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Rooftop Comedy Partners with Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center to Present Comedy Festival in Lucille Ball's Honor

May 9, 2011

100th birthday celebration to include Joan Rivers, Whitney Cummings, Guinness World Record, Live Radio Show by Gregg Oppenheimer and more.

The Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Center has announced the schedule for its Festival of Comedy, August 3-7, in celebration of Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.

"We know that Lucy and Desi's intentions were for their legacy to live on in the form of living, breathing comedy that would be as progressive and contemporary as they were," said Executive Director Journey Gunderson.  "And so, we’ve adopted a four-pillar plan called the Legacy of Laughter to fulfill Lucy and Desi’s original intentions." Pillar one is a Festival of Comedy, the concept regarding her legacy that resonated with Lucille Ball the most when it was presented and discussed with her shortly before her death in 1989.

"Lucy Fest has been a successful annual staple for years, but in 2011 for her 100th birthday, we give Lucille Ball what she always wanted, The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy:"

The festival line-up includes:

  • Joan Rivers (8pm, Thurs, Aug 4).  "The festival is headlined by an entertainment legend and absolute icon of comedy," said Gunderson. Rivers was the sole guest host ever of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, former host of her own late night show on Fox, winner of an Emmy for her work on daytime television and has fifty years of stand-up comedy experience.  Rivers co-starred with Lucille Ball in an episode of Here's Lucy in which the two comedic actresses' characters had jury duty together.  The two reportedly had great respect and affinity for one another, and Rivers did the last talk show interview ever done with Ball.
  • A partnership with San Francisco-based Rooftop Comedy, whose expertise brings the Rooftop Stand-Up Showcase (8pm, Fri, Aug 5).  Rooftop Comedy produced the Aspen Comedy Festival for four years, and recently co-produced CMT's Next Big Comic comedy competition.
  • Whitney Cummings, Saturday, August 6. "Staying true to our mission of not just honoring established comedy genius, but showcasing rising stars as we did Ray Romano, Lewis Black and Ellen Degeneres on their paths to the top in the early nineties, we couple our legendary headliner with a contemporary, just as she is exploding onto the scene," said Gunderson of Cummings. "Jamestown is thrilled to have grabbed her when we did." Cummings' work of late includes Comedy Central’s Roast of Donald Trump, Comedy Central’s Roast of Joan Rivers, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, her own Comedy Central special in 2010; and pilots filmed with both NBC and CBS.
  • Guinness World Record attempt: Most people dressed as Lucy Ricardo.  (Noon, Sat, Aug 6.)
  • An on-stage radio show including the world premiere performance of I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, a new play by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer, and based on his father’s memoir, Laughs, Luck...and Lucy. That performance will be followed immediately by an on-stage re-creation of an episode of Lucille Ball’s radio sitcom, My Favorite Husband, written by I Love Lucy writers Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. (3pm, Sat, Aug 6) The Story Pirates, presenting a sketch comedy musical based entirely on stories written by elementary schoolers. (1:30pm, Sat, Aug 6)
  • Unveiling of new exhibits in the Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Museum and the Desilu Playhouse.  The Museum includes costumes, awards, and vintage memorabilia from the estates of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and the Desilu Playhouse features replicas of the sets from I Love Lucy.
  • World-renown Lucy and Ricky impersonator shows and live latenight comedy in The Tropicana Room, a re-creation of Ricky Ricardo's famous Manhattan night club. (Fri, Aug 5 and Sat, Aug 6).
  • Live outdoor comedy, music, and local food and spirits in the Party on the Plaza, downtown Jamestown (Fri, Aug 5 and Sat, Aug 6). Tickets and schedule are available on the Center's website:www.Lucy-Desi.com.
 

The second pillar the Center announced in its four-pillar Legacy of Laughter vision is a partnership with institutions of higher learning in order to provide educational programming in support of the development of the comedic arts.  The third pillar is a Comedy Film Festival, paying tribute to the legacy Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz left behind the camera, and behind the scenes, in their roles as producers of the comedic art form, revolutionizing the production process of television and cinema.  The fourth pillar in the Legacy of Laughter vision is the establishment of the first real Comedy Hall of Fame and Award.  "Like Cooperstown to baseball," said Gunderson, Jamestown will induct and honor the comedic artists who most embody the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for their impact on the world through the comedic arts. Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., the children of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, had this to say of the Legacy of Laughter vision:

"On this, the 100th anniversary of our mother's birth, we are very happy to support the new Board and Staff of The Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Center For Comedy, in whose forward thinking and capable hands Mom's original desires for her professional legacy might finally be truly realized- a festival of new comedy, seminars and master classes to train the comedy talents of tomorrow, outreach programs to prove the healing power of love and laughter in our communities and the inauguration of the first ever Comedy Hall of Fame named in honor of her and our father, Desi Arnaz. On August 6, 1911 Desiree Eveline Hunt Ball birthed a comedy legend in Jamestown, New York. It's fitting that, 100 years to the day, Jamestown christens itself as the birthplace of legions of comedy legends to come and the hometown of legacies of laughter. Congratulations to the good and patient people of Jamestown for thinking BIG with us and utilizing the gift of Lucy and Desi to its highest potential. They would be so very proud.”

Will Rogers, CEO and Co-Founder of Rooftop Media, offered the following remarks:

“Rooftop Comedy is proud to share in the excitement of the Lucille Ball 100th Birthday Celebration by partnering with the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center to co-produce a stellar festival this August.  It’s a great feeling to be able to use our expertise in talent selection and festival production to gather people together in memory of one of comedy’s most memorable figureheads. We hope to work with the Lucy-Desi Center in a long partnership of bringing groundbreaking comedy to Jamestown, NY.” The Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to preserve the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz by enriching the world through the healing powers of love and laughter through its commitment to the development of the comedic arts.

 
 

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