The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center
is pushing ahead with its plans to establish Jamestown as America's capital of comedy.
The Jamestown Post-Journal
reports that the center's plans for 2012 are highlighted by a bigger, better Lucy Fest next summer.
The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center returned to the center stage
with Lucy Fest this past summer, breezing through the first of its four
Next year, the center is pushing for an even
bigger festival and a closer realization of the ultimate goal -
recognizing Jamestown as the capital of comedy.
"In 2011, I would
say we accomplished what we needed to," said Executive Director Journey
Gunderson. "Our primary benchmark was to establish credibility within
the comedy industry, which is national, and as a fortunate result of the
quality of the programming and the attraction of the Guinness world
record, we got the national spotlight that we hoped for."
noted how media outlets from even worldwide markets arrived for the
first few days of August, culminating in the world record for the most
costumed Lucys gathered in one location. Recently, that number has been
confirmed by the Guinness World Records as 916.
Gunderson said a private firm from Buffalo has been hired to complete an
assessment of the downtown impact as a result of the multi-day Lucy
Fest. A survey has been put out to all festival participants and even as
the center waits for concrete data, she said its reports of between
12,000 and 13,000 attendees has already put new ideas on the table for
the next year.
"We just finished collecting the data and handing
it over to them so that they can get back to us and report the economic
impact that the festival had," she said. "We couldn't do what we intend
to do in 2012 without having seen the numbers we put up in 2011 - the
attendance of the festival exceeded our expectations."
PILLARS FOR LUCY
Gunderson said the "Legacy of Laughter" vision at the center is set to be further unveiled in the summer of 2012.
One was to re-establish the annual comedy festival in the way that
Lucille Ball envisioned it herself," she said, "... that Jamestown would
be a hub of humor and that annually we would celebrate the new voices
The next Lucy Fest will be complemented by Pillar Two: the Comedic Arts education program.
are planning a comedy college in conjunction with JCC," she said, which
will offer five days of classes for youth and adults. Slated headlining
instructors are Bill Chott, a writer for the Dana Carvey Show and
Saturday Night Live, and T. Faye Griffin, director of the nonprofit Kids
in the Spotlight organization.
Gunderson said classes will be a
"mix of the comedic arts," including basic fundamental joke
construction, sitcom writing improvisational and stand-up comedy.
On the horizon are pillars three and four.
Another companion to the ongoing Lucy Fest would the Comedy Film Festival.
a festival requires a lot of lead time: people need to make the films,
enter them locally and have them be reviewed," said Gunderson, adding
that such an event is not likely until 2013.
In possible years to
come, all future programming would coordinate around a grander
bricks-and-mortar home located in Jamestown. The final pillar in the
Legacy of Laughter scheme is the National Comedy Museum and Hall of
An unveiling of a possibility was held last April, with
Gunderson and others making the comparison to Cooperstown and its
''Like Cooperstown to baseball, Jamestown will
induct and honor the comedic artists who most embody the legacy of
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for their impact on the world through the
comedic arts,'' Gunderson said.
She said in the coming year one
step toward the ultimate goal is a planned summit of the "minds and
moguls of the comedy world ... people who are engrossed in that world
and have made careers out of it." She added she is currently planning
with boards members if this could take place during Lucy Fest 2012.
has flourished at the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, and Gunderson
said visitors can expect to find some newly added features.
are going to be reinvesting in the attraction," Gunderson said. "We have
acquired some new items and received donations so some really unique
A new exhibit will document the annual Lucy festival
since its inception. Interestingly, 2011 signified the 20th anniversary
since the premiere, but Gunderson said this fact was absent from the
already crowded marquee.
"One of our challenges has been to be of
interest to people of Jamestown right here in the community - it is time
for people in Jamestown to be proud of and recognize the amazing talent
that has played here," she said. "There are not many towns of our size
that can point to a track record and show alumni like us, and so would
like to showcase that in the museum."
Gunderson said the exhibit
makes a connection between the early performances of Louis Black, Ellen
Degeneres and Paula Poundstone in the 1990s with the latest crop of
up-and-coming performers to arrive in Jamestown, courtesy of the Rooftop
Comedy Stand-up Showcase.
The agency has been signed up for
another round in 2012, and Gunderson said their appreciation of the
experience is well documented on the Lucy Fest Facebook page.
loved being in Jamestown and they were treated very well here," she
said. "All of the comedians that came here, they reiterated to us that
Lucille Ball was it: she was one of the icons that they looked up to,
and for a few of them, the reason they went in to comedy. They said it
was an honor to play Lucy Fest, and we were honored to have them here."
"Those growing relationships can only be a good thing," Gunderson added.