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National Comedy Center To Reopen Friday

Pictured is the National Comedy Center. P-J file photo

Those in need of a laugh will soon be in luck.

The National Comedy Center announced Wednesday that they will reopen to the public on Friday, a measure made possible with Western New York’s transition into Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan on Tuesday which includes all low-risk indoor arts and entertainment facilities including indoor museums, historical sites, aquariums and other related institutions.

“Two weeks before our temporary closure, we were named the Best New Museum in the Country by the USA Today and we finished tourism peak season in 2019 being named to Time Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places List,” Journey Gunderson, executive director said. “So, in many ways, this has been heartbreaking in terms of momentum, but, we are truly excited to reopen.”

Gunderson said that additional details are being finalized and will be released to the public ahead of Friday’s reopening.

“We are using Wednesday and Thursday to do extensive staff training on site in all of the protocols that we look forward to sharing with people,” she said, noting that the center could not meet with staff in person until the region entered Phase Four.

“The protocols are so important so we really want to take seriously the training of the staff that can now gather on sight Wednesday and Thursday to be ready and re-learning a different guest services job than it was pre-COVID,” she added.

In November, the center announced that it had welcomed 66,000 visitors since launch, placing it on track with pre-launch attendance projections and delivering significant economic impact to Western New York, since opening in August 2018.

The museum attracted visitors from all 50 states and 18 countries, with 88.7% of National Comedy Center visitors coming from outside Chautauqua County. It also welcomed 226 tour groups with an average of 33.3 people per group, including motor coach operators from around the country.

The center announced in March that, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the mitigation efforts surrounding it, it would postpone the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown until August of 2021. Festival performances by comedian Jeff Foxworthy have been rescheduled for Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, and the Legends of SNL: David Spade, Kevin Nealon and Rob Schneider performance has been rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021.

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