Michael Moore Comedy Fest Canceled

A northern Michigan comedy festival co-founded by filmmaker Michael Moore has been called off for next year because organizers didn’t want a beer festival to crowd their laughs.

The Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival won’t take place in February because the Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival sought to share the same weekend, Traverse City Record-Eagle reported Friday.

Moore said beer festival attendees last February interrupted comedy shows and there wasn’t enough security to handle the problem. The comedy festival could return in 2013, but Moore said organizers will “decide later” whether that happens.

In a written statement, Moore said the beer festival “purposefully piggybacked themselves onto (a) community-wide event that also included family activities.”

He added that someone “would think that with our nine long months of winter where tourist activity is at a minimum in TC that it might be a good idea to spread out these festivals rather than having them on the same weekend”

Sam Porter, who runs the microbrew event, says his scheduling options were limited. The beer event is scheduled for Feb. 10-11, 2012, overlapping with what had been the proposed dates for next year’s comedy festival.

“We want this weekend; we had it first,” Porter said. “But we’re happy to collaborate. We’re very sorry they feel they need to cancel.”

Porter said he doesn’t think the comedy festival’s absence will hurt his event, which included about 3,000 participants and volunteers in 2011.

The comedy festival’s past acts included Bob Saget and Roseanne Barr, and reported more than 10,000 admissions this year. No performers had been announced for 2012. City officials had hoped to resolve the scheduling conflicts.

The comedy festival “made it clear” it would not hold an event at the same time as the beer festival, in part because of concerns “about consumption of alcohol leading up to comedy fest events,” said Bryan Crough, of the Downtown Development Authority.

There is no city-related requirement that prevents the two events from taking place at the same time, city officials said.

“I hate to see it happen because I think it was … building momentum and had great interest. I’m not exactly sure what we could have done differently. We really don’t have a role except to get everyone to try to play well together,” Crough said.

Moore is a Flint native who started the comedy festival in 2010 with comedian Jeff Garlin. Moore also started a popular summer film festival in Traverse City, a Lake Michigan resort community about 250 miles northwest of Detroit.