Debra Messing Joins National Comedy Center Virtual Comedy Festival Lineup. Final Weekend Also Features Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Weird Al” Yankovic,” SNL’s Aidy Bryant, Gilbert Gottfried and More.

Debra Messing Joins National Comedy Center Virtual Comedy Festival Lineup. Final Weekend Also Features Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Weird Al” Yankovic,” SNL’s Aidy Bryant, Gilbert Gottfried and More.









Plus, an Interview from the Archives with Comedy Legend Carl Reiner, Featuring Never-Before-Seen Footage  


 Jamestown,  NY – August 27, 2020 – The National Comedy Center, the nation’s official non-profit cultural institution dedicated to comedy – recently named the “Best New Museum” in the country by USA Today – has added a program with Emmy Award-winning actress Debra Messing to its lineup for the final week of its Lucille Ball Virtual Comedy Festival. The final weekend will feature Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Aidy Bryant, Gilbert Gottfried, Lolly Adefope, Kate Flannery, Paula Poundstone, Lewis Black and more, in a festival that has featured Tiffany Haddish, Jay Leno, Margaret Cho and many others. Programs stream online from Friday, August 28 through Sunday, August 30. The Debra Messing conversation will stream on Thursday, September 3rd at 8 pm ET.

Hosted by author comedian, actor and journalist Frank DeCaro, the National Comedy Center conversation with Debra Messing will explore her work in comedy and discuss comedy legend Lucille Ball, who was a major influence on Messing’s career. One of the last episodes of Will & Grace this past April was a tribute to I Love Lucy entitled “We Love Lucy,in which Messing portrayed beloved I Love Lucy characters Lucy Ricardo, Ethel Mertz and Fred Mertz. The episode was recently nominated for three Emmy Awards.

Best known for her role as Grace in NBC’s Emmy Award-winning comedy Will & Grace, Messing captivated television audiences worldwide for eleven seasons spanning 22 years with her comedic brilliance as Grace Adler, an interior designer whose best friend and soul mate is Will Truman, played by Eric McCormack. For her work on the popular sitcom, which ended its three-season return engagement this past May, Messing won the 2003 Emmy Award, has earned a total of seven Golden Globe nominations, seven Screen Actors Guild nominations, winning the ensemble award in 2001, five additional Emmy nominations, two American Comedy Award nominations and one individual People’s Choice Award nomination. She also received TV Guide’s Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series honor in 2001.

The Sunday night, August 30, the virtual festival will also recognize founding National Comedy Center Advisory Board Member and comedy legend Carl Reiner, who passed away just eight weeks ago, by featuring a long-form interview with exclusive, never-before-seen footage with Reiner directly from the Comedy Center Archives. The program will be hosted by fellow National Comedy Center Advisory Board Member Paula Poundstone and executive producer of exhibit media for the National Comedy Center, Stephen J. Morrison.

For the past two weeks, the National Comedy Center’s Lucille Ball Virtual Comedy Festival has featured over 30 artists in all-new, candid, in-depth conversations about their work, careers, influences and the art of comedy, including Lolly Adefope, Lewis Black, Aidy Bryant, Kelly Carlin, Margaret Cho, Frank DeCaro, Anna Drezen, Ophira Eisenberg, Bill Engvall, Jimmy Fallon, Kate Flannery, Wayne Federman, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, Harrison Greenbaum, Tiffany Haddish, Sam Jay, Penn Jillette, Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, Charles McBee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Flame Monroe, Paula Poundstone, Mark Russell, Dulce Sloan, Kenan Thompson, Roy Wood, Jr., Rutledge Wood, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Alan Zweibel, and legendary creative team members from Mad Magazine.

All programs will be available free online via live stream at the National Comedy Center’s new online platform, National Comedy Center Anywhere, at as well as on the National Comedy Center’s Facebook page: Following each live stream, these programs will remain available for free, on-demand viewing on the National Comedy Center Anywhere platform.

The non-profit National Comedy Center encourages donations to support the museum and the Center’s mission of presenting the vital story of comedy in America, preserving its heritage for future generations. Visit

Full Schedule and list of talent participating includes:

Friday, August 28th


    • 8pm ET – Mark Russell: Hosted by Lewis Black – Legendary political satirist and comedian Mark Russell takes on current events for the National Comedy Center with a performance of new musical parodies, plus a discussion of his career and legacy. 
    • 9pm ET – Aidy Bryant & Lolly Adefope: Hosted by Anna Drezen – Actress, comedian and SNL cast member Aidy Bryant and her “Shrill” co-star Lolly Adefope  in conversation with comedian, actor and SNL writer Anna Drezen. 
    • 10pm ET – Gilbert Gottfried with special guest Penn Jillette: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Voice actor and stand-up comedian Gilbert Gottfried sits down virtually with comedian Harrison Greenbaum to talk about his unique voice, crude humor, and the many aspects that go into telling a joke in this National Comedy Center Conversation.  Special guest Penn Jillette joins the conversation.   

Saturday, August 29th


    • 8pm ET – “Weird Al” Yankovic: Hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Lin-Manuel Miranda –  Singer/songwriter/producer “Weird Al” in conversation about his work, creative process and influences with The Tonight Show host and comedian Jimmy Fallon and composer/lyricist/producer/playwright/actor, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.  
    • 9pm ET – Kate Flannery: Hosted by Ophira Eisenberg – Comedic actress Kate Flannery, best known for her work on The Office, reflects on her acting career and the 15th anniversary of the popular TV series in a National Comedy Center Conversation with comedian and NPR host Ophira Eisenberg.   

Sunday, August 30th

  • 8pm ET – Carl Reiner Interview from the Archives: Hosted by Paula Poundstone and Stephen J. Morrison – An interview with comedy legend and founding National Comedy Center Advisory Board Member Carl Reiner from the Comedy Center Archives, featuring never-before-seen interview footage, plus a discussion about Carl Reiner’s genius with comedian Paula Poundstone and producer Stephen J. Morrison. 


Thursday, September 3rd:  

  • 8pm ET – Debra Messing: Hosted by Frank DeCaro – An interview with Emmy Award-winner Debra Messing in conversation about her work and career, the art of comedy, and comedy legend Lucille Ball as a major influence on Messing throughout her career. 

Now available for viewing on demand at 

    • Jay Leno: Hosted by Stephen J. Morrison (Part 1 and 2)– Legendary comedian Jay Leno discusses his extensive career in stand-up, writing and late-night television in a conversation with Stephen J. Morrison, Executive Producer of Exhibit Media for the National Comedy Center. 
    • Tiffany Haddish: Hosted by Flame Monroe – Actress, comedian, author, Emmy Award-winner, and two-time 2020 Emmy-nominee Tiffany Haddish discusses her work and process with comedian Flame Monroe on the Emmy-nominated Netflix variety special Tiffany Haddish Presents; They Ready, “Flame Monroe” as well as her personal nomination for Outstanding Variety Special for Netflix special Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah.
    • Margaret Cho – Hosted by Judy Gold – Margaret Cho candidly discusses her craft and comedy’s vital role in issues of social justice and equality with comedian Judy Gold in this National Comedy Center Conversation.  
    • Roy Wood Jr. – Hosted by Wayne Federman – Roy Wood Jr. speaks about his multifaceted comedy career, including his experiences as a correspondent on The Daily Show, in a conversation hosted by comedian Wayne Federman for the National Comedy Center. 
    • Kenan Thompson: Hosted by Stephen J. Morrison Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member in SNL history and 2020 Emmy-nominee discusses comedy with Stephen J. Morrison 
    • Sam Jay: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Sam Jay, stand-up comedian and Emmy-nominated writer for Saturday Night Live, discusses her creative process and new Netflix special, “3 In The Morning,” with comedian Harrison Greenbaum in a National Comedy Center Conversation. 
    • for print, and the transition to becoming a digital humor magazine.  
    • Bill Engvall: Hosted by Rutledge Wood – Comedian Bill Engvall discusses finding his unique comedic voice and the phenomenon of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour in a National Comedy Center Conversation hosted by Floor is Lava’s Rutledge Wood.  
    • Howie Mandel: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Comedian, host and producer Howie Mandel discusses his vast career and his “say yes” philosophy with comedian Harrison Greenbaum in an exclusive National Comedy Center Conversation.  
    • Dulcé Sloan: Hosted by Charles McBee – Join stand-up comedian Dulcé Sloan and The Daily Show correspondent as she discusses her career and the importance of Black artistry in a National Comedy Center conversation with her former comedy collaborator, Charles McBee. 
    • Judy Gold: Hosted by Frank DeCaro – Judy Gold discusses her craft and the importance of comedy during these trying times with comedian and author Frank DeCaro in a conversation for the National Comedy Center.  
    • Alan Zweibel: Hosted by Kelly Carlin – Original Saturday Night Live writer and five-time Emmy winner Alan Zweibel discussed his new memoir, Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier,  and his nearly five decades as an award-winning comedy writer with writer/producer/actress/radio host Kelly Carlin, the daughter of George Carlin.  
    • Mad Magazine: Hosted by Harrison Greenbaum – Legendary creative team members from Mad Magazine, including John Ficarra (former Editor-in-Chief), Joe Raiola (former Senior editor) and Sam Viviano (former Art Director) join in a National Comedy Center conversation with comedian Harrison Greenbaum to talk about the impact of comics, comedy for print, and the transition to becoming a digital humor magazine.  

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, produced and presented by the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY, Lucille Ball’s hometown — named in 2019 as one of TIME magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” — was headlined in 2019 by John Mulaney and Sebastian Maniscalco, and has showcased comedy’s greatest stars and rising young comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Trevor Noah, Lily Tomlin, Jay Leno, Amy Schumer, Brian Regan, Lewis Black, W. Kamau Bell, Jim Gaffigan, Paula Poundstone, Joan Rivers, Bob Newhart, the Smothers Brothers and more than one hundred other comedic artists. The 30th Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will take place August 4-8, 2021, featuring Jeff Foxworhy and Legends of SNL David Spade Kevin Nealon and Rob Schneider.