Joanne from the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, stopped by The River on Wednesday, December 7th and announced the first round of talent and shows scheduled for the festival’s seventh year to be held March 9 to 19, 2017, in downtown Grand Rapids, and surrounding communities. New this year, details were released regarding LaughFest Badges, which allow individuals access to various aspects of the festival depending on the level of badge purchased.

Photo: LaughFest
Photo Courtesy of LaughFest

Headliners announced include Iliza (Shlesinger) and Sinbad. Festival favorites and featuring multiple artists are, the Bissell Presents Clean Comedy Showcase, Best of the Midwest Competition, underwritten by Wolverine World Wide; and the Gun Lake Casino Presents National Stand-up Comedy Showcase will be returning during the 2017 festival. Other shows announced at this time include LaughFest’s Best, Pop Scholars and River City Improv.

Iliza’s show will be held Friday, March 17, at Fountain Street Church in downtown Grand Rapids. Iliza first appeared at LaughFest in 2015 and sold out multiple shows. Originally from Dallas, she is the only female and youngest comedian to hold the title of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. In 2013, her debut one-hour comedy special, War Paint, reached number one on the iTunes charts and in 2015 Esquire Magazine listed her as one of the top comedians working today. Currently Iliza can be seen in Confirmed Kills, her newest stand-up special for Netflix, which premiered in September and in early 2017 her first book Girl Logic will be released.

Photo Courtesy of LaughFest

Returning to LaughFest on March 10 at 8 p.m., Sinbad will also perform at Fountain Street Church. Ranked by Comedy Central as one of the top 100 stand-up comedians of all time, Sinbad has built a loyal following and is known for “making it sound profound without being profane.” He is known for his starring appearances in Jingle All the Way, Houseguest, and Necessary Roughness. He has starred in the television sit-com A Different World as well as his own series, The Sinbad Show.

The Bissell Presents Clean Comedy Showcase features multiple shows March 9 – March 11 at the BOB. Those performing include Vladimir Caamano, Michael Harrison, Erin Jackson, Brad Wenzel, Gina Brillon, Kristin Key, Tim Northern and Michael Somerville.

The Best of the Midwest Competition will be held on Wednesday, March 15 at the BOB and includes eight artists. Those vying for the Best of the Midwest title include Marty DeRosa, Alex Kumin, Shaun Latham, Zach Martina, Mike Paramore, Ramon Rivas, Will Spottedbear, and Kristen Toomey.

The Gun Lake Casino Presents National Stand-up Comedy Showcase will be held March 17 and 18 at the BOB. Artists participating in the showcase include Matthew Broussard, Drew Michael, Liz Miele, Ali Siddiq, Christian Finnegan, Megan Gailey, Shane Torres and Ricky Velez.

Other shows highlighted during today’s announcement are LaughFest’s Best, a secret sampling of comedians from across the festival including regional and national comics; Pop Scholars, a four-man, fast paced improv team; and River City Improv, which provides clean adult laughs using comedic improvisation with games and songs.

Access to ticketed LaughFest events are available by purchasing LaughFest Badges, ticket packages and single ticket sales. LaughFest Badges are priced at four levels and provide individuals with unique opportunities to experience the festival. Festival badges range in price from $99 - $449 and various options include tickets to their choice of artists, insider perks like access to exclusive parties, early access to single ticket sales, first chance seating at free shows, merchandise discounts, access to the Headliner’s Club, exclusive festival t-shirt, and more.

Information about ticket packages, festival badges and single ticket sales is available at Packages and badges will go on sale later this month, single tickets will go on sale in late January. Updates regarding LaughFest and ticket sales will be shared on the festival’s various social media platforms.