The National Comedy Center will celebrate its grand opening with appearances by Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin, Saturday Night Live original season alumni including Dan Aykroyd and more, coinciding with the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, Aug. 1-5 in Jamestown, N.Y.
Featuring more than 50 immersive and interactive exhibits designed by leading museum design firms in the world, the 37,000 square foot National Comedy Center visitor experience tells the story of comedy from its origins through the present and is the first non-profit cultural institution and national-scale attraction dedicated to the art of comedy.
The opening celebration will feature more than 50 events and 40 artists that include the innovators, creators, and legends of comedy. Tickets will go on pre-sale to Members on April 27 at noon, and on sale to the public May 4th at noon at NationalComedyCenter.org.
Emmy Award-Winning Comedian Amy Schumer will perform Friday, Aug. 3 with her show “Amy Schumer and Friends” at the Northwest Arena, while comedy legend Lily Tomlin brings “An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin” center stage at Reg Lenna Center for the Arts on Aug. 4.
“Each of these artists has played a significant role in shaping and redefining comedy as we know it today. From sketch to stand-up to TV to film, the landscape has been forever changed due to the creativity and, frankly, bravery, of Lily Tomlin and Amy Schumer. Laraine Newman, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Alan Zweibel challenged the nation’s sensibilities about comedy in what they brought to air in 1975, introducing what became one of the very few cultural phenomena to endure more than four decades,” said National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson.
On Aug. 2, Saturday Night Live cast members Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman and Garrett Morris, along with original writer, Alan Zweibel, will come together at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts to share stories and laughs in a conversation about the show’s early years.
“Offering four brilliant minds from the show that broke the late night television mold is not only a glimpse into the creation of Saturday Night Live but also a sampling of the National Comedy Center‘s core mission to share the story of comedy,” notes Malachi Livermore, Director of Operations and Programming for the National Comedy Center.
Continuing an annual series of National Comedy Center dialogues, Violet Ramis Stiel will offer a stage conversation about her new book, “Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life with My Dad, Harold Ramis.”
Festival partner COZI TV will present a very special “Conversation with Fran Drescher” as part of the opening week events. The Nanny star will share insights on her storied life and career influences, including Lucille Ball, on Aug. 3.
Additional programming includes five comedy showcases featuring comedians with credits including appearances on Colbert, Conan, and Last Comic Standing. The weekend will also feature National Comedy Center dialogues, exhibit unveilings, block parties, free kids’ comedy shows featuring the critically-acclaimed Story Pirates and tribute events honoring the influential careers of the “First Couple of Comedy”, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Additional events will be added to the lineup in the coming months.
The National Comedy Center embodies Lucille Ball’s vision for her hometown of Jamestown to become a destination for the celebration of comedy in a way that educates, fosters and inspires. Design has been led by the most prominent cultural and interactive design firms in the world whose portfolios collectively include the award-winning 9/11 Memorial Museum, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, The College Football Hall of Fame, and SNL: The Experience. The $50 million endeavor was made possible by state, federal and private philanthropic support including partnership with I LOVE NEW YORK™, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State’s Empire State Development.
In a special press briefing at the site on Friday, March 30, United States Senator Charles Schumer announced his push for a congressional designation for the Center. The new designation would officially make the National Comedy Center the nation’s cultural institution dedicated to the art of comedy, recognizing it as the only institution of its kind with the mission of preserving, protecting, and showcasing the art of comedy and its role in our culture.
The National Comedy Center also operates the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, and for the last 25 years has produced the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival with performers including Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Lewis Black, Trevor Noah, Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, Nick Offerman, Ray Romano, Bob Newhart, The Smothers Brothers and more than 100 other comedic artists.
Tickets may be purchased by members beginning April 27 and by the public May 4 by visiting NationalComedyCenter.org. Tickets and memberships may also be purchased by calling 716-484-0800 or visiting the festival box office located at 2 W. 3rd Street, Jamestown, NY 14701.