The National Comedy Center has acquired the archive of ground-breaking comedian Shelley Berman, who died last September at the age of 92.
The National Comedy Center, a non-profit cultural institution located in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York, houses a number of archival pieces including the 25,000-piece George Carlin collection, donated in 2017.
“When I found myself surrounded by all of Shelley’s writings, I wondered what to do with all of it,” said Sarah Berman, the late comic’s wife of more than 70 years. “Do I give it to some museum where they let it gather dust before they throw it away? Along came the National Comedy Center, driven by people who have the vision to know that this material and the material of other comedians has a value. They are dedicated to preserving all for their archives and for future generations who may want to know about those who gave us the gift of laughter. I feel confident that all of Shelley’s fine work will be in good hands,”
The archive was collected and stored in Berman’s home office for seven decades, and spans from the 1940s to the 2010s. It includes hundreds of photographs, contracts, scripts, calendars, scrapbooks, correspondences and rare footage and audio chronicling his wide-ranging career in stand-up, improv, television, film, theater, and comedy writing.
The National Comedy Center will host its own ribbon cutting during Jamestown’s annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival August 1-4.
The Berman donation was formally announced during a National Comedy Center tribute this week’s at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. The event was attended by his Curb Your Enthusiasm co-stars Larry David and Cheryl Hines, along with Laraine Newman, Dr. Demento, Howard Storm, David Steinberg, Fred Willard, and Alan Zweibel, and hosted by Lewis Black.