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February 16, 2013

Comedy Fest co-founder Garlin: 'I wake up, I'm funny'

TRAVERSE CITY — New York City's comedy venues don't have anything on the State Theatre's sound system, apparently.

Judah Friedlander, best known for his role as Frank Rossitano on NBC's "30 Rock," applauded the venue after performing a last-minute stand-up act Thursday during opening night of the Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival.

The audience wasn't expecting Friedlander to open for Colin Quinn. The "World Champion" wasn't planning on it either, until festival co-founder Jeff Garlin informed him shortly before the show.

"Real loose" is how Garlin, co-star and executive producer of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," operates, Friedlander said. That's also true in his stand-up sets, which he doesn't typically plan.

"My creative process is that I'm funny," Garlin said. "I wake up, I'm funny. I go to sleep, I dream funny."

Friedlander's audience at the City Opera House today at 10:30 p.m. can expect a mix of everything from a comic who performs on-the-fly, pulls from an "arsenal" of material and allows audience interaction to take the wheel.

He's set to perform with Ian Edwards and Todd Barry.

Friedlander said Traverse City is just like a beautiful winter movie set.

But, "Is anyone ever used to the cold weather?" Garlin asked.

On the bright side, frosty temps give Traverse City an upper hand for hosting a festival that draws laughter.

"I think that's really smart," Friedlander said of holding the event in winter, "because so many comedy festivals, they host things when it's really nice outside."

Plus, cities that are "too nice" don't have as good a sense of humor, Friedlander added. Warm weather cities just shouldn't host comedy festivals, he said. Then Garlin chimed in unless it's in Hawaii, in which case Garlin's open to a month-long invitation.

Garlin is set to perform at 6 p.m. at the State Theatre, where he'll share the stage with "Curb" on-screen wife Susie Essman. Garlin recently launched his podcast series "By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin," and said his second feature film, "Dealin' With Idiots" is expected to be released in July.

"I don't know when it'll be coming to Traverse City, but at some point it'll be here. Maybe for the film festival," he said.

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