Comedy will never die if Tom Benson, chairman of the new National Comedy Center opening next year in Jamestown, NY has anything to do with it. As part of the attractions at the new center, Benson wants to include holograms of famous dead comedians performing their classic routines for audiences. Benson says the sets will be 10 to 12 routines of about four to five minutes each. He says, visitors to the center will be able to enjoy “classic gigs from the past, as if they were really taken back in time and seeing it from Madison Square Garden or a stage in Hollywood, not a theater in Jamestown, N.Y.”
What dearly departed comedy legends does Tom Benson hope to book for the National Comedy Center? He’s wants to feature Milton Berle, Bob Hope, George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield in hologram form. He does admit that he has no deals in place with any of these comedians’ estates or families and the holographic line up is subject to change.
Tom Benson described the center to the New York Times as “a comedy club where folks can go back in time and witness a classic routine in a setting – God knows where it might have been – and experience that as if they were really there.”
If the thought of bringing back iconic comedians from the dead to perform seems controversial to anyone, Tom Benson is also involved in something else contentious in the Jamestown, New York area. The town is near the birthplace of Lucille Ball and hosts a comedy festival every year in her honor. Celoron, NY is just outside Jamestown and recently made headlines because of its hideous statue of the “I Love Lucy” star. The town is upset how the statue turned out because of its monstrous appearance and because it bears no likeness to Lucille Ball at all. Tom Benson would like to move to the statue to the new National Comedy Center. He said, “I went to the town board last Monday and made a pitch and basically said to them, ‘Look, this statue is now a piece of comedy history, whether you like it or not.’ ” Benson hopes to give it a new home saying, “Let’s embrace it for what it could be.”