The Phenomenon Known As Sebastian

There’s only a handful of comedians that can fill an arena like Madison Square Garden with 20,000 seats, much less four shows over one weekend!  That’s 80,000 people who came out in the cold and pouring rain to see Sebastian Maniscalco do his thing on his Stay Hungry Tour.

There’s also very few performers who only need one name to identify them. Oprah, Cher, Elvis! Nobody ever said Elvis who? And now there’s Sebastian, holding it down in the comedy world!

I who drive everywhere had a feeling that wouldn’t be a good idea this night so I called for an Uber. I’m basically right across town from MSG, so theoretically it should take a good 15-20 minutes to get there.

The VIP meet and greet was set for 9-10 P.M. between his last two shows. I was told to go to the 8 Penn Plaza entrance which is for employees and media, and make my way to the 5th floor and then down to the third floor for the party.

The car picked me and my date up at 8:15, and I arrived at 8 Penn Plaza just past 9:30 after having to get out and walk the last four blocks in the pouring rain which had been predicted to be snow. For whatever reason traffic was INSANE. Much worse than usual. Every block, every avenue backed up! So lucky I didn’t drive.

As we walked over  we saw huge billboards with Sebastian’s face on them announcing his show. I got excited just by seeing them. Most comics have the experience of seeing their face on a flier, but to see your entire being on a billboard in Times Square has to be beyond belief.

And in the Garden he and Pete Correale were up on the Jumbotron for their podcast “The Pete and Sebastian Show”!

The lines outside of MSG were crazy but I thought we’d have an easier time at the 8 Penn Plaza entrance. WRONG!!! The line was out through the door and into the street. We managed to get inside where it seemed like nobody was moving. They had metal detectors and heavy security but nobody was moving.

I called upstairs to let Sebastian’s Levity Live people know I was finally there, but it was so noisy it was hard to hear anyone. They had my tickets and VIP party passes at a special table, and we just missed an elevator because they said there was no more room. The guards made us put on our VIP passes. We weren’t allowed to just hold them, we had to WEAR them!

We finally got an elevator and the first guy that got in said, ” Hey I know you. Aren’t you the “Master Panelist” from Comics Watching Comics on Amazon Prime?” I admitted that I was, and then another guy got in who referenced me from “Too Much Tuna” with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and even the elevator operator said he knew me. That was kind of crazy! Obviously I’m very well known in elevators throughout the land!

When we finally got to the fifth floor, we were ushered vaguely to another place that wasn’t clear but some nice guy said, ” Don’t worry I’ll show you where to go.”

And we finally got there around 9:40 just in time to see Levity’s Alex Goodman standing with Sebastian’s opening act Pat McGann. Alex kindly showed me into the room where Sebastian was mingling and taking photos with the crowd, directed by Levity honcho Judy Marmel.

We got to exchange pleasantries with Sebastian, and I was amazed how calm he was knowing he was about to face 20,000 people in a few minutes, but I guess once you do it three times before, the fourth time feels like “old hat”, as they used to say in 1810!

When we took our seats, in the third row with a great view, I just sat there trying to take in the aura of 20,000 people. As a comic, if a club is full depending on the club there’s maybe 300 people. Lots of clubs have 125. Twenty thousand people is unimaginable, and you really have to put in years of stage time to be able to handle that and not go insane with fear!

You also have to hope they don’t all want to come over your house for a drink afterwards! That call to your wife would be crazy! Honey some people are dropping by. How many? About 20,000!

Pat McGann showed why he was chosen as Sebastian’s opener by doing a strong opening set with great stories about his wife, kids and family in general.

And then it was time for Sebastian, who hit the stage like a rockstar in a sparkly, multi-colored jacket that was the first thing he mentioned.

Then he discussed the fact that people had been wondering whether they’d have to cancel the show because of the weather. He laughingly said something to the effect of,  “Hey this is not a brunch where you can just go, ” The  weather’s not so great. We’ll do it next Thursday! This is Madison Square Garden.  It took me two years to plan this thing. It’s not being cancelled for a little rain.”

He got thunderous applause from the time he came out till the time he left the stage. It’s not only his stage presence, it’s his physicality that always amazes me.  He acts out almost every joke he does and contorts his body so it looks like the people he’s talking about.

He’s married to a Jewish woman which gave him the ability to compare Jews and Italians in talking about his wife’s upbringing as compared to his, and people were absolutely hysterical. A guy near me almost fell out of his seat!

He told great stories too like the time his wife made a one year old birthday party for his daughter and ordered an alpaca to make an appearance. He needed to get a permit for the alpaca and the story was hilarious. He even walked and made faces and noises like an alpaca. That’s not easy to do!

Talking about the condition his wife was in after she gave birth, he said she looked like she had been thrown out of an airplane, and that made me laugh out loud which like many people in comedy I don’t usually do.

I had to learn that early on when writing for very famous comedians who would look at the jokes I wrote and with a very serious face say, ” Oh that’s funny.  And THAT one’s VERY funny. I’m hysterical!”, without even cracking a smile.

He announced the good news that he has a son on the way. Very exciting. He certainly proved why he was worthy of the respect of 80,000 people who braved the freezing cold and rain to come out and join him. I’m sure he could have done at least two more shows.

I really look forward to seeing him again!

 

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Esther Ku To Co-Host AVN Porn Awards

Funny and sexy is a great mix and not everyone can pull it off.  Esther Ku’s got it down pat! To a science! In this day and age it may no longer be appropriate to tell a girl she looks sexy but I know Esther long enough that I feel comfortable doing that. She’s funny and sexy and she has so much foresight that she was Asian before it was even popular!

When she lived in New York we hung out a lot and hit a bunch of shows and I watched her grow as a performer.  I even sat with her and went over material when she was preparing for Last Comic Standing.

 

She was one of my special guests on Ron and Fez’s Sirius XM show, now The Bennington Show, when I was a regular for a couple of years.

 

 

 

 

So to say that I know her would not be an overstatement!  And I can honestly say that co-hosting the AVN (Adult Video News) awards show at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas, which she’ll be doing next Saturday January 26th, is a perfect gig for her. She has that rare duality of a naive yet intensely sensual creature, who’s totally unaware of her sensuality and doesn’t do it on purpose. She can’t help it! She could be one of the guys, wearing a baseball cap and hoodie, until you put her in lingerie! With the baseball cap on backwards!

Esther’s been on tons of TV shows like MTV’s Girl Code, and MTV2’s “Wild ‘n Out” with Nick Cannon, and she will be joining an all female cast for this show presented by MyFreeCams. She would actually be a great cam girl, and I could almost see her doing it for a laugh.

AVN CEO Tony Rios said that Esther ” brings a fresh, new approach to the show and we are looking forward to her contribution.” Howard Stern once selected Ku as a finalist in the Hottest Funniest Chick competition. AVN hosts in the past have been Dave Attell, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Norton, Aries Spears, Rebekah Kochan, Thea Vidale and the late Robert Schimmel and I think I can honestly say that Ku is the sexiest of the bunch! (LOL)

She’ll be co-hosting with two adult superstars Romi Rain and Bailey Rayne, pronounced exactly the same so you know that most people will think they’re related, .. the Rain Sisters! And the musical guest will be none other than Cardi B who knows a little something about being sexy herself. She often talks openly about her former life as a stripper.

 

Ku said, “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of hosting the AVN Awards!  I feel so lucky!” When I heard that I had to call her and ask her about her sexy past. This is what she told me:

“Well I grew up super duper christian and in the midwest. My mom would block the TV when there was a kissing scene. I even got mad at my first boyfriend for watching porn because I thought that’s how you were supposed to react. I look back at that now and think that was so silly.  But he watched so much porn they called him Porno John.”

How she might have looked in high school!

I asked her how she was in high school.  She said,  “I went to one dance in high school. I got my hair done and the captain of the football team kept telling everybody I looked like a porn star. I was so flattered! Because up till then I had glasses and was a band kid.”

Well things certainly have changed for Esther.  I wonder what she’s going to wear.  I just might have to fly out there to check it out! The event is part of the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo that runs from January 23-26. Hey Esther can you hook me up?

Tickets are now available by clicking here https://avnawards19.eventbrite.com

For hotel reservations and accommodations, click here https://book.passkey.com/go/avnshow2019

Esther owning her power! Very rare!!!

 

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Lil Rel Killin’ It Bigtime

I’ve had the good fortune to know Lil Rel since at least 2012 when we met up at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is where this photo was taken.

Over the years since I’ve seen him many times and watched as his career blew up very deservedly I might add. The man is hilarious and multi-talented.

 

This past summer at the very same festival, which is the biggest and most prestigious comedy festival in the world, Rel received the award for “Breakout Comedy Star of the Year”, presented to him by his friend Deon Cole. This video was shot on the red carpet of the awards show.

Since his breakout performance in Jordan Peele’s smash hit “Get Out” back in 2017 Rel has been on a constant roll, with films Uncle Drew, Bird Box which is out right now, and his new film which will be at Sundance this year, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” co-starring Jillian Bell.

He’s currently on his Relevant 2 Tour and made a stop in NYC to headline at Carolines on Broadway one of the most prestigious clubs in NYC. I dropped by to catch the show and support, and needless to say it was a killer show, but I’ll say it anyway. And Rel looks great.  He lost weight and looks really in shape. They even commented on it on his recent appearance on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne Tha God.

He had comic/actor/tour-mate Jay Alexander from “Rel” hosting the show, with comic/actor Reedo Brown from “Caught The Series” and “Rel” as his feature. Both were really funny and then Rel came out and totally crushed the room. He has such an easy way on stage and is so likable that he had the crowd from minute one! His delivery and intonation add to the humor and he’s very physical onstage as well.  A couple of times he showed his ability to move, and the man can dance! (LOL)

He’s also a great story teller and his story about going to see a show where he expected to see The Jackson’s performing, but only Tito showed up on stage, and only played his part of the songs he sang in, was hilarious, as were the stories about his family and the people who hit him up for money now that he’s doing well. It was a smooth hour of non-stop laughter.

I was waiting for him when he got off stage and went back into the green room to hang out a little bit. Emmy nominated comedy writer/comic Sam Jay was there, who commented positively on my scarf, and told me she’s back writing for SNL, and having a blast, as was my man Jack Thriller who I didn’t recognize at first.

He was there with his trainer who’s turning him into a beast, and I was sitting right across from him thinking, ” This guy looks so much like Jack Thriller”, and finally someone addressed him as Jack and I realized that it actually WAS Jack Thriller. Jack told me he’s finally moving his fun, crazy Party and Bullshit Show down to Times Square in Manhattan where it belongs. Last time I was at the show he had Safaree from Love and Hip Hop performing. It’s always a whole lotta fun, packed with tons of girls too!

Rel was very accommodating to all of the people who came back and wanted to take photos with him, because he’s really humble and handling his fame really well.

After Sundance he’ll be in Nashville, Orlando and a whole bunch of other places so check it out on his website: https://thelilrelcompany.wordpress.com/ and follow him on Instagram at @comedianlilrel

That’s it for me.  Until next time, remember that Comedy Matters!  I’m OUT!!!

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Rafi Bastos Comedy Superstar With Only 12 MM Twitter Followers

If you look at this little video below, you’ll hear Paul Provenza openly declare that I know everyone in comedy and you’ll hear Nick Kroll freely declaring that no one has more access to people in comedy than me. So when I hear about a comedy star that has 12 million followers on Twitter, 2.5 million on You Tube, and 1.5 million on Instagram and I realize I don’t know that person, it makes me very nervous!

Such was the case with Rafi Bastos, the comedy superstar from Brazil. I heard he was performing at Gotham Comedy Club in an early 7 P.M. show.  It was Wednesday and really cold out, and I wondered if he’d draw a good crowd.  It was beyond expectation and when I got there the room was packed with fans.

I took my usual table and heard a voice call my name.  It was the hilarious Aaron Berg, the tatted up body builder from the foreign country of Can-A-Da!

He was sitting with Alexis Guerreros, and Charles McBee who was hosting the show, and he said, “Hey Jeff I wanted you to meet Rafi, he’s headlining tonight.”

So I shook hands with Rafi who was sitting down and who seemed to be the same size as all the other guys at the table. I say that, not because people usually look to see what size someone is, but because I didn’t notice anything until he stood up and saw that he was 6’7″.

Aaron went up and totally killed as usual.  He always announces his Jewishness, despite the fact as he says that he looks like he eats Jews and mixes them with protein powder.

He and his wife and baby Piper are moving to a new house next week.  Congrats and best of luck to the Bergs!

Anyway Rafi went up and did an amazing thing.  He did a smooth hour in a language that is not his first language. He has a nice Portuguese accent, and his English is amazing. It’s hard enough to be funny, but to be funny in another language you were not born into is a whole other thing. And he like Aaron Berg also announced his Jewishness. It seems we come in all shapes and sizes!

He had lots of Brazilian fans there, and said that when people think of Brazil they think of two things, Brazilian waxes and Pele. At the end of his set he did a Q&A in which he invited questions in both English and Portuguese.

The Portuguese fans were very exuberant, and for a few moments I was afraid that a soccer game might break out, complete with hooligans. But fortunately everything stayed under control.

After the show Rafi was very gracious and stayed to take photos with all of his fans. Afterwards we sat together in the green room so I could ask him a few questions, and shoot a little video.

He was a funny kid growing up but not the class clown.  He’d sit in the back of the room in school waiting for the right opportunity to say something funny.

He originally thought he wanted to play basketball, but according to him he had the height but he wasn’t good enough, and wound up with a broken cheekbone. I think he made a better choice, and so does he.

He owns the biggest comedy club in Latin America and since Brazil shares a border with 10 other countries including Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, he has plenty of room to expand!

The club holds about 300 people and he described it as kind of a cross between Gotham and the old Comix on 14th Street which he experienced, because he came here in those years to check out NYC.

In 1999 he had won a scholarship to play basketball in Nebraska. A tall, Brazilian Jewish guy with a good sense of humor playing b-ball in Nebraska. It doesn’t sound right and it didn’t feel right either.

I complimented him on his English and compared it to our mutual friend Gad Elmaleh, who also studied very hard to lose his accent so he could perform in English.

Rafi said his biggest challenge has been to speak English and have sex at the same time. He can only do one or the other comfortably. By the reaction of the female part of the crowd, I have a feeling there were a lot of girls at the show who would have been willing to give him a chance.

He’s also the Exec. Producer of Brazil’s version of SNL, and he’s the host of the Brazilian version of the Netflix show “The Ultimate Beastmaster.”

He was heading first to Boston to perform this weekend at Laugh Boston, a club the size of Gotham, then back to Cali to work on his comedy, and plan a tour with the working title of “Conquering America”, but we made plans to get together when he comes back to NY and hopefully do some comedy together someplace!

There was no one with us to shoot the video but his extended reach came in handy and he shot it himself.  After I left I realized I had totally forgotten to tell him that Pele lives in my building! Maybe he’ll see this and we’ll have a good laugh about it!

 

 

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Tom Shillue Is A Killer … Host

Tom Shillue Is A Killer … Host

Tom Shillue is a multi-talented performer.  He’s a stand-up comic who often tours with Jim Gaffigan, he’s a TV and radio personality, an author and he sings in a barbershop quartet, and if you don’t believe me just go to You Tube and watch him singing as one of the Rag Time Gals with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to Justin’s Sexy Back.  It’s hilarious! And it’s got over 15 MILLION views!!! Just like MY columns! (LOL)

I’m proud to say that Tom and I go way back.  Back to when he was doing small shows with an ensemble group. I always knew he’d do big things.  Now he’s got his own show three hours a day on Fox News Radio.  I was thrilled to be asked to appear.

I went on with fellow comic and friend Jimmy Failla in the third hour and we had a blast!

WITH JIMMY FAILLA AND TOM SHILLUE

Tom had just finished taking calls on “The Wall.”  My point if I had been asked to make it, was that you could be the greatest humanitarian in the world, and care with all your heart for everyone, but would you ever leave the front door to your home wide open for just anyone to enter? Our border is the door to America which is our home.  You always have to be careful who you let in.

We had to discuss stories from the news like:

  1.  People going crazy while waiting on extremely long lines for salads, because people’s New Year’s resolutions were to lose weight, so salad bars were overrun. People are INSANE! Plus there is an undercurrent of anger in our society today and it’s palpable.  Everyone is angry at something!
  2. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s dance video – we all agreed that she was an energetic and spirited dancer which is basically everything you’d want in a representative.

https://t.co/ZfYVw8yEpK

       3.  Ellen Degeneres facing backlash after defending Kevin Hart – she put him in an awkward situation where he                    could do nothing else but agree that he’d “evaluate” reprising his role as host of The Oscars.  Basically no one                  wants to host the show and risk their career by possibly offending the group of people sitting at home waiting                   to be offended by something.

     4. The Bachelor contestant who pretended to be Australian by using an Aussie accent- and when asked where she                was from replied, ” The accent, it’s Australian” never saying that SHE was Australian, just the accent.  I thought              she did quite a good job. It’s not that easy to imitate an accent!

      5. And one story we didn’t get to was that bathrooms which have been getting lots of press lately, in particular                    Men’s Rooms, will soon be equipped with changing tables so that Dad’s taking care of their infants won’t have to            crouch down and change them on the floor anymore. They will have the same facilities as Ladies’ Rooms, which              actually makes sense!

Tom is performing in a series of live shows around the country with Greg Gutfeld former host of “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld” on the Fox News Channel who Tom replaced back in 2015, and who is one of five co-hosts on the Fox News political talk show The Five.

It’s the Gutfeld Monologues Tour and they will be in Tampa on March 2nd and W. Palm Beach on March 3rd.Tom will be doing some stand-up and then introducing  and interviewing Greg,  and in some way it kind of reminds me of the kind of shows that Dave Chappelle who does with John Mayer, combining both of their talents.

Tom has a hit book called “Mean Dads For A Better America” and we even got to plug MY two new books, the audio version of my Amazon Best Seller on Happiness “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind  – A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness” with great reviews from M.D.’s, psychiatrists, psychologists, and people who run recovery centers,

Order on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y86edojd

and my newest book with the comedy lowdown on 13 of our biggest holidays called “Holiday Hilarity- A Humorous History of Celebration” which also recently hit Best Seller status on Amazon, and has fun reviews from international comedy star Gad Elmaleh, Bert Kreischer, Andrew “Dice” Clay, The Lucas Brothers, and even Countess LuAnn from the Real Housewives of New York!

 

Order on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yaqamcgy

 

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My Night With Leslie Jones

I think that everyone agrees that Leslie Jones is funny.  Not just because she’s on SNL but because she’s genuinely funny.  So when Comic Strip owner Richie Tienken told me she’d be appearing at The Strip I changed my plans and made it over there to catch her.  It was a 10:30 show, and when I arrived at 10:30 the line was so long and the entrance was so packed I could barely make it to the little office where Richie lives.

Richie Tienken and Leslie Jones in “the office”

That little office was at one time the coat room, but since I know it everyone in comedy has been in there, like Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Jim Gaffigan, and one time we had Ray Romano in there with five other guys and I think we stretched out the room to it’s capacity.  It really only accommodates approximately 2 people, and probably about a hundred something coats.

I fought my way to the office but Richie wasn’t in there and I was trapped by myself for a while until the crowd was seated. Then I found Richie and he told me to come outside with him where I found him standing with manager Tom-E and Leslie Jones.  It was raining and she had a hood on and I couldn’t see her hair and for a minute I wasn’t sure it was her.  It was definitely her!

Leslie, Richie and I went back into that little office to chat before her set.  Ruperto Vanderpool was hosting and I was thrilled to see the club so packed.  There was literally not a seat to be had.  It was like when Jerry Seinfeld taped his Netflix special this past year.  That kind of crowded. As a matter of fact that’s what rejuvenated the club.  Ever since that time, and then when Adam Sandler followed up taping his Netflix special there, the club has found a new life.

Jerry decided to come back to his original home where he spent the first four years of his career, from 1976-1980, and where he achieved the rank of permanent MC faster than anyone else had ever done. Adam’s taping was a secret kept from Richie until he arrived at the club that same night! Nice surprise!!!

The club had been Jerry’s home and where he met his best friend George Wallace who happened to be in town this week and was hanging out with Jerry.  I know this because I ran into them the night before this all went down.

Anyway there’s only room for two chairs in the office so Leslie sat, and I stood and we all took turns regaling each other with stories from the past about the club, about Eddie, and how he discovered Chris Rock one night around 1986, and how Leslie started out as a short order cook, and waitress, and started doing stand-up in a place in LA that Eddie used to frequent.

She recalled a story of seeing him years later and humbly telling him she never thought she did that well when he came in, and he told her that he thought she was ALWAYS funny!

Leslie told great stories of how she’s gotten everything she wanted. Through a lot of hard work! She also shared stories of how she got SNL, got to be a regular cast member, and how much fun she has doing the show.

She prayed for the manager she wanted and got him and she prayed for a writer and got Lenny Marcus who she’s thrilled with.  She and Lenny met down at The Comedy Cellar and she thought he was funny, so she invited him out to a baseball game, and then REALLY thought he was funny.  Then he started giving her detailed notes on her act that made sense to her, and now they work together on the regular.

They just did a big outdoor gig together in Times Square for New Year’s Eve. We also talked about how you can be doing stand-up for many years and still feel nervous before going out there, especially if you’re not on stage every night.  Leslie’s duties on SNL  take up so much time that she doesn’t get a chance to perform that much and she LOVES doing stand-up.  I shared the story that Jim Gaffigan shared with me that for the first 6-8 years of his career he got physically sick every time before he went on stage. Finally it went away.

So when Leslie went up to HUGE applause, (the room really went nuts), she went out there with some notes, and did her thing. She started out using some 20 year olds sitting in front as her foils, and worked into a smooth half hour of material.  Great physicality.  She moves and jumps around the stage which really builds the energy in the room. She keeps a towel handy to wipe off the sweat that builds up from the energy she puts out. She said she had only planned on doing 20 minutes but once you’re up there and it’s flowing and the audience is loving it, it’s hard to stop yourself.

At the end she closed with a new bit about a Time Machine, and how she wishes she could go back and talk to her 20 year old self, and how her 80 year old self would come back and talk to her 51 year old self, and it may have been new but it was masterful. Most comics like to leave the stage with a big laugh.  This was more powerful than just a big laugh. She left the audience laughing but with a very positive message about appreciating and enjoying whereever you are in life, and the applause she got validated that they got it and appreciated it.

Afterwards we got to hang out a bit at the bar and she and Ruperto reminisced about all the gigs they had played together in different places around the country. It was a very special night and she’ll be back next week before SNL goes back on the air.

I told her I’d bring her a copy of the book I wrote with Richie on the history of the club. The latest version is called  “Laughing Legends” and it features a foreword by Chris Rock, lots of cool photos from the past, and interviews with Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Jeffrey Ross, Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman, Lisa Lampanelli, and so many more of the big stars that came out of this iconic club.

 

 

 

WITH D.L. HUGHLEY

WITH CHRIS ROCK

WITH DAVE CHAPPELLE

WITH JUDAH FRIEDLANDER

WITH HANNIBAL BURESS

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Tricked- Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld On One Show

Tricked- Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld On One Show

Bill Burr at Gotham Comedy Club

Gotham Comedy Club is known for getting great headliners so when owner Chris Mazzilli told me that Bill Burr would be doing a special early show there one night I wasn’t the least surprised.  I got there early because I knew it would be packed but before I could even get to my regular table, #69 which is what they give me, I ran into J.Ken Feder, formerly known as comic Club Soda Kenny, who’s a former FDNY police detective and now owns a security company. Club Soda Kenny was a name he got from Andrew “Dice” Clay who he often did security work for as well.

We greeted each other and he asked me who I was there to see.  I said I was there to see Bill Burr and he said very seriously that Bill wasn’t performing that night and I must be mistaken.  Now I knew from the owner that Bill was expected and had even seen it on the website but Kenny sounded so convincing that I asked him who HE was there to see and he said ” Joe List.”  Now Joe List is very funny, and would probably fill Gotham but the place was overflowing with people, and something didn’t seem right. I couldn’t see how I could have made that big a mistake.

I sat down with Kenny at the comics table on the side as it was so crowded that my regular table was already taken, and we just talked about comedy and stuff and then we were joined by Paul Virzi who travels with Bill and is usually his opening act.  This was really strange.

Joe List comes over to say hello and then goes up on stage to host the show. I order my usual chicken sandwich, and am still talking to Kenny about comedy and all kinds of stuff.  Joe gets off after warming up the audience, and then Paul Virzi goes up and kills for about 20 minutes.  My food comes and I’m looking down at my salad when I hear a familiar voice laughingly say, ” So you’re watchin’ your weight eh?” and I look up and of course it’s Bill Burr.

Kenny and Paul were playing a trick on me and I fell for it.  Kenny was actually there as Bill’s security, but he played it so well that for a moment I actually questioned whether I was wrong and that Bill  wasn’t going to come.  I happen to like Joe List and was going to stay anyway!

So Paul finishes his set and then Bill is set to go up when out of the corner of my eye I see a familiar form with a baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes, and it’s Seinfeld standing with Chris Mazzilli. Joe List goes up on stage and tells the audience that at Gotham, you never know who’s going to stop by, and announces Jerry Seinfeld and the crowd goes berserk!

Full on standing ovation as he takes the stage.  Very rare to get a standing O before you even say a word.  Jerry came out with papers and did about 20 minutes of what sounded like new material.  Whether it’s old or new it’s always hilarious. He also did a Q&A and announced that he’d be back at The Beacon Theatre where he’s had a residency.  He loves Gotham and is good friends with Chris Mazzilli.  They are both avid car collectors.

And when he was done Bill Burr greeted him as he got off stage and they hugged.  And then Joe List announced Bill Burr and it was another standing ovation.  It was a straight hour of laughs and only one woman stood up and said she was “offended” by something innocuous that Bill said.  The audience cheered as she walked across the room and left.  And Seinfeld stood in the back watching Bill’s set.  He hardly ever does that, but it was so fun watching him laugh at Bill.  They couldn’t be more different in their styles and type of material, but talent at that level respects other talent at that level.

Keeping 300 people laughing for a straight hour is not an easy task but they both know how to do it. The audience got more than what they paid for and it was an amazing night!

 

 

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Stan and Ollie Is Truly Amazing – A “Must See” Film

Growing up very middle class in The Bronx I was lucky that my Dad had such a good sense of humor and would take me to see comedy films starting when I was very, very young.  I remember us sitting in the theater laughing together like it was yesterday.  Laurel and Hardy were my favorites.  I think because in some ways Oliver Hardy reminded me of my Dad. He was a big guy, certainly not as heavy as Oliver Hardy though in his mind I think he was, but he was one of those really nice guys and people often took advantage of his kindness. Just like Oliver Hardy!

I’ve been in the comedy world for decades now but comedy has changed drastically since the days of Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello, and The Marx Brothers.  However John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan did a wonderful thing.  They brought Laurel and Hardy back to life in their wonderful film “Stan and Ollie” which I was privileged to see at the 92nd Street Y the other night, and I’m so glad I went.

First I was wondering how they’d pull off the look because John C. Reilly, as talented as he is looks nothing like Oliver Hardy, but in some of the scenes you’d swear it was him, right down to the double chin.  The prosthetic people on this film deserve an award for doing magic.  Both John and Steve looked so much like the real guys it was uncanny. And with the way they had down the mannerisms, the walk, the accents, and facial expressions you’d think it was the real Laurel and Hardy.

I can’t even begin to imagine the time it must take to get all of those factors down. The pronunciation of the words was perfect.  And when Steve as Stan scratches his head like Stan Laurel did it was exactly like Stan did it.  The only thing he didn’t do was Stan Laurel’s cry.  When he used to cry in his films it was sad and hilarious both at the same time.  His facial expressions are what made him such a lovable character, and Steve Coogan nailed it. They both did.

Unfortunately for the world Laurel and Hardy left us quite a while ago, Ollie in 1957 at only 65 years old, and Stan in 1965 at 75 years old.  After Oliver passed Stan never performed again, but still wrote material that the two of them could have done on stage. They were brought together on the Hal Roach studio lot and the comedy world was never the same.

After the screening which was very funny and also very moving John and Steve came out on the stage to be interviewed. During the film John and Steve perfectly re-created the “Way Out West” dance from the movie of the same name that came out in 1937.  And I dare you to watch that dance without laughing hysterically.

Joining them onstage was the director Jon S. Baird and the evening was narrated by Annette Insdorf one of the best moderators I’ve seen at 92Y events.  She’s a Columbia Univ. film professor and was so knowledgable about the film and film in general and had such interesting insights that her questions kept the energy high and kept things moving along at a nice pace.  I often tell the people at 92Y that they should choose comedy people to moderate the event because they’re used to improvising all the time, but Annette was wonderful

 

(L-R) – John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Jon Baird and Annette Insdorf

I wish I had had the opportunity to tell John and Steve in person how much I liked it and to thank them sincerely as part of the comedy world for doing more than justice to the memory of these two talented men, but hopefully they’ll read this or their PR person will show it to them. The sad thing is that comedy like Laurel and Hardy no longer exists on the planet.  If two guys tried to do that today I don’t think they’d even get a meeting, no less representation.  There are no more duos in comedy. Unless you count Nick Kroll and John Mulaney and they both work individually too.  Laurel and Hardy were a team and that’s all they did.

Their kind of humor may not be considered “hip” for the 21st century, but you should have heard the laughs from the people in the audience at the 92Y!  It was genuine, and truly AMAZING!!!

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Comedy Matters Is Back Bigger Than Ever

COMEDY MATTERS IS BACK

Due to popular request I am bringing back my Comedy Matters blog/vlog. It’s an inside look at The Comedy World letting you hang with the comedy peeps you love, and meeting them on a personal basis. In this first one I will be doing a short review of some cool things that have happened in the comedy world recently, including Nick Kroll and John Mulaney debuting Season 2 of Netflix’ Big Mouth at the 92Y, the NY Comedy Festival with Bert Kreischer, Mike Birbiglia and Lisa Lampanelli, Hasan Minhaj talking about his new show Patriot Act also on Netflix. Ray Romano, Bill Burr, Scott Rogowsky from HQ Trivia, D.L. Hughley and John Oliver plus lots more with photos and videos of and with your fave comedy stars. 

  • BIG MOUTH DEBUT AT 92Y

WITH NICK KROLL AND JOHN MULANEY

The 92 Y keeps bringing in the heavy hitters in comedy.  Nick Kroll, John Mulaney and Jason Mantzoukas came to the 92nd Street Y along with their whole team from their Netflix hit “Big Mouth” to kick off the new second season.  Exec. Producer Andrew Goldberg, a childhood friend of Nick’s was there and he and Nick were the ones who came up with the idea for the show.  They premiered episode three from this new second season, and needless to say it was HILARIOUS.

The event was moderated by LA Times editor Meredith Blake, and other Exec. Producers on the panel were Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. For anyone who doesn’t know, the animated series follows a group of 7th graders through their experiences with puberty and sexual coming of age  including best friends Nick Birch played by Nick, Andrew Glouberman played by John Mulaney, and with Jason Mantzoukas voicing characters like Jay Bilzerian a guy who has sex with his pillow and with a character named Socrates.

WITH JASON MANTZOUKAS BACKSTAGE AT THE 92Y

 

Nick plays 12 different characters, including everyone’s favorite the Hormone Monster, plus the ghosts of Picasso and Richard Burton, while  Mulaney who’s plagued by the hormone monster who constantly makes him masturbate, plays at least three voices as well, as do Jordan Peele and Fred Armisen to name just two of the big stars whose voices recur on the show. Someone even plays Nick’s pubic hair, and Jessi Klein’s vagina.

During the Q&A a girl asked Jason Manztoukas if he wanted to “hang out”, and suggested that they meet at a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street.  He wasn’t taking any chances in this #MeToo age and invited everyone else there to join them.  And Jon Mulaney admitted that growing up his sexual fantasy was to be 40 and rich!  He must be very satisfied!

ACCIDENTALLY PERFORMING FOR JERRY SEINFELD

It all started on what was supposed to be a regular night at West Side Comedy Club.  I was scheduled to go on second around 8:30 or 8:45 when GM Gina Savage came in and said that Jerry Seinfeld had Tweeted that he’d be stopping by around 8:30.  That’s when people started streaming in.  And that’s what you call real live-streaming!  I happened to be sitting near the front door watching the MC warm up the ever growing crowd when I caught a glance of Jerry walking down the stairs.   He had his baseball cap pulled down low and was alone.  He greeted a few people and shook my hand as he walked by.

The comic scheduled to go on first had done 8 shows in the last couple of days, felt she was tired and decided to leave.  Gina asked Jerry if he wanted to go right up and he said he wanted to wait a minute so Gina looked at me and said “ Jeffrey, you’re up.”   Before I even had a chance to think about it or get nervous I was on stage while Jerry was in the room.  For whatever reason I felt calm, and was able to edit what I was doing while I was up there.  I often open with stuff about the weather, cell phones, and texting but for whatever reason I decided not to do any of that and went right into other material.

              WITH JERRY SEINFELD

Anyway Jerry went up after me to screaming and absolutely HUGE applause, and talked about many things including the weather, cell phones and texting, and it made me wonder what would have happened if I had actually done those same topics just moments before.  Might he have said, “ Well Jeffrey said all there is to say on these subjects!” LOL  I highly doubt it, but it made me think that at least I made good choices of topics to discuss. After I got off stage I totally re-thought all the stuff I could have done with Jerry in the room, which I think is pretty common for comics to do.

Needless to say Jerry killed with all of his new material, then did a Q&A with the audience which he likes to do.  One guy asked him what his favorite thing to do was and he said it was his show “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” and doing stand-up.

When he finished he left as low key as when he arrived.  By himself with his hat down over his eyes.  It was a special experience, made even moreso by the fact that it wound up on Page 6 in the NY Post and also on Page 6 TV.

Jerry Seinfeld and Jeffrey Gurian on Page 6 TV

D.L. HUGHLEY DOES IT UP RIGHT

I went to see my good pal D.L. Hughley truly one of the official Kings of Comedy.  He was headlining at Carolines and there was not a seat to be had.  I was with him for all three nights and it was as much fun as you would have expected it to be.

As usual D.L. is very generous with his opening spots and gives stage time to comics on their way up.  Bo “Last Name” Dacious is one of his regular openers who is always a killer, and Clint Coley has such a unique stage persona, and is so funny that you gotta come away liking the guy.  He really takes command of the stage. Part of Bo’s merch is “Miss Hattie’s rag” which you have to see to understand but it’s a great gimmick and he said one of his best ideas ever!

BACKSTAGE WITH D.L. HUGHLEY AT CAROLINES ON BROADWAY

D.L. is one of the only comics I know who is confident and relaxed enough to either hang out with friends backstage until literally the moment he’s announced to go up, and I know this because I’m usually sitting right next to him when I’m there, and I walk with him to the showroom, or else he arrives at the club just minutes before he’s due to go on, and just goes right up.  That is amazing to me.  Many comics like to be alone before, and center themselves in some way.  Some are still looking over their material until right before they go up.

The girl I was with sparked a deep conversation about the power of women that D.L. and I will continue on his radio show very soon! His radio co-host Jasmine Sanders was backstage on the second night that I went.  Always so good to see Jaz!

D.L. hits the stage, always dressed to the nines with his unique style, and does a flawless hour plus with no stress.  He saves his crowd work for the end.  And he always proves why he’s one of the true Kings of Comedy. I made it back for Sunday night’s closing night hang, which is always fun with DL. The dressing room was just D.L., his two nephews, and his long-time friends and fellow comics Smokey Suarez, and George Willborn.

We laughed for about 2 hours after the show ended until we closed the place down.  It was just us and the help.  Then they went out to grab a bit to eat, and I uncharacteristically went to get some rest for what I knew would be a crazy week at the  NY Comedy Festival.

PLANNING A SCARF BUSINESS WITH BILL BURR

I kicked off New York Comedy Festival week with a kind of secret show from Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club.  Secret only in terms of, … you had to know to know.  The room was packed to the proverbial gills. Joe Bartnick was the host and Mark Normand featured.

Unsurprisingly Bill did a flawless hour and has such a tremendous range of topics to talk about. He challenges people’s sensibilities which is such a good thing and he’s so smart that he presents things in a way that you have to see his point of view. Being that his wife is black he does a lot of very pertinent and necessary racial humor that everyone responded to very positively. He described himself as being so white he looks like a “bearded moon!”

He was gearing up for his headlining gig that Wed. at Madison Square Garden. He was there with “Late Night with David Letterman” legendary guitarist and Paul Shaffer staple Felicia Collins who happens to be an old friend of mine as well.  The room was so dark, and there were no seats, but thanks to owners Eugene and Nina Ashe they pulled me into a seat right next to Felicia, and she leaned over and said “ Jeffrey is that you?” After thoroughly checking, I came to the conclusion that it was me!

WITH BILL BURR AT WESTSIDE COMEDY CLUB

After the amazing show and huge applause that followed, Bill hung out to meet some fans, and take photos, and then Face Timed his wife Nia and their little daughter and he introduced us and we all got to say “hi” over his phone.  It was Felicia, GM Gina Savage, and manager Lori Sommer.

Bill’s got the third season of his hit show “F Is For Family” starting November 30th and besides Paul Virzi’s special that he just produced he has three more coming down the pike, if they still use that expression, all under the banner of his “All Things Comedy” network.  Next he was off to Chicago.

When I asked him what he had coming up the first thing he said was that he was designing a line of scarves, because he loves to joke about the way I dress, and some genius said he should call the line “Burrrrrr”, which would be incredibly perfect. We also had a long chat about fatherhood and how he felt when he first saw his daughter being born, because everyone told him it would bring tears to his eyes, but it didn’t.  I told him that when my daughters were born it brought tears to my eyes and he said that was because I was a wonderful person but that HE on the other hand was a German/Irish serial killer!

MIKE BIRBIGLIA’S NEW ONE 

Mike Birbiglia never disappoints.  His one man shows are always amazing and “The New One” at The Cort Theatre is no different.  I’ve seen them all starting with his first, “Sleepwalk With Me” and the man is a master story teller.  He opens the show and takes a minute to talk about his couch and you have no idea where he’s going with that, but he manages to weave it into a thread that carries throughout the entire show.

WITH MIKE BIRBIGLIA AT THE CORT THEATRE

It’s a wonderful story and again it’s a lot about becoming a Dad even though he had never planned on having children.  Mike paces the stage a lot during the show and sometimes walks in circles, and there’s one HUGE surprise that I promised I wouldn’t divulge.  It adds so much to the show and it’s something you’ve never seen before, and something that will totally surprise you.

After the show we went back to say hi and to congratulate him on his masterful performance, and ran into Nikki Glaser, Carmen Lynch and Myq Kaplan.

Then Mike and I shot a little funny Instagram video which you can see on my IG page @jeffreygurian  by clicking this link!   

The show will run for only 12 weeks so make sure you get out to see it.  You’ll hate yourself forever if you miss it!

BERT KREISCHER UNCUT AND UNDRESSED

Bert “The Machine” Kreischer was in town for the festival and had a show at Town Hall, which I knew for sure I had to attend.  I absolutely LOVE Bert Kreischer who like Mike Birbiglia, also happens to be a master story teller.  He’s just so unique, and when he came out on stage and immediately whipped off his shirt the crowd went insane.  It was non-stop laughs through the whole thing and he ended the show with his story of how “The Machine” came to be, and how he committed actual crimes with the Russian Mob.  His stories are so insane you know they have to be true.  No one could make that up!

SHIRT-SHOPPING WITH BERT KREISCHER AT TOWN HALL

After the show we went back to hang out and his Levity Entertainment crew was there to support, along with a bunch of industry people from different TV shows, with one Levity rep Bjorn Wentlandt having flown in from the UK.  Judy Marmel from Levity was there making sure that everything ran smoothly, and Bert greeted his friends still without his shirt.  We decided to shoot an Instagram video which seems to be the thing these days except that Bert took my phone from me and said “ Watch this”,  as he started filming from below his belly and up into his belly button to his chest while he addressed me and I talked about the show and the standing ovation he received when he was done.

It was a one minute masterpiece and again you can see it RIGHT HERE on my IG page.  (Please watch and follow!) Bert will be starting his world tour called “The Body Shots Tour” around January 9th with the kick-off in Portland, Oregon and hopefully ending in Moscow.  I’d give anything to travel with that tour!

 RAY ROMANO DOES CHARITY SHOW WITH NEW MOUSTACHE

Ray Romano came to The Cutting Room to do a charity spot for Bobby Collins’ Zeno Mountain Farm, a nationally acclaimed, ground-breaking camp for kids with disabilities.  They have facilities in Vermont, Los Angeles and Florida. It was a rare experience because it’s not often that you get to see Ray on stage in a smaller venue these days. He’s currently starring in “Get Shorty” a new series on Epix in which he plays a film producer.

Ray came out to tremendous applause and started out by apologizing for his moustache, which he said there was a reason for but didn’t explain.  He told great stories about getting older and about his family and especially his kids.  He’s got four, one daughter and three sons two of whom are twins.  He’s a real family guy and his stories are great.  I got to reminisce with him for a minute after his set about a time about 15 years ago when I brought Michael Bolton to the set of Everybody Loves Raymond so they could meet.
It seems they were mutual fans of each other but had never met.  I was out in LA talking to Michael about a potential TV show he wanted me to develop for him, and I had called Ray’s manager, and my longtime friend Rory Rosegarten, and so the three of us went over to the set to introduce Michael to Ray, and they were really excited to meet, which they did in front of the live audience, and we all had a great time.  Then Michael and I went back to his hotel and watched Ray on TV.  I brought the photo from that day of me, Michael and Ray, and Ray and I took a photo holding that old photo which is something I like to do.  Fortunately people indulge me! (LOL)

WITH RAY ROMANO AT THE CUTTING ROOM HOLDING A PHOTO OF ME, RAY ROMANO AND MICHAEL BOLTON

TEAM COCO PARTY WITH SCOTT ROGOWSKY AND JOHN OLIVER

Team Coco teamed up with TBS and took over SONY Hall on West 46th Street to create a pop-up comedy club called Team Coco House as part of this 15th annual New York Comedy Festival, which by the way gets bigger and better every year thanks to Caroline Hirsch and Louis Faranda the man who magically books all the shows.  Team Coco House lit up the street with it’s huge lighted signs and it featured shows, podcasts, musical acts, magicians, and all kinds of talent hand-picked by Team Coco and Conan himself.

Caroline and Louis were both at the huge party that took place on Thursday night after Bert’s show.  Louis doesn’t usually attend those things or stay out too late but he stayed at this one and everyone in comedy was there.  It would be impossible to name all the names but it was absolutely packed with comics and industry, and they served great drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres, and tons of desserts, and when I left around 1:30 A.M. it was still going strong.

One nice surprise was seeing my dear friend Countess LuAnn from the Real Housewives of New York come in with her super-agent Rich Super, and she told me that she’s with Live Nation now and will be going on a huge tour starting Dec. 19th at the Gramercy Theatre with Alexa Ray Joel, and comedian Murray Hill, and you can bet I’ll be there too. In the meantime she’s still filming for RHONY and I always tell her it’s so amazing watching her fulfill her dreams because this was what she always wanted, and she made it happen.  Most people don’t have the wherewithal, but she worked so hard and accomplished her dream.

WITH COUNTESS LUANN FROM RHONY

I was back there again to catch HQ Trivia star Scott Rogowsky do his long-running talk show Running Late this time starring John Oliver.  I walked in and the place was so packed there were literally no seats and then Matt Richards, who opened the show and is also an HQ Trivia host grabbed me and we hung out together at the bar with HQ Trivia producer Ellen Burke.

Scott wore a crazy jacket and joked with John about how long he had been trying to get him on as a guest.  John was his ever-pleasant self and told a lot of great stories and Scott had somehow found old video footage of John as a kid in some early TV show he did in England.  They showed the poster for the new season of Last Week Tonight and John had his face down on a desk which he explained by saying that he doesn’t like to see his face on posters.  For the last two seasons the poster didn’t show his face. But he showed his face in our photo below! (LOL)

WITH JOHN OLIVER

He talked about his wife who was a combat medic and his three year old son, and among other things told a funny story of how he had to interview the Dalai Lama and it dawned on him after he flew all the way to India that he was about to “fuck with the Dalai Lama.”  But he said thAt luckily the Dalai Lama was “a fan of fuckery” and they had a great time.

Backstage afterwards was a crazy scene and I got to see John and Scott and Matt, and Scott’s Dad who’s always on the show with him as well.

(L-R) MATT RICHARDS, JEFFREY, SCOTT ROGOWSKY, MARTY ROGOWSKY

 

LISA LAMPANELLI IS “LOSIN’ IT” – QUITS STAND-UP COMEDY

When Lisa Lampanelli told me she quit stand-up comedy I could almost hear the relief in her voice. I wasn’t really surprised.  I was actually surprised she was able to have kept doing it so long.  I think it’s very hard to create a persona that is opposite to who you really are and which can often be misunderstood, … especially these days, when there’s an entire segment of the population that can not WAIT to be offended by something.

There was a reason that Lisa had been known as not just The Queen of Mean, but as “The Lovable Queen of Mean.”  Anyone with an IQ over 11 knew she was always coming from a good place. She made fun of everyone starting with herself.  She probably made fun of gays the most and they were her biggest fans, as well as her main charity.

I know Lisa long before she became really famous, and saw her agonize more than once about whether the audience was truly getting what she was about. One particular time in Montreal at Just for Laughs was a particularly stressful time for her when the audience wasn’t sure how to take her “insult” comedy.  And it bothered her to the point where she said, “ I’m quitting comedy.”  I was there to hear her say that.  And then she went on to become a superstar, selling out Radio City and Carnegie Hall during her stand-up career.

Enough people “got her” to keep the venues packed where she performed. But around late 2013 when her beloved Dad got sick she started what I can only refer to as her Spiritual transformation which led to her having weight-loss surgery and losing 107 pounds, and going through what I can only describe as a “Spiritual divorce” in which she introduced  her ex-husband Jimmy Cannizzaro to his new wife Jenna, and made them part of her extended family.

Lisa has always had a good heart so when she announced her departure from stand-up comedy on Howard Stern recently, and said she was transitioning not sexually but to become a story-teller and Life Coach, it made perfect sense. She had been thinking about it for quite a while, and she tends to do these major things only after she has thoroughly thought them through.

WITH LISA LAMPANELLI BACKSTAGE AT THE GRAMERCY THEATRE

I had attended all of the incarnations of her one woman shows, where she started carrying her message of empowerment, and self-love. I was with her when she made her singing debut at The Friars Club.

When she did her AOL Build talk to announce her Grammy nominated album “Back to the Drawing Board” she honored me by having me moderate the four camera shoot and it was amazing.  We talked all about Spiritual principles, food, body-issues, self-empowerment and achieving your goals in life.

When Ron Bennington, king of Sirius XM radio helped me create a radio pilot called “The Happiness Show” to teach people how to bring Happiness into their lives, my first three guests were Colin Quinn, Susie Essman, and Lisa Lampanelli to talk about how they bring Happiness into their own lives. We have a long history.

So Lisa and I had made plans to meet up backstage at The Gramercy Theatre before she went onstage to perform her newest ensemble piece called “Losin’ It” as part of the New York Comedy Festival.  When I got there she was in her dressing room with her niece Christine Schiefer and Christine’s podcast partner Em Schulz, the hosts of “And That’s Why We Drink.” And typical of the new Lisa Lampanelli’s selflessness she wanted the focus to be on them.

I wound up shooting two separate videos with Lisa, one with her and the hosts of “And That’s Why We Drink”, and a separate one with just Lisa and I, with her talking about my best selling book on Happiness and how much she enjoyed it because of the principles that we share. The audiobook will be out next month sometime.
You can see the first video on my Comedy Matters TV channel on You Tube at www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork
This is the direct link :     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F-iD4mslnc

“Losin’ It” was great and it had Lisa being just one of the ensemble of story-tellers, with her mainstay Frank DeCaro from Sirius XM, Lauren Ann Brickman from UCB and Lisa’s former play “Stuffed” and Eden Malyn from Orange is the New Black. It was about empowerment, body image, and learning to love yourself, and incorporated a game show and a Q&A with the audience. A really fun evening of entertainment with a very powerful message. Major congrats to Lisa on this major life choice.

HASAN MINHAJ FIRST INDIAN HOST OF MAJOR TV SHOW

I was excited to see huge billboards around town of my pal Hasan Minhaj announcing his new Sunday night Netflix show “Patriot Act” and even more excited to find out that he’d be appearing at the 92Y.  The 92Y has been outdoing itself lately bringing in major comedy figures for special events, and this was another great one.

Hasan got an unprecedented order of 32 episodes of the show which is a comedy series exploring “ the modern cultural and political landscape” one topic at a time.  Each of the episodes I saw is kind of like a short one-man show on pertinent topics like our dependence on oil, and the one they showed at the Y on “Affirmative Action.”

Hasan is very animated in his delivery and it’s a multi-media production which I always appreciate.  It adds so much when you do more than just talk.  The evening started out as a one to one interview moderated by Vinson Cunningham, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and then they were joined by Exec. Producers Jim Margolis and
Prasanth Venkataramanujam, which even Hasan didn’t dare try to pronounce, and which Prasanth joked about himself. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for him as a child to learn how to write his own name.

The episode they showed on “Affirmative Action” dealt with Asian students who feel discriminated against by Harvard admissions, where they’re only 22% of all students, while Hasan noted that Asian parents who emphasize education would probably only be happy with 100%.

WITH HASAN MINHAJ BACKSTAGE AT THE 92Y

After the event we went backstage to greet Hasan and congratulate him and we shot an Instagram video in which he laughingly described me as his “lucky charm”.  I’ve known him for several years having first met up in Montreal at JFL,  and have supported his talent ever since.  I was there at the Cherry Lane Theatre for the premiere of his hit show “Homecoming King” which as a Netflix special  won a 2018 Peabody Award.

The story was that he had asked a girl named Bethany to his high school prom and when he got to her house to pick her up she was getting ready to go with another guy, because her family was concerned that Hasan wouldn’t look right in the pictures they would inevitably be taking that night to send to their family. I had seen him do the story on earlier performances and was so moved by it that I told him it would make a great one-man show.

I shared the excitement with him when he became a correspondent on The Daily Show, which lasted four years, and then again when he hosted the White House correspondent’s dinner last year.

So it was a great feeling to see him now the master of his own show.  I never had any doubt that he would make it big.

I certainly hope you enjoyed this comedy review of recent events and hope you will subscribe for upcoming Comedy Matters blogs/vlogs! Please check out the website at www.comedymatterstv.com and subscribe to Comedy Matters TV on You Tube at www.youtune.com/guriannewsnetwork @jeffreygurian on Twitter and IG

With love to all,

Jeffrey
jeffrey@jeffreygurian.com

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The Making of "Make ‘Em Laugh"- 35 Years of The Comic Strip

On June 15, 2008, I was at The Comic Strip with Ann Curry, and Gilbert Gottfried and we were giving Ann tips on how to do stand-up comedy for some kind of event she was preparing for. And despite the fact that I had been there for so many years, and had seen the walls before, I found myself transfixed by all the amazing memorabilia that I noticed that day.

Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken on the day that Jeffrey suggested doing a book on the iconic Comic Strip!

So I said to Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the club, “You know we should do a book on this club!”

I didn’t know that other people had suggested that to him before but for some reason he wound up not doing it with them. He came to my home for a meeting and ended by saying “You have more photos on your walls than I have at the club”, and he decided to trust me with telling his story, and the stories of all the huge stars that came out of the club.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken in the lobby of Jeffrey’s building after their meeting to agree on doing the book!

The club officially opened on June 1, 1976 with Billy Crystal as the opening act. On JUne 17th a young, and unknown Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition. In those days people were graded on their auditions. Jerry was graded “Good”, and then someone wrote on his sheet, “Definitely put on Mon. 6/21!” Whoever that person was had a good eye for comedy! Jerry stayed at The Strip for four years until he left for LA in 1980. It was his home club.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Richie Tienken on the day of Jerry’s interview for the book!

In the book Jerry said he felt like he was born in 1976, because that’s when he began working at The Strip and that felt like the start of his life!

Eddie Murphy spent his early years at the club, and Richie Tienken was his manager for the years when Eddie was the biggest star in the world. That period of time spanned his days on SNL through Beverly Hills Cop 2.

The one night in 1986 Eddie came into The Strip and asked to see a Black comic. The only one around was a 19 year old Chris Rock who was setting up chairs in exchange for stage time, and had only performed for very small audiences at 2 or 3 A.M. Not wanting to disappoint Eddie, they put Chris up in front of a packed house on a Friday night, and Chris killed it in front of his idol.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip on the day we did Chris’ interview for the book!

That was the start of Chris’s rise to stardom. He hasn’t lost his gratitude for all that Richie did for him and wrote a fantastic, and funny introduction to the book.

He also came into the club and gave Richie and I a really super interview. Most of the big stars came into the club for their interviews because Richie and I felt that being surrounded by those four walls would bring back memories, and we were right.

Alan Colmes who many people don’t even know started his career as a stand-up comic came in wearing his 30 year old Comic Strip jacket that looked as if it was brand new.

Jeffrey Gurian with Alan Colmes wearing his original 30 year old Comic Strip jacket, which looked brand new!

In the middle of Paul Reiser’s interview he suddenly recalled what started the annual New Years Day brunch attended every Jan. 1, by himself, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Mark Schiff. There had even been a fifth member of the group, a friend named Michael Cain but he passed away very young.

Gilbert Gottfried and Lisa Lampanelli got interviewed outside the club, and Jeffrey Ross got interviewed inside the club with a dual book/documentary film video interview at the same time. That experience taught us never to do that again! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian, Gilbert Gottfried and Richie Tienken at lunch at Pastis where GIlbert spent most of his interview denying he had ever been at The Comic Strip. He did say they had good electricity though!

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian,(hidden behind the book! LOL) backstage at Westbury for Lisa’s recent sold-out performance

And then I flew out to LA to get an in office interview with Billy Crystal the first comic to hit the stage on opening night, back in 1976.

Other comics interviewed were Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Judah Friedlander, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Rick Overton, who has also gone on to have a very successful acting/film career, Jim Breuer, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, plus newer stars who frequent the club like Colin Jost and Jay Pharaoah from SNL.

Thanks to our agent J.L. Stermer from N.S. Bienstock, we got a deal with Skyhorse Publishing and the book is 250 pages down from the 500 I started out with. It took three years to get all of the interviews done and transcribed, because I did it myself by hand just by playing the interviews over and over again, and the fourth year was about editing and getting it down from 500 pages to the 250 that was needed. It was often a grueling process, but always a labor of love!

Since it came out, it’s gotten great reviews, tons of press, and lots of celeb attention as you can tell from the following photos.

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