Roadtrip! / National Comedy Center
Serious fun ninety minutes south
Best for: Couples, best friends, families with older children
203 W 2nd Street, Jamestown
86 minutes • 75.1 miles
i-90 W -> NY-60 s
With a new, prestigious designation, the National Comedy Center is now one of Western New York’s hottest attractions. It’s a perfect destination for couples, best friends, or families with children of middle-school age and older. The facility offers an ultra-high-tech way to appreciate all types of comedy. Each visitor receives a micro-chipped wristband that stores information about their comedy preferences, culled from interactive kiosks in the lobby that ask about movie preference (silent, rom-coms, or horror?) and favorite comedians through the ages. As visitors stroll through the numerous displays of artifacts, props, and ephemera—Seinfeld’s “puffy shirt,” Charlie Chaplin’s bamboo cane, Rodney Dangerfield’s extensive, penciled outlines of skits—videos play material catering to these stored preferences. Similarly, tables in “The StandUp Lounge” are outfitted with sensors so visitors can select favorite clips as they are played. “The TV Room” captures beautifully a vintage living room featuring forties, fifties, and sixties comedy, when televised shows first reached millions. The small theater highlights a rotating roster of holographic renditions of standup comedy veterans (Jim Gaffigan was featured on a recent visit); it’s uncanny and uproarious–not to be missed. With a little working café serving finger foods, coffee, and adult beverages, one need not leave for lunch or snacks, leaving enough time to soak up the overwhelming amount of offerings. Do try “Comedy Karaoke,” “Act the Part” (your face replaces those of a celebrity in a classic comic scene), and “Laugh Battle”—and make a meme in the Internet section. If you share an email address, NCC will send along the wacky images and clips made during your visit; at tour’s end, just before entering the expansive gift shop, a computer tabulates each person’s comedy type(s), a sort of humorous Myers–Briggs Type Indicator. Paid admission to NCC also includes complimentary admission to the nearby Lucy Desi Museum—this lo-fi yin to the NCC yang is a must-do for I Love Lucy fans. NCC is sited along its newly crafted Comedy Center Park, the Chadakoin River, and Jamestown’s River Walk.
An excellent spot for lunch or dinner is Labyrinth Press Company nearby on East Fourth Street, which offers hearty and creative soups, dishes, wraps, and sides with a good list of craft beers, wines, and caffeinated beverages. Shawbucks, a solid burger, steak, seafood, and salad kind of place, is also nearby and serves dinner and late-night menu items.
Labyrinth Press Company
12 East Fourth Street, Jamestown
212 West 2nd St., Jamestown
The gift shop at National Comedy Center offers its own merch, wearables, toys, games, and comedic objets d’art.
On the way
Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History is a place to learn about flora and fauna with a shop stocked with Peterson Field Guides, books, and galleries exhibiting the work of the eponymous naturalist.
Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History
311 Curtis St.