Michael Moore to Establish Comedy Festival in Winter

Filmmaker Michael Moore, who started a summer film festival five years ago in his adopted hometown of Traverse City, is teaming with Emmy winner Jeff Garlin to organize a mid-winter comedic counterpart.

They announced this week that the inaugural Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival will be held Feb. 19-21 — and will feature star performers, along with talented up-and-comers. The lineup will be revealed next month.

Moore, a Flint native who now lives in this Lake Michigan resort community 250 miles northwest of Detroit, said he and Garlin wanted to give at least a small boost to a state where the economy was sinking long before the nationwide downturn.

They expect to generate at least half of the $5 million to $10 million that the longer summer festival pumps into the region's economy, he said.

In addition to stand-up performances by established comic artists, there will be acts featuring improvisational groups and premieres of comedy movies — including a short-films competition — plus a show for children.

Garlin, a star and executive producer of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, will host a "talk show" each night. Also planned is a special tribute to a "legendary" comedian whose identity is secret for now.

Moore said the big-name performers were appearing as a favor to him and Garlin and will receive little if any pay above expenses, which will keep ticket prices affordable. Some events will be free.

The film festival and its army of volunteers will staff the comedy event. Their enthusiasm and friendliness show Traverse City is a warm place any time of year, Moore said.

USA Today has contributed to the report.

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