Shortly before Lucille Ball's death in 1989, the actress and comedian told her hometown of Jamestown, NY that instead of a museum celebrating her life, they should build a place to showcase comedy. Almost 30 years later, the star of "I Love Lucy" got her wish when the National Comedy Center, a cultural institution and museum dedicated to presenting the art of funny, opened its doors.
Over the course of more than 50 exhibits, the 37,000-square-foot facility whisks guests through one interactive experience after another, from vaudeville comedy beginnings to modern-day memes. With the help of some cutting-edge technology, archived props and material from the most revered comics, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry, the National Comedy Center has become the place to honour comedy.
From a stand-up lounge tailored towards your brand of humour to trying your hand at Comedy Karaoke (complete with an on-site bar for liquid courage), there are plenty of ways to tickle your fancy. And with immersive exhibits like the Laugh Battle, in which you're tasked with making your opponent crack a smile; or the Hologram Theatre where you can get on stage with a state-of-the-art Jim Gaffigan for some comedy tricks of the trade, it's no wonder that the ultimate comedy destination was named one of TIME's “World’s Greatest Places”. Plus, USA Today readers voted the National Comedy Center the No. 1 Best New Attraction in the nation in December 2018.
They're not the only ones who love it – visitors from nine countries and all 50 U.S. states have given the Center a rare 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor, ranking it among the highest in the attraction and tourism industry. Plus, it has the backing of the funny folks themselves, with a slew of comedians and entertainers like Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin and original Saturday Night Live cast member Dan Akroyd attending the grand opening of the National Comedy Center. The comedy museum is open seven days a week and has enough attractions to keep both adults and kids amused.
Every year, during the week of Lucille Ball's birthday, her hometown of Jamestown celebrates the first lady of comedy with the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. This August, the National Comedy Centre hosted the largest festival yet, with headliners Sebastian Maniscalco and John Mulaney there to mark the occasion.
The National Comedy Center, located less than a 3.5-hour drive away from Toronto, along the shores of Lake Erie, is the perfect centerpiece activity to plan your fall getaway around. The Chautauqua Harbour Hotel, a stunning property that boasts breathtaking views from its 1,100 feet of spectacular lake frontage, is perfectly placed for a visit to the National Comedy Center and other local attractions like the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. Book a room and plan your weekend away in this charming town, or plan some pitstops (like Buffalo and Rochester) along your fall road trip route.
Head to comedycenter.org to start planning your trip to the National Comedy Center.