Featured performers:

The star of the hit show Mike & Molly, CBS’s #1 new series in 2011, comedian Billy Gardell will headline an event that last year had a direct impact of $3.6 million to the Chautauqua County economy: the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival August 1-5 in Jamestown, NY.

The Pittsburgh native is known to more than 12 million TV viewers each week, appeared in his own hour-long Comedy Central Special in 2011, and will be performing to a house of 1,260 seats, The Reg Lenna Civic Center, in Jamestown Saturday, August 4.  Tickets are on sale at

Paula Poundstone, one of Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Comedians of All-Time and panelist on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me will headline the Thursday, August 2nd evening.

Lucie Arnaz, Emmy-winning singer, producer and actress, will be the host and musical guest of a showcase of some of the hottest rising comics in the country on August 3rd. Lucy Fest has featured performances by then-rising stars Ray Romano, Lewis Black and Ellen Degeneres in the early nineties, and aims to catch comics on a similar rise to the top with this showcase.

Kids comedy includes the critically-acclaimed comedy troupe, Story Pirates, seen on CNN’s Larry King, NBC’s Today, and recently live on stage with Conan O’Brien. This non-profit creative writing organization made up of professional actors and comedians performs a show based on stories written by children.  Kids can submit stories at for the show on Saturday, August 4th, great for ages 4-12.

Other highlighted events & shows:

Live “Lucy” Radio Plays: Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer, returns to direct more radio comedy after the 2011 world premiere of his original production I Love Lucy: The Untold Story it was the subject of four nationwide broadcasts on SiriusXM™’s Radio Classics. This year’s laugh-filled show opens with another original behind-the-scenes look at the creation of I Love Lucy — the world premiere of Finding Fred and Ethel.  Next up is a side-splitting episode of Jess Oppenheimer’s first sitcom, Baby Snooks, the show that inspired him to create the character we know as “Lucy Ricardo.” Rounding out the program is another hilarious episode of Lucille Ball’s radio sitcom, My Favorite Husband: Valentine’s Day (later adapted for TV into the I Love Lucy episode Lucy Plays).

“Party on the Plaza” & “Lucy Olympics” Friday and Saturday featuring live bands, vendors, drinks and a competition at City Hall in which contestants can compete in grape stomping from the “Lucy’s Italian Movie” episode, conveyer-belt candy wrapping from the famous “Job Switching” episode, the most comprehensive I Love Lucy trivia contest ever believed to have been held and a costume contest featuring several categories.  Opening Ceremonies are at 6pm, Friday, Aug. 3rdon Tracy Plaza at City Hall.

Late Night Comedy in the Tropicana Room: Comics from around the nation try their newest and sometimes blue-est material in this re-creation of Ricky Ricardo’s famous Manhattan night club from 10:30pm-12:00am Friday, Aug. 3rdand Saturday, Aug. 4th.

Museum, Town & Cemetery Tours:  Enjoy a two-hour bus tour with a step-on guide featuring places of significance in Lucille Ball’s life, visit the resting places of Lucille Ball and family members on a horse-drawn trolley through Lakeview Cemetery, and don’t miss an opportunity to tour the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum & Desilu Studios dual attraction.

Dinner Theater with the Ricardos & Mertzs:  (Note: often sells out well in advance. Reserve early.) Brunch, lunch and dinner shows featuring the four friends from I Love Lucy, including professional impersonators from Universal Studios Florida, and “Fred Mertz” from the LA sensation “Lucy LIVE on Stage”.

Author Book Signings:  Attending this year’s festival for book signings will be Elisabeth Edwards, author of I Love Lucy: A Celebration of All Things Lucy: Inside the World of Television’s First Great Sitcom and numerous other “Lucy” titles, James Sheridan, author of Lucille Ball: Q&A, and Gregg Oppenheimer, co-author of his father’s memoir, Laughs, Luck…and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time.

Lucy Under the Stars:  outdoor film screenings 9pm Aug. 3-4.

Celoron Amusement Park through Lucy’s Eyes:  Presentation by Celoron Mayor Jack Keeney on Lucille Ball’s time at the magnificent Celoron Amusement Park, once the “Coney Island” of the region.

Boat Cruise on Chautauqua Lake: Enjoy a refreshing two-hour cruise aboard the rain-or-shine-safe Summer Wind, departing from Lucille Ball Memorial Celoron Park and the former site of the famous Celoron Amusement Park, Lucy’s adolescent stomping ground.  Sunday, Aug. 5.

Members-Only Archive Event:  Have your picture taken with never-before-seen items from our archive collection of memorabilia from the estates of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Lucy’s Tea Party at the historic Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua Institution:  traditional afternoon tea with a Lucy twist served overlooking Chautauqua Lake from a structure built in 1881.

Tickets for these and additional events are on sale

Lucille Ball Comedy Fest Boot Camp Experience:

Debuting this summer, The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy is providing comedic workshops that benefit both the experienced comedian and curious first-timer in the areas of improv (Improv Intensive), sketch comedy (Sketch Writing: Page to Stage) and stand-up (Stand-Up Shakedown). Workshops will be held from July 30th-August 3rd to culminate with stage opportunities at the festival Aug. 1-5.

All students completing a workshop will have an opportunity for stage time at Lucy Fest, and students completing Stand-Up Shakedown will earn a six-minute guest spot on stage at The Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan, named one of the Top Ten Comedy Clubs by USA Today.

A youth workshop that includes an introduction to different areas of comedy is also available for kids ages 11-17.

Lucy Fest 2011:

According to an economic impact study conducted by Buffalo firm Paradigm Economics and commissioned by the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the 2011 five-day festival saw 13,000 attendees and had a direct impact of $3.6 million on the city of Jamestown and Chautauqua County.

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, or “Lucy Fest,” embodies Ball’s vision for her hometown legacy: a celebration of the comedic arts held annually on the weekend closest to her birth date, August 6.  Lucy Fest 2011 commemorated Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, set an attendance high at 13,000 attendees, featured more than ten comedians from NYC, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles performing over five days, and made international news with the setting of a Guinness World Record for “Most People Dressed as Lucy Ricardo” with 916.

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is the first pillar in a four-pillar Legacy of Laughter vision for the organization, including a comedic arts education program, comedy film festival and the establishment of the first national comedy museum and hall of fame.

The mission of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is to preserve the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and enrich the world through the healing powers of love and laughter through its commitment to the development of the comedic arts.