Dead Comedy Greats Will Perform Again — in Hologram Form

Dead Comedy Greats Will Perform Again — in Hologram Form

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A rendering of a comedy club at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y., that will feature holograms of stand-ups and comic actors from various eras.

If you missed the chance to watch some of comedy’s greatest performers in their prime — whether because of scheduling conflicts, scarce tickets or the fact that you weren’t born yet — a new attraction in upstate New York wants to give you another chance to see them, at least in hologram form.

The National Comedy Center, which is scheduled to open next year in Jamestown, N.Y., is to unveil plans for a comedy club that will feature holograms of stand-ups and comic actors from various eras.

Tom Benson, the chairman of the National Comedy Center, described the project in a telephone interview as “a comedy club where folks can go back in time and witness a classic routine in a setting – God knows where it might have been – and experience that as if they were really there.”

Mr. Benson said the club would feature 10 to 12 routines of about four to five minutes each, allowing visitors to see “classic gigs from the past, as if they were really taken back in time and seeing it from Madison Square Garden or a stage in Hollywood, not a theater in Jamestown, N.Y.”

The virtual comedians will be created by Hologram USA, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company that has also made or is working on similar representations of Buddy Holly, Liberace, Julian Assange and Jimmy Kimmel.

The club is hoping to spotlight comedians like Milton Berle, Bob Hope, George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield, although Mr. Benson said deals with these artists’ families and estates were not set and an inaugural lineup could still change.

The National Comedy Center plans a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 1. Its not-for-profit parent company also owns and operates the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum in Jamestown, the city where Ms. Ball was born in 1911, as well as the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.

Mr. Benson said the club would probably have an “I Love Lucy” component, but emphasized that the center itself had a broader mission of celebrating comedy.

“What we’re trying to say to the world is that this is not an extension of the Lucy museum,” he said. “Lucy will be a part of this, just like hundreds of other performers and shows.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Benson said the National Comedy Center was also looking to provide a new home for a notorious statue of Ms. Ball, located in Celoron, N.Y., that has been widely mocked for looking nothing like the actress (and looking just plain spooky).

“I went to the town board last Monday,” Mr. Benson said, “and made a pitch and basically said to them, ‘Look, this statue is now a piece of comedy history, whether you like it or not.’ ”

He added: “Let’s embrace it for what it could be. The feedback we got was good.”