Chicago native arts education theater ensemble group Barrel of Monkeys will return to West Michigan for a second year, to help kick-off LaughFest 2013’s family-friendly, educational, and comedic line-up of performances. Also returning are the Kids Joke Night and student competitions.
Barrel of Monkeys, a group known for its unorthodox, alternative learning exercises, will perform on Thursday, March 14, at Fountain Street Church, with shows at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Last year the group performed twice for local schools, at St. Cecilia Music Center.
Performers who bring an educational facet to their shows are “a breath of fresh air,” said Joanne Roehm, LaughFest festival director. “Last year, Barrel of Monkeys impressed us with their unique approach to critically engage West Michigan students. We’re excited they could return for LaughFest 2013, and are able to provide even more students the opportunity to see the shows by hosting them in a larger venue”
Barrel of Monkey’s performance isn’t the only event encouraging young participants to flex their mental muscles.
The Kids Joke Night, in Grand Rapids on Thursday, March 14, at 6 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Public Library, and in Lowell on Friday, March 15, at 6 p.m. at LowellArts!, requires performers to craft and choreograph their own stand-up routines.
The Education Showcase features two separate competitions that focus on the same theme: “What Makes Me Laugh.” The Writing Competition challenges children of all ages to express what they find funny in any form of writing, while the Art Competition encourages students to create 2-D works that will be displayed in the lobby of Bridgewater Place. Winners from both competitions will be honored on March 10 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Students interested in participating in the competitions should visit laughfestgr.org (see “Get Involved”) and register by February 12 at 5 p.m.
This year’s ten-day festival will also give kids and teens the opportunity to stretch their legs and exercise with Saturday Kids Zone and Teen Zone events on March 16, at the Grand Rapids Community College Field Ford House. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the field house will host a variety of activities for kids of all ages, including laser tag, obstacle courses, face painting, micro reality race track, moon bounce, and more. General admission is $7.
With Barrel of Monkeys kicking off LaughFest 2013’s family-friendly events, other notable performers scheduled to follow include Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, a purveyor of family hip hop that has shared the stage with some of hip hop’s biggest names—Run DMC, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and The P Funk All Stars; musical performances by Strawberry Shortcake and the Doodlebops; and Justin Willman, host of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and Last Cake Standing and star of HubWorld and Scrabble Showdown. Shows will take place in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Lowell.
Visit www.laughfestgr.org or call 616-735-HAHA (4242) to learn more about Gilda’s LaughFest.