Carl Reiner’s Archives Head to National Comedy Center

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY, continues to grow even more into its name.

Today the center announced the family of the late great Carl Reiner has donated his archives, and in conjunction with that move, along with Reiner’s position as a founding advisory board member for the center, the name its ongoing preservation work in his honor: The Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation. The announcement comes a day shy of what would have been Reiner’s 99th birthday. He died last June. By this time next year, the National Comedy Center plans to launch a new multi-media exhibit celebrating his work and legacy.

In a joint statement, Carl Reiner’s children Rob, Annie and Lucas Reiner said: “People called our father a comic genius, and his gift was his ability to transform discomfort or pain into pleasure and fun. His humor made people feel good, starting with those of us around him, and then pretty much the whole world. He would be so thrilled to know that the National Comedy Center’s archives department is being named for him and that his work will be preserved there, that he would jump in the air, do a scissor kick and sing La Donna e Mobile at the top of his lungs.” 

The Carl Reiner Archives include thousands of pages of creative papers and business correspondence; unpublished comedy material; rare photographs, film footage and audio recordings from his personal and professional life; and industry awards, including his Emmys and Mark Twain Prize. The comprehensive collection includes early drafts and final scripts written by Reiner throughout his career with his handwritten annotations – from the earliest material from his Army days and “Your Show of Shows” sketches to all 158 “Dick Van Dyke Show” scripts, and his film screenplays. Also included are the chairs and TV trays used for years by Reiner and his best friend and frequent collaborator ­­– comedy legend Mel Brooks ­– as they would spend evenings together eating dinner and watching television up through the time of Reiner’s passing in June of 2020. 

“Carl Reiner’s comedic legacy is unmatched,” stated National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson. “His distinctive wit and remarkable talent enabled him to take the ordinary and transform it into indelible and timeless comedy, influencing generations of artists, and entertaining millions. From Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show, to his inimitably funny collaborations with Mel Brooks on the 2,000 Year Old Man, to his beloved comedy films, Reiner built a body of work that is a testament to his creative genius, and the power of comedy to inspire us, enliven us — and touch the human spirit. We are proud that our nation’s first cultural institution dedicated to comedy developed and opened with Carl Reiner’s blessing, and we are honored that his legacy will live on as an enduring anchor of the National Comedy Center’s work.” 

More quotes from more famous comedians!

There will never be another Carl Reiner. I loved him from the moment we first met. I’m thrilled that the National Comedy Center will be preserving Carl’s archives and  naming its archives and preservation department in his honor – because no one deserves it more than my best friend. Carl’s comedy was timeless and now his name will live on for generations with this wonderful tribute.” – Mel Brooks 

“Carl Reiner was a true genius and the finest human being that I’ve ever known — he is irreplaceable. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this tremendous honor from the National Comedy Center. Carl deserves to be celebrated every day, and now, he will be, within the halls of this museum dedicated to the art form that Carl loved most – comedy.” – Dick Van Dyke 

“Carl was my greatest mentor – his wisdom, talent, humor, energy will never be forgotten, all wrapped in his uncommon decency. By naming its archive department after Carl, the National Comedy Center reminds us all that it’s these qualities that matter most when creating great work that touches us, makes us laugh and stands the test of time.” – Steve Martin 

“It was a true honor to serve as a founding Advisory Board member of the National Comedy Center with Carl Reiner,” stated comedian, writer and actor Lewis Black, Founding Chair of the National Comedy Center Advisory Board. “Carl believed strongly in the importance of this non-profit cultural institution and its mission to preserve comedy’s heritage. He and I both knew that it’s up to the artists in our industry to come together and support this vital preservation and archival work, so that comedy’s rich history can be shared and celebrated for generations to come.” 

The National Comedy Center’s Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation will be an incubator for the study and dissemination of comedy history, and a resource for educating artists, students, scholars and the public about comedy’s great minds and unique voices. The Department will lead research, conservation and exhibition activities throughout the organization, including the acquisition of artifacts, documents and audiovisual materials that chronicle the story of comedy across all genres and eras of the art form.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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