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This Winter: Comedy Festival Comeback

November 14, 2012
This Winter: Comedy Festival Comeback

Traverse City’s Comedy Festival is back on for 2013 – and it’s coming back bigger and better than ever.

The Ticker has learned that organizers of the TC Film Festival – who, along with comedian Jeff Garlin launched the annual TC Comedy Arts Festival in 2010 – have teamed up with National Cherry Festival organizers to combine the laugh fest with NCF’s annual winter event, the Cherry Capital Winter Wow!fest.

The new incarnation, the Traverse City Winter Comedy Festival, will run Thursday through Sunday of Presidents Day weekend (Feb. 14-17) – and perhaps prompt an unprecedented experience: the shutting down of Front Street for several days and nights to make way for an ice skating rink.

“This is a new, expanded comedy festival, and we’re really excited,” says Deb Lake, executive director of the TC Film Festival. “A lot of people have contacted us to tell us they wanted the comedy festival to return.”

Organizers had cancelled the 2012 Comedy Arts Festival, voicing concerns about running the downtown event on the same February weekend as the Winter Microbrew and Music Festival, which also would be held downtown. (In 2013, the Winter Microbrew and Music Festival is scheduled for February 9.)

The lineup of comedians and improvisation troupes has yet to be determined, though organizers tell The Ticker that comic Mike Birbiglia is slated to return to TC with his film Sleepwalk With Me. Past stand-up acts have included Roseanne Barr, Patton Oswalt and Whitney Cummings, as well as Garlin.

Now, Moore and Garlin – who co-stars with Larry David on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm – are touting “major comedians plus snowmobile races.”

Trevor Tkach, executive director of the National Cherry Festival and Winter Wow!, says family-friendly outdoor events will be a major part of the coming Traverse City Winter Comedy Festival; organizers are working to determine which events will fit best now that the comedy fest and WOW! are joining forces.

He says attendees will likely see the sled-dog pull – a crowd favorite in years past – as well as a Sunday-morning pancake breakfast to benefit the area’s food pantries. In addition to the talk of blocking off Front Street and building an ice rink, organizers also are considering bringing in a Ferris wheel and projecting 3-D movies on walls of a downtown building.

Two things that won’t return: a beer tent or food concessions – they could be seen as competing with downtown restaurants and bars, Tkach says.

The comedy/Wow! combination should bring a wider range of visitors to town, says Mike Norton, spokesman for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau: “Both bring different demographics, enthusiastic supporters and their own bases of volunteers.”

Venues for the festival include the State Theatre, the City Opera House, the Old Town Playhouse and InsideOut Gallery. The full lineup of comedians will be announced within the next couple of months; tickets will go on sale in January.


Most Recent Comments

 
Margaret on January 22, 2013 1:30pm

Grand Traverse Pie Company will bring the popular Make and Bake event from Cherry Festival indoors to our Park Street Shop location! This is a great event for kids to make mini pies; we bake them and send you home with pie!
Donations are requested for the support of Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center.
Saturday February 16th from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Check for details on our website soon-gtpie.com.

Christopher on January 7, 2013 10:30pm

Still no info on who is performing? It's little more than a month away, and I need to plan my time off now.

Wendy on January 6, 2013 8:53pm

Where and when can we find out who the lineup is and purchase tickets?

Ellen Wesley on December 12, 2012 6:10am

All I can say is Yay!!!!

Thanks so much!

Ellen

Melanie on November 15, 2012 6:36pm

Winter WOW Fest was a kid Friendly event- this event does not sound kid friendly and I think the name will not even entice families to come. I think its a great thing for adults -but not sure that will bring families. I do think its a mistake to not have the food venues- the downtown restaurants don't have the seating and can be pricey for some families to eat downtown. I think that due to the name change the initial reaction is that families are going to thin the Winter WOW fest has been cancelled and replaced with a comedy festival.

Susan Duke-Tyler on November 15, 2012 12:41pm

Just wondering why the fest would be scheduled on a Valentine's weekend when the local restaurants are already assured a busy time....

Beth on November 15, 2012 7:03am

J&S Hamburg Downtown is open 24 hours on the weekends all winter. We will be happy to add hours during the week nights also to accomodate the Comedy Festival. Love having them back!

Norman Bowbeer on November 14, 2012 2:08pm

Thank you for bringing back this event! I cannot wait and really hope we have some open microphone time at it! FYI TC Locals -- I am hosting an open mic event Friday Dec 12/7/12 at Mt Holiday. Check FaceBook: Mt Holiday Comedy Fundraiser

Cheers!
Norm

Maryln Rose on November 14, 2012 11:33am

This reminded me of the old "Cherry County Playhouse" under the striped tent I enjoyed when living in Traverse City in the 60's and 70's. Hated to see it go. I especially remembered Riley Hendrickson, a star of the show that I got to know personally. What fun to remember.

Mike on November 14, 2012 10:26am

js is right...so logical...local leaders are dips.

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