July 31, 2018: America’s Official Comedy Center Opens This Week, Toronto International Film Festival to Host a Women's March, See Inside the World's Largest Ventriloquist Convention

By Ian Zelaya July 31, 2018, 9:07 AM EDT

1. AMERICA'S OFFICIAL COMEDY CENTER OPENS THIS WEEK: A nonprofit event center dedicated to the history of comedy in America is slated to open this week in Jamestown, New York. The educational and performance venue, which has been named America’s official comedy center, was inspired by the town’s hometown hero Lucille Ball. Associated Press: “Located in a repurposed 1930 art-deco train station, the center is part museum, part hall of fame, and part video arcade, keeping visitors smiling as they move through displays of comedic artifacts. There’s the ‘puffy shirt’ from a 1993 Seinfeld episode and scripts from the 1960s Dick Van Dyke Show along with lively immersive exhibits that invite visitors to explore sound effects and props and make cartoons and memes. The bravest can take the stage in ‘Comedy Karaoke,’ trying out lines from Jeff Foxworthy or others, or sit at a game show-like set and try to crack up an opponent. But there also are plenty of chances to laugh at the pros in action. A club-like comedy lounge shows stand-up bits, and a movie theater has clips of classic scenes with celebrity commentary. A hologram theater initially will feature Jim Gaffigan’s evolution as a performer. The grand opening celebration starts August 1. ‘I’m stunned by the technology,’ said Andrew Tangalos of Charlotte, North Carolina, who with his wife, Bonnie, was part of a group invited to test the exhibits on Tuesday before the official opening. They started by selecting preferred comedians, shows, and movies at a lobby kiosk. After tapping computer-chip enhanced bracelets at exhibits, the couple’s last stop was a station that revealed their comedy profile. It told Bonnie she leaned toward satire and observational humor. The 37,000-square-foot (3,437-square-meter), $50 million center received $9 million in funding from New York state, along with private and federal support. The House of Representatives on July 23 unanimously approved a bill designating it as the nation’s official comedy center. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, whose cousin, comedian Amy Schumer is in the opening week lineup, is working on Senate action.”

2. TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL TO HOST A WOMEN'S MARCH: The 43rd edition of the Toronto International Film Festival in September will host a downtown rally spotlighting “systematic inequality” women face in the film industry. The Share Her Journey rally will take place on September 8, during the festival's first weekend. The Hollywood Reporter: “Maxine Bailey, VP advancement at TIFF, said in a statement that the women's march would protest gender inequality and sexual harassment in the film industry in the wake of allegations and criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein and other industry heavyweights. 'In the past year, the #MeToo movement, Time's Up, and several high-profile criminal prosecutions have exposed a harsh reality about the film industry. It’s a reality that women have known about for generations, but it’s finally getting the attention it deserves,' said Bailey. ... Earlier women's marches at rival film festivals included the Respect Rally at Sundance and Cannes Film Festival jury president Cate Blanchett leading a women's march up the steps of the Palais in Cannes. Bailey said the eyes of the global film business will be on Toronto in September, giving the festival a chance to hold its own protest. 'This is our opportunity to stand side-by-side and speak out against the systemic inequality that has plagued our industry for far too long,' she insisted. There is no word on speakers for TIFF's Share Her Journey rally, but they are expected to come from among the many celebrity actresses and directors set to show their latest work in Toronto."

3. SEE INSIDE THE WORLD'S LARGEST VENTRILOQUIST CONVENTION: The Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport hotel in Erlanger, Kentucky, recently drew 525 people and their puppets to the Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention—the largest event of its kind. The New York Times: "'I remember the first time I came to the convention, in 2009, I broke down in my room and wept about 10 minutes,' said Dirk Golden, 59, of Jurupa Valley, California. 'I couldn’t believe the people I was seeing here.' Mr. Golden now has a popular YouTube channel featuring interviews with conventiongoers. The gathering is linked to the eye-popping Vent Haven Museum in nearby Fort Mitchell, which houses about 900 dummies as well as playbills, photographs, recordings, and props. The annual meetup is the primary time when vents, as they call themselves, can get together, talk shop, and display their skills in showcases and open mics. This year there were workshops covering topics like 'Working the Library Market' and 'Extending the Life of Your Soft Puppet.' I’ve never heard so many men earnestly inquire about cleaning products. Roaming the hallways and conference rooms, I chatted with a crow, two rabbits, an elderly moonshine maker, three retirees, and a monkey. I also learned that centuries after ventriloquism was associated with possession and witchcraft, it is now embraced by many Christians as a teaching tool. Liz VonSeggen led a well-attended workshop titled 'Voicing the Gospel' with figures like a cheeky yellow duck. Over all, the mood was enthusiastic and egalitarian. 'This is a unique place in that you will see a professional sit next to an amateur next to a semipro,' said the convention executive director, Mark Wade, who lives near Melbourne, Florida, and is in his 60s. 'I’m not knocking magic conventions but the professionals get in their little groups and talk to each other and they ignore all the other people.' (A few others brought up, unprompted, 'uppity' magicians. Clowns went unmentioned.)"


LOS ANGELES:  Halloween convention ScareLA will take place August 25-26 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The sixth edition of the event will reveal the world's first Halloween pop-up theme park, dubbed “Descend Into the Darkness." 

The Pacific Sales Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival will take place October 4-7 at the Newport Beach Civic Center. The event, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will feature interactive chef dinners, wine tasting panels, and a grand tasting with small bites from over 40 Orange County restaurants. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  BaleenKitchen is slated to open on August 8 at Sole on the Ocean, a Noble House Resort. The 4,200-square-foot restaurant was designed by Dupoux Design and can seat up to 165 guests.

NASHVILLE:  Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp has named Deana Ivey executive vice president. Ivey has been with the company for 21 years and will retain the position of chief marketing officer. 

NEW YORK:  Bella Magazine’s sixth annual Hamptons White Party will take place August 4 at Southampton Social Club. 

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown has appointed Shannon Schwier hotel manager.

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

SALT LAKE CITY:  The second annual LoveLoud Festival, which was presented by AT&T and hosted by Imagine Dragons’s Dan Reynolds, reached its goal of raising $1 million for L.G.B.T.Q. organizations. 

TORONTO:  The “Unzipped” Serpentine Pavilion by architect Bjarke Ingles—a public installation commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London—will be open from September through November. The entire grounds of the installation will be available to rent as a private event space, with Candice & Alison serving as the event agency. A 3,000-square-foot transparent tent will accommodate as many as 300 guests. Westbank Corp is the real estate developer behind the public space. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Ian Zelaya, and Kristine Liao in New York.

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