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“I Love Laughter” in Upstate New York, Part 1
Sometimes the best cure for a long work week is a little laughter. And in Upstate New York, we have the Comedy Capital of the World (unofficially) in Jamestown, NY.
Home to Lucille Ball, Jamestown, NY capitalized on the star’s fame with the Lucy-Desi Museum – a tribute to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, stars of the hit TV show “I Love Lucy.” For three days every year, the museum morphs into a bigger event that takes over the entire town – the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival – happening this year on August 3-6. And soon, Jamestown will be opening the National Comedy Center – a new museum and experience that embodies Lucille Ball’s vision for her hometown of Jamestown, NY.
I know, it’s a lot! Let me break it down for you:
Lucy-Desi Museum – Honoring one of TV’s favorite couples, the Lucy-Desi museum preserves the memory and impact of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. You can stop by and see costumes, on-screen memorabilia, awards they were both given, photographs of their lives (personal and TV), and both rotating and permanent exhibits. You can also visit Desilu Studios – a section devoted to the “I Love Lucy” TV series and sets.
Lucille Ball Comedy Festival* – Once a year for three days, Jamestown transforms into a true hub of comedy brilliance. Comedy legends like Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, and more come out for the event. Classes are held to teach you the art of comedy – from stand-up to sketch. Professional impersonators roam the area as Lucy and Ethel, providing you with antics from the show. And the town opens its doors, taking visitors through Lucy’s birthplace, childhood home, and even to Lake View Cemetery, which serves as Ball’s final resting place.
*This year, Jim Gaffigan will take the stage as part of the festival. Tickets are on sale now!
National Comedy Center – Commissioned in 2015, the museum will soon be completed and open for visitors. It will house over 65 exhibits, celebrating the earliest written jokes to the latest comedy podcasts – even things like the art of heckling. The center will be home to a hologram comedy club, where you can laugh along with legends of days past, like Milton Berle, Bob Hope, George Carlin, and Rodney Dangerfield. And of course, Lucille Ball – who will have a presence in the museum, as it celebrates the broader spectrum of comedy and comedic artists.
Oh, and the Chautauqua Institution (located less than 30 minutes from Jamestown, NY) is presenting a week of programs on “Comedy and the Human Condition” in partnership with the National Comedy Center, on July 29-August 5, 2017. Comedian and director David Steinberg will be the featured guest.
But you don’t have to confine yourself to Chautauqua County to get your fill of comedy. Check out Chautauqua Institution (located less than 30 minutes from Jamestown, NY) is presenting a week of programs on Part 2 of my blog, and find the hidden gems of comedy scattered across New York State.