Organizers of the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival have an oft-repeated vision: They want Jamestown to become the Cooperstown of comedy. They’ve got the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center. Soon they’ll be opening their National Comedy Center.
And next week is the annual festival from July 30 to Aug. 2. Lest you think the Chautauqua County city of just over 30,000 is too small to be a comedy hotbed, consider: Both of festival headliner Jerry Seinfeld’s Aug. 1 shows in Jamestown Savings Bank Arena are sold out. But tickets do remain for “Parks & Recreation” star Nick Offerman (8:30 p.m. July 31, the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts) and Kelly Carlin, daughter of the late comic great George Carlin, who will present her program “A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George” at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 1 in the Lenna theater.
There’s also a “Comedy Legacies” program at 6 p.m. July 31 focusing on the work of Joan Rivers and Harold Ramis. Kelly Carlin will moderate that discussion with Melissa Rivers, daughter of Joan, and the son and daughter of Ramis, the late writer, actor and director (“Ghostbusters” and “Animal House”).
To celebrate the groundbreaking of the National Comedy Center, Regis Philbin will moderate a panel from David Letterman’s “Late Show” and “Late Night” next Thursday at the Willow Bay Theater. The annual festival also features workshops, lectures, activities and kids shows. Many of the offerings focus on Ball, who grew up in nearby Celeron before going on to Hollywood fame. Visit lucycomedyfest.com.
– Tim O’Shei