As Jamestown officials intensify efforts to market the Southern Tier city as a hub for humor, the National Comedy Center has announced its headliner for the 2017 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.
Jim Gaffigan will bring his unique brand of comedy to the Northwest Arena on August 3.
“Jim Gaffigan is one of the strongest and most well-known and well respected voices in comedy today. He is a multi-platinum selling artist,” center Executive Director Journey Gunderson told WBFO.
Gaffigan has appeared in “That 70’s Show,” “Sex in the City” and other television programs. He has also been cast in season three of “Fargo.”
Gaffigan continues a tradition of booking big-name comedians to perform at the festival. Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno are among those who performed in previous years.
Gunderson said efforts continue build a strong identity for the center.
“The National Comedy Center that is under construction right now in Jamestown, has already begun marketing itself nationally by producing national comedy centered dialogs that have aired on, for example SiriusXM’s Comedy Greats channel,” she said.
The complex was originally scheduled to open in 2017, but the timeline has been pushed back as the project has grown in "quality and complexity," Gunderson said, adding that officials are not setting a hard opening date at this juncture.
The facility will aim to offer visitors an “immersive exhibit experience.” The $50 million project has been funded through a public-private partnership. More than $4.3million has been provided through numerous state programs, including Empire State Development and I Love NY.
The seeds for the center were planted by a familiar comedy icon.
“It did originate with Lucille Ball,” Gunderson said. “She was the one to say to the Arts Council in her hometown of Jamestown, NY that beyond a museum attraction of her or a shrine to “I Love Lucy” and all of her successes, she said she wished that Jamestown would become a destination for celebration of comedy.”
The center will be located next to the Jamestown Gateway Train Station. Officials are optimistic that the complex will become a popular attraction that will be a boost to Jamestown’s economy.