The National Comedy Center honors the art form in Lucille Ball’s hometown
Courtesy of The National Comedy Center
Vincennes knows its comedy. After all, it’s the birthplace of beloved comedian Red Skelton.
Comedy fans might enjoy a summer trip to The National Comedy Center, located in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York. The National Comedy Center is the first state-of-the-art museum and national-scale visitor experience dedicated to telling the vital story of comedy in America. As a nonprofit cultural institution, the museum celebrates comedy’s great minds and unique voices, from Charlie Chaplin to George Carlin to Dave Chappelle. Exclusive collections and world-class exhibits give comedy fans an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the time-honed creative processes that have elevated entertainment to an art.
The 37,000 square foot, $50 million facility tells the story of comedy from its origins through the present, with more than 50 immersive, interactive exhibits. The National Comedy Center opened on Aug. 1, 2018.
“There has never been a national cultural institution that provides comedy the opportunity for appreciation often afforded other art forms. Lucille Ball understood the power of comedy, and had the vision for her hometown to become a destination for its celebration in a way that would educate, foster and inspire. That’s what we’ve set out to do here,” said National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson.
Each visitor to the Center will experience a personalized trip as exhibits respond to one’s personal comedic sensibilities via the creation of a humor profile. After creating their profile, they will receive a wristband fitted with an RFID chip worn throughout the stay. In turn, visitors will be able to explore content tailored to their individual tastes, from broad satires to edgy satire. Along with educational games and fun competitions, guests can step into the shoes of comedy pros, trying their hand at cartooning, comedy writing, live stand-up, and faux pie fights — or simply cheer on their friends.
Skelton’s artifacts included in the archives
Other Center highlights include George Carlin’s massive archives that provide a glimpse into one of comedy’s most prolific minds and additionally, the National Comedy Center feature rare artifacts from some of comedy’s most notable names including Vincennes’ own Skelton, along with Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Lewis, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling.
And this summer, the National Comedy Center will debut the “The Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit” which will showcase never-before-exhibited creative papers, rare audiovisual content and original, screen-used artifacts from the legendary comedian’s influential 1950s and early 1960s television shows and specials.
Visitors will leave the museum with a profound appreciate for comedy icons and innovators, as well as the tremendous influence of humor on how we think, live, and laugh.
The National Comedy Center also presents the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival which features more than 50 events and 30 performers throughout its weekend celebration. This year’s Festival will take place Aug. 7-11.
Jamestown also has the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum that features rare memorabilia from “I Love Lucy,” props, costumes, Lucille Ball’s Emmy awards, and replica studio sets.
Located in Jamestown, a city in Chautauqua County and Western New York, The National Comedy Center is in the region of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Toronto.
For more information, visit www.comedycenter.org