It’s been a year since we started writing about the National Comedy Center, and now we’re only one day away from the Grand Opening of the building that promises to delivery a living history of comedy to hardcore and casual comedy fans alike, making Jamestown Cooperstown of Comedy, and the comedy destination Lucille Ball once envisioned.
The exhibitions promise and individuals, interactive, digital and tactile experience, meaning visitors will be able to interact with screens that will show them all things comedy, tailored to their own personal preferences, but there will be plenty of exhibits to physically interact with as well. The design team has created experiences, museums and exhibits for big names from the Green Bay Packers to the Franklin Institute, Coca-Cola, Crayola, the NCAA and Jim Beam. The exhibition halls themselves will be state of the art and personally tailored to every visitor through video screens, audio, and interactive exhibits that change for each person. Exhibits will be dedicated to all walks of comedy- stand up, cartoons, film, television, satire, political comedy- and come from every era of recorded comedy history.
And those who come to see the new center will be given time-entry admission to make sure that the museum is not too crowded for visitors. Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, Lucie Arnaz, Fran Drescher, Alan Zweibel, Ron Bennington, Lewis Black, W. Kamau Bell, Judy Gold, Hari Kondabolu, Tom Cotter, Dulcé Sloan, Pete Lee, George Schlatter, Paul Provenza, Kelly Carlin, Sarah Berman, Andy Kaufman’s family, Rose Marie’s Family, Allan Sherman’s Family and many more comedians will be on hand for the grand opening ceremony and events happening as part of the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.
If you’re planning on visiting Jamestown this week, here’s our picks of how to keep yourself busy. In between events, take some time to drive out and see not one but two Lucille Ball statues (yes, they kept the bad one too), a Lucille Ball museum housing original and replica sets from the iconic I Love Lucy Show, take a walking tour of historic Jamestown, and consider taking a drive over to the nearby Chautauqua Institute, get a gate pass and walk around for the afternoon taking in a few of the incredible cultural programs they offer.
Be the first to tour the brand new National Comedy Center! Then grab tickets for the 7:30pm Stand Up Comedy Showcase the beautiful Reg Lenna Theater, featuring Lewis Black, W. Kamau Bell, Tom Cotter, Judy Gold, Hari Kondabolu, Kerri Louise and more.
At 3:30pm drive over to the Chautaqua Institute for a conversation with Lewis Black at the Hall of Philosophy. Any time Lewis speaks, its an unforgettable event. We missed his event last year, and people were talking about it the entire week.
Spend the afternoon by attending a panel discussion about Comedy and the First Amendment with Lenny Bruce’s daughter Kitty Bruce, attorney Paul Cambria and Lewis Black. That takes place at 4pm at the Robert H Jackson Center.
It’s already sold out, but hopefully, you already have tickets to Saturday Night Live Originators: Hazy Recollections from Aykroyd, Newman & Zweibel. With original cast members and writers Alan Zweibel, Laraine Newman and Dan Aykroyd Moderated by Ron Bennington at the Reg Lenna Theater. That starts at 7pm.
Late night starts at 10:30pm in the Tropicana Room, a beautiful recreation of Desi Arnaz’s club featuring stand up from some of our favorite comedians (like Pete Lee and Sarah Tollemache and more!) At 12:30pm, stick around the Tropicana Room for Paul Provenza’s Set List, where comedians have to create material on the spot about topics thrown to them. It’s a phenomenal show and you shouldn’t miss it.
There are bars in Jamestown that stay open late or get some sleep because there’s a lot more weekend ahead.
At noon in the Tropicana room, Barry Doughtery will be talking with Tom Cotter about Barry’s history at the Friars Club in New York City. Barry has written for the Roasts and also wrote two books, “NY Friars Club Book of Roasts: The Wittiest, Most Hilarious and Most Unprintable Moments” and “How To Do It Standing Up”. And then at 5pm, Edie Adams son, Josh Mills and Jonathan Winters daughter, Lucinda Winters will be talking with Dan Pasternack in the Tropicana Room with Dinner included.
Or you can head over to the Willow Bay Theater for In Conversation with Fran Drescher moderated by Kelly Carlin. Two giant figures in the comedy world.
Jamestown’s annual block party kicks off at 6pm in streets around the National Comedy Center and the Northwest Arena with live music, street food, and lots of beer. This year’s block party will include the official dedication to the National Comedy Center of the motorcycle Dan Aykroyd drove to work at Saturday Night Live in 1975. Right after that, two shows at Northwest Arena featuring Amy Schumer, Bridget Everett, Rachel Feinstein and Mia Jackson.
Friday night gives you two chances to catch a stand up show in the Tropicana Room, one at 9pm and one at 11:30.
The world famous Story Pirates: Kids Comedy will be at the Willow Bay Theater at 11am. At noon in the Tropicana room, legendary Laugh-In producer & director, George Schlatter will be talking with CNN’s Stephen J. Morrison, and then at 5pm in the Tropicana Room, Harold Ramis’ daughter Violet Rami-Stiel will talk about her new book, Conversation with Ghostbuster’s Daughter. Another famous daughter, Lucie Arnaz is performing at 6:30 at the Willow Bay Theater.
At 8pm, at the Reg Lenna Theater, Lily Tomlin will be performing her iconic characters at the Reg Lenna Theater. It’s already sold out so hopefully you already have tickets.
Late night head to the Tropicana Room for another stand-up show at 10:30 with some really great young comedians followed by another round of Set List w/ Paul Provenza at 12:30
Tickets may be purchased by calling 716-484-2222, or visiting the festival box office located at 2 W. 3rd Street, Jamestown, NY 14701 or by going to www.NationalComedyCenter.org.
The National Comedy Center is the first non-profit cultural institution and national-scale visitor attraction dedicated to the art of comedy. It embodies Lucille Ball’s vision for her hometown of Jamestown, New York to become a destination for the celebration of comedy in a way that educates, fosters and inspires.