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So, why did the chicken cross the road? Living in Jamestown, it was probably heading for the National Comedy Center to find out why chickens are the butt of so many jokes. Okay, maybe chickens weren’t the target when the founders envisioned a center to celebrate comedy, but the challenge was to engage visitors with laughter.
It had to be the right kind of laughter because comedy is very personal. Fortunately, Jamestown had a comedy heritage to build on. It’s the hometown of comedy legend Lucille Ball and naturally there’s a museum dedicated to her career.
The new National Comedy Center goes further; it takes in the new generation of comedians and gives a wider perspective on comedy. This is a museum with a difference. Electrosonic uses technology to make the visitors the stars of the show and it interests every age group.
Guests have a very personalized experience: each visitor creates a humor profile upon entry, which is linked to their LaughBand RFID bracelet. As the tour gets underway tapping the LaughBand in various exhibits triggers content tailored to the guest’s individual taste, from slapstick to satire.
Among the interactive exhibits is the Virtual Writer’s Desk where infrared depth cameras and projections enable guests’ hand gestures to turn pages of a script and view three-dimensional artifacts. Three touchscreen kiosks allow each guest to Cartoon Yourself. In Ham It Up a mosaic of 18 screens encourages guests to replicate the funny faces of iconic comics.
In Comedy Continuum, a 60 x 9-foot interactive LED video wall enables 15 people standing at 15 scanning points to activate footage of comedy greats and make links between comics who have inspired and influenced each other.
Prop Stars features four 60-inch 4K resolution tables. Guests can grab a famous replica comedy prop and place it on a tabletop where Ideum sensors trigger the visual history of the iconic artifact.
At the end of their tour each guest gets a visual analysis of their sense of humor, the cartoon they’ve created during their visit and a custom Joke to Go to take home.
How do you attract visitors when everybody’s taste in comedy is different? And, how do you keep them coming back? Make it personal, make it immersive, make it fun! The real challenge was to tailor the experience to the individual — make the kids laugh and hit the adults with edgy humor.
The organizers recognized that audiovisual would play a big part, recreating great shows from the past, and they wanted experiences that were immersive and personalized. Touchscreens and fun interactive exhibits would be essential to engage the digital generation. Most of all it had to be sustainable because the organizers want to keep visitors coming back. And, it had to be fresh and easily updated - a museum with its finger on the pulse of comedy.
Welcome to the most plugged in interactive experience you may ever have. Visitors become part of the show in an immersive, personalized experience tailored to their tastes. Based on individual humor profiles, an interactive ‘Laughband’ customizes content across 50 exhibit areas.
Visitors can try stand-up, comedy writing or learn about their favorite comedians through technology. All content is digital and easily augmented to entice visitors back for more. It’s a museum with its finger on the pulse of comedy.
The National Comedy Center has quickly become a cultural institution attracting comedy professionals and the public all year round. It has used technology in an innovative way to communicate and share a very old art form that appeals to visitors of every generation. Designed from the ground up by firms specializing in immersive cultural experiences, it truly delivers the founders’ vision. And the final accolade – a prestigious MUSE Award.