The National Comedy Center has opened its new, multi-media exhibit honoring comedy legend Carl Reiner. Carl Reiner: Keep Laughing.
The National Comedy Center became the home of the Carl Reiner Archives in 2021, with the Reiner family donating rare creative papers, scripts and artifacts spanning Reiner’s seven-decade career in comedy as a writer, director, producer, author and performer.
The new exhibit showcases hundreds of never-before-seen archival materials spanning Reiner’s remarkable seven decades as a writer, director, producer, author, and performer. Visitors can explore interactive stations that feature rare audiovisual clips, creative papers, photographs, and dimensional artifacts that intimately chronicle a lifetime of creative output: from Reiner’s early years as a performer on Sid Caesar’s legendary Your Show of Shows to his creation of the seminal The Dick Van Dyke Show, from his collaboration with Mel Brooks on the Grammy-winning 2000 Year Old Man to his acclaimed cinematic partnership with Steve Martin (The Jerk, All of Me and more), and across his far-reaching contributions to the comedic art form. The exhibit will run throughout 2022 and beyond.
Artifacts and documents include Reiner’s typewriter case and original, typed manuscript for the first episode of Head of the Family – which would become the legendary The Dick Van Dyke Show; rare photos of Reiner with Mel Brooks, with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, and with Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore; the cowboy hat that Reiner wore in the final episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show; his Emmy awards and Mark Twain Prize, and the chairs and TV trays used for years by Reiner and his best friend and frequent collaborator – comedy legend Mel Brooks – as they would spend evenings together eating dinner and watching television.
“Carl Reiner’s comedic legacy is unmatched,” stated National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson. “His distinctive wit and remarkable talent enabled him to take the ordinary and transform it into indelible and timeless comedy, influencing generations of artists, and entertaining millions. From Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show, to his inimitably funny collaborations with Mel Brooks on the 2,000 Year Old Man, to his beloved comedy films, Reiner built a body of work that is a testament to his creative genius, and the power of comedy to inspire us, enliven us — and touch the human spirit. We are proud that our nation’s first cultural institution dedicated to comedy developed and opened with Carl Reiner’s blessing, and we are honored that his legacy will live on as an enduring anchor of the National Comedy Center’s work.”
With a multi-faceted career spanning television, film, stage, record albums, books and even social media, Carl Reiner, who passed away in June of 2020, was a twelve-time Emmy® award-winner, a Grammy® award-winner and a recipient of The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Reiner was an early advocate and an instrumental supporter for the National Comedy Center’s vision to celebrate comedy as an art form. In 2021, the National Comedy Center formally named its ongoing work to preserve comedy’s heritage in honor of Reiner. The Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation serves as the central hub for all archival and preservation work within the Comedy Center, as it continues its mission to present the history of comedy and preserve comedy’s heritage for future generations.
The Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation is an incubator for the study and dissemination of comedy history, and a resource for educating artists, students, scholars and the public about comedy’s great minds and unique voices. The Department leads research, conservation and exhibition activities throughout the organization, including the acquisition of artifacts, documents and audiovisual materials that chronicle the story of comedy across all genres and eras of the art form.
Reiner’s career archive includes thousands of pages of creative papers and business correspondence; unpublished comedy material; rare photographs, film footage and audio recordings from his personal and professional life; and industry awards. The comprehensive collection includes early drafts and final scripts written by Reiner throughout his career with his handwritten annotations – from the earliest material from his Army days and Your Show of Shows sketches to all 158 Dick Van Dyke Show scripts, and his film screenplays.