23 Jan National Comedy Center Celebrates Comic Legend Ernie Kovacs with Special Screenings for 101st Birthday
Jamestown, New York – January 23, 2020 – The National Comedy Center celebrates legendary comedy innovator Ernie Kovacs’ 101st birthday today through Saturday, January 25th with special screenings of rare video clips and highlights from his television career, along with a display of rare artifacts and never-before-seen material in the “Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit,” which opened last August and continues its run at the Center.
The special screening of Ernie Kovacs video highlights will be shown on Thursday, January 23rd , Friday, January 24th and Saturday, January 25th, throughout each day in the National Comedy Center Theater.
Often called “Television’s Original Genius,” Ernie Kovacs influenced generations of comedic artists and entertainers, including Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Andy Kaufman, and laid the groundwork for the creation of Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Pee-wee’s Playhouse and The Muppet Show.
The screenings during the 101st Birthday celebration will highlight some of Kovacs’ most important and acclaimed work, along with rare footage, including a “lost” episode of the Ernie Kovacs-hosted game show “Take a Good Look,” which was originally broadcast on ABC in 1961, and only recently rediscovered. The offbeat game show features surreal sight gags, blackouts and sketches, along with Ernie’s original Dutch Masters cigar commercials.
Additional video highlights feature two of Kovacs’ beloved characters, “poet laureate” Percy Dovetonsils and Mr. Question Man, plus “Leena Queen of the Jungle” featuring Edie Adams (with Kovacs as Leena), a unique performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” and Kovacs’ inventive Dutch Masters cigar commercials.
The “Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit,” which debuted during the National Comedy Center’s Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in August 2019, features never-before-seen material and rare artifacts courtesy of the comedian’s estate and estate executive Josh Mills, including screen-used props and wardrobe, personal effects, rare production documents and audiovisual content that chronicle Kovacs’ career. Much of the material was personally retained by Ernie Kovacs and his wife/creative collaborate, Edie Adams, and had been packed away since Kovacs’ untimely death in 1962 at the age of 42.
The Kovacs exhibit is available daily as part of the National Comedy Center museum experience. Plan your visit at ComedyCenter.org.
About the National Comedy Center
The National Comedy Center is the United States’ official cultural institution and museum dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy and preserving its heritage for future generations, as formally designated by the U.S. Congress in 2019. Opened in August 2018 in Jamestown, New York, the museum complex offers an unprecedented visitor experience using state-of-the-art technology, interactivity and personalization to create the first true 21st Century museum environment.
TIME just named the National Comedy Center one of its “World’s Greatest Places,” ¾ one of only “100 new and newly noteworthy destinations to experience right now” and one of only nine attractions to visit in the United States. Condé Nast Traveler called the National Comedy Center “One of the best museums in the country,” while People magazine recently named it one of “100 Reasons to Love America.” Comedy industry authority The Interrobang named the design team second on its list of “Innovators Who Changed Comedy” in 2018. Visitors from all 50 states and nine countries have given the Center a rare 5/5 raring on TripAdvisor, ranking among the highest in the attraction and tourism industry
Based on the vision of Jamestown native Lucille Ball for her hometown to become a destination for comedy, the National Comedy Center showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain. As a non-profit institution, the National Comedy Center was funded by a mix of federal, state and private philanthropic support, including partnerships with I LOVE NEW YORK ™, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State’s Empire State Development.
Design for the National Comedy Center was led by the most prominent cultural and interactive design firms in the world, whose portfolios collectively include the award-winning 9/11 Memorial Museum, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, The College Football Hall of Fame, SNL: The Experience, and more.
The National Comedy Center has been embraced by the entertainment industry, with props, costumes and archival material provided by many of the most revered names in comedy. The Comedy Center recently announced a major initiative to preserve Carl Reiner’s personal “Dick Van Dyke Show” script archive. Exhibition partners include the Kelly Carlin and the George Carlin estate, George Shapiro and Jerry Seinfeld, Dan Aykroyd, Alan and Robin Zweibel, Joan Dangerfield, The Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, The Harold Ramis Family, The Garry Shandling Estate, George Schlatter, Bill Marx and the Harpo Marx Family, the Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams estate, Desilu Too, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Corporate Archive, and many more.
The National Comedy Center operates the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, which explores the lives, careers and legacy of the “First Couple of Comedy,” and the incredible impact they had on the world.
For over 25 years, the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown has showcased comedy’s rising young comedians and greatest stars, including Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Jay Leno, Lily Tomlin, Lewis Black, Trevor Noah, Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Paula Poundstone, Ray Romano, Bob Newhart and The Smothers Brothers, and over one hundred other comedic artists. The 28th annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, presented by the National Comedy Center, was held this past, headlined by Sebastian Maniscalco and John Mulaney.
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