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Lucille Ball Comedy Festival Engvall and Madigan Headline • Aug 1-4

Comedian Kathleen Madigan

Comedian Kathleen Madigan

By Eva Potter The great comedienne Lucille Ball once said, “I’d rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven’t.” And that’s the only reason you need to attend the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown, N.Y., August 1–4, 2013. This year, the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy is featuring national headliners Bill Engvall and Kathleen Madigan, along with a “Comics to Watch” showcase of upcoming comedians presented by Pandora. The festival weekend kicks off Aug. 1, when the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy and Pandora internet radio present the stand-up showcase “Comics to Watch.” Visitors can also look forward to an interactive exhibit from Pandora’s Comedy Genome Project, which spans 12 genres and adds 10,000 comedy clips from over 700 comedians. The exhibit will be located at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station. On Aug. 2, Kathleen Madigan, who has never been hotter in her 25-year career, will perform at the Reg Lenna Civic Center. She is a frequent guest on late night talk shows and her stand-up show has been featured on HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central. Bill Engvall, a prominent member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, will take the stage on Aug. 3 at the Reg Lenna. He has toured alongside Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy, and his Blue Collar Comedy movies have sold more than 9 million units. What many don’t realize is that this is the 22nd anniversary of the comedy festival, which attracts thousands of visitors annually. And even though “Lucy Fest” embodies Ball’s vision for her hometown legacy — an annual comedic arts celebration — its beginnings envisioned a much broader scope. “It started out as a comedy festival with Ellen DeGeneres, Ray Romano, Louis Black, the Smothers Brothers and Paula Poundstone, and then it became much more narrow in focus and became a Lucy Fan Club Convention … for ‘I Love Lucy’ fans from all over the world,” explained Journey Gunderson, executive director of The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy in Jamestown. “I think that’s when we really lost the interest of the average community member, and so now we’re really doing both … We’ve gotten it back to what it was originally intended to be, including contemporary comedy.” The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is the first pillar in a four-pillar vision for the organization, which also includes a comedic arts education program, comedy film festival and the establishment of the first national center for comedy. According to Gunderson, this year’s comedy weekend will also feature a soft launch of the film component of the festival with screenings of classic “Lucy” films, as well as emerging and indie comedy films that no one has ever seen before. Gunderson revealed that the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy is also in the master planning stage of developing a national center for comedy to be centrally located at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station, a recently renovated historic gem that reflects a bygone era. “This would be a national attraction based in comedy that is at once a museum of comedy … but also an incubator for the industry … it’s really a robust vision,” said Gunderson. “If Cooperstown can do it with baseball, I think we can do it with comedy.” If it’s been a while since you visited the Lucy Desi Museum, it has tripled in size since 2008, and Gunderson said the museum now has a new audio guide tour narrated by Lucy Arnaz, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s daughter. You can also see six of Ball’s Emmy awards and visit the screen room showing coverage of the last 21 years of the comedy festival. Another attraction, Desilu Studios, instantly immerses you in “I Love Lucy” shows through film sets, costumes and displays. For more information about the wide variety of attractions, headline acts, events, and entertainment including tours, contests, workshops and lake cruises, visit Discounted, presale festival tickets are available online at or by calling (716) 484-0800.

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