playhouse. It will be funny. It will be political. And I will help birth a live cow right on stage with the help of the cast of “Chicago Fire” and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. You don’t want to miss this.

All of this PLUS we’ve got FREE ON FRONT fun again this year! It’s open to everyone and it’s free, Friday-Sunday, featuring 18 holes of frozen mini golf, an ice skating rink, sledding, and a Ferris wheel. And we’ve got our World Famous Kids Joke contest and “Frozen Sing-Along” events with goodie bags. We’ve even got local open mic and improv at InsideOut Gallery.

How can you not be in Traverse City for Presidents’ Day Weekend? What are you going to be doing instead? Getting snubbed by the Academy? Not vaccinating your kids? Scouting North of The Wall? Doing shots of Ice Hole? Writing “50 Shades of Eggshell White?” Warming up the Snow Trac? Swiping right on Tinder? Finally finishing that leftover Go-Gurt?

No way! You’re going to be up here with me and Judd Apatow and Bill Maher andSinbad, freezing and laughing your butts off.

Click here to see the schedule! Or get a hard copy in this Friday’s Record-Eagle. Tickets go on sale online only on Friday, January 23 at 12 noon. Walk-up sales begin Saturday, January 24 at 12 noon in the lobby of the State Theatre.

Sending you valentines in advance from all 44 Presidents,

Michael Moore

P.S. The festival needs sponsors, just like the film festival does. And the only way to guarantee tickets to all the great shows you want to see is to become a sponsor. Sponsors receive early ticketing access today and tomorrow before they go on sale to the general public on Friday. Sponsorships start as low as $500. Contact for more info.

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