LaughFest announces shortened, primarily virtual comedy festival for 2021

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Gilda’s LaughFest announced Wednesday that the annual comedy festival would be condensed and largely shifted online this year.

Last year’s event was disrupted as the coronavirus made its way to Michigan.

This year’s festival, which spans March 11-14, will include 30 events, as well as social media content. Festival Director Joanne Roehm said the curtailment of last year’s event and this year’s new format will only broaden LaughFest’s horizons.

“You won’t have to be in West Michigan to participate in LaughFest this year,” Roehm said. “We’re able to interact with people from all over the country, and that does present some fun and interesting opportunities.”

Headlining acts and a full festival schedule are set to be revealed in February. Headliners will be part of paid programming, while other events like Family Improv Workshop, Kids Joke Time and Laughter Yoga will be free and held online.

Staples like the Laughter Rx Symposium and the Seriously Funny Adventure Challenge scavenger hunt will return this year in socially distant fashion.

The symposium, which provides health care professionals with education credit opportunities, will be held online.

The scavenger hunt will once again be held in downtown Grand Rapids with teams exploring stops to read clues and follow prompts. Participants throughout the four-day hunt are encouraged to be socially distanced during the event.

Between somber winter months and the pandemic, Roehm said being able to host LaughFest was nearly a necessity because of the positivity it spreads.

“We know more than ever that during the month of March – especially here in Michigan and at this point, all across the country – we’re going to need to smile and laugh more than ever,” said Roehm.

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More details and announcements – including the full lineup reveal in February – can be found at

The festival, now in its 11th year, is designed to bring added awareness to Gilda’s Club’s mission of providing free emotional health support for those on a cancer or grief journey. Gilda’s Club is celebrating its 20th year of operation.

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