Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

January 31, 2014

Fest combats cold with comedy, outdoor fun

TRAVERSE CITY — If the comedy doesn’t make you crack a smile, racing down Front Street on a zip line, in a rowboat or behind a snowblower will.

That’s the idea behind this year’s beefed-up Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival, Feb. 13-16, which combines free outdoor fun with live comedy and films.

Tickets for the shows go on sale at noon today online and at the State Theatre box office.

Funnyman Fred Willard (”Best in Show,” “Anchorman,” “Wall-E”) and “clean” comedian Sinbad are the latest additions to a comedy lineup that includes Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Ian Black, Tig Notaro, Stephen Lynch, Tim Meadows, Dave Foley, Jeff Garlin, Matt Braunger, Kirk Fox, Dan St. Germain, Sarah Tiana, TJ & Dave, Mike Toomey and Set List.

Willard, whose credits include thousands of TV appearances and four Emmy nominations, will accept the TC Comedy Fest Legends Award during a conversation with festival co-host Michael Moore at 6 p.m. Feb. 14 at the City Opera House.

“He’s a legend,” said Deb Lake, executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival, which puts on the festival in partnership with the National Cherry Festival.

Willard’s 2000 film “Best in Show,” a satire on the world of championship dog breeding and training, will be among a handful screened as part of the festival. Trevor Tkach, executive director of the Cherry Festival, couldn’t help but notice that Willard’s appearance ties in nicely with one of the Winter Comedy Fest’s most popular outdoor events.

“I’m optimistic maybe he’ll see some of the Monster Dog Pull,” said Tkatch, referring to the Feb. 15 event that has dogs of all breeds and sizes pulling a weighted sled for barking rights.

The pull is one of about 20 “Free on Front” events that will take place Feb. 14-16 on two closed blocks of Front Street between Park and Union. Popular events returning from last year include the ice skating rink, sledding hill and the Ferris wheel. But Tkach expects the zip line above the 100 block of the street to be the new favorite.

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