Comedy Hall of Fame taking permanent residency in Holiday

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You've likely heard the old saying, "laughter's the best medicine." If that's the case, you might head to Pasco County for your next check-up.

The National Comedy Hall of Fame has announced it's moving, permanently, to Holiday. It brings priceless memorabilia, stories, and history of some of the world's earliest and best comedians, from Abbott and Costello to Lucille Ball.

The museum will put down roots in Holiday Tower, on U.S. 19. It was once located at John's Pass but, for the last decade, it's been a traveling exhibit without a home.

"What you're going to see is, where did comedy start?" explained Vice President of the National Comedy Hall of Fame, David Spezza. "What made us evolve into stand-ups or sitcoms or comedic movies and have all the great comedic actors we have now? Where did Saturday Night Live originate its thought process from?"

It's a trip back in time to Vaudeville and a chance to appreciate where today's jokes were born.

Spezza said, "I've seen kids come to the Comedy Time Tunnel and say, 'that was awesome! just saw Abbott and Costello's Who's On First and it was the funniest thing ever!'"

The not-for-profit has preserved treasures of comedy history, from the original Howdy Doody doll to outfits that graced the stage.

"Guys like Red Skelton had a jacket," Spezza explained, "Phyllis Diller had her boas and outfits and things of nature. Minnie Pearl had her hat."

The ultimate goal is an all-encompassing entertainment destination which includes an escape room, bistro, comedy club, and event space.

"What is more memorable than being married at the Comedy Hall of Fame?" Spezza asked.

So, why Holiday? It was an offer they couldn't refuse.

"The building owners decided to offer the space to the Hall of Fame at no charge and give them a home and help them be part of an entertainment venue," Spezza said. "One more thing for Tampa Bay to say, 'we have this'."

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey welcomes the new neighbor, saying the county waived some impact fees as an extra incentive to drive businesses to Pasco. The museum may also qualify for the county’s new redevelopment loan program.

The owner of the nearby Holiday Hotel and Resort is excited for the museum to move in.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Mike Shabo. "It's going to increase our business, definitely. People come in there and might as well stay at a hotel."

While history can make you proud, mad or sad. Sometimes, it can make you laugh.

"It was just a great opportunity to remember those who make us laugh," Spezza said, "because who in their life doesn't have a moment where they just need to laugh?"

Once the current tenants move out in about two months, Spezza said they can start putting memorabilia in place. He hopes to have the museum up and running sometime later this year.