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Frank Vincent from The Sopranos Honored at Soho International Film Fest

Goodfellas came out in 1990.  That was 21 years ago, and I don’t think anyone who ever saw the film will ever forget actor Frank Vincent’s line as Billy Batts to Joe Pesci’s character Tommy DeVito, ” Go home and get your shinebox.” Just hearing that line, and knowing Tommy’s hair trigger temper sends chills through most people.  Billy Batt’s paid for that line with his life.

Jeffrey Gurian with Frank Vincent at the Soho International Film Festival event in Frank's honor!

As Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos, Frank got whacked in the last episode, standing in a gas station kissing his grandchildren goodbye, and fell under the wheel of his daughter’s car, which rolled over his head.  Another Frank Vincent scene indelibly etched in the minds of whoever saw it.

Jeffrey Gurian with Frank Vincent at the Gen Art Film Festival back in 2006!

Frank Vincent’s presence on the big screen is so powerful that of all the guys who play gangsters, to me he stands out as one of the scariest. ( A definite compliment! )  So to find out that he started out as a comic was both startling and thrilling to me.  He actually did stand-up with Joe Pesci.  Pesci killed him in Goodfellas and he returned the kindness, and killed Joe Pesci in Casino.

Jeffrey Gurian with director John Gallagher, who's also on the Advisory Board of the Soho International Film Festival, and who produced the event in honor of Frank Vincent!

Frank was honored by the Soho International Film festival in a fantastic evening produced by award-winning film director John Gallagher, who will be working with Frank in an upcoming film called Fickle, written by Ryan O’Callaghan who was there to walk the red carpet with John and Frank.

All of Frank’s friends came out to support him including some of his Sopranos cast members.  There was John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, sometimes known as “The Mayor Of Little Italy”, who played Albie Cianflone, (and who couldn’t believe I remembered the name of his character), Tony (Paulie Walnuts) Sirico, and TV and film actress Sharon Angela, who memorably played Rosalie Aprile, on the hit HBO show, where during the 6th season she was elevated from a guest star to a series regular.

Jeffrey Gurian with John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia at the Friars Roast for Jerry Lewis in 2006!

Jeffrey Gurian and Tony Sirico in James Edstrom's column that was also on Page 6 of the NY Post where Tony (Paulie Walnuts) Sirico showed Jeffrey how real men take photos together, … with a fist through the other guy's arm!

Jeffrey Gurian with Sharon Angela at the Soho International Film Festival where she starred in Michael Imperioli's film "The Hungry Ghosts."

There were also lots of beautiful women there from all over the world, in the film business and not.  I met two from The Philippines, Ida and Lisa, who were there to honor Frank and also had their own film in the festival.

(L-R) Lisa and Ida who came all the way from The Philippines for the Soho Film Festival!

And just to play it safe, I brought my own beautiful woman, (LOL) Lauren Francesca, the internet sensation known for playing Lady Gaga in The Key of Awesome films, ( www.thekeyofawesome.com) and who starred in two short films I created for her, “Besame Mucho’s Academy of Oral Skills”

Jeffrey Gurian and Lauren Francesca on the red carpet of the Soho International Film Festival!

and “The Magic Of Transforminol” about a magic pill that guys can take called “Transforminol” that makes their girlfriends look like Lauren.

 
The thing about Frank Vincent is that he’s nothing like what he looks like which makes his performance even more powerful.  In his own words, he’s a nice guy, and he is.  But he told a story that was so chilling it affected everyone in the audience.

He was saying how many people think they’re really gangsters when they’re really just Italian-American actors, but one night he walked into a restaurant and there was a real mob boss there who called him over to his table to say hello.

Frank’s group was then seated near this mob boss close enough for Frank to hear him mention something about Hollywood, which caused Frank to toss out a remark.  With that the mob boss called him over to the table and in front of everyone there told Frank he had a lot of nerve barging in on his conversation, and as Frank phrased it, “He’d leave him standing right where he was, if he ever did that again.”  Frank’s point in that story was well taken.

Frank is a good actor which is why he knows how to act like a gangster.  A good actor has feelings.  Real gangsters don’t.

John Gallagher is on the advisory board of the Soho International Film Festival and works directly with Sibyl Santiago, the director of the festival, who was incredibly helpful to me in getting this story done.  She made sure that I got to speak to everyone I wanted to see.

Aside from directing John also teaches acting, and among other places taught for five years at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse on East 54th Street in Manhattan, the school where Sanford Meisner taught for more than 50 years.  I even took the summer program there one year because as a director, I thought it behooved me to understand the acting process as much as possible.  It was a fantastic experience.

I’m hoping that John will be directing a film that I wrote that he fell in love with called “Men of Violence.”  It’s a gangster/martial arts/action film with lots of comedy.

The comedy is real, as is the violence, in the style of Pulp Fiction.  It’s about a plastic surgeon who is obsessed with violence.  He studies martial arts and carries a gun.  When he accidentally kills a mob boss’ son protecting his wife during a mob hit in a restaurant, he has to become the baddest man on the planet in order to save his own life and the lives of his family.

All we have to do now is raise the money!  ( Maybe Kickstarter?)  The cast we don’t have to worry about.  Between John and myself we know every gangster/actor in the business!

Check out Jeffrey on the red carpet for Frank Vincent!

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Michael Imperioli Presents His Film "The Hungry Ghosts" at the Soho International Film Festival

When director John Gallagher ( Blue Moon, The Deli) called me and told me he was on the advisory Board of the Soho International Film Festival and that Michael Imperioli would be showing a new film that he wrote and directed called ” The Hungry Ghosts”, I was like, ” Count me in.”  Any time I get a chance to see a Michael Imperioli project I jump at it.

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Jeffrey Gurian and director John Gallagher on the red carpet at the Soho International Film Festival where John produced an event honoring Frank Vincent and did a Q&A with Michael Imperioli for his film "The Hungry Ghosts."

Michael Imperioli is a great, great talent and one of the most humble guys in the business.  The testament to his talent is how unlike he is to the character he might be best known for, Christopher Moltisanti, Tony Soprano’s nephew in The Sopranos.

Jeffrey Gurian with Michael Imperioli back in his Sopranos days at a fundraising event!

I was an ardent Soprano fan, and knowing Michael for quite a while, and always seeing him as a quiet, gentle, introspective kind of person, I was shocked to see how easily he came to playing such a violent character.  That’s when I realized what it means to be a talented actor.  When you can leave your own personna and actually become the person in the script.

Steve Schirripa, Jeffrey Gurian, and Tony Sirico at a fundraising event at Marquee in NYC!

The Hungry Ghosts is a fascinating film, written and directed by Michael, in his directorial debut, and he was joined in the script by four of his Sopranos castmates, Steve Schirripa, who stars as Frank, John Ventimiglia, Vince Curatola, and Sharon Angela.

Jeffrey Gurian and John Ventimiglia at an event at Studio Dante, Michael's old acting school and theatre.

Vince ( Johnny Sack) Curatola on set with Jeffrey Gurian, playing a doctor in an award-winning short film Jeffrey wrote called "I Am Woody", about a mob boss obsessed with Woody Allen!

Sharon Angela and Jeffrey Gurian on the red carpet after the showing of Sharon's film "The Hungry Ghosts" directed by Michael Imperioli, in the Soho International Film Festival!

Steve Schirripa is absolutely fantastic as Frank,  a drunk, and drug addict whose life is spiraling out of control, and who can’t seem to be there for the son he loves, and who’s suffering because Frank can’t open up to him.

Other stand-outs in the cast are Nick Sandow and the beautiful, and talented Aunjanue Ellis who I had met previously through director Bill Duke from his movie Cover.

Sharon Angela and Nick Sandow during the Q&A after the film at the Quad Cinema!

Aunjanue Ellis during the Q & A for the movie Cover, directed by Bill Duke!

Aunjanue plays a great role in this film, and somehow Michael managed to take four characters, four diverse stories and magically weave them into one story where the characters actually meet in a scene at the end.  Very difficult to do, and very well done!

Michael was surprised to see me during the Q&A and I caught up with him afterwards to congratulate him on the film, and to shoot a little personal video with him, which he was kind enough to do.  Check it out here!

The movie can be seen on Hulu in it’s entirety at  http://www.hulu.com/watch/225008/the-hungry-ghosts

 

 

 

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Phil Rosenthal Brings Exporting Raymond To The Friars Club

Phil Rosenthal created and Exec. Produced one of the most successful sit-coms of all time, “Everybody Loves Raymond” starring Ray Romano, which ran on CBS from Sept. 13, 1996 until May 16, 2005.

Producer/Director Phil Rosenthal and Jeffrey Gurian on the "step and repeat" for "Exporting Raymond"!

It was a comedic masterpiece often based on true stories from both Ray and Phil’s own lives.  Then Phil got the call from Sony that Russia would be interested in doing it’s own version of “Raymond”, and wanted him to go over to Russia to make that happen. Most people plan to bring a camera with them when they travel. Phil had the presence of mind to bring a camera crew with him, and if nothing else it lead to this hysterically funny documentary called “Exporting Raymond” which opens in theatres nationally on April 29th, 2011.

It’s the story of Phil’s trials and tribulations in adapting “Raymond” for a Russian audience, and how he barely escaped with his sanity intact. Not knowing what to expect in preparing for his trip, he was a little disturbed when someone suggested he take out K&R insurance, especially when he found out that “K & R” stands for Kidnapping and Ransom. He was assigned a bodyguard named Eldar, who became a friend, and it was only at the end of his stay that Eldar admitted to him that Sony didn’t go for “the gun package.” In other words, Eldar was depending upon his hand-to-hand skills to keep Phil out of harm’s way.

At the screening, I asked Phil, how much could the gun package have cost that Sony decided to pass on it? He himself was stymied by that question, and I am stymied as to why I used the word “stymied.” It’s such a weird, almost frightening word!

Phil and I discussed whether they may have looked into the knife package or maybe the brass knuckle package, or did they just decide that Phil wasn’t worth any package at all??? Phil said after meeting his Russian counterparts, the fear of being kidnapped was replaced by the fear of what they might do to his show! One woman, the costume designer was intent on turning it into a fashion show with the actors wearing evening clothes you’d wear for a night out on the town, as if anyone, especially a blue-collar family, would lounge around the house dressed like that.

They also tried to convince Phil that men were more manly over in Russia, and wouldn’t be so concerned about pleasing their wives, like Ray Barone was in the USA version of the show. The Russians also felt that Russian men would not relate to the way Ray was treated by both his wife and his mother and that it made him look like a weakling. Phil didn’t go for it because he said that he doesn’t believe that men are the boss in their homes anywhere in the world.

Despite the Russian’s best efforts, Phil’s adaptation was successful, and he was able to help cast it and make it funny. So not only did he escape from Russia with his sanity, he wound up with a funny, entertaining and fascinating film, which just happens to be his film directing debut. I’m sure it will be the first of many.

However he did have the sense to turn down the “opportunity” to bring “Raymond” to Poland and Egypt! (LOL)

Here in New York it will be opening at the Angelika and at the Loew’s Lincoln Square theatre on Broadway and 68th Street. This is a movie you have to see.

Charlie Prince is the force behind the Friars Club Film Festival, and once a month, he brings great films to be viewed at special Friars Club screenings. Recently he brought the very funny “Peep World” starring Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson and Ben Schwartz, that I wrote about in a previous blog. Both Sarah and Ben showed up at The Friars to do a Q&A.

Ben Schwartz and Sarah Silverman at the Q&A for Peep World at The Friars Club.

This time, for “Exporting Raymond” there was such a big crowd that the club had to show it across the street in the beautiful screening room of The Core Club, another very exclusive club with which The Friars has an arrangement. I wound up walking in with the General Manager of The Friars Club Michael Caputo, who is always on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly.

(L-R) Charlie Prince, John Woldenberg, and Phil Rosenthal at the Friars Club screening of Exporting Raymond!

As I mentioned, Phil Rosenthal was there of course, along with his Executive Producer John F. Woldenberg, a really nice guy, who was very accommodating in the writing of this story.

When Phil was introduced after the film ended, I was sitting in the front row with an old friend, legendary film animator Bill Plympton, who has an animated film coming out called “Idiots and Angels”, a black comedy that he did with Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame.

Phil who happens to be very funny, (which helps if you’re creating and producing comedies), didn’t notice me sitting there, until someone asked him if he ever did stand-up. He said he tried it years ago, and then asked if there were any stand-ups in the audience. When I raised my hand and he saw me he was surprised he hadn’t noticed me, and gave me a gracious hello.

The last time I had seen him was last summer in Montreal when he was showing “Exporting Raymond” at the Just For Laughs Festival, and I was showing the trailer for “Eat, Drink. Laugh” the documentary Richie Tienken and I were working on about the 35 year history of his comedy club “The Comic Strip,” Exec. Produced by Chris Rock.

The film poster for Exporting Raymond that was in the street in Montreal, where it was shown in the Just For Laughs Festival in 2010!

It was a chance meeting in the street when Phil was on his way to his showing, with John Woldenberg, and I was on my way to mine. I had also happened to have the photo with me of Ray Romano, myself and Michael Bolton from when I brought Michael to the set of “Everybody Loves Raymond” several years back, maybe 1998, courtesy of the other Exec. Producer of Raymond and Ray Romano’s manager, Rory Rosegarten.

When I interviewed Ray for the book and the film we’re doing, I brought that old photo to remind him and we took another photo of us holding it.

Ray Romano and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip holding the photo of Ray, Jeffrey and Michael Botlon taken when Jeffrey brought Michael Bolton to the set of Everybody Loves Raymond to meet Ray Romano!.

Screenshot from "Eat, Drink, Laugh" of Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken interviewing Ray Romano at The Comic Strip!

Phil was kind enough to sit with me for a while to do this great little interview for my readers of Comedy Matters. Check it out right here! And go see the film on April 29th! I would tell you to go even before April 29th, but you wouldn’t get to see anything, so wait till April 29th and run out and see it immediately!

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Jeffrey Gurian Teaches Comedy Writing For The Learning Annex On USTREAM

I was honored to be asked to create a series of comedy writing classes for the internationally known adult education source, The Learning Annex, and it’s being offered on the internet through USTREAM. Just click on this link to see it!

Jeffrey Gurian with Lewis Black on the red carpet at a Comedy Central Night of Too Many Stars!

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Quinn backstage at Colin's Broadway show, "Long Story Short"!

Jeffrey Gurian with Ray Romano at The Comic Strip holding a photo of him with Ray and Michael Bolton, when Jeffrey brought Michael to the set of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Seinfeld at a party at the Time Warner Center!

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris' interview for the book that Jeffrey is writing about The Strip!

It’s free to my readers so check it out!

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Diabetes Fundraiser Sold-Out Success-Article In Manhattan Blog

This past week I co-produced a sold out comedy fundraiser to fight Diabetes at the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip with my partner, Richie Tienken owner and founder of the club. The club was packed to hear comedy from the first lady of comedy Elayne Boosler, Eddie Brill from Letterman, Goumba Johnny the afternoon host of WKTU, national headliners Jim Mendrinos, Louis Ramey, and Jeff Pirrami from The Friars Club, Chuck Nice from VH1 and the host of The Hot 10 on Centric TV, Sherrod Small from VH1’s Best Week Ever, Harrison Greenbaum, the winner of The Andy Kaufman Award and one of Comedy Central’s “Top 10 Comics To Watch”, and even I did a little surprise spot.

(L-R) Richie Tienken, Elayne Boosler, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip to fight Diabetes.

(L-R) JR Ravitz, GM of The Comic Strip, who also holds the auditions for the club, with host/MC Jim Mendrinos.

Jeffrey Gurian with fantastic host/MC Jim Mendrinos!

The incredibly straight Harrison Greenbaum with comedy writer/producer Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip.

(L-R) Harrison Greenbaum, Eddie Brill, Goumba Johnny, Jeff Pirrami, Elaine Boosler, and Jim Mendrinos in a rare group picture at the bar during the Diabetes fundraiser!

(L-R) Jon Fisch, Chuck Nice, and Harrison Greenbaum backstage waiting to go on at The Strip!

(L-R) A newly svelte Eddie Brill, Jeffrey Gurian, a newly svelte Jim Mendrinos, Richie TIenken, Louis Ramey, and an ALWAYS svelte Leighann Lord!

Sean and Jessica Mannion manning the new Sony VG-10 Hi Def camera during the show!

(Front L-R) Scott Blakeman, Sherrod Small,(Rear) Barry Weintraub, promoting our fundraiser on NY1's "Inside City Hall", with show host Errol Louis!

In the audience was a journalist named Rachel Wilgoren who writes for the Manhattan lifestyle site Nearsay, ( http://www.nearsay.com) and I thought it was good enough to send around to my peeps.

Check it out at this link!

Click on this photo to see the article in Nearsay

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Paul Reiser Hangs Out At The Comic Strip-New Show Debuts Tonight on NBC

Paul Reiser is one guy who doesn’t forget where he came from. As huge as he is, he’s still grateful for the people who helped him get there, so when he came to New York to promote his new TV show on NBC airing tonight at 8:30 P.M. with Paul playing himself, he came to visit Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip, the club where he started out so many years ago.

After taping Jimmy Fallon earlier, he came to the club, and did a spot at the 8:30 show, left and came back and did the 10:30 show and then came back the next night to do the 10:30 show, and even stayed to do the late show at 12:30, plus he stayed and mingled and took photos with anyone in the audience that wanted to meet him. That’s the essence of a nice guy who cares about the audience.

Paul onstage caught in a typical Paul Reiser expression, while performing at The Strip!

Richie Tienken, Paul Reiser, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Paul's set.

Paul is one of the many Comic Strip alumni, who went on to become huge stars, and that I interviewed so far for the book Richie and I are doing on the history of the club, which opened on June 1, 1976. This June will be 35 years.

On June 17th Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition and about a year later, Paul Reiser came on the scene, with other comics like Carol Liefer, Mark Schiff, Rich Hall, Larry Miller and a lesser-known comic named Michael Cain.( I think that’s how he spelled Cain. No one seems to know for sure, and unfortunately he’s long gone so no one can ask him!)

Paul told me great stories during the interview I did with him. One of them was how he got the movie “Diner” in April of 1982, a film role that really put him on the map! ( What kind of an expression is that? Who even came up with that? A cartographer back in Colonial days??? LOL )

Jeffrey Gurian, Paul Reiser, and Richie Tienken after Paul's interview for the book on the history of The Comic Strip.

It was February of 1981, and Paul had accompanied this friend comic Michael Cain, who was also a stand-up comic and a close friend, to an audition for this new Barry Levenson movie “Diner.” Paul was really on his way to go shopping at Macy’s for underwear and socks,because he had an upcoming gig at The Comic Strip in Ft. Lauderdale and rather than do laundry, he thought he’d just buy more underwear and socks.

That was his mission. So he accompanies Cain, who didn’t wind up getting the gig, but when the casting director saw Paul, she asked him for his headshot. He said he didn’t have one as he was only there with his friend and really just wanted underwear and socks.

She convinced him to come back the next day with his headshot, which he did and then he left for Ft. Lauderdale. He was down there two days when he got the call that he had gotten “Diner.”

His character’s name was Modell. There was no part actually written for Modell as Paul found out when they sent him the contract and the script. He gave the contract to Bob Wachs another founder of The Strip who happened to be a lawyer, and he gave the script to Richie Tienken to look at. Richie came back to Paul and said, ” Your character is Modell right?” Paul said ” Yes” to which Richie replied, ” Well, I don’t know how to break this to you buddy, but you ain’t in the script. Not even once.”

Tienken continued, ” They told you you gotta flesh out your part? Well, I sure hope you do cause you ain’t got any lines! “

Barry expected Paul to create his role on camera which he did. He improvised the whole thing and as he did he got more and more lines. Michael Cain became one of the inner circle of comics who met every New year’s Day for brunch, along with Paul, Jerry Seinfeld, Mark Schiff, and Larry Miller. After Michael passed away they kept doing it as a tradition, which they do to this day. They have brunch and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Jeffrey Gurian and Paul Reiser at The Comic Strip back in '09.

Well a lot has happened since then, and tonight is the debut of Paul’s new show on NBC called appropriately enough, The Paul Reiser Show. Watch this little video I shot with Paul to promote his show. We all wish him well and hope it will be a big hit. How can it not be? Paul Reiser is starring in it!

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Comedy Diabetes Fundraiser at The Legendary Comic Strip

 

This Thursday, April 14th at 8 P.M. there will be a comedy fundraiser held to fight Diabetes at the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip.

The Comic Strip opened on June 1, 1976 and on June 17th a young Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition.  His first sign-up sheet is still on the wall, and it says ” Good.  Put on Monday 6/21!”

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry's interview for the book that Jeffrey is writing on the history of The Strip.

Aside from Jerry, the club also launched the careers of Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock just to name a few.

Richie Tienken, Paul Reiser, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip with Paul preparing for his new show on NBC.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris' interview for the book Jeffrey is writing on the history of this famous club!

This show will feature appearances by the great Elayne Boosler, the first woman to ever have a one hour TV special, on Showtime, Chuck Nice from VH1, Goumba Johnny the afternoon host of WKTU, Cipha Sounds the morning host of Hot 97, Jon Fisch from Comedy Central and VH1, Sherrod Small from VH1’s Best Week Ever, Eddie Brill from Letterman, Harrison Greenbaum, winner of The Andy Kaufman Award, and voted one of Comedy Central’s ” 10 Comics To Watch”, Macio from The Chapelle Show, Comedy Central’s Louis Ramey and more, plus special guests!

Jeffrey Gurian and Elayne Boosler freezing their behinds off, outside The Comic Strip!

This event is being produced by comedy writer/producer Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters and Richie Tienken, original owner/founder of The Comic Strip.

Tickets are $50. plus a 2 drink minimum and can be purchased over the phone by calling (212) 861-9386.

Please come and help make this a sold out show to fight Diabetes!  Proceeds from all ticket sales go directly to the American Diabetes Association!!!

 

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Preview Video of Red Carpet of Comedy Central First Annual Comedy Awards Airing Tonight


I got to cover the red carpet for one of Comedy Central’s most exciting nights, the first annual Comedy Awards at The Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street in Manhattan.

The beautiful Comedy Central Awards stage at Hammerstein Ballroom.

This is the first ever multi-network, multi-platform event dedicated to honoring and celebrating the world of comedy, and it’s not a moment too soon!  People are being funny at an ever increasing rate.  Soon the entire planet will be absolutely hysterical, …  except for certain unnamed countries where laughing is still considered a crime!

The event airs Sunday, April 10th at 9 P.M.  simultaneouly across MTV Networks, Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1, and Nick at Nite.  In other words you have to try hard to miss this show.  If you miss this show, it is obvious that you are determined not to have a good time in your life.

The show will honor not only stand-ups but also writers, directors, sit-coms and just about everything and anyone who ever made you smile!  The talent was amazing.  Bruce Willis presented an award, and for some reason grabbed himself during the presentation!

Bruce Willis looking all over for his wallet, while presenting an award!

As I got set up on the red carpet, with my assistant Sean Mannion manning my new Sony VG Hi-Def camera and my Sennheiser mic with the Comedy Matters flag, and the wireless set-up, (LOL) I noticed that Christian Finnegan was hosting the red carpet.  When I went over to congratulate him, he played it off very humbly, but I convinced him it was a great honor.

Jeffrey Gurian holding his brand new Sennheiser mic with Comedy Matters flag, while talking to Dylan Gadino, CEO of Punchline Magazine on the red carpet.

Aileen Budow ran the red carpet very efficiently as she always does with the help of Eve Kenny.

I got to interview Jon Stewart who I had not seen in a long time, and who acknowledged that fact on camera, Will Ferrell, Olivia Munn, The Gregory Brothers, Mark DuPlass who wrote, produced and directed Cyrus, and who was there with his beautiful actress wife Katie Aselton, Craig Robinson, and Louis CK who I got to congratulate for being honored this coming summer in Montreal as Comedy Person of the Year.  Many of them did a little promo for Comedy Matters. Check it out here!

 

Jeffrey Gurian and Craig Robinson hanging out after the award show.

 

Louis CK either giving me the finger, or telling the cops it was me who did it, on the red carpet of the Comedy Central Comedy Awards.

This night, he was up for “Breakthrough Performer” against Aziz Ansari, Ty Burrell, Whitney Cummings, Danny McBride, Emma Stone, Daniel Tosh, and Kristen Wiig, and if you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll confide in you that he won!  Do you promise?  If not, I won’t tell you!

I also got to see one of my favorites Kristen Schaal who recently hosted the Writers Guild Awards, and who for whatever reason, didn’t answer an e-mail I sent her telling her I was coming to see her.
She said that Nick Kroll had mentioned to her that I said “Kristen didn’t answer me”, and she was so sweet, and apologized, and I told her next time I’m sending her two e-mails at a time to make sure she sees it! 

Kristen Wiig’s handler got so upset that I didn’t recognize Kristen that she didn’t bring her over to talk to me.  For some reason Kristen looked different to me that day, but I was surprised her PR person would react that way. Maybe she was a little stressed?

The Roots came over to chat, mainly because they told me they dug my hair! Those are guys who are not afraid to express themselves through their hairstyles, especially Questlove!

Jeffrey Gurian with Questlove and The Roots complimenting each other on their respective hairstyles!

I explained to them my theory that most men wear their hair like they’re embarrassed for having any.  Almost like an apology.  Sorry I have hair.  I’ll try and wear it in a way you don’t notice.  Let’s see, is this short enough, and non-descript enough for you???

Jimmy Fallon was out of town, but they were “representing” as the house band for the show.

I had been waiting patiently on the red carpet hoping to see Tracy Morgan who was there to present Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Icon Award.

Tracy Morgan presenting Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Icon award, which Eddie said was an "old man" award!

Tracy told me he would try to make an appearance at my Diabetes Comedy Fundraiser, “Laugh at Diabetes” on April 14th at The Comic Strip but when I called him to confirm, his number had changed, and I couldn’t get the new one.

I stood on the red carpet freezing my butt off cause I took off my coat so everyone could see my nice tux ( it was Black Tie!), and just as I walked away to get my coat to warm up for a minute Tracy breezed right on by.  Sean tried to alert me, but it was too late, and I never got to find Tracy in the madness that ensued afterwards.  Very frustrating!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tracy Morgan at Anthony Anderson's Mixtape Show at Gotham!

So if any of you know how to reach Tracy, please ask him to contact me about this coming Thursday, April 14th at 8 P.M. at The Comic Strip at 1568 Second Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street.  Tracy himself is battling Diabetes which is why I was hoping he’d make an appearance.

Also there was Bill Murray, who presented an award to David Letterman who was actually there to accept it, TIna Fey, Ricky Gervais, Jon Cryer, who was crying about what happened with Charlie Sheen, Stephen Colbert who threw everyone else from The Daily Show off the stage so he could “faux rant” about Jon Stewart, Alec Baldwin, who received an award from Kick-Ass’s Chloe Moretz… I mean nobody but Comedy Central gets all these people to show up!

Bill Murray making a point at the Comedy Awards!

Jon Cryer lamenting the fate of Two and a Half Men while presenting!

Chloe Moretz of Kick Ass presenting an award to Alec Baldwin!

One of the coolest things happened when I ran into my old buddy James Dixon of Dixon Talent.  I know James from his days as an agent at William Morris when he used to pal around with another agent named Mike August.  James has become a powerhouse in entertainment and opened Dixon Talent where he manages some of the biggest names in comedy like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert to name just two.

After the show, James and I were catching up when Jon Stewart came by, and James said to Jon, ” You know Jeffrey Gurian right?”  And Jon said, ” Sure I do.”  And then James himself was kind enough to snap a photo of Jon and I, since my assistant Sean had to leave early to celebrate his wife Jessica’s birthday!  Besides being an amazing manager, James takes a good photo, don’t you think???

Jeffrey Gurian with Jon Stewart after the Comedy Awards. Photo taken by Jon's manager James Dixon.

I’ll be writing more about this exciting event in the days that follow but this will give you a little preview of what to expect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris Rock Rocks in The Motherf**ker With The Hat

Chris Rock made his Broadway debut in a hard-hitting and fantastic new show with one of the strangest names ever to hit Broadway, The Motherf**ker With The Hat.

The Schoenfeld Theatre Marquee for The Motherf**ker With The Hat starring Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, and Annabella Sciorra

What’s particularly funny to me as a comedy writer and something I’ve thought about since The Vagina Monologues came out, is that as a writer you can call your work anything you want, and people HAVE to say it if they want to either buy it or see it.

They could just have easily called this play The C**ksucker With The Beard, and nice, regular people would have to call up and say, ” I’d like two tickets for “The C**cksucker With The Beard”, and no one could say anything about it cause that’s the name of the play.

Before The Vagina Monologues, no one used the word “vagina” in regular conversation.  It felt too weird.  As a matter of fact, when I saw it, the next day my mother asked me what play I saw the night before, and I felt so uncomfortable I told her I didn’t remember.  She said ” How can’t you remember?  You just saw it last night!”

And that’s when I realized I would rather my mother thought I had brain damage than that I knew the word “vagina.”

Anyway, this play was superb.  it’s only in previews so by the time it opens officially it will supposedly be even better although I don’t see how that can happen.  Now I’m not a critic, so I look at a performance as to whether I enjoyed it or not.

I don’t notice things that critics tend to notice.  When I use a camera, I leave it on “Auto”.  If I can see the picture I think it’s a good camera.  When people rave about audio systems, it means nothing to me.  If I turn on my CD player, and I can hear the song, and it sounds good to me, that’s all I need to know.

I don’t know about the bass, the treble, and all that other stuff.  All I need to know is that I can hear the song clearly enough to tell it from another song,and I’m good to go!

Annabella Sciorra, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale in Chris Rock's dressing room after the show.

That being said, this cast is superb.  Every one of them is a shining star.  Chris Rock plays a guy named Ralph who’s the A.A. sponsor of a career criminal named Jackie, fresh out of jail, and trying to stay sober and do the right thing, played by the incredible Bobby Cannavale.

Even if you knew Bobby Cannavale personally, ( which I did), you would NEVER recognize him in this role. He actually changed physically, and looks like a completely different person. I’ve met him a few times over the years, and even looking at his photo I have to struggle to see that it’s him.

He used his talent to morph into a Puerto Rican or Dominican drug addict from The Bronx, who walks, talks, looks and sounds the part.

It’s not even acting.  He BECOMES that person.  He reminds me of my friend Cipha Sounds, the highly successful and talented non-drug addict radio DJ who does the morning show on Hot 97, Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, and who IS a Puerto Rican from The Bronx.

Over the years, I had met Bobby several times through my friends Ethan Hawke and Peter Dinklage, with whom he starred in the Academy Award nominated picture “The Station Agent”, but I think he must have worked out hard physically for this part as well as having learned the script.

His body is “cut”, but even his face is cut.  And he mastered the facial expressions, and even the hand motions of the kind of guy he’s playing.  In the photos we took after the show, he’s throwing some kind of street hand signs, … but doing it right! Bobby’s Dad is Italian and his Mom is Cuban, so he probably gets a great tan during the summer!

Chris Rock acts like he’s been on a Broadway stage all his life.  It’s his first show but he’s been on stages all over the world, so it didn’t intimidate him at all.

I went to the show with Richie Tienken, the owner and co-founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip.  Richie discovered Eddie Murphy and went on to manage him for 11 years and in 1986 they jointly discovered Chris Rock, so Chris is always happy to see Richie.

Watch the little interview I did with Chris backstage after the show.  Richie is in it as is Chris’ friend, hilarious comic Ardie Fuqua, who happened to sit right near us in the audience.

On the way up the 6 flights of stairs to Chris’ dressing room, ( and I’m not kidding about that!) we ran into the rest of the cast and brought them with us to take the photos you’re seeing here.

Annabella Sciorra has been a favorite of mine since The Sopranos.  She’s so talented and plays the long suffering wife of Ralph, Chris Rock’s character, in this, her Broadway debut as well.

She was running home to take care of her kids but was kind enough to come upstairs for a group photo for Comedy Matters, and that’s why she was wearing her hat and coat!

(L-R) Frt. -Annabella Sciorra, Jeffrey Gurian,Richie Tienken,(Back) Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale in Chris' dressing room after the show.

Chris plays a guy so cold he actually tells a guy in detail how he’s been with his girlfriend and when I say in detail, I mean “IN DETAIL”!  It was COLD, bro’!

I meant to ask Chris what that was like, even doing that on stage, cause most people could never do something like that in real life, but I didn’t get a chance to.  I plan on seeing the show again, so maybe I’ll get to ask him that next time.

So much of acting is learning to detach from self-consciousnessm so you can be free to do what you have to onstage.

Another actor making his Broadway debut, who wasn’t with us backstage is Yul Vazquez, a very talented actor who played such an unusual character called ” Cousin Julio”. He plays kind of like a gay Jean-Claude Van Damme character who is very ready to “throw down” at any moment, to stand up for his cousin Jackie, played by Cannavale.

Yul is the co-artistic director and founding member of the LAByrinth Theater Company of which Cannavale, Elizabeth Rodriguez, who plays Victoria, Jackie’s girlfriend, and writer Stephen Adly Guirgis are all members.

Gurguis who is a brilliant writer is the other co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theater Company.

I saved Elizabeth Rodriguez for last, because I wanted to give myself enough room to praise her. (LOL) She’s done lots of theatre and television, with recurring roles on NY Undercover, The Shield, and All My Children, besides numerous roles on other shows.  She’s also been in films like “Miami Vice”, “Jack Goes Boating”, and “Acts of Worship”.

Even more amazing to me, a day or two after I met her I found out she’s the next door neighbor of my dear friend Mary Elizabeth, who just happened to call and excitedly ask me if I heard about this play, telling me her friend and neighbor Elizabeth is in it.  I’m like ” Elizabeth Rodriguez?”  That can’t even happen!

The way Bobby Cannavale captured the essence of his character is the way Elizabeth captured the essence of hers.  I fully expected her to talk that way when I met her after the show, because it seemed to real to be a performance.

Obviously, while growing up,  she met many girls like the one she portrayed, and so have we all, but it’s one thing to meet them, and another thing to be able to bring them to life on the stage.   This girl is AMAZING, and sexy in a very subtle way.  She makes it very easy to fall for her character, who is tough as nails on the surface, but really just wants to be loved like everyone else. I plan to do a separate interview with Elizabeth in an upcoming posting, so stay tuned!

All in all this is a play not to be missed!

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Elayne Boosler Drops "Facebook Is A Clock Sucker"

Elayne Boosler is often credited with opening the doors of comedy to women, since she was the first woman to get a one hour cable TV special. In 1986, Showtime gave Boosler her own hour special called “Table For One” which she wound up producing herself.

Jeffrey Gurian and Elayne Boosler in the street outside The Comic Strip in Manhattan.

She came up at a time when there weren’t that many women doing comedy, and the ones that were, were all talking about the same boring stuff.  Elayne broke that mould.

Networks weren’t convinced that people would tune in to watch a woman do an hour of comedy, but Boosler proved to them that it could be done. She got rave reviews, and a deal for 3 more specials, and then HBO caught on and came out with it’s own specials featuring women called “Women of the Night”.

All thanks to Elayne!

Elayne came up in the ranks with Seinfeld, Freddie Prinze, ( the original from Chico and The Man, not his son Freddie Prinze Jr.), Jay Leno, Larry David, Richard Lewis, Richard Belzer, and comics of that ilk.  ( Who says “ilk” anymore?  What am I living in 1943??? )

Richard Lewis sitting underneath his prized Al Hirschfeld caricature in the dining room of The Friars Club.

All in all she’s done 7, ( count them, … 7!) cable TV specials, acted in film and TV commercials, and now came out with a very funny rap song called “Facebook Is A Clock Sucker”, about how you can waste a whole day on Facebook, by just planning to post your status! The nice thing is, she worked with real rappers like Mac Lucci so… and let me see if I can phrase this properly, … it’s not a typical lame white person’s rap. (LOL)

Let me explain myself. Eminem is AMAZING, and showed the world that White people can rap as well, if not better than some Black performers, but most comics when they want to imitate something about rap do not have the ability to spit out beats the way you need to to make it sound real. It’s like when I was a young comedy writer, comics in those days would inevitably make fun of the “new rock and roll” lyrics. Their imitations were so lame that all these years later, I’m still embarrassed for them, just thinking about it.

Elayne’s song totally nails it and I think she”s got a hit on her hands that should go viral! Check it out the video below:

Elayne is back in New York for a while working on some important projects and I ran into her at The Comic Strip a few nights ago at a charity event she was doing.

Elayne Boosler, Nancy Parker, Mary Chestaro (singer Mary C.), and her mom singer Mercedes Hall outside The Comic Strip.

We have been internet friends for a while, and I’m proud to say she reads Comedy Matters. I’m even prouder to say she’ll be performing at the comedy fundraiser to fight Diabetes, that I’m producing at The Comic Strip with owner/founder Richie Tienken on Thursday April 14th at 8 P.M.

Diabetes Comedy Fundraiser, Thurs. April 14th, 8 P.M. at The Comic Strip

The Comic Strip is the legendary club that launched the careers of Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler and so many more. I should know cause I’ve interviewed just about all of them already for the book I’m doing on the 35 year history of the club. It’s located at 1568 Second Avenue, in Manhattan, between 81st and 82nd Street.

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Seinfeld at an event in Manhattan.

George Wallace and Jeffrey Gurian hanging out at The Comic Strip.

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian all waiting to audition at The Comic Strip! (LOL)

Tickets for the fundraiser are only $50., plus a 2 drink minimum, for a night of great talent including Goumba Johnny the afternoon host of WKTU radio, Cipha Sounds the morning host from Hot 97 radio, Eddie Brill from Lettterman, Sherrod Small from VH1, Jeff Pirrami from The Friars Club, Jim Mendrinos from Comedy Central and VH1, Jon Fisch from Comedy Central, VH1, and Last Comic Standing, Macio from The Chappelle Show, Harrison Greenbaum,winner of the Andy Kaufman Award,  which is very pertinent to this blog piece since Elayne actually dated Andy Kaufman for three years, and many surprise guests. Judah Friedlander may drop by as well as Louis CK, and other invited comedy luminaries.

Flier For Diabetes Comedy Fundraiser,Thurs. April 14t, 8 P.M. at The Comic Strip

Diabetes Comedy Fundraiser, Thurs. April 14th, 8 P.M. at The Comic Strip

FOR TIX CALL THE CLUB AT (212) 861-9386 AND TELL THEM YOU WANT TO ATTEND THE DIABETES FUNDRAISER ON APRIL 14TH OR YOU CAN GO TO PAY PAL AT NO EXTRA CHARGE AT

HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL THERE!

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