13 March 2019 // News

No Joke! National Comedy Center Officially Designated as America’s Home for Laughs

The National Comedy Center was formally designated as the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to the art form of comedy. In a tremendous bi-partisan show of support, both the Senate and House of Representatives passed this bill in February, and the president signed it into law today, recognizing the Center as the “Official National Comedy Center of the United States.”

The bill, as written, recognizes that the National Comedy Center, located in Jamestown, New York, “exists for the exclusive purpose of celebrating comedy in all its forms” and officially designates the Center as the “National Comedy Center.”

Comedy Continuum

Opened in August 2018 in Jamestown, New York, the state-of-the-art, $50 million museum complex is dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy in America, and preserving its heritage for future generations. Based on the vision of Jamestown native Lucille Ball for her hometown to become a destination for comedy, the National Comedy Center showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain.

National Comedy Center exhibit design

The passage of the National Comedy Center legislation, part of the bipartisan John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, was led by U.S. Senator Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Representative Tom Reed.

“We are honored that this legislation has been formally passed by Congress, establishing the National Comedy Center as the country’s official cultural institution dedicated to presenting and preserving the vital story of comedy in America,” said Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center Executive Director. “Comedy is a true art form with an extraordinary heritage, and it deserves this important recognition and high distinction.”

“Ten years ago, we embarked on a mission to create a world class attraction dedicated to the art form of comedy in Jamestown, New York”, said Tom Benson, Project Chairman. “Our dream was realized when the National Comedy Center opened on August 1, 2018 to rave reviews, and now we are thrilled that this important institution will be forever known by law as America’s official home for the celebration of comedy.”

“Comedy is an art form, and it’s a part America’s rich cultural history. I’m thrilled that Congress passed legislation designating Jamestown’s Comedy Center as the official National Comedy of the United States and been signed into law. The Comedy Center is a tourism magnet and now, finally, it has the national designation it so clearly deserves,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “I am incredibly proud to have played my part in enacting this legislation, to help this cultural institution continue attracting visitors from far and wide.”

“I am very excited that the Jamestown Comedy Center has just been officially designated as the National Comedy Center. The Jamestown Comedy Center is a celebration of talent and has quickly become a must-see location in New York. This museum is a destination for families, tourists, and comedy lovers from all over the country,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “When I visited the museum, it was clear that the Comedy Center should become a landmark in New York. That’s why I fought to make sure that this year’s Land’s Package would designate the museum as the National Comedy Center, and I’m proud to see this legislation signed into law.”

National Comedy Center Galleries

“Jamestown is now to comedy what Cooperstown is to baseball and Cleveland is to rock and roll,” said Representative Tom Reed. “As the nation’s first state-of-the-art museum and cultural institution dedicated to presenting, preserving and celebrating the art form of comedy, there is no other place more deserving of full backing of the U.S. government as the nation’s home to comedy than the birthplace of Lucille Ball and the National Comedy Center.”

National Comedy Center design

Featuring exclusive collections, world-class exhibits and leading-edge technology, the National Comedy Center presents an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the time-honed creative processes that have elevated comedy entertainment to an art form. Over 50 innovative exhibits within the 37,000-square-feet facility enable visitors to take an interactive journey through comedy history, from early vaudeville to the latest viral memes. Throughout their personalized experience, visitors gain a profound appreciation for comedy icons and innovators, as well as for the tremendous influence of humor on how we think, live and laugh.

About the National Comedy Center

Based on the vision of Jamestown native Lucille Ball for her hometown to become a destination for comedy, the National Comedy Center showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain. As a non-profit institution, the National Comedy Center was created with a $50 million investment, funded by a mix of federal, state and private philanthropic support, including partnerships with I LOVE NEW YORK ™, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State’s Empire State Development.

JRA provided master planning, writing and concept development, exhibit design, executive media production, graphic design, project management, and art direction for the National Comedy Center.

Awards and Accolades

The National Comedy Center was recently voted #2 “Best New Attraction” in the country, out of 20 new attractions, by USA Today readers, and chosen as the #1 museum and #1 ticketed attraction in this USA Today poll. Condé Nast Traveler called the National Comedy Center “One of the best museums in the country,” while The Interrobang comedy news site named the design team second on its list of “Innovators Who Changed Comedy” in 2018. Visitors from all 50 states and nine countries have given the Center a rare 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor, ranking among the highest in the attraction and tourism industry.

Dan Ackroyd donated his motorcycle to the NCC.

The National Comedy Center has been embraced by celebrities, media outlets, and visitors alike. Here are just a few of the rave reviews:

“I’m really grateful that the National Comedy Center exists. It felt good to believe that our legacies will be remembered.” – Amy Schumer

“There is an art in this craft of comedy. It’s timeless. Therefore, it needs a dedicated home. And now, we have a place where somebody who really wants to be a student of comedy can go and study the history of it. Or if somebody is just looking for a laugh, the National Comedy Center is the place where laughter dwells.” – Lewis Black

“From now on, when anybody says they want to get into comedy, I’ll tell them that the first thing they should do is come here.” – Dan Ackroyd

National Comedy Center exhibit designer

“…one of the best museums in the country.” – Condé Nast Traveler 

“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

“Nobody believed it was possible to create a museum that would do justice to comedy, but Jamestown NY has built an incredible home celebrating the artform. The center is stunning in substance, and in form and we called it the future of all museum design.” – The Interrobang

For an in-depth look at the National Comedy Center, check out our photo tour here.

Press release courtesy National Comedy Center. Photo credit: Jay Rosenblatt Photography.