TC Winter Comedy Arts Festival Co-Founder Jeff Garlin will make several stand up appearances throughout the weekend in addition to his role of co-hosting the Festival with Michael Moore. Garlin, a Chicago Native, got his stand up start while in college. At the age of 22, he joined The Second City comedy troupe. Over the years Garlin has made several appearances on late night TV and on the big screen. He was a part of the 2007 Traverse City Film Festival with his directorial debut “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.” It was during that visit that he and Michael Moore hatched the idea of a Winter Comedy Festival. Garlin also co-stars and is the executive producer of the HBO hit series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
NE: Jeff Garlin, you are busy between your television work, making movies and being in demand for stand up. Why get involved in running a comedy festival in Northern Michigan, especially in the winter time?
Jeff Garlin: Well first, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Michael Moore and when I came to Traverse City for the Film Festival for the first time, we started talking about the concept and I thought it was great. We felt winter was the best time because by the middle of February, people there need some comedic relief. We also thought this would create a nice economic shot in the arm for the area and all reports are that is the case.
NE: You grew up in Chicago as a kid.
Did you ever visit Northern Michigan or were you familiar with it?
JG: No I never visited it. I mean, I looked on a map and saw that there was a Northern Michigan but I really didn’t know anything about the area. My first time visiting was with the Second City Troupe at the Grand Traverse Resort in the mid-’80s. It was my very first show with them but it was a private corporate event so people living there didn’t get to see it.
NE: You have enjoyed success as both a stand up comedian and on TV and in the movies. Often, comedians who make it in TV or the movies quit the stand up gig but you have chosen not to. Why?
JG: Yeah they do. For me, the acting came quicker than my stand up career. I have been doing stand up for 30 years and it didn’t come overnight. I don’t look at things as different or better for me, I look at whatever it is that allows me to be funny. So I don’t worry if what I am doing is acting or stand up, as long as I am having fun and it is important to me to have fun at whatever I am doing. I am also doing a lot of stand up right now because I am getting ready to do a stand up special for TV.
NE: Speaking of upcoming projects, you have a new movie coming out this spring on idiotic little league parents.
JG: Yes it is called “Dealing With Idiots.” See, these parents and coaches never realize that it is about the kids. Sports is about learning sportsmanship and the skills associated with the sport the kids are participating in. It is not about the parents being competitive with each other and acting like a bunch of idiots.
Jeff Garlin will perform several times throughout the weekend including hosting the popular Combo Platter (free) at Midnight at Horizon books on Saturday night at Midnight. For a complete listing of all the performances and activities with the Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival, Feb 14-17; and to purchase tickets, check out wintercomedy.org. Note that Rick Coates will be tweeting not so funny stuff over the weekend. Follow him @rcoates101.