After years of development and millions in investment, the National Comedy Center officially opened today in Jamestown. While comedy stars like Amy Schumer, Dan Aykroyd and Lewis Black will bring luster to the weekend-long opening, Executive Director Journey Gunderson is confident the Comedy Center will live up to expectations. She says pre-opening testing indicates the center's experience will encourage repeat visits and boost tourism in the Southern Tier.
The first visitors came pouring through the door right at 9 a.m. and shortly after elected officials made the ceremonial ribbon-cutting. This vision for what is expected to be an international attraction came from Jamestown-area native Lucille Ball back in the 1980s. She wanted to see a home for comedy, a place where it could be appreciated and developed.
Center Chairman Tom Benson said this place has something for everybody. Visitors on this first day have come from near and far to learn about some of their favorite comics - George Carlin, Jay Leno, Billy Crystal - and newer performers like Jim Gaffigan and Ali Wong. They are all part of the highly interactive experience at the center, which includes artifacts such as the suit worn in the Harold Ramis movie "Ghostbusters" and the motorcycle of Ghostbuster Dan Akroyd.
The grand opening continues through Sunday. The center will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week beyond that.