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LaughFest's 'Best of the Midwest' competition to showcase regional comedians

Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is holding the competition for the sixth consecutive year as part of LaughFest. Eight up-and-coming comics from the Midwest will compete on March 16 for a $2,500 prize.

/Photo courtesy of Gilda's LaughFest

Underwriting support from:

Other LaughFest events

For a full listing of all this year's LaughFest events, visit 

Carmen Morales performs at 2015's Best of the Midwest

Carmen Morales performs at 2015's Best of the Midwest /Photo courtesy of Gilda's LaughFest

LaughFest may be known for bringing famous comics to Grand Rapids, but comedy fans will also get a chance to see some of the region’s best rising stars at the third floor of The B.O.B. at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

The competition, underwritten by Wolverine Worldwide, will feature Sydney Adeniyi, Chris Bowers, Kate Brindle, Jim Flannigan, Rob JenkinsChris Knutson, Paul Strickland and Russ Williamson. A combination of an audience vote and judge’s decision will decide the winner of the title “2016 Gilda’s LaughFest Best of the Midwest Comedian,” as well as the cash prize.

LaughFest works with Funny Business Agency in Grand Rapids to discover rising stars in the Midwest. Gilda’s LaughFest program director Joanne Roehm says they select different comics every year to keep the festival different each time.

“Every year it’s kind of automatically different because the talent is different,” she says. “It’s a fresh, diverse group of comics and you never know who the audience is going to respond to.”

While New York and Los Angeles are typically considered the epicenters of stand-up, LaughFest is seeking to put the Midwest on the map.

“I think there’s a growing comedy scene in the Midwest,” Roehm says. “The Midwest has both growing comedic talent and a growing audience, and we’d like to think LaughFest has contributed to that.”

Minnesota comedian Tommy Ryman was crowned Best of the Midwest in 2015, and AJ Finney won in 2014.

The event is a fundraiser for Gilda’s Club, a nonprofit that provides free emotional healthcare to people with cancer or those grieving the death of a loved one. This is the sixth year Gilda’s Club has organized LaughFest in Grand Rapids.

The event is rated R for “adult content with some vulgarity and/or profanity.” Tickets are $15. The B.O.B. is located at 20 Monroe Avenue NW. For more information and to buy tickets, visit LaughFest’s website.

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