Jamestown, NY (WNY News Now) – The National Comedy Center paid tribute to the late comedian and political satirist Mark Russell in a heartfelt reception and dedication ceremony on August 17, 2023.
The National Comedy Center joined forces with Advisory Board Chair Lewis Black to commemorate the enduring legacy of Buffalo’s own Mark Russell. The event, held on Thursday, August 17, 2023, brought together Russell’s cherished friends, family, and fans in a celebration of his life and work. The reception took place at the National Comedy Center’s headquarters in Jamestown, NY.
The commemorative occasion, open to the public from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, witnessed an outpouring of affection for the late comedian. The highlight of the evening was a dedication and brief remarks, which unfolded at 6:00 pm, underscoring Russell’s profound impact on the realm of comedy and political satire.
Central to the event was the exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia chronicling Russell’s illustrious career. Notably, one of his memorable musical parodies was formally inducted into the National Comedy Center’s Lyrical Laughter exhibit, cementing his enduring presence within the institution. The event also included a screening of “Mark Russell’s America,” a retrospective piece produced by WNED in 2012, captivatingly presented in the Comedy Center’s theater.
Mark Russell, a pivotal figure on the National Comedy Center’s Advisory Board and a long-standing resident of Chautauqua Institution, passed away in March at the age of 90. The Buffalo-born comedian achieved national acclaim through his unparalleled ability to satirize political landscapes across the spectrum, entertaining audiences for over five decades with his piano-accompanied monologues and song parodies. His famed comedy specials, frequently broadcast on PBS, showcased his adeptness at crafting timely and relevant song lyrics, seamlessly woven into well-known musical standards.
Distinguished speakers paid homage to Russell’s extraordinary contributions. Lewis Black, the Founding Chair of the National Comedy Center, shared insights into Russell’s significance. Joining him were luminaries including Kelly Carlin, Advisory Board Member and daughter of George Carlin; Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the National Comedy Center; Tom Calderone, President and CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media; Deborah Sunya Moore, Senior Vice President and Chief Programming Officer of Chautauqua Institution; and Ali Russell, Mark Russell’s spouse and executive producer of numerous television specials.
The evening served as a heartwarming tribute to Mark Russell’s indelible mark on the world of comedy and political commentary, a legacy that continues to resonate across generations.