No joke: Comics gather to promote Detroit
DAVE COULIER COURTESY PHOTO
After years of being the punchline for late night talk show hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman, Detroit is punching back.
The third annual Detroit International Comedy Festival is scheduled for March 21-27 and it’s bringing some heavy hitters into town. Lewis Black, Kathleen Madigan and Detroit native Dave Coulier will be headlining various nights throughout the festival.
But it is the meaning behind the festival that has drawn the attention of the major acts.
“We all need a good laugh,” said Dave Moroz, the founder of the festival. “It’s no secret this area has been hit hard, and we want to give the people of Detroit a good time.”
The idea behind the festival is to promote the strength of the city, especially for someone like Coulier, who grew up in suburban Detroit.
“It’s my roots, my family, my friends,” Coulier said. “Being able to say that I’m from Detroit is something I’m proud of.”
Moroz started the festival two years ago and though it was small steps in the beginning, things have really picked up this year. After he formed a partnership with local promoter Mike Watts, the festival was able to get a major sponsor and attract major names—like Black.
“Lewis jumped at the chance,” Watts said. “Lewis has so much respect for the people of Detroit, and wanted to help any way he could.”
The festival begins Sunday with Black headlining at the Royal Oak Music Theater. The rest of the week’s events will take place at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, also in Royal Oak. Each night has a different headliner, with Black hosting Monday night as well. Along with the headliners, many smaller acts from across the country and right here in Michigan will be performing.
Two of those local comedians are Germaine Gebhard and Kris Peters, both from Ann Arbor.
“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as a performer in the Detroit International Comedy Festival,” Gebhard said. “I encourage everybody to not only attend the festival to see the big names, but to also take pride in our great lineup of homegrown talent as well.”
While Detroit has been the butt of many jokes thanks to the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal, the crisis in the automotive industry and, of course, the Detroit Lions football team, Watts feels that it was time for Detroit to stand up for itself.
“We think its time to celebrate the wonder and great sense of humor that emanates from this city,” he said.
Coulier, however, offered a different reason as to why people around the country try to poke fun at Detroit.
“They’re all just jealous because we have the Red Wings.”