Blog post written by Dan Dudzic. Dan is a summer intern for Jamestown Up Close. You can read more about Dan below this article.
"Not anymore!" LOL!
Jamestown, New York, is poised to have a national spotlight shined on it this week with the much anticipating opening of the National Comedy Center. Once a booming manufacturing town, Jamestown was hit hard by the evolution of trade, outsourcing of jobs, and the recession. However, with some strategic planning and the help of the State of New York, county and local municipalities, non profit organizations, businesses, and the community, Jamestown has been able to reinvent itself in the image of a legend who loved this town dearly.
Jamestown is the birthplace of the late, great Lucille Ball, the beloved star of the "I Love Lucy" television show. Lucille had grand dreams for the city of Jamestown. She envisioned solidifying it as a comedy hub. In 2018, 29 years after her passing, her dreams are becoming reality with the construction of a national center dedicated to the art form that she helped build: comedy.
The National Comedy Center is a non-profit dedicated to telling the story of comedy in America. The story of comedy dives deeply into the context of the work of its artists ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Dave Chappelle, and every influencer in between. The museum celebrates the art form of comedy with more than 50 exhibits that are personalized with cutting-edge technology that will interact with them based on information they provide at the start of the tour. Everyone will have a different experience within the center.
Upon entering the comedy center, visitors will create a humor profile on kiosks in the lobby. This quick (and funny) experience will help to tailor an experience that matches a visitor's sense of humor. The questions will help to determine if a visitor prefers slapstick over edgy, or resides somewhere in between. If you don't know what type of comedy you like yet, no problem, you will learn!
Unlike learning in a conventional museum, where one stands in front of a wall and observes a piece, reads some information about it and then moves on, the visitor should expect to be deeply connected with the items on display in this museum. There are countless items that will see that will surprise the museum-goer, including treasures from George Carlin's collection. The comedian's daughter, Kelly Carlin, donated trunks full of script drafts, eight-track tapes, performance videos, photographs, and the report from his arrest in Milwaukee on charges of obscenities in 1972. These items are on display, and there are some pretty amazing stories behind them.
These items and the unique design of the exhibits make this museum a one-of-a-kind experience. The visitor becomes part of the story of comedy. Other area dedications include cartoonists, from comic strips to TV, and they have even included the desk of original Marmaduke writer, Brad Anderson. Brad was born in Jamestown, and he was a graduate of Brocton High School.
If cartooning seems a bit too bland for ones tastes, it might be time to show an ID (sorry, only those over 17 are permitted inside) and gain access to the Blue Room. The Blue Room is where one will find the story of “dirty” comedy. Just because this is a museum, don't think that comedy has censored itself, because it hasn't! (If it shocked you and made you laugh, it is probably on display in this space.)
Additionally, people think that memes are a new thing, but it's time to think again. Those one-liners have been hitting hard since the dawn of comedy. A visitor will even get a chance to try their hands at making a meme in this space. Better yet, why not let them show us what they've got on stage!
The experiences and exhibits inside of the National Comedy Center are nothing short of amazing. Lucille Ball understood that comedy was an art form that is mastered by only a small, select group of artists. Those artists are now enshrined and celebrated within the walls of the NCC. Lucille Ball understood that there was a story to tell in it all. Thankfully, she left some wonderful information, so Jamestown, with the help of the state, the county, the town, many local organizations, businesses, and the community could realize her dream.
(We've got to say, we're really proud of it! We can't wait to hear what you think!)
The National Comedy Center is located at 203 West Second Street, in downtown Jamestown, New York. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The official Grand Opening occurs on Wednesday, August 1, and it will kick off the 2018 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. Amy Schumer performs on Friday, August 3, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Northwest Arena, just a block away from the NCC. Many other nationally-recognized comedians will perform throughout the festival weekend. For more information about the museum or the comedy festival, please visit the National Comedy Center here.
Dan is currently enrolled at Jamestown Community College where he is studying communication. He hopes to have a career in stand-up comedy. After he finishes school, he wants to do landscaping during the day while writing and performing comedy at night. Dan’s favorite thing about Downtown Jamestown is the soon-to-open National Comedy Center and is looking forward to its grand opening. You can see Dan's postings this summer on this blog! Dan is focusing on reviewing Downtown businesses.