Thirty years ago, Lucille Ball had a dream for her hometown of Jamestown, New York – a vision for her legacy:
Don’t just celebrate me. Don’t just offer “I Love Lucy” nostalgia…
Make Jamestown a destination for the celebration of comedy as an art form.
On August 1, 2018, Lucy’s vision came to life, and comedy found a home. The National Comedy Center is the only non-profit institution in the world dedicated to honoring the craft of making people laugh. We are honored to have provided complete planning, design, and project management for this landmark museum, and now we’re offering you a peek at what has critics, comedians, and visitors rolling in the aisles. This is just a small sampling of the more than 50 interactive exhibits that guests can enjoy throughout the 37,000-square-foot attraction.
You begin your adventure the lobby, where, via a series of kiosks, you answer questions about what you find funny – from personalities to TV shows to film and the web. Your “sense of humor profile” is stored on your RFID “laugh band”, ensuring that each exhibit tickles your personal funny bone.
What does it take to become a famous comedian? The Center’s experience begins in the hologram theater, where Jim Gaffigan’s hologram welcomes you and shows you the evolution of a comedian’s career. Watch him morph into the early, mid-career, and current versions of himself, and appreciate the years of toil it takes to transform from fledgling to famous.
George Carlin was as prolific a note-taker and archivist as he was a comedian. His daughter, Kelly Carlin, donated trunks of handwritten journals, set lists, scrapbooks, audio and video clips – even his arrest records – to the National Comedy Center. “I am truly excited that there will be a place for my dad’s stuff—permanently,” said Kelly. “The folks at the National Comedy Center are thoughtful, respectful and excited about the art of comedy. I can think of no other place for my dad’s legacy to be permanently honored, archived and preserved for future generations.”
From Harold Ramis’ Ghostbusters suit to Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, some of the world’s most famous comedians and their families have donated memorabilia to the National Comedy Center.
Ever wanted to know what it was like to produce a late night talk show? Now’s your chance! Step behind the camera and see how the magic is made.
Comedy creators of all kinds are celebrated in the Writers’ Room, from playwrights to illustrators. Brad Anderson, the mind (and pen) behind the lovable comic strip, “Marmaduke”, donated the entire contents of his studio to the Center for this exhibit.
Who influenced who? Discover the various connections between comics on the Comedy Continuum media wall. Then grab a prop, place it on a touch table, and see how it has been used in comedic performances throughout the decades.
Mug for the camera! Put your funniest face forward and try to mimic famous comedic expressions in “Ham It Up!”
Now it’s time for YOU to take center stage via the museum’s “Be the Performer” exhibits. In “Comedy Karaoke”, try delivering some of the genre’s most iconic routines in front of your friends and family. Will you have the audience rolling in the aisles or booing you offstage? When you’re done wowing the crowd, challenge your fellow visitors to a game of “Laugh Battle”. Featuring breakthrough Microsoft artificial intelligence technology, Laugh Battle pits you against a friend to see who can best deliver six rounds of pre-scripted zingers. An AI computer serves as judge and uses facial recognition to detect when you or your challenger laughs or even cracks a smile.
Not all comedy is suitable for work. In its basement, the National Comedy Center offers an adults-only “Blue Room”, showcasing the uncensored side of humor, including exhibits on renegade comedian, Lenny Bruce, as well as George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” (and which we can’t post here, either).
Remember that RFID laugh band? After experiencing all of the exhibits that National Comedy Center has to offer, now’s the time to discover what kind of funny floats your boat. Do you prefer sarcastic or subdued? Slapstick or situational? And, so you don’t forget, the results of your comedic journey are e-mailed to you – a reminder of your laugh-out-loud day, and a solid prediction of your next #netflixandchill night. So you don’t lose your sense of humor on the drive home, an exit kiosk dispenses a “joke-to-go”, a final memento of your Comedy Center experience.
In just its first few months, the National Comedy Center has won acclaim from critics and comedians alike. With its emphasis on personalization, its applications of cutting edge technology, and its easily updatable content, we feel confident that the National Comedy Center will keep visitors smiling and reviewers cheering for many years to come.