Some of the funniest people in the world will converge on Jamestown and the Southern Tier this week, as the National Comedy Center presents its annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival July 31 to Aug. 6. In addition to dozens of comedy and standup shows throughout the week, the Festival is hosting a number of discussions, exhibits and celebrations with comics.
Here’s a rundown of the best of the Fest:
Jim Gaffigan: The family-friendly comedian returns to Western New York with a sold-out show at the Northwest Arena at 8 p.m. Aug. 3. A native of the Midwest, Gaffigan draws humor from food, fatherhood (to five children) and his reluctance to cold weather. His comedy albums remain best-sellers, with his latest, “Obsessed,” bowing in 2014. Gaffigan’s most recent special, “Cinco,” premiered on Netflix this year.
Kevin James: The sitcom and film star has one 8:30 p.m. show Aug. 4 at the Northwest Arena. Best known for his long-running CBS sitcom, “The King of Queens,” James returned to the network to star and produce his latest show, “Kevin Can Wait.” James has also starred in several comedy films, including the “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” series, “Zookeeper,” “Here Comes the Boom” and “ True Memoirs of an International Assassin.” Tickets for his standup show range from $47.50 to $153.50.
Robert Klein: The legendary veteran comedian will be celebrated by the Festival at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts at 6 p.m. Aug. 5. The evening will begin with a screening highlighting the career of Klein, who has performed comedy and drama on stage, film and television over the past 40 years. Klein will then sit down for a conversation about his life. Tickets for the event are $15.
Lisa Lampanelli: A career of insult comedy has given Lampanelli the title of “The Queen of Mean.” Her most recent standup album, “Back to the Drawing Board,” draws upon her recent divorce, weight loss and single-hood. Lampanelli will perform at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts at 9 p.m. Aug. 5. Tickets for the show are priced from $17.50 to $77.50.
Lewis Black: The comic and social critic will appear at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater at 10:45 a.m. July 31 as part of the Comedy and the Human Condition series of dicussions. Black was a longtime commentator on “The Daily Show” and has performed several standup albums. Tickets are $24.
David Steinberg: A longtime comedian, writer and sitcom director, Steinberg will talk at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater at 10:45 a.m. Aug. 1. Steinberg’s career reads like a checklist of comedy history, as a performer on the controversial “Smothers Brothers” program and director of “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Tickets for the program are $24
W. Kamau Bell: The comic and commentator will be part of the Comedy and the Human Condition series with a conversation with Kelly Carlin Aug. 3. Bell’s comedy leans toward commentary on society, race and politics. He has hosted the FX series “Totally Biased” and now produces the CNN docu-series “United Shades of America.” The 10:45 a.m. discussion will be held at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater. Tickets are $24.
More than 75 shows and events are scheduled during the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, named in honor of the hometown Jamestown star. For a full lineup and information, visit www.lucycomedyfest.com.
Story topics: comedy/ comedy previews/ David Steinberg/ Jamestown/ Jim Gaffigan/ kevin james/ Lewis Black/ Lisa Lampanelli/ Lucille Ball Comedy Festival/ lucy comedy fest/ Mark Ciemcioch/ standup comedy/ W. Kamau Bell