JAMESTOWN, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The National Comedy Center, the United States’ official cultural institution dedicated to the art form of comedy, announced today that it will become the home of comedy legend Carl Reiner’s archives. The Reiner family is donating the archives to the Center, where rare creative papers, scripts and artifacts spanning Reiner’s seven-decade career in comedy as a writer, director, producer, author and performer will be preserved.
In addition, the National Comedy Center will formally name its ongoing work to preserve comedy’s heritage in honor of Reiner, who was a founding Advisory Board member for the Comedy Center. The Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation will serve as the central hub for all archival and preservation work within the Comedy Center, as it continues its mission to present the history of comedy and preserve comedy’s heritage for future generations.
Carl Reiner, who passed away last June at the age of 98, was an early advocate and instrumental supporter of the National Comedy Center and its vision to celebrate comedy as an art form. With a multi-faceted career spanning television, film, stage, record albums, books and even social media, Carl Reiner was a twelve-time Emmy award-winner, a Grammy award-winner and a recipient of The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Reiner’s 99th birthday would have been this Saturday, March 20th.
A new multi-media exhibit on Reiner’s work and contribution to the art form of comedy, featuring artifacts, documents and footage from the Reiner Archives, is planned at the National Comedy Center in 2022 as his centennial birthday milestone is celebrated.
In a joint statement, Carl Reiner’s children Rob, Annie and Lucas Reiner said: “People called our father a comic genius, and his gift was his ability to transform discomfort or pain into pleasure and fun. His humor made people feel good, starting with those of us around him, and then pretty much the whole world. He would be so thrilled to know that the National Comedy Center’s archives department is being named for him and that his work will be preserved there, that he would jump in the air, do a scissor kick and sing La Donna e Mobile at the top of his lungs.”
“Carl Reiner’s comedic legacy is unmatched,” stated National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson. “His distinctive wit and remarkable talent enabled him to take the ordinary and transform it into indelible and timeless comedy, influencing generations of artists, and entertaining millions. From Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show, to his inimitably funny collaborations with Mel Brooks on the 2,000 Year Old Man, to his beloved comedy films, Reiner built a body of work that is a testament to his creative genius, and the power of comedy to inspire us, enliven us — and touch the human spirit. We are proud that our nation’s first cultural institution dedicated to comedy developed and opened with Carl Reiner’s blessing, and we are honored that his legacy will live on as an enduring anchor of the National Comedy Center’s work.”
Reiner’s close friends and colleagues also commented on today’s announcement:
“There will never be another Carl Reiner. I loved him from the moment we first met. I’m thrilled that the National Comedy Center will be preserving Carl’s archives and naming its archives and preservation department in his honor – because no one deserves it more than my best friend. Carl’s comedy was timeless and now his name will live on for generations with this wonderful tribute.” – Mel Brooks
“Carl Reiner was a true genius and the finest human being that I’ve ever known — he is irreplaceable. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this tremendous honor from the National Comedy Center. Carl deserves to be celebrated every day, and now, he will be, within the halls of this museum dedicated to the art form that Carl loved most – comedy.” – Dick Van Dyke
“Carl was my greatest mentor – his wisdom, talent, humor, energy will never be forgotten, all wrapped in his uncommon decency. By naming its archive department after Carl, the National Comedy Center reminds us all that it’s these qualities that matter most when creating great work that touches us, makes us laugh and stands the test of time.” – Steve Martin
“It was a true honor to serve as a founding Advisory Board member of the National Comedy Center with Carl Reiner,” stated comedian, writer and actor Lewis Black, Founding Chair of the National Comedy Center Advisory Board. “Carl believed strongly in the importance of this non-profit cultural institution and its mission to preserve comedy’s heritage. He and I both knew that it’s up to the artists in our industry to come together and support this vital preservation and archival work, so that comedy’s rich history can be shared and celebrated for generations to come.”
The Carl Reiner Archives include thousands of pages of creative papers and business correspondence; unpublished comedy material; rare photographs, film footage and audio recordings from his personal and professional life; and industry awards, including his Emmys and Mark Twain Prize. The comprehensive collection includes early drafts and final scripts written by Reiner throughout his career with his handwritten annotations – from the earliest material from his Army days and “Your Show of Shows” sketches to all 158 “Dick Van Dyke Show” scripts, and his film screenplays. Also included are the chairs and TV trays used for years by Reiner and his best friend and frequent collaborator – comedy legend Mel Brooks – as they would spend evenings together eating dinner and watching television up through the time of Reiner’s passing in June of 2020.
The National Comedy Center’s Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation will be an incubator for the study and dissemination of comedy history, and a resource for educating artists, students, scholars and the public about comedy’s great minds and unique voices. The Department will lead research, conservation and exhibition activities throughout the organization, including the acquisition of artifacts, documents and audiovisual materials that chronicle the story of comedy across all genres and eras of the art form.
The National Comedy Center has collaborated with dozens of artists and estates to preserve materials that represent comedy’s significant artistic, social, and political contributions to American culture including collections illustrating the careers of legendary artists like George Carlin, Lucille Ball, Lenny Bruce, The Smothers Brothers and more.
Within the Comedy Center’s museum galleries, more than 50 interactive exhibits and immersive experiences employ cutting-edge technology to present the story of comedy from its origins to the present day – using archival documents, artifacts, and media as their core. Its educational programming on the art form has featured Tiffany Haddish, George Lopez, Margaret Cho, Norman Lear, Debra Messing, Rain Pryor (daughter of Richard Pryor), Jay Leno, Kenan Thompson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ben Stiller, John Cleese, Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and many more.
The National Comedy Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural institution whose mission is funded by philanthropic support. Donations and grants support the museum and its work to present the vital story of comedy and preserve its heritage for future generations. Visit comedycenter.org.
About the National Comedy Center
The National Comedy Center is the United States’ official cultural institution and museum dedicated to the art form of comedy, as formally designated by the U.S. Congress. Opened in August 2018 in Jamestown, New York – Lucille Ball’s hometown, the museum offers an unprecedented visitor experience using state-of-the-art technology, interactivity and personalization. USA Today named the National Comedy Center the “Best New Museum in the Country” in 2020 and TIME magazine named it one of its “World’s Greatest Places.”
The National Comedy Center has been embraced by artists and industry, with archival material provided by many of the most revered names in comedy. Exhibition partners include Kelly Carlin and the George Carlin estate, Desilu too, LLC and the estate of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the Andy Kaufman Memorial Trust, George Shapiro and Jerry Seinfeld, the Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, Johnny Carson Enterprises, Carol Burnett and Bob Mackie, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, Dan Aykroyd, the Joan Rivers estate, Tommy and Dick Smothers, Alan and Robin Zweibel, The Harold Ramis Family, Joan Dangerfield and the Rodney Dangerfield estate, The Garry Shandling Estate, George Schlatter, the Jonathan Winters family, the Shelley Berman estate, Bill Marx and the Harpo Marx Family, the Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams estate, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Corporate Archive, and many more.