By Shelby Pendowski
Since its inception in 2011, Grand Rapids comedy festival LaughFest has featured comedians such as Bill Cosby, Kevin Hart, Gabriel Iglesias, Margaret Cho and Betty White. This year, the festival is bringing in comedians to whom young people can relate a little more easily.
For the second year, the organization has teamed up with Grand Valley State University’s Spotlight Productions. The pairing not only has provided another venue for LaughFest but also created a connection to the GVSU student audience.
Zoey Moore, Spotlight’s Comedy Committee Chair, worked with the organizers of LaughFest to choose the 2014 GVSU headliners. After contemplating several different comedians, Spotlight decided to invite Chris Distefano, Carly Aquilino and Andrew Schulz of MTV’s Girl Code and Guy Code.
“I was discussing it with Funny Business, who is the booker of LaughFest,” Moore said. “We were going back and forth with people. We were just thinking about a lot of different acts…and we landed on MTV’s Guy Code. We thought it would be strong for a bigger crowd at Grand Valley.”
This is the first LaughFest performance for the MTV trio. On the show the group is provided a topic to talk about, so their stand-up performances are different than the show, said Distefano.
“The live act is more personal, it tells you little bit more about me,” Aquilino said. “With stand-up you are allowed to talk about anything you want, instead of them giving you a topic and saying you need to write a joke about this.”
As autobiographical comedians, Aquilino and Distefano are recognizable by their content on and off the screen.
“I always have the goal as a comedian to be the same off stage as I am on stage. I never want it to be an ‘act;’ I want it to be like me talking, and me being the natural me,” Distefano said.
The group is the only performing trio to headline during LaughFest.
“We all work together so, so much, so we are all friends and we all have fun together,” Aquilino said. “There (are) no negatives to working with other comics.”
Touring colleges and clubs around the nation is a regular agenda for the trio. The regular collegiate performances work well because of similar age and life experiences that drive the comics’ acts.
“I feel like maybe they will have more of a connection with me because I talk about real life instances and things that have happened to me and how I personally feel about things,” Aquilino said. “I am 23 so I am still early in it. I am still going through things in my life and I am still learning every day so I am talking about dating and about relationships and things like that are relatable to women my age, men my age and even people that are older.”
The comedic trio performs on March 13 from 9:15 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center. The doors open at 8:30 p.m. for fast-pass ticket holders and at 9 p.m. for general seating. Admission is free.
“I am so excited. I am really. It is going to be such a fun experience,” Aquilino said. “I love doing things like this (LaughFest) where you get to meet other comics, and I am very flattered that I was asked to do this.”