JAMESTOWN — The 2019 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival was estimated to be the biggest festival in its 28-year history, with twice the number of headliner shows and more tickets sold to its events than for any prior festival, organizers said.
The festival, presented by the National Comedy Center Aug. 7 through Sunday, was highlighted by four headliner shows — two each for comics Sebastian Maniscalco and John Mulaney, who packed the arena for each performance. The festival also increased the number of late-night comedy shows it presented from four to six — many of which sold out.
Throughout the festival, rising stand-up comedians from across the nation were showcased, including Mark Normand, Mathew Broussard, Zainab Johnson and Lachlan Patterson, along with comedy dialogues, kids comedy, block parties and Lucy legacy events held in 11 venues throughout Jamestown.
“Clearly comedy fans from across the country love coming to Jamestown for great comedy performances and events — and to visit our state-of-the-art National Comedy Center,” Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center executive director, said.
Maniscalco and Mulaney both toured the National Comedy Center during the festival.
“I didn’t know what to expect, I just didn’t expect the National Comedy Center to be this grand, this detailed and in-depth and interactive,” Maniscalco said. “The National Comedy Center is definitely inspiring, even for a comedian.”
Mulaney added, “I like that it takes comedy very seriously. This is really about the actual craft of comedy, and that’s what is amazing about it.”
The center again partnered with Chautauqua Institution for a comedy-themed week, highlighted by comedy dialogues in its 4,000-seat amphitheater featuring the legendary Smothers Brothers reunited on stage, acclaimed director/producer Frank Oz, comedian Maria Bamford, and a discussion on Robin Williams with comedian Lewis Black and long-time Robin Williams manager David Steinberg.
The Comedy Center opened its new exhibit on legendary comedy innovator Ernie Kovac as his centennial year is celebrated, featuring never-before-exhibited creative papers, rare audiovisual content and original, screen-used artifacts from Kovacs’ influential 1950s and early 1960s television shows and specials.
A ribbon-cutting with the Smothers Brothers was also held, unveiling a new display featuring archival material they donated to the center.
New displays featuring iconic artifacts and costumes from Eddie Murphy’s “Nutty Professor,” “Bridesmaids,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Happy Gilmore” and “The Office” were also unveiled.