Some big names will help bring big laughs to Traverse City.
Star of the big screen, talk show host and stand-up comic Rosie O'Donnell will take center stage for the Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival.
The event brought to northern Michigan by founders Michael Moore and Jeff Garlin will take place in downtown Traverse City February 13-16. O'Donnell will open the festival on February 13 at 8:30 p.m. at the State Theatre.
"Rosie O'Donnell is the greatest, and she's the perfect comedian to open this year's fest," said Moore. "She is bold and brash and an American original -- and she embodies exactly what our festival's motto is about: 'Comedy is Dangerous!'"
Operating under the mission of "a dozen comedians, a bunch of movies, thousands of laughs -- and 200 inches of snow," the festival will feature top nationally-renowned comedians in concert, including Michael Ian Black ("Wet Hot American Summer," VH1's "I Love the..."), Tig Notaro ("In a World," "This American Life"), Stephen Lynch (Tony-nominated musical comedian), and Tim Meadows ("Saturday Night Live"), plus an improv group or two, comedy films, open mic sets, and family-friendly comedy.
Jeff Garlin is taking a break from taping his hit TV show "The Goldbergs" to do his podcast "By the Way" at the City Opera House. Also coming to TC are ComFest veterans TJ and Dave, Mike Toomey, and Sarah Tiana, as well as newcomers Dan St. Germain, Matt Braunger, Kirk Fox, and Alex Edelman. Set List with Paul Provenza and Troy Conrad will return, and Celebrity Autobiography will make its Traverse City debut. The full comedy lineup will be announced on Tuesday, January 28.
The Traverse City Film Festival and National Cherry Festival will team-up during the comedy festival to turn Front Street into a winter wonderland of free family fun. Two blocks of Front Street will be blocked off for festival fun including a free ice skating rink, a ferris wheel and a sledding hill. New additions include a zip line down the 100 block of Front Street.
It is hoped that the festival will help stimulate the local winter economy. Michael Moore still predicts that "within five years, planeloads of people, hopelessly trying to escape global warming, will come to Traverse City, Michigan, to enjoy comedy in the freezin' cold."
Comedy venues for the festival include the State Theatre, the City Opera House, the Old Town Playhouse, InsideOut Gallery, and Horizon Books.
Trevor Tkach, executive director of the National Cherry Festival, said, "We're excited to be working with the Traverse City Film Festival again to create a one-of-a-kind event that will benefit the whole community during February, National Cherry Month. With our snow-moving skills and the film festival's ability to present the world's top comedians indoors... inside... where it's warm, the festival is truly a win-win for everyone -- except my frostbitten extremities."
Tickets go on sale January 31 at noon and can be purchased online at wintercomedy.org and in the State Theatre box office.