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Grand Rapids Laughfest benefits Gilda’s Club

Ahead of Schedule by TerryJohnston
Ahead of Schedule by TerryJohnston

Laughfest, the annual festival of comedy, performance, film, and a variety of seriously funny stuff in Grand Rapids, takes place March 8-18. It features some of the top names in comedy including Martin Short, Kevin Nealon, Whoopi Goldberg, Bo Burnham, Sinbad, Mike Epps, Rodney Carrington, Jim Gaffigan and Kathleen Madigan along with a whole lot of lesser known but equally funny people.

You can get all the details about performers and events at the link above. Probably the coolest thing about Laughfest is that all proceeds ($300,000+ in 2011!) benefit the cancer, grief and support programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

Comedienne Gilda Radner created some of TV’s most memorable characters as an original cast of the groundbreaking Saturday Night Live. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986 and became part of a cancer support community that helped to deal with her disease. After she died in 1989, Joanna Bull and husband Gene Wilder started to plan Gilda’s Club, a free cancer support community that helps people of all ages gather to learn more about cancer, share their experiences and hopefully laugh a little.

The first Gilda’s Club opened in New York City in 1995 and shortly thereafter, some folks started gathering support to bring a Gilda’s Club to Grand Rapids. Their efforts culminated in the 2001 opening of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Click above to learn more about Gilda’s Club and we’ll let Gilda herself take you home as one of her signature characters, Baba-wawa. Also check out this interview with Gene Wilder on InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse where he talks some about life with Gilda.