America's First Comedy Museum to Open in Lucille Ball's Hometown

Jamestown, N.Y., will house the National Comedy Center, opening Aug. 1, which will feature artifacts from comedians including George Carlin and Richard Pryor and shows and films from 'Seinfeld' to 'SNL.'
Courtesy of National Comedy Center
National Comedy Center

America's first comedy museum is coming this summer, not to L.A. or Manhattan, but to Jamestown, New York, birthplace of Lucille Ball. (Not far away, in Celoron, is the Lucy statue that received worldwide attention in 2016 for looking a bit too scary.) 

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that final preparations are underway as the National Comedy Center has secured artifacts from a long list of comedians and popular shows. Those who will have items on display on Aug. 1, opening day, are Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Charlie Chaplin, George Carlin, Mary Tyler Moore, Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, Rodney Dangerfield and Johnny Carson, alongside show artifacts from Seinfeld, Saturday Night Life, Ghostbusters, Airplane!, Animal House, Mean Girls, 30 Rock, Will & Grace, Friends and The Golden Girls. There are eight more individuals who are close to signing contracts to donate items.

The exhibit areas will feature curated media presentations produced by three-time Emmy-nominated executive producers Stephen J. Morrison and Mark Herzog of Herzog & Co. The Center will be unveiled during a five-day celebration that will include performances by Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin and a SNL reunion with Dan Akroyd, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris and Alan Zweibel.

Ball's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, tells THR that her mother would be "over the moon with joy" that her hometown "decided to follow her advice and, instead of erecting some passive monument to her, pay homage to the healing power of love and laughter, the remarkable, life-saving tonic that is humor. Celebrate it. Study it. And find out how to make sure there is always more of it. The National Comedy Center will do just that in her memory."

She continued: "But I bet she would have liked them to call it 'The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz National Comedy Center'! ... I congratulate everyone who has worked hard to turn this 20-year dream of mine into a reality."

A version of this story first appeared in the June 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.