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National Comedy Center officially designated as US cultural institution dedicated to comedy

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Wed, Mar 13th 2019 11:40 am
Image courtesy of the National Comedy Center
Image courtesy of the National Comedy Center

The National Comedy Center was formally designated Tuesday as the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to the art form of comedy. In a bipartisan show of support, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed this bill in February, and the president signed it into law this week, recognizing the Center as the “Official National Comedy Center of the United States.”

The bill, as written, recognizes that the National Comedy Center, located in Jamestown, “exists for the exclusive purpose of celebrating comedy in all its forms” and officially designates the center as the “National Comedy Center.”

Opened in August 2018, the state-of-the-art, $50 million museum complex is dedicated to presenting the story of comedy in America, and preserving its heritage for future generations. Based on the vision of Jamestown native Lucille Ball for her hometown to become a destination for comedy, the National Comedy Center showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain.

The passage of the National Comedy Center legislation, part of the bipartisan John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, was led by Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. Tom Reed.

"We are honored that this legislation has been formally passed by Congress, establishing the National Comedy Center as the country's official cultural institution dedicated to presenting and preserving the vital story of comedy in America," said Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center executive director. "Comedy is a true art form with an extraordinary heritage, and it deserves this important recognition and high distinction."

“Ten years ago, we embarked on a mission to create a world-class attraction dedicated to the art form of comedy in Jamestown, New York,” said Tom Benson, project chairman. “Our dream was realized when the National Comedy Center opened on Aug. 1, 2018, to rave reviews, and now we are thrilled that this important institution will be forever known by law as America’s official home for the celebration of comedy.”

Schumer said, "Comedy is an art form, and it's a part America’s rich cultural history. I’m thrilled that Congress passed legislation designating Jamestown’s Comedy Center as the official National Comedy of the United States and been signed into law. The Comedy Center is a tourism magnet and now, finally, it has the national designation it so clearly deserves. I am incredibly proud to have played my part in enacting this legislation, to help this cultural institution continue attracting visitors from far and wide.”

Gillibrand said, “I am very excited that the Jamestown Comedy Center has just been officially designated as the National Comedy Center. The Jamestown Comedy Center is a celebration of talent and has quickly become a must-see location in New York. This museum is a destination for families, tourists and comedy lovers from all over the country. When I visited the museum, it was clear that the Comedy Center should become a landmark in New York. That’s why I fought to make sure that this year’s Land’s Package would designate the museum as the National Comedy Center, and I’m proud to see this legislation signed into law.”

Reed added, “Jamestown is now to comedy what Cooperstown is to baseball and Cleveland is to rock ‘n’ roll. As the nation’s first state-of-the-art museum and cultural institution dedicated to presenting, preserving and celebrating the art form of comedy, there is no other place more deserving of full backing of the U.S. government as the nation’s home to comedy than the birthplace of Lucille Ball and the National Comedy Center.”

Featuring exclusive collections, world-class exhibits and leading-edge technology, the National Comedy Center presents an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the time-honed creative processes that have elevated comedy entertainment to an art form. Over 50 innovative exhibits within the 37,000-square-feet facility enable visitors to take an interactive journey through comedy history, from early vaudeville to the latest viral memes. Throughout their personalized experience, visitors gain a profound appreciation for comedy icons and innovators, as well as for the influence of humor on how we think, live and laugh.

The National Comedy Center was recently voted No. 2 “Best New Attraction” in the country, out of 20 new attractions, by USA Today readers, and chosen as the No. 1 museum and No. 1 ticketed attraction in this USA Today poll. Condé Nast Traveler called the National Comedy Center “One of the best museums in the country,” while The Interrobang comedy news site named the design team second on its list of “Innovators Who Changed Comedy” in 2018. Visitors from all 50 states and nine countries have given the center a rare 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor, ranking among the highest in the attraction and tourism industry.

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