The National Comedy Center is open for laughs in “I Love Lucy” comedian Lucille Ball’s hometown.
Located in a repurposed 1930 art-deco train station, the 37,000-square-foot center is part is designed to keep visitors smiling as they move through displays of comedic artifacts. There’s the “puffy shirt” from a 1993 “Seinfeld” episode and scripts from the 1960s “Dick Van Dyke Show” along with lively immersive exhibits that invite visitors to explore sound effects and props and make cartoons and memes.
Through the use of RFID wristbands, the exhibits and media of the National Comedy Center are tailored to each visitor’s individual funny bone.
The bravest can take the stage in “Comedy Karaoke,” trying out lines from Jeff Foxworthy or others, or sit at a game show-like set and try to crack up an opponent. But there also are plenty of chances to laugh at the pros in action. A club-like comedy lounge shows stand-up bits, and a movie theater has clips of classic scenes with celebrity commentary. A hologram theater initially will feature Jim Gaffigan’s evolution as a performer.
New York State governor Andrew Cuomo officially opens the National Comedy Center.
The $50 million center received $9 million in funding from New York state, along with private and federal support. The House of Representatives on July 23 unanimouslfy approved a bill designating it as the nation’s official comedy center. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, whose cousin, comedian Amy Schumer is in the opening week lineup, is working on Senate action.
The grand opening week also includes events with Lily Tomlin and original “Saturday Night Live” cast members Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Laraine Newman.
Alan Zweibel, Laraine Newman, and Dan Aykroyd share a laugh on the “Saturday Night Live Originators: Hazy Recollections” panel, moderated by Ron Bennington of SiriusXM. The panel was one of many activities surrounding The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and the grand opening of the National Comedy Center.
JRA provided complete planning, design, and project management for the National Comedy Center, which has already received rave reviews from comedians and news outlets alike:
“This should become a destination museum…If a good joke typically disrupts expectations, toys with tastes, and brings unusual pleasure, the National Comedy Center is a very good joke.” – The Wall Street Journal
“A real destination for everyone who likes to laugh.” – CBS News
“…the National Comedy Center, having already earned itself a congressional designation, will have no problem drawing comics and their connoisseurs to Jamestown.” – The Guardian
“One of the most entertaining, engaging museums I’ve experienced in years.” – The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“It felt like nirvana…I could never have conceived of something like this, I guess because comedy has never really been seen as something to be treated in this manner.” – Comedian & SNL Alum, Laraine Newman
For more images of the National Comedy Center, click here.