March 12, 2019 — The National Comedy Center, located in Lucille Ball’s home of Jamestown, NY, was formally designated today 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 President Trump 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.”
Opened in August 2018, the state-of-the-art, $50 million, 37,000-square-foot National Comedy Center 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 Lucille Ball that her hometown become a destination for comedy, the state-of-the-art, $50 million, 37,000-square-foot complex showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain.
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,” said Tom Benson, Project Chairman. “Our dream was realized when the National Comedy Center opened 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 Comedy Center has just been officially designated as the National Comedy Center. The National 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.”
“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.”
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 that 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.
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.
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.
Design for the National Comedy Center was led by the most prominent cultural and interactive design firms in the world, whose portfolios collectively include the award-winning 9/11 Memorial Museum, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, The College Football Hall of Fame, SNL: The Experience, and more.
The National Comedy Center has been embraced by the entertainment industry, with props, costumes and archival material provided by many of the most revered names in comedy. The National Comedy Center’s exhibition partners include Carl Reiner, George Shapiro and Jerry Seinfeld, Kelly Carlin and the George Carlin estate, Dan Aykroyd, Alan and Robin Zweibel, Joan Dangerfield, The Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, The Harold Ramis Family, The Garry Shandling Estate, George Schlatter, Bill Marx and the Harpo Marx Family, the Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams estate, Desilu Too, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Corporate Archive, and many more.
The National Comedy Center also operates the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, which explores the lives, careers and legacy of the “First Couple of Comedy,” and the incredible impact they had on the world. For over 25 years, the organization has also produced the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, with performers including Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Jay Leno, Lewis Black, Trevor Noah, Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Ray Romano, Bob Newhart, The Smothers Brothers. The 28th annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival this August will be headlined by Sebastian Maniscalco and John Mulaney.