JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — A simple walk through the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y., is impossible. There is nothing simple about it. Every display has a story. And thanks to the venue’s innovative technology, every display can tell that story.
This week, the Center announced their next exhibit will be never-before-seen pieces from 11-time Emmy winner Carl Reiner. Reiner’s career spans seven decades and includes appearances on “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Jerk,” and “Ocean’s Eleven” before his death last June. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.
Reiner had been on the Center’s advocacy board since 2016, two years before it opened. His archives will be put on display in 2022, which would have been his centennial.
“He believed in this mission,” said Journey Gunderson, the Center’s executive director. “[Honoring him] allows the National Comedy Center to examine the craft from the perspective of sketch, television, film, live comedy.”
Among the archives that will go on display are his very first hand-written jokes for television on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” and hand-annotated scripts from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Jerk,” among other artifacts. They will be presented in an exhibit at the same time the Center renames their archival and preservation department in his honor.
“Carl Reiner really embodies why a National Comedy Center needs to exist,” Gunderson said. “He was a renaissance man of the art form across so many genres of comedy. He did everything.”
Also new to the Comedy Center is the original “Muppet Show” puppet of Fozzy Bear, the struggling comedian, used during the first six seasons of the show from 1976 to 1981. The current exhibits are being displayed longer and have not yet been rotated out because their public viewing was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They can all be seen now at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown.