Netflix special inducts first 4 comedians into Upstate NY comedy hall of fame – syracuse.com
In this 2004 file photo, Robin Williams performs during the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation's Grand Slam for Children. Williams, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers are the first four inductees in the new US comedy hall of fame at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Matthew Minard)
A new Netflix comedy special is doing more than just bringing the laughs.
“The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up” premiered Friday on the streaming service, revealing the first four inductees into a new comedy hall of fame in Upstate New York. George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and Robin Williams were honored on stage for a live event during the Netflix is a Joke Festival, and will be the inaugural class at The Hall, a brand-new wing at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y.
“The class tonight is very special,” “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson said at the beginning of the special. “The four inductees were all legitimately voted in by a board of agents, club owners, managers and other influential members of the comedy community.”
The event featured music by Mix Master Mike, the famed DJ for the Beastie Boys, and an in memoriam segment hosted by Comedy Central roastmaster Jeff Ross, honoring recently departed stars Norm Macdonald, Bob Saget, Gilbert Gottfried, and Louie Anderson. And the four inductees, who were all honored posthumously, were celebrated with a mix of archival clips and funny induction speeches by Jon Stewart (for Carlin), Chelsea Handler (for Rivers), John Mulaney (for Williams) and Dave Chappelle (Pryor).
“You could only see these people together in a really nice theater, or like, a really nicer rehab,” Davidson joked.
Stewart saluted Carlin’s “seven dirty words you can’t say on TV” bit. Handler applauded Rivers as a trailblazer for female comedians. Chappelle said Pryor was proof that comedians complaining “you can’t say anything nowadays, I would suggest that perhaps you have nothing to say.” And Mulaney praised Williams’ acting performances in “Nine Months,” “Good Morning Vietnam” and “The Fisher King.”
“There is no footage of Robin Williams phoning it in. There exists no recorded moment when he wasn’t giving his all,” Mulaney said.
Mulaney also read an emotional note from the late comedy legend’s daughter, Zelda Williams, who was in attendance: “In my eyes, so much of what Dad wanted to do was to brighten people’s lives. Especially those he thought may need it the most. In that way, I think his drive had much less to do with his own sadness, and much more to do with lifting the world’s.”
According to a press release, The Hall was first announced in 2019 at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, “I Love Lucy” star Lucille Ball’s hometown in Western New York. It will offer a curated experience and interactive exhibits allowing visitors to explore the archives, including rare performances and interviews, memorabilia and personal effects from the legends of stand-up.
“The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up” is directed by Marty Callner, who directed the first comedy specials by Carlin, Williams, Billy Crystal and Steve Martin.
“Stand-up comedy is an art form all its own,” said Callner. “Stand-ups have a unique ability to make us laugh and to make us think. Often their social commentary mixed with humor makes them the most effective voices of the moment. It is long overdue that they be recognized with The Hall, where generations to come can appreciate their work forever.”
The National Comedy Center is the first museum in the world dedicated to the art of comedy in the U.S. and was officially designated by Congress as the “Official National Comedy Center of the United States.” It has more than 50 exhibits showing comedy’s history from early vaudeville to Twitter and internet memes, and highlights a long list of stars like Ball, Charlie Chaplin, Johnny Carson, Rodney Dangerfield, and even the Muppets’ Fozzie Bear.
The center will host the 2022 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in August, featuring performances by Jeff Foxworthy, Margaret Cho, and “SNL” stars David Spade, Kevin Nealon and Rob Schneider.
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