The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is returning in full force this year with an impressive lineup of events and entertainers.
“It’s one of the best lineups in history,” Journey Gunderson, director of the National Comedy Center, said. “It’s also the first time we’ve been in-person since before the pandemic.”
Gunderson said the festival’s return, after two years of rescheduling, marks the return of “one of the best comedy festivals in the country.”
Final preparations for the comedy festival are on schedule, with multiple organizations partnering to make the event a success.
“They’re going well,” Gunderson said. “This is an event where our staff and partner venues and the community and hundreds of volunteers and the city departments all work together to put on quite a show for 15,000 some attendees.”
Gunderson said the festival typically attracts people from all across the nation. This year’s attendance is expected to once again draw crowds of over 15,000.
“It’s a big weekend for Jamestown,” she said. “For locals, it’s one both to enjoy and be proud of.”
Gunderson believes that in previous years people came to Jamestown to attend a show and take advantage of the block parties. This year, people will have the opportunity to tour the National Comedy Center while they are in town.
“Now, you can couple your visit to downtown Jamestown with a reservation to see what has just been named the best new museum in the country and the Carl Reiner exhibit that we just opened,” she said.
With comedians Margaret Cho and Jeff Foxworthy headlining shows at the festival, National Comedy Center officials have high expectations for this year’s event.
Cho has been named in Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time. She will perform at 7 pm Thursday at the Reg Lenna Center For the Arts.
Gunderson said whether people identify as Blue Collar Comedy fans, they will enjoy Foxworthy’s comedic performances. He will deliver two performances Friday at Northwest Arena — at 7 pm and 9:30 pm
“Foxworthy is known in the industry and comedy community to be one of the best jokesmiths and craftsmen of a stage set to ever do it live,” she said. “Seeing Jeff Foxworthy is a chance to see one of the best who as ever done live stand-up comedy. It’s a rare opportunity.”
The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will begin with the “Stand Up Showcase” at 7 pm today at the Reg Lenna Center For the Arts.
“The stand-up showcase ends up being many people’s favorite show of the festival because it plucks the best club talent currently working coast to coast and curates a show for Jamestown that represents the best current voices working in comedy,” Gunderson said.
The comedians who will take part in the showcase have been on shows like “fallon,” “Jacket” and “Last Comic Standing.”
In addition to the festival’s paid events, there will be free events provided for the public, including a children’s comedy show.
“The fact that there’s a free kids comedy show on Saturday morning at the Reg Lenna and block parties to attend, makes every part about attending a show at this festival huge bang for buck,” Gunderson said.
The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is not the only event the comedy center has planned for August. The comedy center is presenting a show on Aug. 13 at the Reg Lenna celebrating Johnny Carson, called “Carson Tonight.” The event will feature a variety of performers who have been featured on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.
Information on the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and the following weekend’s Johnny Carson celebration can be found online at ComedyCenter.org under events.