BY KATHY GIBBONS
TRAVERSE CITY — Ever wondered what the person with the voice behind the E*Trade baby looks like in person?
The Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival will give you a chance to find out.
Pete Holmes, the voice of Mark on Comedy Central's "Ugly Americans" and of that aforementioned adorably precocious baby, is among the comedians the festival is announcing for the President's Day weekend lineup, Feb. 14-17.
Headliners include Robert Wuhl of "Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl" and HBO's Arli$$; Susie Essman, best known as Jeff Garlin's wife on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; Paul Provenza, currently host of Showtime's "The Green Room with Paul Provenza"; TJ Miller, who has appeared in many films including "Our Idiot Brother," "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Cloverfield"; Allan Havey, one of the early hosts of what would become Comedy Central and recent star of "Louie"; voice talent Todd Barry; Neal Brennan, writing partner to Dave Chapelle; and Ian Edwards, who opened for JB Smoove at the 2010 Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival.
Richard Belzer, best known for his work on "Law and Order," is a maybe, depending on if he can get a shooting date for his show moved, said Traverse City Film Festival founder and Comedy Arts Festival organizer Michael Moore. Co-founder Jeff Garlin of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fame likely will end up on stage, possibly with his TV wife, Moore said.
Jim Carpenter and Rebecca Reynolds of Leelanau County will show their recently completed documentary with director Larry Brand, "The Coexist Comedy Tour," on Saturday during the festival.
There could still be a few other surprises added to the lineup, which Moore said will be finalized along with a schedule by Jan. 25. Overall, he said the combination of entertainment and joining forces with the National Cherry Festival's Winter WowFest activities transforms the Comedy Arts Festival into one big community-wide family event.
"It makes the weekend accessible to an even wider audience," Moore said. "A lot of the comedy events, kids can't go to them, but there are activities kids can go to and (families) can alternate between going to a show maybe and then hang out during the day and do winter stuff."
That winter stuff includes free sledding, ice skating and Ferris wheel rides on the 200 block of Front Street. There will be ice sculptures, sleigh rides, bed and snow blower races and competitions for children.
The WowFest's popular Monster Dog Pull returns, as does the Soup'R'Bowl soup tasting, also that Saturday, and Sunday morning Pancake Breakfast at the Park Place Dome this year. A laser light show is planned for Sunday night.
"That's a lot of really fun stuff," said Trevor Tkach, National Cherry Festival executive director. "As a father of three young children ages 6, 4 and 1, if I wasn't working this event, I'd be going to it."
Tkach said this year's Comedy Arts Festival represents the cream of both winter events.
"We're bringing back the best of the activities we had, and the comedy's the wow," Tkach said. "It's a marriage of two events."
Moore is just glad the Comedy Arts Festival is back after being canceled last year over a scheduling conflict with Porterhouse Productions' Winter Microbrew and Music Festival, which is being held Feb. 9.
"This is something that is going to be a tradition in Traverse City," Moore said. "I think that's a good thing — for everybody."
Tickets go on sale Feb. 2. Look for the complete program insert in the Feb. 1 edition of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.