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Jay Leno to headline Lucille Ball Festival

courtesy Lucille Ball Comedy Festival

After years of attracting top names in comedy to their annual event in Jamestown, organizers may have reached new heights today by announcing that Jay Leno will headline the 2014 Lucille Ball Festival.

Leno has agreed to appear on Saturday, August 9, following a lengthy negotiation process, said Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy.

"The timing was something that was important to us. He, obviously, has just stepped down from his role as host of the Tonight Show and we felt like this was a good time to really celebrate him in the spirit of our namesake's legacy, Lucille Ball. She obviously dominated the ratings in her era, and Jay Leno has done the same," Gunderson said.  

"We couldn't be happier to present him in Jamestown because our larger vision is to establish Jamestown as the home of the first national comedy center."

Rising comedian Tom Cotter has been booked to perform on Friday, August 8. Gunderson laughs as she recalls how she recruited the comic.

 "I actually chased (Cotter) down in the Buffalo Airport when I recognized him. He invited me to his fifth consecutive sold-out show in Buffalo.  I went to see him and just absolutely did not stop laughing for an hour-and-a-half straight, and decided that night to book him," Gunderson said.

Credit courtesy of Lucille Ball Comedy Festival
Comic Tom Cotter performs August 8th at the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.

"Americans know him from 'America's Got Talent.'  He's the first comic ever to make it to the finals of that show."

Gunderson says more festival details will be announced in the coming weeks, though some events have been scheduled, including some that revolve around the legendary comedy of Lucille Ball.

"We will also be attempting to break a world record for the largest grape-stomping event."