The National Comedy Center finally opened its doors last week with a triumphant Grand Opening weekend in Jamestown, NY, the birthplace of the late great comedy icon Lucille Ball.
“My 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,” said Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnez. “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.”
After a ribbon-cutting by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, original Saturday Night Live star Dan Aykroyd drove his motorcycle up to the front door and promptly donated it to the interactive museum. “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,” Aykroyd said.
Other notable quotables:
“When I got into the National Comedy Center I got really overwhelmed and really emotional. It was just really moving and it was really meaningful that we have a place now for our heroes. It’s so important to share the legacies of the comedians before us, because you look at Lenny Bruce and these comedians that would fight for their right to say what they wanted and express themselves and make jokes about things that maybe they weren’t supposed to.”
“I’m really grateful to the women who have come before me. It was a different time and because they got up there is why I have the luxury of even being able to do stand-up and say any of the things I want to on stage.”
“I’m really grateful that the National Comedy Center exists. It felt good to believe that our legacies will be remembered.”
George Schlatter (creator, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In; The American Comedy Awards)
“This is the best thing that ever happened to comedy.”
George Shapiro (manager/producer for Andy Kaufman, Jerry Seinfeld)
“I never thought I could fall more in love with comedy, but I just did by spending four days at the National Comedy Center. The laughs keep coming!”
Kelly Carlin (daughter of George Carlin, who donated his archives to the center)
“I always knew that it would be fantastic, but it blew me away. When I walked out I suddenly had renewed hope for America. I thought, ‘The world needs to laugh, and most importantly, we need to learn to laugh together again.’ The National Comedy Center makes that happen in every moment.”
“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.”
Alan Zweibel (writer/producer: SNL, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show)
“The art of comedy finally has a home. And a spectacular home at that.”
Check out Lily Tomlin checking out the Laugh-In exhibit!