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The real reason why holograms of dead comedians are so innovative

May 14, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Dominic Basulto / The Washington Post

Hologram pioneer Hologram USA -- the same people who gave us the Tupac Shakur hologram at Coachella in 2012 -- just announced its latest "digital resurrection" project: a new plan to bring dead stand-up comedians back to life using holograms. At a new Hologram Comedy Club being built as part of a new $18 million National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y., tourists will have a chance to watch iconic comedy routines from some of the all-time comic greats -- such as George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield and Bob Hope -- in an intimate comedy club environment.

The big idea, of course, is that watching a live comic performance in a simulated comedy club environment will give people a better appreciation for a comic's talent than just watching archival film footage in a museum theater or streaming comedy performances to a tablet or TV (think of those HBO comedy specials). By watching a full-scale hologram performance (10 to 12 routines of 4 to 5 minutes each), people will get a chance to experience how comics of an earlier era worked a room, the impeccable delivery of a well-timed joke, and the unique charm and charisma of a legendary stage performer.

There's obviously a lot of technological high tech wizardry required to pull this off. However, there's another reason why comic holograms are so innovative -- they could become a boost to economic development and tourism for cash-strapped cities looking to bring in new visitors.

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