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Lewis Black hosting dedication to Mark Russell at the National Comedy Center

Mark Russell

Mark Russell may be gone, but he will not be forgotten. The Buffalo-born legend of political satire who died in March at the age of 90 will be honored at a special reception Thursday at the National Comedy Center. One of Russell's musical performances will be added to the "Lyrical Laughing" exhibit at the National Comedy Center providing an appropriate remembrance to a man who supported the institution during its formative years as a founding Advisory Board member.

"I think Mark was thrilled that he could watch it grow," recalled comedian Lewis Black who, like Russell, has spent many summers at the nearby Chautauqua Institution.

"Sitting out there at Chautauqua, he could see it happen in real-time. He was kind of amazed at the place like I was."

Black will host the Thursday reception that will recall Russell's connection to the Comedy Center, Chautauqua and Buffalo Toronto Public Media, owner-operator of WNED-TV, the producer of the PBS specials that aired from 1975 to 2004 that made Mark Russell a national figure. Also a member of the Advisory Board, Black says he and Russell became friends at Chautauqua, but their initial connection started long before that.

"My parents were fans of comedy--and fans of Mark's. He played at a place called the Shoreham Hotel (in Washington D.C.) and they took me down there to watch him one night," Black recalled.

"I watched a lot of comics when I was a kid. It was great. He was not just your usual, just standing there telling jokes."

Black stresses that he will not be performing at the Thursday reception. He plans to share a few remarks as will Kelly Carlin, the daughter of George Carlin and an Advisory Board member, and Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the National Comedy Center. Mark Russell's wife Ali Russell will also be in attendance. A 2012 retrospective "Mark Russell's America," produced by WNED-TV, will be shown during the event.

During an interview with WBFO, Black was asked about how Russell, then age 84, reacted to the 2016 Presidential election and its impact on the political scene.

"There was this sense of him going, 'Oh, my, the buffet has arrived,'" he laughed.

For more information on the event, visit The National Comedy Center website.

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.