After another long year of planning, organizers are ready to unveil the 2015 Lucy Comedy Festival, a packed weekend of events starting Thursday in Jamestown.
Executive Director Journey Gunderson says the organization works to keep the event fresh and topical. The festival kicks off Thursday night with a look at David Letterman. The comedian who spent over three decades hosting late night network talk shows retired recently. His comic influence will be at the center of a roundtable discussion hosted by Letterman's most frequent guest through the years.
"Regis Philbin agreed to host and moderate this panel of David Letterman's closest and longest-serving staff and crew, many of whom were with him for the entirety of his 33 years in television," Gunderson said.
Among those scheduled to appear are Barbara Gaines, the executive producer of Late Night, and Biff Henderson, whose legendary antics may have made him the most famous stage manager in television history.
"This really embodies what we are all about," says Gunderson.
The conversation continues on Friday night as a group gathers to recall the comic legacies of three memorable performers. The event will be hosted Kelly Carlin, the daughter of George Carlin.
"Kelly Carlin will be the interviewer of Melissa Rivers as well as Violet and Julian Ramis, the two adult children of Harold Ramis," says Gunderson. "Harold Ramis, of course, is considered one of the most widely influential comedy writer-directors of all time."
The weekend renews attention to the long-discussed National Comedy Center in Jamestown, a project that crawled along the planning table for many years and is now gearing up toward reality.
"With the commitment of funding from New York State this past December, we've turned the corner from development to construction. So this Saturday at 2 p.m., we'll mark the groundbreaking ceremony and the beginning of the construction period," Gunderson said.
Excitement for this weekend's festival started building when Jerry Seinfeld was announced as the headlining act. His two scheduled shows for this Saturday sold out in just two weeks. While Gunderson acknowledges that Seinfeld's appearance has added to the buzz in Jamestown, she maintains that its just as important that the festival remains committed to developing the next generation of comics.