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    Lucille Ball Comedy Festival goes virtual in its 29th year

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is going virtual with help from Tiffany Haddish, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Margaret Cho, “Weird Al” Yankovic and more than two-dozen others working in the realm of humor.

    The festival, presented by the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, will stream conversations with the artists over three weekends, starting Friday and running through Aug. 30.

    In a series of discussions, they’ll weigh in on their careers, influences and the art of comedy, with performers and producers serving as hosts.

    “I can’t think of a better way to tell the story of comedy than via these artists’ voices, at a time when we all need laughter more than ever,” Journey Gunderson, the center’s executive director, said in a statement Wednesday.

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    One intriguing trio: Yankovic as the subject and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jimmy Fallon of “Tonight” as the hosts in a conversation streaming at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 29.

    Other pairings include Cho with host and fellow comedian Judy Gold (10 p.m. EDT Friday); Haddish with comedian Flame Monroe (8 p.m. EDT Aug. 22); political satirist Mark Russell with Lewis Black (8 p.m. EDT Aug. 28).

    The 29th annual festival will pay tribute to Carl Reiner, the filmmaker and creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” who died in June. A rare Reiner interview from the center’s archives will be shown at 8 p.m. EDT Aug. 30, with humorist Paula Poundstone hosting.

    The festival, which last year drew crowds to the center and included John Mulaney as a headliner, is among many annual events forced to improvise by the pandemic.

    The live streams will be free on the center’s new platform, ComedyCenter.org/Festival, and at Facebook.com/NationalComedyCenter. The programs will then be available on-demand and without charge on the center’s platform.

    The non-profit center was founded in Ball’s hometown, which the “I Love Lucy” star had envisioned as a destination for comedy. It is funded by a mix of federal, state and private support.

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