Comedians, chefs and authors are my rock stars. My husband and I rarely agree on music, but we always seem to align on comedians. So when we saw a story on CBS Sunday about The National Comedy Center, it went on our list of places to see one day. Opening in 2018, The National Comedy Center is in Jamestown, New York. This is not an easy destination from the Midwest, but when mingled with a visit to Niagara Falls and Buffalo (only 90 minutes away), it made the whole trip make sense.
Jamestown is about an hour and a half from Buffalo, New York and is one of those sad towns that did not thrive after many blue collar American jobs went elsewhere. But it happens to be the area Lucille Ball grew up in and she wanted to leave a legacy. There is a whole museum about Lucy and Desi in town – but the National Comedy Center is about the love of comedy and features so many great comedians.
The lobby at the Comedy Center, where guests take a quick comedy quiz to set their preferences. Betty White's case features her Emmys and iconic costumes. Lucille Ball's polka-dot dress has a prominent position in the museum. The Blue Room signage makes sure you know what you are getting into.
The ultra-modern technology used at the museum is impressive and kept me much more entertained and engaged than I had imagined. Your visit starts with an electronic bracelet and a short online quiz about your comedy preferences. When you move throughout the museum, you swipe your bracelet and different video clips play because of what you (and others in that room) like. The personalization made sure we were laughing all day, from sitting in the “nightclub” and viewing a variety of performers to the terrific Carl Reiner exhibit to comedy via the funny pages. There are lots of interactive ways to participate (or not), including a chance to get up on stage and try a standup routine yourself or take turns trying to make your partner laugh.
Even though the “Blue Room” made me cringe at times, this basement exhibit shows how comedy has evolved in the last 50 years and how what people tolerate has changed. You are warned several times before entering the Blue Room by the way.
While I saw some advice say this museum is about an average 2-3 hour visit, we enjoyed a great portion of an entire day here (with a short lunch break at a local diner). For less than $30 a ticket, we had a blast.