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National Comedy Center in Jamestown to feature cutting-edge technology

Steve Neilans
National Comedy Center

Jamestown’s National Comedy Center, which opens this August, will feature some cutting edge technology for museum goers. Visitors will wear a wristband with an RFID chip throughout their stay that will help complete a sense of humor profile.

It will analyze what comedy you consume and how you consume it before giving you a chance to reflect on your own comedic tastes. Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson said it starts with an elaborate system of attributes and tagging before an algorithm helps determine your comedy likes and dislikes.     

“Based on what artists one likes, what TV shows, films, internet comedy… based on what types of comedy one consumes and indicates in step one, that they like, we are informed as to the type of attributes they most enjoy,” she said.

You may like an attribute that’s shared between George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld like observational humor. That will allow them to provide content at varying exhibits matching your likes during a visit. That includes a hologram theater that presents performances from several notable comedians.

Gunderson said this isn’t like a hall of fame. It’s aiming to highlight both popular and lesser known comedians.

“Helping visitors appreciate the attributes of an artist like Mitch Hedberg or Demetri Martin would be some non sequiturs,” she said. “(We’re) pulling out their tastes, but also allowing them to explore new artists that we can recommend based on those tastes.”

A challenge for any museum or theme park that incorporates advanced technology is keeping it up to date. Their content management system aims to make that possible.

Credit National Comedy Center

“Seven years ago when we were just starting out and maybe talking about Amy Schumer in some context, we’re now in 2018 talking about Allie Wong,” said Gunderson. “The system has to be flexible enough for us to be updating it with the newest bodies of work, the newest voices, and make sure that we’re really representative of a diverse group of voices in comedy.”

Gunderson said this has been a challenge they have had front of mind since the concept of the museum.

Senator Charles Schumer announced last Friday he will introduce a congressional resolution that will designate Jamestown’s National Comedy Center as the official “National Comedy Center” of the United States.

Schumer says this designation would build on the success of other Upstate New York tourist attractions like the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

The facility will contain more than 50 interactive exhibits upon completion. The $50 million facility will employ 32 people and is expected to create close to 200 spin-off jobs. It’s being built in honor of Jamestown native Lucile Ball.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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