Lucille Ball's Hometown Gets A New Comedy Museum
Lucille Ball’s vision for a national comedy hub is finally becoming a reality. America’s first comedy museum, dubbed the National Comedy Center, is set to open this summer in Jamestown, New York, where the late I Love Lucy actress grew up, Variety reports.
The opening of the center will coincide with the 27th annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, which will be held from August 1 to August 5. The idea for this center, which is set up as a non-profit cultural institution, has been swirling around for decades. Before Ball’s death in 1989, she reportedly envisioned “a destination for the celebration of comedy,” according to the center.
Organizers and supporters are quick to point out that this won’t be a hall of fame. “It’s an experience versus a hall of dead guys, and that’s what we need,” comedian Lisa Lampanelli says in a promotional video. Housed in a former railroad station and trolley garage, the center will tell the history of comedy through 50 interactive exhibits.
Visitors will be given a sense-of-humor profile test when they first arrive, and the results will be imprinted onto radio-frequency ID wristbands in an effort to create a more personalized (and hopefully, funnier) museum experience. Comedic milestones will be featured on a large touchscreen, and personal archives from some of the world’s foremost comedians—like the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Jerry Lewis, and George Carlin—will also be on view.
The center will explore more complex themes as well, such as the relationship between humor and healing and comedy’s role in politics. Big names like Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin, Fran Drescher, and former Saturday Night Live members Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris will all be performing at the center’s grand opening. Lewis Black will also lead a discussion on comedy and censorship.
Jamestown is home to the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, so visitors to the National Comedy Center can make a trip out of it. To purchase tickets, visit the National Comedy Center’s website here.