Downtown Traverse City announces the return of a Winter Comedy Fest
It’s no joke: Traverse City is preparing for the return of a comedy festival to be held downtown in February.
Hosted by the Downtown Traverse City Association, Comedy Fest will feature a mix of comics, improv, live podcast recordings and other special events.
“It will be a nice change of pace to have something to look forward to,” said Abby Taylor, Downtown Experience Coordinator.
“I think everyone is excited because we want to keep the downtown alive during the winter months. It gives something to look forward to. A chance to be able to hang out and share lots of laughs with friends,” she added.
The Downtown Traverse City Association’s board needed to think about ways to get business going again during the slower winter months. And this brain freeze led to the return of a popular party.
“We need comedy. Where’s the comedy? It made a lot of sense (to our board),” said Dawn Gildersleeve, board member and CEO of Cherry Republic.
If this sounds familiar, it should be. The Winter Comedy Fest ran for five years from 2011 to 2015. Business owners wanted to bring it back, even though they’ll start with the basics.
“We’re just starting with comedy, then we’ll try to expand it. Have fun differently…things to do for all ages,” Taylor says. “It’s a plan for the future” for future comedy festivals.
Asked about the now defunct festival of years past, Gildersleeve says the board had no apprehension about bringing it back and seeing it succeed. “No apprehension. I think it was more exciting. We felt we needed something at this time of year in this town. It was a success before, we all felt it,” she says.
It’s 56 degrees Fahrenheit in Traverse City this Thursday afternoon in late September, but in February it could be 5 or 6 degrees Fahrenheit. Downtown businesses say now is a great time to increase traffic downtown.
Gildersleeve says, “We felt like we were bringing people into town, because it’s just a good time of year for that. It’s the middle of winter, it can be dull. These may be non-sunny days. In this way, he brings sunshine to all.
“I think Comedy Fest would bring a lot of people downtown. They come for the restaurants, they come for the shows, and hopefully do some shopping too…they probably won’t bring their kids, but hopefully they’ll bring something back for them,” Amanda Walton, toy store owner told Toy Harbour. “That’s actually a lot of my clientele, they’re people who are away from the kids for the weekend and come in looking for something to take home for them.”
This will be an opportunity for businesses to warm up in the cold of winter.
“Any event that can draw a lot of people downtown is great for all of us. It’s great for restaurants, it’s great for all small businesses,” says Walton. “It’s usually such a slow time, so whatever drives people here during this kind of lull. It’s after the holidays but before spring break. So I think that’s a great, great thing.
Organizers expect 40 comedians to appear in stand-up, enhancement and other special events on 20 different shows.
“We’re going to bring in all the different comedians, there will be improv shows through to karaoke at night,” Taylor says.
The performances will be spread over five different locations from February 2 to 4, 2023.
Details and guest list will be released in the coming weeks. The DTCA says events will take place at the City Opera House, Traverse City Comedy Club, Encore 201, The Workshop Brewing Company and Hotel Indigo.