5th Annual Traverse City Winter Comedy Festival

The fifth annual Traverse City Winter Comedy Festival will take place the weekend of February 13-15, 2015 in downtown Traverse City.
This year’s line up includes big names like Bill Maher, Judd Apatow, Sinbad and a plethora of current and of course, funny participants. MyNorth’s Eliza Foster chatted with Meg Weichman, the creative director and comedian logistics coordinator for the festival about what to expect this year, what kind of fun will be in store for the kids and what she’s looking forward to the most about the festival.
Tickets for the festival are on sale now and can be purchased online or at the box office in the State Theatre lobby.

What should attendees look forward to the most about this year’s comedy festival? Anything new and exciting on deck?

Judd Apatow, Hollywood’s King of Comedy, is making a rare standup appearance right here in TC! And the chance to see a real-life couple, Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher, headlining a show together on Valentine’s Day Weekend is not to be missed!

Also, we’re excited to be bringing the beloved everyman Ben Bailey of “Cash Cab” fame. And no he’s not driving himself here, but who didn’t love that show. Dude won six Emmys!

Sinbad was the absolute hit of the festival last year, so we just had to bring him back. He’ll be delivering his always hilarious PG standup (he hasn’t sworn on stage in over 30 years) at a special Sunday night closing night event, live at the City Opera House.


Bill Maher has been the talk of the town since it was announced that he was coming to TC. Why is he coming to Traverse City? Does he have any Northern Michigan connections?

Bill Maher is coming to Traverse City because his friend, festival founder and president Michael Moore, has told him such great things about our town, our community…and our Ferris wheel. When Michael asked him to come, Maher agreed to be here for the festival and to help out in any way he can. He is generously performing as a benefit to fund the Free on Front activities and we are very grateful for the opportunity to bring a talent of his caliber this far north.


A few other big names include Jeff Garlin and comedian Doug Benson. What are they going to bring to the festival?

Doug Benson, along with Michael Moore and Jeff Garlin, hand selected many of the comedians we are bringing. Benson absolutely loves Traverse City and that really comes across in his shows here. Unfortunately, Jeff is unable to attend this year, but he leaves his mark on the festival with his Late Night Combo Platter at Horizon Books on Saturday night, and the many great talents he brought to us from L.A.


Tell me about the collaboration with the National Cherry Festival.

We are thrilled to partner with the National Cherry Festival on this event. Before the Cherry Festival got involved in the project, we were pretty much just comedy, and now with their expertise we have been able to add a very cool aspect to the festival that makes us unique and more accessible. Free on Front is free to the community and can be enjoyed by everyone – sledding, ice skating, ice mini golf, and a Ferris wheel — bringing some much-needed fun to these dreary winter days. The Cherry Festival bears the brunt of the outdoor setup, while we stay toasty warm at the indoor venues. Volunteers get to pick their temperature — believe it or not, there are volunteers who enjoy being outside!


Will there be any kid-friendly activities?

I kid you not, one of very best events in the entire festival is The World Famous Kids Joke Contest. We invite all aspiring young comedians (ages 14 and under) to come up to the stage of the State Theatre on Saturday, February 14 at 2:15 pm and deliver their best joke. All participants receive a prize, and you won’t believe what comes out of the mouths of babes.
This year we are also hosting Frozen Sing-Along events on February 14 & 15. Attendees will receive special interactive goodie bags and costumes are encouraged. Frozen characters will also be popping up along Front Street in this year’s crop of dazzling ice sculptures.

What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s festival?

Well, aside from Bill Maher, Judd Apatow, and The World Famous Kids Joke Contest, I am most looking forward to Michael Moore’s one man show (see it here before it hits Broadway!), and the Benson Movie Interruption of “Pretty Woman.” “Pretty Woman” is sincerely one of my favorite films. I have watched it more times than I can count, so the chance to hear world-class comedians riff on this classic — that hasn’t exactly aged gracefully — LIVE from the State Theatre promises to be a truly original and awesome experience whether you are one of the film’s devotees or not. I saw The Benson Movie Interruption of “Road House” at the film festival this summer and it was absolutely hilarious. A one-of-a-kind event!  Also, while may people may not have heard of Kurt Braunohler, he is one of the most respected comedians around and I am sure Traverse City will fall in love with his joyous, absurdist humor.


Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased on the State Theatre’s website or in person at the State Theatre.