For 16 years now, the folks at advocacy group Equality Michigan have been using humor to bring together the region's LGBT community.
This year's LGBT ComedyFest will bring four comedians from California and New York to Dearborn's Ford Community and Performing Arts Center this Saturday for a full night of comedy. The event doesn't just draw local comedy lovers -- in past years, it's attracted people from all over Michigan, as well as neighboring states.
"It creates a physical space where LGBT folks can come together from around Michigan," said Guy Barast, Equality Michigan's director of fund development. "Some people come from rural areas ... it's pretty exciting to see that, 'Hey, I might be the only LGBT person in my town, but wow -- here are a thousand people, and we have that one thing in common.'"
Barast said the group chooses up-and-coming comedians and performers who aren't as well known.
"We also put this event together to showcase lesbian, gay, bi and trans talent that otherwise might not make it to the mainstream stage," he explained.
The four comics performing Saturday -- Diane Amos, Chantal Carrere, Chris Doucette and Erin Foley -- might not have global recognition, but they've each spent many years in the comedy world. And Amos should certainly look familiar -- she's also known as the "Pine-Sol Lady."
Barast said the event was created to empower and energize the LGBT community. But why comedy?
"We all like to laugh, and there are some really great LGBT comedians," he explained.
In the videos below, the performers show their comedic wits' wide range, poking fun at everything from vegan protests to plus-size Ohioans, as well as the particular oddities of being an LGBT performer.
"Chances are good you will never see me on Comedy Central," Doucette said in a performance. "Because as a gay guy, apparently I do not appeal to the 18-to-34-year-old straight white male demographic. Which is weird -- because they appeal to me."
LGBT ComedyFest, hosted by Equality Michigan, takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 10, at Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn. For tickets and more information, see the LGBT ComedyFest website.
Watch clips of the comedians' stand-up routines below. Some videos may have explicit language or themes.