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Images courtesy of the National Comedy Center
Images courtesy of the National Comedy Center

National Comedy Center's Lucille Ball Virtual Comedy Festival lineup features Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Aidy Bryant, Gilbert Gottfried, Lolly Adefope, Kate Flannery & Debra Messing


Fri, Aug 28th 2020 04:10 pm

Plus, an interview from the archives with comedy legend Carl Reiner, featuring never-before-seen footage

The National Comedy Center, the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to comedy – recently named the “Best New Museum” in the country by USA Today – is presenting the final weekend of its acclaimed Lucille Ball Comedy Festival virtually this year, featuring conversations with a diverse lineup of artists.

Over 30 artists from stand-up, theater, television and film are featured in all-new, candid, in-depth conversations about their work, careers, influences and the art of comedy, including Lolly Adefope, Lewis Black, Aidy Bryant, Kelly Carlin, Margaret Cho, Frank DeCaro, Anna Drezen, Ophira Eisenberg, Bill Engvall, Jimmy Fallon, Kate Flannery, Wayne Federman, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, Harrison Greenbaum, Tiffany Haddish, Sam Jay, Penn Jillette, Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, Charles McBee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Flame Monroe, Paula Poundstone, Mark Russell, Dulce Sloan, Kenan Thompson, Roy Wood Jr., Rutledge Wood, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Alan Zweibel, and legendary creative team members from Mad Magazine.

The virtual festival also recognizes founding National Comedy Center advisory board member and comedy legend Carl Reiner, who passed away just six weeks ago, by featuring a long-form interview with exclusive, never-before-seen footage with Reiner directly from the Comedy Center archives.

All programs are available free online via live stream at the National Comedy Center’s new online platform, National Comedy Center Anywhere, at ComedyCenter.org/Festival, as well as via Facebook Live on the National Comedy Center’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/NationalComedyCenter. Following each live stream, these programs will remain available for free, on-demand viewing on the National Comedy Center Anywhere platform.

The nonprofit National Comedy Center encourages donations to support the museum and the center’s mission of presenting the vital story of comedy in America, preserving its heritage for future generations. Visit ComedyCenter.org/Donate.

The National Comedy Center just added a program with Emmy Award-winning actress Debra Messing to its lineup for the final week. Programs stream online from Friday, Aug. 28, through Sunday, Aug. 30. The Messing conversation will stream at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3.

Hosted by author comedian, actor and journalist Frank DeCaro, the National Comedy Center conversation with Messing will explore her work in comedy and discuss comedy legend Lucille Ball, who was a major influence on Messing’s career. One of the last episodes of “Will & Grace” this past April was a tribute to “I Love Lucy” titled “We Love Lucy,” in which Messing portrayed beloved “I Love Lucy” characters Lucy Ricardo, Ethel Mertz and Fred Mertz. The episode was recently nominated for three Emmy Awards.

The Sunday night, the virtual festival will also recognize Reiner by featuring a long-form interview with exclusive, never-before-seen footage with him directly from the Comedy Center archives. The program will be hosted by fellow National Comedy Center advisory board member Paula Poundstone and executive producer of exhibit media for the National Comedy Center Stephen J. Morrison.

Full Schedule and list of talent participating includes:

•Friday, Aug. 28:

√ 8 p.m. - Mark Russell: Hosted by Lewis Black – Legendary political satirist and comedian Russell takes on current events for the National Comedy Center with a performance of new musical parodies, plus a discussion of his career and legacy. 

√ 9 p.m. – Aidy Bryant & Lolly Adefope: Hosted by Anna Drezen – Actress, comedian and “SNL” cast member Bryant and her “Shrill” co-star Adefope in conversation with comedian, actor and “SNL” writer Drezen. 

√ 10 p.m. – Gilbert Gottfried with special guest Penn Jillette: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Voice actor and stand-up comedian Gottfried sits down virtually with comedian Greenbaum to talk about his unique voice, crude humor and the many aspects that go into telling a joke in this National Comedy Center Conversation. Special guest Jillette joins the conversation.

•Saturday, Aug. 29:

√ 8 p.m. – “Weird Al” Yankovic: Hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Lin-Manuel Miranda – Singer/songwriter/producer “Weird Al” in conversation about his work, creative process and influences with “The Tonight Show” host and comedian Fallon and composer/lyricist/producer/playwright/actor and “Hamilton” creator Miranda.

√ 9 p.m. – Kate Flannery: Hosted by Ophira Eisenberg – Comedic actress Flannery, best known for her work on “The Office,” reflects on her acting career and the 15th anniversary of the popular TV series in a National Comedy Center Conversation with comedian and NPR host Eisenberg.

•Sunday, Aug. 30:

√ 8 p.m. – Carl Reiner Interview from the Archives: Hosted by Paula Poundstone and Stephen J. Morrison – An interview with comedy legend and founding National Comedy Center advisory board member Reiner featuring never-before-seen interview footage, plus a discussion about his genius, with comedian Poundstone and producer Morrison. 

•Thursday, Sept. 3:

√ 8 p.m. – Debra Messing: Hosted by Frank DeCaro – An interview with Emmy Award-winner Messing in conversation about her work and career, the art of comedy, and comedy legend Lucille Ball as a major influence on Messing throughout her career.

Now available for viewing on demand at www.ComedyCenter.org/Festival:

√ Jay Leno: Hosted by Stephen J. Morrison (parts one and two) – Legendary comedian Leno discusses his extensive career in stand-up, writing and late-night television in a conversation with Morrison, executive producer of exhibit media for the National Comedy Center. 

√ Tiffany Haddish: Hosted by Flame Monroe – Actress, comedian, author, Emmy Award-winner, and two-time 2020 Emmy-nominee Haddish discusses her work and process with comedian Monroe on the Emmy-nominated Netflix variety special “Tiffany Haddish Presents; They Ready,” “Flame Monroe” as well as her personal nomination for Outstanding Variety Special for Netflix special “Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah.” 

√ Margaret Cho – Hosted by Judy Gold – Cho candidly discusses her craft and comedy’s vital role in issues of social justice and equality with comedian Gold in this National Comedy Center Conversation.

√ Roy Wood Jr. – Hosted by Wayne Federman – Wood speaks about his multifaceted comedy career, including his experiences as a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” in a conversation hosted by comedian Federman for the National Comedy Center. 

√ Kenan Thompson: Hosted by Stephen J. Morrison – “Saturday Night Live’s” Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member in “SNL history” and 2020 Emmy-nominee discusses comedy with Morrison.

√ Sam Jay: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Jay, stand-up comedian and Emmy-nominated writer for “Saturday Night Live,” discusses her creative process and new Netflix special, “3 In The Morning,” with comedian Greenbaum in a National Comedy Center Conversation. 

√ Bill Engvall: Hosted by Rutledge Wood – Comedian Engvall discusses finding his unique comedic voice and the phenomenon of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” in a National Comedy Center Conversation hosted by “Floor is Lava’s” Wood.

√ Howie Mandel: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Comedian, host and producer Mandel discusses his vast career and his “say yes” philosophy with comedian Greenbaum in an exclusive National Comedy Center Conversation.

√ Dulcé Sloan: Hosted by Charles McBee – Join stand-up comedian Sloan and “The Daily Show” correspondent as she discusses her career and the importance of Black artistry in a National Comedy Center Conversation with her former comedy collaborator, McBee. 

√ Judy Gold: Hosted by Frank DeCaro – Gold discusses her craft and the importance of comedy during these trying times with comedian and author DeCaro in a conversation for the National Comedy Center.

√ Alan Zweibel: Hosted by Kelly Carlin – Original “Saturday Night Live” writer and five-time Emmy winner Zweibel discussed his new memoir, “Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier,” and his nearly five decades as an award-winning comedy writer with writer/producer/actress/radio host Kelly Carlin, the daughter of George Carlin.

√ Mad Magazine: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Legendary creative team members from Mad Magazine, including John Ficarra (former editor-in-chief), Joe Raiola (former senior editor) and Sam Viviano (former art director) join in a National Comedy Center Conversation with comedian Greenbaum to talk about the impact of comics, comedy for print, and the transition to becoming a digital humor magazine.

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, produced and presented by the National Comedy Center in Jamestown – Ball’s hometown – named in 2019 as one of TIME magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” – was headlined in 2019 by John Mulaney and Sebastian Maniscalco, and has showcased comedy’s greatest stars and rising young comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Trevor Noah, Lily Tomlin, Amy Schumer, Brian Regan, W. Kamau Bell, Jim Gaffigan, Joan Rivers, Bob Newhart, the Smothers Brothers and more than 100 other comedic artists. The 30th Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will take place Aug. 4-8, 2021, featuring Jeff Foxworthy and “Legends of SNL” David Spade, Kevin Nealon and Rob Schneider.

The National Comedy Center is the United States’ official cultural institution and museum dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy and preserving its heritage for future generations, as formally designated by the U.S. Congress in 2019. Opened in August 2018 in Jamestown, the museum complex offers an unprecedented visitor experience using state-of-the-art technology, interactivity and personalization to create the first true 21st century museum environment.

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