July 16, 2012

Lucy-Desi Center director Gunderson makes case for comedy at Chautauqua Speaks

When Chautauqua County native Journey Gunderson began her tenure as director of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy in Jamestown, N.Y., in 2011, Jamestown Post-Journal reporter Stacy Stauffer described her as “a fresh breeze.”
Considering the success of the 2011 celebration of Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday and the plans for the August 2012 Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, Gunderson is an imaginative and efficient breeze — perhaps a strong wind — blowing away cobwebs and generating new energy for the Center’s future.
On Thursday at the 9:15 a.m. Chautauqua Speaks program at the Chautauqua Women’s Club, Gunderson will be “Making A Case For Comedy.” She will not discuss the art of comedy, though that is the art the Center cultivates and preserves. Rather, she will describe the vision for the Center as it strives to become an incubator for comics, an entertainment venue and eventually the National Comedy Museum and Hall of Fame.
“We want to be the Cooperstown of Comedy,” she said referring to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Gunderson described Ball as a shrewd businesswoman. She said the Center’s goals are a translation of Ball’s perception that the Center would have to be more than a museum attraction.
Born and raised in Chautauqua County, Gunderson grew up in Bemus Point where she lives now with her husband, Jason Toczydlowski, director of marketing and guest services at the Athenaeum Hotel. She enjoys a long connection with Chautauqua Institution. Her grandmother Winnie Lewellen was for many years Wensley House housemother.
A graduate of Ithaca College, Gunderson majored in sports information and communications. She was editorial director and web producer for the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York.
In 2010, Gunderson received the Alumni Leadership & Service Award from the Ithaca College Department of Sport Management and Media. She is a two-time National Health Foundation Information Awards Gold Award-winner.
So often young women and men leave their smaller hometowns and bring their talent and potential to bigger cities. There is something reassuring about Gunderson’s return to the Jamestown area. Perhaps she is part of an avant-garde of young men and women who will bring their substantial ability home.

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