On Sunday night, legendary comedy producer George Schlatter – best known for Laugh-In and creating the American Comedy Awards – was honored by the National Comedy Center.
The tribute to George Schlatter and his wife Jolene Schlatter took place at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. This venue was especially significant to Schlatter, as he had worked there when it was Ciro’s in the 1960’s. At Ciro’s, he was the greeter, booker, and the “Executive in Charge of Emergency Departures.”
On hand to pay tribute to Schlatter was Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Bill Maher, Kelly Carlin, his daughter Maria Schlatter, and executive director for the National Comedy Center, Journey Gunderson. The event also featured video tributes from Norman Lear and Byron Allen.
At the event, it was unveiled that the National Comedy Center’s new immersive theater will be named The George and Jolene Brand Schlatter Theatre. This immersive experience will showcase significant work of comedy, and even include a tribute to Schlatter’s work. The new theater and tribute will open in 2023.
“The National Comedy Center is an American treasure,” stated George Schlatter. “Jolene and I are so grateful to be honored by this vital cultural institution, which embodies our belief in the importance and impact of comedy as a true art form. This has been main focus of my life’s work, so we are thrilled that the National Comedy Center will continue to present and preserve comedy’s greatest legacies for future generations as well as serve as a resource for new and upcoming comedic artists.”
“The National Comedy Center doesn’t merely enshrine artists like George; it celebrates their contributions to a vital and ever-evolving art form,” stated National Comedy Center executive director Journey Gunderson. “So, today we are here to ensure that we’ll always recognize and remember—for generations to come—the impact of George Schlatter’s work.”
“Laugh-In shifted the orbit of the art form and sent it in new directions,” Gunderson continued. “The show awakened the nation and created an entirely new comic sensibility, whose impacts are still felt in comedy being created today.”
After receiving all the praise and love at the tribute, a clearly touched Schlatter stood up and gave a speech that was not only touching and sincere, but also managed to bring the house down. Even at 89, Schlatter’s timing for comedy remains as sharp as ever.