March 12, 2012

Billy Gardell to headline 2012 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival

Comedian Billy Gardell, the star of the hit show "Mike & Molly" will headline the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival August 1-5 in Jamestown, NY.

The Pittsburgh native is known to more than 12 million TV viewers each week, appeared in his own hour-long Comedy Central Special in 2011, and will be performing to a house of 1,260 seats in Jamestown Saturday, August 4. Tickets go on sale April 17 at

Returning after contributing to this success, Paula Poundstone, one of Comedy Central’s 100 greatest comedians of all-time and panelist on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, will headline the Thursday, August 2 evening.

Attending this show and others, Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, will be in town to witness the Center’s new Legacy of Laughter direction, one pillar of which is comedic arts education.

That programming debuts this year with a set of comedy courses to take place the week of the festival, culminating with students earning stage time at Lucy Fest and the Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, named by USA Today as one of the top 10 comedy clubs in the nation. Courses are presented in partnership with Jamestown Community College’s Center for Continuing Education, and registration for youth and adults begins April 17.

Classes include intensive training in the areas of improv, sketch and stand-up, and will be taught by Bill Chott, T. Faye Griffin, and Andy Engel, respectively. Engel is the founder of Manhattan Comedy School and the Director of New Talent at the Gotham. Griffin is a former writer and segment producer for both the show In Living Color and the BET Network, as well as a personal joke writer for Steve Harvey. Chott toured alongside Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in The Second City Comedy Troupe before re-uniting with former troupe-mates Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell to work on The Dana Carvey Show and Saturday Night Live. Lucy fans will recognize him for his award-winning portrayal of Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy Live on Stage.

Friday, August 3 features a showcase of some of the hottest rising comics in the country, co-produced by San Francisco-based Rooftop Comedy, the world’s largest producer of interactive comedy programming. Lucy Fest has featured performances by then-rising stars Ray Romano, Lewis Black and Ellen Degeneres, and aims to catch comics on a similar rise to the top with this showcase.

Saturday matinees will include the return of a live on-stage radio show, broadcast last year on SiriusXM and produced by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer. Also returning is the critically-acclaimed kids comedy troupe, Story Pirates. This non-profit creative writing organization will visit to do in-classroom story-writing workshops in the spring. The stories from these Jamestown public school students will become the basis for the show Saturday, August 4.

Other festival events include Lucy Town Tours, shows featuring the best Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel impersonators in the world, a parade, memorabilia auction, “Party on the Plaza,” and the newly-formatted, largest, and most comprehensive “I Love Lucy” trivia contest ever believed to have been held. This preliminary schedule will be updated as new events are confirmed at

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