2022 Best of Lake Erie: Laughs

Discover the reasons the National Comedy Center offers fun for the entire family.

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown is the most interactive museum in the country, with state-of-the-art technology that personalizes the experience based on the type of comedy you enjoy. 

“When you come in, you create a sense of humor profile at a kiosk based on the TV shows, movies and comedians you like, and you get a ‘laugh band’ with an RFID chip,” explains Gary Hahn, vice president, marketing and communications. “Our system knows you are there and scans your band to deliver comedy based on what you told us you like, so if there are several people in the Stand Up Lounge, it will read the room like a good stand-up comedian would, find what everyone has in common, and bring up a stand-up act that appeals to everyone sitting there at that moment.” 

This is a museum for all ages, and a real win if you’ve got a younger set that loves digital entertainment. Looking for family-friendly laughs? There are more than 50 exhibits inside. Here’s what’s in store. 

Prop Stars: An interactive table highlights the history of classic comedy props — things like banana peels, arrows-through-the-head, whoopie cushions and the anvil that appears in Bugs Bunny cartoons. “The table tells you about the prop, and you can watch a clip from a cartoon or an old TV show that features that prop,” Hahn says.

Comedy Continuum: “Whether you are 80 years old or 8, there is something for you,” Hahn says, pointing to this map-like feature where you touch a 60-foot interactive screen to learn about a comedian or performer — and their act leads you to another comedy connection. It’s like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game for comedy. “You essentially create a web as you touch the screen — there are pictures and videos, and it’s a way for younger generations to see today’s artists and their influences,” Hahn says. 

Carl Reiner, Keep Laughing: The National Comedy Center just acquired legendary comedian Carl Reiner’s career archives, which includes thousands of creative papers, unpublished material, rare photographs and footage. It includes all 158 of The Dick Van Dyke Show scripts and the actor’s screenplays. In his honor, the center named its collections initiative the Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation. And the Carl Reiner, Keep Laughing exhibit showcases his work. 

Jamestown, New York, 716-484-2222, comedycenter.org