Bringing the laughs

Spotlight Productions to cohost stand-up comedian Brooks Wheelan

By Kyle Doyle | 3/13/17 12:30am

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GVL / Courtesy - TBS Brooks Wheelan peforms on Conan on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.

by TBS / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Over-the-top reactions and explanations to mundane tasks and daily occurrences are what leave audiences gasping for breath at the feet of stand-up comedy. These men and women use humor to tell stories, both trueand false, in an effort to make people forget about their troubles, at least for a little bit.

This year, Spotlight Productions at Grand Valley State University is bringing comedian Brooks Wheelan to campus Tuesday, March 14, at 8 p.m. in the DeVos Center Loosemore Auditorium as part of the organization’s partnership with Gilda’s LaughFest.

LaughFest is an annual comedy festival based in Grand Rapids that began Thursday, March 9, and will run through Sunday, March 19, this year. The event was founded by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids in 2011 with the sole purpose of bringing humor to a usually “unfunny” time of the year, according to the LaughFest website. All proceeds from the event go toward funding programs offered by Gilda’s Club in the area.

The festival lasts 10 days and features numerous comedy events from stand-up performances by veteran and novice comedians to comedy workshops and exhibits. Most of the events are free and open to the public with few exceptions of stand-up shows with bigger-name comedians. This year, these comedians include Howie Mandel, Sinbad, Pete Holmes and Joel McHale.

In the past, LaughFest has seen the talent of Chris Tucker, Jim Gaffigan, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Burr, Wayne Brady and several other big-name comedy actors.

Aurora Reese, the Spotlight comedy chair, said the partnership between Spotlight and LaughFest began about five years ago. She said LaughFest was looking for volunteers to host events and Spotlight saw this as a perfect way to help the community.

In previous years, the Spotlight and LaughFest partnership has brought members of Guy Code to campus, as well as Tone Bell. Reese said their main goal was to bring comedians who would have some name recognition among students.

“We usually try to bring people who would be more well known, like who you might actually recognize the name of the comedian,” Reese said.

This year’s comedian, Brooks Wheelan, has been featured on Comedy Central, Conan and Late Night with Seth Meyers and was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2013 to 2014 doing several bits with Meyers when he was still with the program. His recent comedy album “This is cool, right?” reached the no. 1 spot on iTunes.

The event with Wheelan is free and open to the public and Reese hopes anybody who can make it comes out to the event because it could be a good way to simply relax and enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

“I hope people get a nice, comic relief from the regular, everyday school life,” Reese said. “And, because it's open to the public, so if they're not in school, it’s just a time that they can enjoy themselves and just have a nice, free event.”

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