The top of the McKay Tower downtown boasted a big yellow smile this morning as it prepared for the 8th annual LaughFest which kicks off tomorrow.

The nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, begins tomorrow. To celebrate the start of LaughFest 2018, the community is encouraged to YELLOW UP on March 8, in support of the festival and to raise awareness for “the serious behind the funny”—the free cancer, grief and emotional health support programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

Beginning March 8, businesses all around Grand Rapids will display yellow LaughFest yard signs and window displays. Streets and sidewalks will be dotted with the yellow flags, balloons, stickers and buttons, and at night, the city will glow yellow with LaughFest smiles.

Individuals are invited to YELLOW UP and can find more information along with lots of fun and simple ways to get involved on social media and at, where LaughFest will be sharing contests and giveaways.

“Gilda’s LaughFest was launched in March 2011 by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids to honor laughter as an essential part of emotional health and wellbeing. Please join us as we paint West Michigan yellow on March 8 and gather as a community on March 13 for the LAUGHsketball game. Both events offer individuals and businesses an opportunity to not only join in celebration of our eighth annual festival, but to illuminate the emotional health support programs offered through Gilda’s Club,” said Joanne Roehm, director of strategic initiatives and LaughFest.

LAUGHsketball, a free community event where comedians will take on local celebrities in a family-friendly basketball game, will be held at DeltaPlex Grand Rapids. Doors will open at 5:30, and the game will begin at 6 p.m. The event will also feature activities for all ages, including a rubber chicken toss, dance competition, silent auctions, mascots and some seriously special guests. A complete roster including basketball and dance teams will be announced later this week.

Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is a free community with a comprehensive program of education, structured sharing times, networking, lectures, workshops and social activities designed to support emotional health. Proceeds from LaughFest benefit these programs.

Previously announced acts for LaughFest 2018 include: Trevor Noah, performing during Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids Signature Event, John Mulaney, Tiffany Haddish, Maria Bamford, Cameron Esposito, Anjelah Johnson, Greg Hahn, Bert Kreischer, Rik Roberts and Ron Funches.

LaughFest 2018 will include more than 150 free and ticketed events featuring over 100 artists at more than 40 venues in West Michigan. LaughFest individual tickets are available for purchase at LaughFest Central, located inside Shops @ MoDiv, online at, or over the phone at 1-800-745-3000. For a full listing of festival events, visit