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The National Comedy Center: New York’s funniest attraction

National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York
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National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York

Are you a fan of “I Love Lucy?” You may have known about the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum in Lucy’s hometown, Jamestown, New York, but did you know that Lucy’s birthplace is now also the site of the National Comedy Center?

I Love Lucy mural, Jamestown, New York
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I Love Lucy mural, Jamestown, New York

This 37,000 square foot, $50 million National Comedy Center is, according to what Lucy’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, said at the opening, just what her mother would have wanted. It is not a monument to her but the first state-of-the-art museum dedicated to an appreciation of comedy as a healing art form.

National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York
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National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York

When you arrive at the $50 million National Comedy Center you can create your own comedy preference profile on an electronic screen by answering a series of questions and selecting shows and comedians you like.

Comedy options, National Comedy Center, Jamestown, NY
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Comedy options, National Comedy Center, Jamestown, NY

Get a wristband with an RFID chip that uses advanced personalization technology to create a humor profile and enjoy an individualized experience at over 50 interactive exhibits.

Lucy's polka dot dress and Archie Bunker's jacket, National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York
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Lucy’s polka dot dress and Archie Bunker’s jacket, National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York

There are costumes from favorite shows and areas for trying your hand at cartooning or comedy writing. Holograms of  media moguls form when you correctly answer questions about their work. You can even put yourself into scenes from shows from I Love Lucy to Saturday Night Live.

Can You Guess the Mogul?, National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York
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Can You Guess the Mogul?, National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York

Perform a scripted stand-up routine and draw a crowd. See how well you deliver some of the jokes when you score points in a laugh battle. Facial recognition software detects an opponent’s laugh or smile. 

interactive comedy scene, National Comedy Center. Jamestown, New York
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interactive comedy scene, National Comedy Center. Jamestown, New York

The National Comedy Center is a place to celebrate the art of comedy in all its forms, from early vaudeville to Internet memes. Learn about great minds in comedy. Create a wall-sized web of influence that connects the work of comedians. Read original scripts. Have a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process. Have a ball.

The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum

"I Love Lucy" living room, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum
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“I Love Lucy” living room, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum

The combination ticket includes the nearby Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, where you can relive memories through displays that include costumes, photographs, memorabilia, and awards. Replica sets of the some of the most famous rooms in television history, including the living room where Desi opened the door and said “Lucy, I’m home!” bring back memories.

"I Love Lucy" kitchen, Lucy and Desi, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum
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“I Love Lucy” kitchen, Lucy and Desi, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum

The Lucy-Desi Museum focuses on the couple’s personal lives and careers. The Desilu Studio area is about the highly successful business side of their lives.

Do you know how Lucy and Desi met? Desi was cast in the New York production of Too Many Girls when Lucy was the leading lady. Lucy also starred with Richard Denning in the radio show “My Favorite Husband” and was offered a similar role in the newly emerging television industry. She agreed, but only if Desi was hired to play her husband.

Lucy and Desi, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum
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Lucy and Desi, Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum

Network executives did not think that her Cuban bandleader spouse would appeal to viewers. The couple proved them wrong. They formed their own production company, Desilu, and went on the road with what became a highly successful musical comedy show.

CBS approved the pilot episode.  “I Love Lucy” went on to top the charts as America’s highest-rated show. It has never been off the air.

Where to Stay

For the ultimate in a Lucille Ball experience, book a room at the new Chautauqua Harbor Hotel. The hotel on the shores of Chautauqua Lake. Its rustic wood and stone accents blend in with  the natural setting and it adds a new level of upscale accommodations to the area.

Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, Celoron, New York
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Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, Celoron, New York

It has a Comedy Room with National Comedy Center satellite exhibits in display.

Comedy Room, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, Celoron, NY
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Comedy Room, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, Celoron, NY

It is just three miles away from the National Comedy Center, in the village of Celoron, near the house where Lucy lived as a child.

The house where Lucille Ball lived, Celoron, NY
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The house where Lucille Ball lived, Celoron, NY

The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel was built on the former site of one of Lucy’s favorite places, Celoron Amusement Park, which closed in 1962. Its attractions included a zoo, bandstands, a theater and the Phoenix Wheel, then the largest Ferris wheel in the world.

The Zoo Entrance, Celoron Park, NY
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The Zoo Entrance, Celoron Park, NY

Celoron Theater, Celoron, NY
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Celoron Theater, Celoron, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Band Stands, Celoron Park, NY
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The Band Stands, Celoron Park, NY

Chautauqua Lake, Celoron Park, Celoron, NY
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Chautauqua Lake, Celoron Park, Celoron, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel‘s Hilarious Getaway package is a deal certain to lift  anyone’s spirits. It includes accommodations for two, a $30 voucher to the hotel’s Lakehouse Tap and Grill, and two tickets to the National Comedy Center and The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum.

Groucho glasses, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, Celoron, New York
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Groucho glasses, part of the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel’s Hilarious Getaway package

A voucher in the goody bag reads, “No Joke! Wear your Groucho Marx glasses to the Lakehouse Tap & Grille and enjoy a complimentary dessert.”

Lucille Ball Memorial Park, which has two bronze statues of the First Lady of Comedy, is by the lighthouse, a short stroll away.

lake view and lighthouse, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, Celoron, NY
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lake view and lighthouse, by Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Celoron, NY

Lucille Ball Memorial Park has two bronze statues of the First Lady of Comedy. A more realistic 2016 “Lovely Lucy” statue has been added to the controversial “Ugly or Scary Lucy” statue from  2009 depicting Lucy in the Vitameatavegamin commercial.

Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Celoron, New York
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Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Celoron, New York

We booked the Hilarious Getaway package, a deal certain to raise your spirits. It includes accommodations for two, a $30 voucher to the hotel’s Lakehouse Tap and Grill, and two tickets to the National Comedy Center  and The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum (usually $30 each), priced from $239.

Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum, Jamestown, New York
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Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum, Jamestown, New York

Relax with dinner at the Lakehouse Tap and Grill.Enjoy the indoor  or outdoor pools and fitness center. Or simply relax in the plush bathrobes in the guest rooms, enjoying the lake view.

Bask in the glow of the fire pits on the patio. The bedding is luxurious and in the morning there is complimentary coffee and tea bar on every floor.

Visiting during the holidays? Be sure to check for other vacation packages. In December, for example, there is a Breakfast with Santa.

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