Samuel J. Comroe, A Man of Inspiration

Every single one of us has some kind of obstacle to face in our lives. Some people allow it to overcome them and never accomplish anything. Others rise above it. Samuel J. Comroe is one who rose above it, and in a hilarious way.

Sam developed Tourette’s Syndrome at 6 years old. It’s a neurological condition characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. It was named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French neurologist who first described the condition back in 1885 before many of you were born!

Sam describes it more as a “twitch”, which can be embarrassing to people who have the condition, but Sam decided to take it and use it to create a successful comedy career. He took what could have been considered as a negative and turning it into a positive. As he says, ” I got 99 problems, but a twitch ain’t one!”

He made his TV debut on Conan, appeared on BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart, and became nationally known for his appearance on America’s Got Talent where he totally wowed Howie Mandel, and the other judges. He said that show changed the game for him.

He also won Ricky Gervais’ “San Francisco Comedy Competition” and has a huge following on social media. So when I heard he was headlining at Gotham Comedy Club I made sure to make it down there to see him.

Good thing I have my own table cause the place was so packed people had to pull in their stomachs and hold their breath to squeeze in and get a seat. Sam is pure high energy, and speaks so quickly it’s amazing. He spits jokes like rappers spit beats. Like a machine gun!

His positive energy is contagious and spreads to the audience who absolutely loved him and kept interrupting him with applause breaks. He brings a real likability to the stage as he talks about life with Tourette’s and a whole host of other things, like when his parents sent him to Tourettes camp.

He also does a Q&A with the audience towards the end and answers questions like ” What’s it like having sex with Tourette’s?”

In my recent best seller on Happiness I write a lot about the concept of “acceptance” and how there are certain things about ourselves that we must accept or else it will drive you crazy. Then there are things you can change. It’s the basis for what’s known as The Serenity Prayer, … “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

That last line is the most important as far as I’m concerned, … the wisdom to know the difference. In my case my own major obstacle was that I stuttered very badly starting around age 7 or 8, continuing well into my 20’s and beyond. If I had “accepted” that I would still be stuttering today, but I consider it Grace that I realized one day that I didn’t stutter when I was alone. I only stuttered when trying to talk to somebody else which told me that there was really nothing wrong with me, because you can’t have a disability based on your location.

A man with a limp limps in every room of his house. He can’t go into a room alone and walk perfectly. But if I could speak perfectly when I was alone then theoretically I could speak perfectly all the time. I used that fact to help me work on myself for the next few years.

I had no one to help me. I basically took my mind apart and examined all of my thoughts and identified thoughts I was holding that were not valid for me and were negative against myself. I was obsessed with getting better and after much hard work I was able to free myself from the bondage of stuttering.

Now as an avocation I work with stutterers to teach them how not to stutter. And I use my voice in everything I do whether it’s on the phone, on stage, on the radio or on TV.

I look at Sam Comroe as an example of what you can accomplish if you refuse to let your particular obstacle define you. Make sure you go see Sam when he’s performing in your town, … and tell him I sent you! (LOL)

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The Virzi Effect Live For The First Time

Paul Virzi is killing it! He’s having a really great year and it’s well deserved. He often opens for Bill Burr when Bill is on tour.

When I go to Gotham Comedy Club, as I do almost every night, I usually go backstage first to say hello to whoever is performing and wish him luck.

Paul was celebrating the 400th episode of his podcast “The Virzi Effect” but doing it live for the first time, and he chose The Impractical Jokers own Sal Vulcano to be his special guest.

The Virzi Effect is a really fun show. I have had the honor of being on the podcast and we did it from my place in the city. Paul was nice enough to bring his equipment and we did it from my “comedy museum”! (LOL) I knew that Paul would appreciate seeing all the photos of many of the greats in comedy going back to The Golden Age.

This night I opened the backstage door expecting to find Paul, and instead was greeted by a mob scene. A whole bunch of guys standing and chatting in a circle, and when that happens, and you realize that you know everyone, you don’t know who to say hello to first! (LOL) It’s awkward!

I tried saying hello to all of them at once. It was co-owner Steve Mazzilli, uber-agent and producer Rory Rosegarten who had just produced the huge Garden of Laughs event, and he was there with his son Ryan, Paul Virzi of course, Sal Vulcano and a close friend of Paul’s Sam Jackalow, who just happened to know my daughter Liz. Then Jon Fisch came in and he was doing another show upstairs and he and Sal realized that they had the exact same Members Only jacket that they bonded over!

We hung out and shared stories and laughed until it was time to start the show. Paul brought up Sal to huge applause from the audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FS5tH4oOH8

They are very close friends and it was obvious the affection that they had for each other. Paul gave Sal a gift of some very expensive alcoholic beverage, which as a non-drinker I was not familiar with, but Sal was very touched.

They talked about all kinds of fun stuff, and Sal was comfortable enough to admit to being very sensitive. He said he once cried at a Pep Boys commercial. I totally relate and have gotten emotional about songs, movies TV shows, and when talking about my daughters. I have to censor everything I watch, or watch it alone so I don’t have to feel embarrassed! (LOL)

Paul always does an “Unacceptable” segment where the guest and then members of the audience share experiences they had that they deem unacceptable.

I asked Rory Rosegarten if he thought I should share my experience of showing up at Madison Square Garden to do interviews for the Garden of Laughs event with Bill Burr, Tracy Morgan, Jon Oliver, John Mulaney, and a bunch of famous actors, and realizing that I had no microphone with me because my video assistant had forgotten to pack it. I would call that quite unacceptable and Rory agreed but Paul and Sal had already moved on, so I’m sharing it right here.

Luckily my assistant slightly redeemed himself by getting this little snippet from John Mulaney while I had to run home like a maniac through rush hour traffic to get my mic!

Bill Burr had his own take on the situation after I nearly killed myself to run home and get my mic!

Sal talked a lot about the new 8th season of his tru TV hit Impractical Jokers and told some funny stories, including the times when the guys almost got assaulted by people who were pranked.

Fans of Paul and Sal traveled from all over to attend this live show, so they saved a few minutes for a Q&A during which time I raised my hand to ask if they were still entertaining “Unacceptable” stories, which I was informed they were not!

Good thing I have this platform! (LOL) At one point Paul was trying to tell a story while Sal hummed ” I Believe I Can Fly” in the background, until Paul found it too distracting.

It was a really fun hour and even ran long because Paul wanted to get in some other things. He invited anyone who wanted to to hang out at Jake’s Tavern which is basically next door, to grab a drink and a snack, and he gave all of his guests special posters he had made up to commemorate his 400th episode and first live show.

I’m really glad I was there to celebrate this with them!

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STAR STUDDED GARDEN OF LAUGHS RAISES 2 MILLION BUCKS FOR KIDS

I had been waiting for weeks to cover the biennial “Garden of Laughs” at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. It’s a star studded event that raises money for underprivileged kids and kids with disabilities. It’s produced by Rory Rosegarten of The Conversation Company and his team, and features some of the biggest comedy stars in the biz as well as many top actors. We were expecting Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Burr, Jon Stewart, John Mulaney, Michael Che, John Oliver, Iliza Shlesinger, Tiffany Haddish, Brian Regan, and actors Debra Messing, Lucas Hedges, Ansel Elgort, Michael K. Williams, Toby Leonard Moore, Gaten Matarazzo, and all hosted by 3 time host Steve Schirripa of Sopranos fame.

WITH RORY ROSEGARTEN PRODUCER OF GARDEN OF LAUGHS

A lot of people don’t know that Steve booked some of the biggest comedy acts when he used to book talent in Las Vegas, and he’s very funny in his own right. Not every star decides to do the red carpet so we’re never really sure who’s going to come out. It was slated to start at 6:30, so I made sure to get there at 5:30 to have time to set up because there’s no real schedule with a red carpet. It’s very stressful. Sometimes several stars come out at once and while you’re talking to one, another one you would have liked to talk to walks by. It’s also all improv. Some journalists come with stock questions that they ask each person. Not me! All my stuff is improv’ed on the spot.

I specifically had my videographer show up at 4 to pack the camera bag and make 100% sure we had all of our equipment.  We went over it together.  So imagine my surprise at 6:10 when he suggested that we do a mic check and the shock ran through my body when we realized we hadn’t packed the microphone.  I can’t describe the horror, and the icy cold feeling that ran through my body. Weeks of planning, and I’m on the red carpet with no mic.

The one thing you need to do interviews besides the camera and we didn’t bring it. I decided I’d have to run home and get it. But I live on the other side of town and it was rush hour. Perfect! I told my assistant to try and shoot some B-roll, and I ran out like a maniac, flashing my red carpet badge to security as I ran through one door after another. As I was running I tried to figure out which would be the fastest way to get home. Should I run back to 8th avenue to take the train, call an Uber, or just jump into a taxi.

I chose the closest taxi and just like in the movies I told the guy to step on it. I said I had to get across town and back in 20 minutes which was impossible. I turned on my WAZE and we got to my house at 6:26. I told him to wait in the downtown direction, jumped out of the cab, ran past my doormen, got the mic and ran back downstairs so fast that both of my shoes opened and I didn’t stop to re-tie them.

Just past 6:30 my assistant texted me that no one had come out yet. As we got closer to the Garden he texted me that John Mulaney was on the red carpet! Shoot! I was hoping he’d come out late but he came out first. Luckily my videographer had the sense to tell John he was working with me, and that I had to run home to get my mic, so John left me this hilarious message, which made it a little bit better!

Of course as we got near the Garden we got stuck in traffic, and every block seemed to take a year. Finally we pulled up in front, I gave the driver a big tip just like in the movies and ran back in, not expecting to have to go through airport-like security again. But I was wrong. Very wrong.  I flashed my badge but it did no good. I told the guy I had forgotten my mic and had to run home to get it and I was missing the whole red carpet but he wouldn’t hear of it. He said he had to do his job. The only man in Manhattan who had to do his job. And of course because I was so nervous I kept leaving something metal in one pocket or another and literally had to go through the metal detector about 10 times while the people behind me waited patiently.

Finally he let me through and then I first had to re-fill my pockets. By the time I got upstairs I had missed Mulaney and Tobey Leonard Moore from Billions who I would have loved to talk to, so I finally bent down to re-tie my shoes, and then Michael K. Williams came along. I loved Michael’s characters “Omar” on “The Wire” and  “Chalkie” White on Boardwalk Empire so I was excited to talk to him. He told me that working with Martin Scorcese was a dream come true for him and that he also works with kids from Garden of Dreams which is the charity itself that Garden of Laughs raises money for.

WITH MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS ON THE RED CARPET AT MSG

To tell you the truth I had never noticed that he had a scar that ran from his forehead right near his eye and down onto his cheek. Obviously I didn’t bring it up, he did. He said he was working with a young boy of 14 who also has scars on his face from an assault, and that he was able to give him some reassurance that he’d be okay. Michael told me he had been assaulted by a gang on his 25th birthday. Man’s inhumanity to man.

Rory Rosegarten came out and told me had been looking for me because he knows I always come early to these things. When I told him the mic story he said the exact same thing that John Mulaney said without having heard him say it. You can hear it for yourself in the video below. He was there with his family.  I was able to congratulate him on another successful show, and it was great to see him looking so healthy again.

Michael Imperioli who played cousin Christopher Moltisante on The Sopranos came out next, and we hadn’t seen each other in years so it was so nice to re-connect. He’s got a movie coming out with Nick Cage, and an NBC TV series based on the movie The Bone Collector, and when we inquired about each other’s health and I told him I had survived a heart attack he said he was sorry, and it sounded like he said he was sorry I survived. Funny!!!

WITH MICHAEL IMPERIOLI ON THE RED CARPET AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

Bill Burr is always a great time on the red carpet and as soon as he sees me he starts yelling out things like “Oh no”, and “This is gonna be good.”  I told him I was thinking of texting him to let him know I was going to be there so he could think up some insults for me, but he said he didn’t need any advance notice because they just came naturally. He started out by asking me about my sport jacket and if I had gotten it at Woodstock, which was actually very funny.

LAUGHING WITH BILL BURR AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

 

I asked him if he knew of the You Tube video called “Bill Burr Roasting People” which has over 5.4 million views and opens with he and I on the red carpet where he says he hopes I go bald so that one day we’re two old bald guys on the red carpet.” He said that not only does he know about it he hates that people think he doesn’t like me because he LOVES me, … and that made me feel really good.

I had sent him a recording that the late great Patrice O’Neal had left for me on my phone one night at 4:05 A.M. It was the first night we had done the Black Phillip Show together and Patrice was so happy with it he couldn’t wait to call me and so humbly suggested that we do a show together just the two of us. He said he didn’t want to assume anything, as if I might have said “No”, but unfortunately we never got to do it. I still get messages and e-mails from guys who track me down to give me props on my work on Black Phillip.  R.I.P Patrice. Btw Bill said he listened to it, and I hope he did cause it’s one of my greatest possessions, along with the phone message that Richard Lewis left me saying that some jokes I had written for him were “hilarious” and if he was ever going to use anyone else’s jokes it would be mine!

Bill’s interview went on so long that at one point he asked me if it was still an interview or just two guys talking on the corner! Then he offered me a $700. class he was giving on how to end an interview. He’s hilarious and the very best! And he’s off on a tour from Iceland to Israel!

Just when I thought it was over, I left the red carpet but luckily didn’t pack up yet when I saw Tracy Morgan talking to Bill Burr and went over to catch up with Tracy. His new season if his TBS show “The Last O.G.” was premiering that night and we had a few laughs on camera. He always says something so nice to me and this time he said, “You ARE comedy!”

WITH TRACY MORGAN AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

Last on the red carpet was John Oliver who was going to be the very first presenter that night. I asked him if his kids were old enough to know that he’s playing Zazu the bird in the new remake of The Lion King directed by John Favreau due out this July.  He said his son is only three and he took him to a movie in which he did the voice of a porcupine named Steve.  He told him that was his Dad and his son said ” No it isn’t”, just like my Too Much Tuna sketch with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Anyway this little video is a recap of my adventurous day on the red carpet of Garden of Laughs.

Please feel free to “Like”, Comment and Subscribe and please share it with a friend.  On Twitter and IG I’m @jeffreygurian

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Humorist Up For Webby Award

A Webby Award is an award for excellence on the Internet and it’s presented annually by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a judging body composed of over two thousand industry experts and technology innovators. It’s a big honor to be nominated for a Webby and Marty Dundics’ Weekly Humorist is in line to win one for Best Humor Site, in the upcoming 23rd annual Webby Awards contest.

The event itself will be held on Monday, May 13th at Cipriani Wall Street in lower Manhattan, and will be hosted by everyone’s favorite Jenny Slate, so memorable from Kroll Show on Comedy Central. Jenny played many characters especially “niece Denise” and Liz from Publizity which was a sketch I got to be in.

Marty himself describes his recent comedy startup as an “underdog”,  but people love underdogs and they’re only up against College Humor, Funny or Die, The Daily Show and Cards Against Humanity which bills itself as a game for horrible people.

Marty, who’s the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Weekly Humorist birthed this babe and is basically a one man band. He has an office on Wall Street wHere he hosts the popular comedy podcast Talkward, and produces “Guaranteed Delivery” a monthly standup show at The Mailroom lounge, a very cool space in the same building. I’ve been on it and he gets great talent. This was a flier from his recent show in April.

He’s also the founder of Humorist Media, which develops comedy media programming and publishing.  Despite having a long history with comedy, having worked at National Lampoon, and The Late Show with David Letterman, he’s funny but he’s never performed himself.

Voting ends this Thursday April 18th with the winner to be announced on Tuesday April 23rd, and you can vote by going to this site, …but do it now while you’re thinking about it, because voting ends on Thursday :  

https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2019/websites/general-websites/humor

 

WITH MARTY DUNDICS DOWN AT THE WEEKLY HUMORIST OFFICE

PLEASE REMEMBER TO “LIKE” COMMENT AND SUBSCRIBE AND FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS WITH PEOPLE YOU HATE! 

 

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Comedians Rule Boy Band

With comedian/actor/writer Seth Herzog

When you hear the words “Boy Band” maybe you think of The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, or New Kids on the Block. Well change that image cause from now on you’re gonna be thinking of Seth Herzog, Dave Hill, Jordan Carlos and Steve Agee, who played part of a gay couple with Brian Posehn on the Sarah Silverman Program.

(L-R) Stephen Levinson, Dave Hill, Jordan Carlos, Joel Levinson and Seth Herzog

All four of the above are comedians who thanks to first time feature screenwriters Joel and Stephen Levinson play members of a boy band called “The Heartthrob Boyz” who were wildly successful in the 90’s,  and went into the studio 15 years ago to record an album and are still there working on the same album. They’ve aged, gained weight and lost hair but didn’t lose their childish sense of humor.

Joel and Steven wrote the script together and Joel directed it. They screened it last night at the Chelsea Music Hall on West 15th Street in Manhattan and preceded the screening with a VIP cocktail party at 7 P.M. I who am never late for anything was literally the first one there which is how I got to talk with Joel and Steve, and Seth who was there early too making sure that everything went smoothly, which it did.

Stephen Levinson holding the film poster with his brother Joel Levinson

I brought the lovely, talented and amazing Jessica Robinson with me, who is kind of my muse, and we had the best time!

The Levinson boys wrote the script over a six month period and shot it in 10 days in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the home of independent film! (JK) They shot it there because it’s near Dayton where they live and because that’s where they had connections for locations and also they said that the rates of everything else were much lower. ( Lower than New York? Who would have believed it? LOL)

I always like to know how things come about so I asked them how they met Seth Herzog. They met through comedy writer Rob Kutner who wrote for The Daily Show and Conan through a project called Purim Shpiel, a sketch comedy show in honor of the Jewish holiday of Purim, and Seth always played a wicked character named Haman, who to this day is responsible for Jewish people eating what’s called Hamantashen on the holiday of Purim, actually coming up later this month. (Google it!)

They said that Seth played the perfect asshole so he was the first one cast in Boy Band to play the bad boy of the group. He’s also a producer on the film. Last May at a John McEnroe charity event at Carolines on Broadway where I covered the red carpet I got to interview my buddy Seth and he told me all about Boy Band before it was shot.

The film was loaded with recognizable faces, like David Gruber Allen and Julie Goldman, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my pal Jerry O’Connell in a pretty big role as a newscaster, opposite Seth’s wife, on-air journalist/actress Hitha Herzog, who he somehow coerced to be in the film.  (LOL) Jerry will soon have his own talk show called Jerry O.  on FOX owned stations, and it’s set to begin on August 12th. It will feature celebs and comedy for sure because Jerry is a funny guy, who appreciates the importance of comedy.

Hitha Herzog and Jerry O’Connell

They even had Questlove from The Roots in the film playing an alien, hence the horns, also appearing in the newscast with Hitha and Jerry.

Seth as you should know is the warm up comic for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and so works with Questlove on a day to day basis. Stephen Levinson is also a writer on that show. And Gilbert Gottfried’s voice made an appearance speaking as a puppet named Morty who played an accountant.

The film also featured comedian Esther Ku playing the character of Tina, Steve Agee’s character’s girlfriend. Esther recently co-hosted the AVN ( porno) awards in Las Vegas, and she had a big part in this film.

Esther looked absolutely gorgeous as she did hosting the AVN awards, and it’s so nice seeing her owning that power and not playing down her looks like many female comedians of the past felt they had to do in order to be taken seriously as a funny person. (Having to be taken seriously as a funny person is a funny concept!) And Esther had the foresight to be Asian before it was even popular!

The screening had a great turnout, and was packed with lots of industry people. I ran into comedy exec. Maureen Taran, and Ali Farahnakian founder and owner of The P.I.T. who many people may not recall was also one of the founding members of USB. He was there with wife TV producer Beth Saunders, and he showed her the photo he took of me in the street many years before that wound up, unbeknownst to me, on the wall of the Men’s Room in The P.I.T.

Funny story, … I was walking in the street at a street fair when this nice guy who I had never met before asked if he could take my photo. He said he thought I had an interesting look and because he was so nice I agreed. At the time I didn’t know who he was. So one night I’m at The P.I.T. and I had to use the Men’s Room and while I’m standing there doing my business, I happen to look to my right and see my photo staring me in the face. It was hilarious and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s just a great guy.

And when Bravo TV wanted to shoot scenes with me for RHONY, with Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and Princess Carole Radziwill for a sketch I created and co-wrote for them, Ali was kind enough to give us The P.I.T. for the shoot and after-party.

Boy Band was a fun 90 minutes with a sci-fi element and even a touch of zombie stuff, and it’s available to be seen on all platforms that show movies! Make sure to check it out.

And with that, … I’m OUT!!!

Oh yeah, … and please make sure to like this post, comment and “Subscribe” to Comedy Matters TV by clicking on the “Follow” button at the bottom of the post. Also follow Jeffrey on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian.

 

 

 

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Comedy In An Alley

If you’ve been to any upscale, fancy Manhattan event chances are you’ve seen Francesco Belcaro. He’s hard to miss. Tall, handsome and stylish with 46 thousand followers on Instagram, and usually surrounded by models, chances are good he had something to do with making the event successful.

As a matter of fact I’ll be attending a black tie affair of his tomorrow night called The Venetian Carnival which will be held at The Top of the Standard. You can see him greeting me at a fashion party he arranged in a cool beautique, where the champagne was flowing freely in the  video below.

Pinko fashion Brand and Valdo Prosecco event.

Posted by Francesco Belcaro on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A force in marketing, promotion, and real estate you can imagine my surprise when he invited me to a comedy event.

And then I saw that Mehul Patel was involved and I know that he does comedy shows in upscale venues to try and create a party kind of atmosphere where the audience hangs out afterwards to keep the show/party feeling going. There was no question that I would attend. It was a concerted effort between those guys as well as Rick Rosa and Maria Ton.

This show was called Laughter at Alley Cat and was held at a place called “Alley Cat” on a street I didn’t even know existed in New York. Theatre Alley. I had no idea what to expect when I drove down there, but it was a good sign that Waze knew just where to take me.

Luckily I was able to find a parking spot where Waze said it was, but when I got out of my car I didn’t  know where to go. I was parked right across from this narrow alley and Waze said I had arrived so I tentatively walked into this alley. Late at night in New York you don’t just walk into any alley, but I didn’t know where else to go. When I first walked in all I saw was this.

I ventured further and suddenly saw velvet ropes which in New York is always a good sign.

As I got even closer I saw the logo of the Alley Cat and felt relieved that I was in the right place.

Right away it had a cool vibe. Security guided me downstairs and then upstairs into a showroom that was packed with people already drinking and having a good time. Francesco spotted me and took me to the VIP room where I saw the other comics, host Rashad Bashir who I had just met recently at a show at Alex Carabano’s V-Spot restaurant and comedy club, Kendall Ketchum representing those with two X chromosomes, Shawn Jackson, Elon Altman, the afore-mentioned Mehul Patel, and Matt Pavich.

Front Row: Shawn Jackson and Yours Truly, Rear )L-R) Elon Altman, Kendall Ketchum, Matt Pavich, Rashad Bashir, and Mehul Patel.

Rashad Bashir was a great host who really got the energy pumping, and one by one all the comics brought their A-game which wasn’t always easy because of the noise from the bar. That’s the only problem with doing comedy from a “hip” venue that is not a traditional comedy club, trying to control the noise from the bar, and from people who may have drank enough to forget their manners and that a show is going on.

Mehul Patel onstage

Fortunately the host reprimanded them and most of the comics projected loudly on the mic to overcome the background noise. Matt Pavich had a different approach which I really respected because it’s hard to do. Rather than yell, he took a chance and spoke quietly, and the audience in turn quieted down to hear him. I’ve seen it done before but it takes courage because if it doesn’t work you’re in worse shape than you were in the first place. I gave him props for that after the show because it was a choice he made that worked.

All in all it was a very strong show, and I hope to go back and perform on it myself one month.

That’s all for me. Just remember that Comedy Matters, … and with that I’m OUT!!!

And please go to my Comedy Matters TV You Tube channel to see fun video interviews with all your favorite stars, and follow me on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian

 

 

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Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Every year for the last 7 years without fail, Bill Burr and comedy exec. Maureen Taran organize a special tribute to the late, great Patrice O’Neal. It’s truly amazing the respect that Patrice still gets. He left us on Nov. 29, 2011, and the love is still there.

It had a lot to do with the man himself, because other comedians have transitioned to that other plane, but people don’t talk about them as much, or do annual benefits in their honor. I always say that Patrice was much more than just a comedian. He was a comedy philosopher. He had a well thought out point of view, on many things, especially on how men should act around women.

And as I said the love for Patrice is just as strong as ever. I personally come across it, without exaggerating, probably on a weekly basis. People write to me by e-mail, or on FB or even stop me in the street and give me props for what we did on The Black Phillip Show. I’m always surprised because it was back in 2008, but people say that what we did changed their lives. That’s heavy for a radio show. And it was one of the greatest honors of my career to have been Patrice’s co-host on that show. We had a very unique relationship and one that his wife Vondecarlo could attest to.

You can hear it yourself in this rare phone call from Patrice to me the first night we did the Black Phillip Show together. it took a lot to get Patrice excited and he was not known for just throwing around compliments but he called me at 4:05 A.M. because he couldn’t wait till the morning to tell me how much he liked what we did together.

Anyway, Bill and Maureen hold the show at City Center, a venue in the heart of Manhattan which according to Google holds 2750 people, and every one of those 2750 people were there last night to see an incredible line-up of talent.  Rich Vos MC’ed a show that Patrice would have been proud of.

Although Rich said that it if had been a benefit for him all these years, … maybe Patrice would have shown up, … one year.  And then Rich brought up Joe List who ( and I’m sure it wasn’t for me) happened to do a lot of dental oriented material which is not a common theme. He even said that in root canal you take out the roots and throw them away and I meant to tell him that it’s the nerves they take out not the roots, but hopefully he’ll read this and find out.

Aussie comic Brendan Burns made the mistake of making fun of Vos, and Vos came back with nuclear weapons. He did that with every comic that made jokes at his expense, which was just about every one of them. And later at the after-party, his wife comic Bonnie McFarlane told me she was backstage with Rich and offered suggestions to him for the comebacks!

At the after party over hors-d’oeuvres I told Vos that he was like President Trump (not anything political), who doesn’t let anyone say anything about him without clapping back twice as hard. No one gets away with anything.

Mark Normand had some good advice for the audience.  He said it was ok to be offended, just shut up and keep it to yourself. Michele Wolf made fun of Vos’ foot size and he made fun of her voice. She also talked about otters raping baby seals, which she swore to be true, and white women’s privilege, which she also swore was true, and as she left the stage Vos asked for a big hand for Michael Rappaport.

Gary Gulman showed his prowess as a wordsmith as usual by deconstructing the word “ruthless” as having no ruth, like “Buzzi” or “Bader Ginsberg”, and went on to use words like hijinx, and tomfoolery. Writing these notes in the dark by the way was very difficult. I could hardly read my writing. And photos were out of the question. They had everyone place their phones in Yondr bags which in case you don’t know is a special bag that locks the phone inside of it until you leave. They literally leave you holding the bag!

After mine was locked I was worried that I had left the ringer on and that I’d get a call during the show and wouldn’t be able to turn off my phone  because it was locked in that stupid bag, but I didn’t want to leave to have it checked.

The music was hot and was supplied by Cipha Sounds who I had just seen the night before at Chelsea Music Hall where he performed on Ryan Ling’s Bird Brain Comedy Show, but this night he was spinning hip-hop in between acts.

And then it was Chris Redd from SNL followed by Bill Burr who closed the amazing show. Everybody killed. No surprise there.

And then it was off to the after-party at a place called Esther and Carol’s down on Broome Street. It’s the lounge of the Soho Hotel and it was arranged by the owners of The Stand who host the after-party every year. Unfortunately they are still waiting for their new two-level club to be finished down on West 16th Street, so in the meantime they’ve been doing pop-up shows in this cool lounge.

I walked in early and Bill was there talking to Maureen, and he saw me out of the corner of his eye and because he takes pleasure in torturing me, made sure to say something very loud like, “I sure hope that guy Jeffrey Gurian doesn’t come”.  I laughed and told him it was too late that I had already snuck in.

They had the whole staff there including owner Cris Italia, Joe Harary, and the always lovely Adele Carollo, and they had good food and drinks.  All of the comics who performed were there, as well as Ronny Chieng, Joe Bartnick who opens for Bill, Luisa Diez, Bonnie McFarlane who I spoke to the longest of anyone, and Krystyna Hutchinson who was also celebrating her birthday and came in with Wendi Starling, whose hair is now short and dark and I almost didn’t recognize her.

Joe List “the dental expert”, with Mark Normand and Michelle Wolf

But the highlight of the party for me was when I heard someone calling out my name and I turned to see Patrice’s Mom Georgia calling me over to say hello. She was sitting in the balcony with her daughter Zinder, because she made it down this long flight of stairs which was not easy for her, and they wanted her to sit in a safe place.

She’s always so gracious and we reminisced about Patrice and how great he was, and I told her how many times people contact me about Black Phillip and she said he always loved that show so much.  Then we took the photo you see above and for me that was the highlight of the evening.

I didn’t get a photo with Bill because I never know how to approach the man! (LOL) When he was getting ready to leave I walked over to say goodnight and he was talking with Ronny Chieng but he stopped his conversation to yell out, ” Jeffrey you have to stop crashing parties”, and I was concerned that Ronny didn’t know he was kidding!

So I decided to post some of the many photos that Bill and I have taken over the years, starting back in 2005. Great job Bill! Hope to sneak into #8 next year too!

With Bill Burr back in 2005

 

With Bill Burr in Montreal at Just for Laughs

With Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club in 2018

With Bill Burr at the taping of Paul Virzi’s special 

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Kenny Warren and Gabe Dorado Do Magic

Kenny Warren and Gabe Dorado Do Magic

Magic is the only word that came to mind when I got to the Grisly Pear at 107 Macdougal Street. I had performed there many times when it was a bar upfront with almost kind of a comedy space in the back. Now it’s a legitimate comedy club in the back with a bar up front! And it’s all thanks to the hard work and dedication of comic/producers Kenny Warren and Gabe Dorado.

You may know Kenny from his show “Comics Cutting Comics” in which he cuts comic’s hair before they get up to perform, which would be horrifying if he wasn’t a legit barber. Fortunately he is, and works out of a shop up in Harlem called Levels. I’ve been there for a shoot we did together called ” Comics Cutting Comics Live” where I had the chance to perform in the barber shop, which was scary to me. Those who know me know I do not frequent barber shops! (LOL) Just the thought freaks me out, but for Kenny I show up! (LOL)

(L-R) Matt Pavich, Norlex Belma, Kenny Warren, Pat Brown, Larry Beyah, Barry Ribs, Jeffrey Gurian

And to show you the kind of guy  he is, he was nice enough not to insist on cutting my hair. Even when we did the show out at the Creek and the Cave, he let me slide on the cutting part, and he still let me perform.

When I got to The Pear, the first thing I happened to notice was a big poster like art thing of AMarie Castillo mounted on the wall.

It caught my attention, and then as I looked around I saw Kenny Babbitt, Napoleon Emil and Mallory Bryant up there too. And then I noticed that the walls of the entire place were covered with beautiful graphics of all the comics who performed there, with their social media tags.

Kenny is very big on giving up-and-comers a place to work out and feel at home. He even refers to the place as “the dojo.” He understands the struggle and what it takes to try and get known in this crazy business, and let me tell you it’s a very big thing to come into a club and see your very own picture up on the wall.

He’s doing six shows a week there, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including three on Friday alone, 8, 10, and 12, and he gets a packed house most of the time, unlike when the space was shared by other producers. He’s basically doing it on his own with people like Kathryn Henson producing their own shows, like her show “Late Night at The Pear” on Thursdays at midnight. Gabe Dorado runs the shows on Thursday at 10 P.M., Friday 6 and 8 P.M. and Saturday’s 10 P.M. and 12 A.M. slots.

The show I was on had a great line-up with the very funny Phil Duckett bringing it as the host. He really got the energy flowing, and then there was K.C. Arora, the aforementioned Katharyn Henson, Kareem Green who brought down the house with a very funny “choking” routine, a young funny comic named Marcello Hernandez, Onika McClean and just as I was leaving Neko White dropped by to do a set!

Kenny will be out in LA this month appearing at the clubs, and we wish him lots of luck! As for me, I hope to be doing more sets at the new Grisly Pear Comedy Club! Thanks Kenny!!!

PLEASE LIKE, COMMENT AND SUBSCRIBE TO COMEDY MATTERS TV ON YOU TUBE AT HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/GURIANNEWSNETWORK COMING UP ON TWO MILLION VIEWS!

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Breaking Down The Breakdown

The Red Room is a very cool space in the KGB Bar on East 4th Street, coincidentally right next door to the new New York Comedy Club. And once a month comic/actor Boris Khaykin puts on a really unique variety-type show called The Breakdown with Boris Khaykin, with the help of producer Jeremy Moses.

I got invited to be a guest and went down the month before to check it out and needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I was duly impressed. Boris and his co-host Jawnee Conroy also a talented comedian and actor have created a very unique format, along with Boris’ co-writer and co-producer of the show Alex Estrada!

The audience warm up was not a stand-up comedian but a musical improviser named Rebecca Vigil. A great song came out of absolutely nowhere. Amazing. Then Boris and Jawnee took the stage and worked off each other for about 10 minutes or so, and then Exacto an amazing beatboxer did a solo performance that blew everyone away. It sounded like he swallowed a drum kit!

Then the first guest was called which happened to be me! I made a point of thanking Ethan “Exacto” Scott for his incredible performance and remarked that his teachers must have hated him because I’m sure he disrupted every class he was ever in.

I got to talk about my Amazon Best Seller book on Happiness, “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind – A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness”, a subject I felt the audience could relate to, and they did. We spoke about changing negative thoughts we were holding onto that were not working for us, and in doing so raising our self-esteem, and self-confidence and conquering the fear that tells us we can’t do something we’d like to accomplish. Fear is a bully and we have to stand up to it.

Speaking of fear, I even got to talk about how I cured myself of stuttering, and how people can overcome obstacles in their lives. I feel like it went well and the audience feedback was very positive.

We also discussed my hair and decided it was the exact opposite of Boris’ beard. If I turned my head upside down, I’d have something close to Boris’ beard, which is real by the way, and is what to aim for if you want to grow a beard.

Not everyone has the genetics for it, so don’t feel compelled to grow a beard if you can’t because believe me, no one is interested in your INTERPRETATION of a beard! You either have one or you don’t. There’s a big difference between having a beard, and just having hair on your face! None of that patchy shit! (LOL)

I talked about hair establishing your identity which is why in the Army they shave off your hair right away to make everyone the same and take away your own personal identity. I also said that “Most men wear their hair like they’re embarrassed for having any” and someone in the audience created an immediate meme for Instagram which I thought was very cool!

Then after my interview segment some talented improv artists, Nick Carillo, Katie Hartman, got up and did a sketch using the facts from my interview as inspiration, and that’s always fascinating to me that someone can remember so much of what somebody else said. I have a hard time remembering someone’s name immediately after being introduced to them! (LOL) And then there was a sketch in which Lauren Kahn played Jawnee’s ex-girlfriend.

Next up as a guest was Jamilah Lemieux named in 2015 to The Root’s (the magazine, not Jimmy Fallon’s band) Root 100 list of the nation’s most influential African-American citizens.

She’s a journalist, columnist, cultural critic and editor and afterwards told me she’ll be moving to L.A. to try and get into writing for TV. She’s already got an idea for a script and she wants to do stand-up comedy.

Speaking of stand-up comedy, Emmy Blotnick was the purely stand-up comedy segment of the show and I was glad to finally meet her. Of all things she did some “dental humor” and joked about having to wear a nightguard to protect against the damage caused by grinding and clenching the teeth. How could she have known that was my specialty? Anyway it gave us something to bond over! ( Bonding, … get it? LOL)

And then there was the big close with Boris and Jawnee back on stage, and lots of people hung out to just party because it’s that kind of a hang. Next month’s show will feature Richard Kind, and I’m sure it will be hilarious so make sure to go check it out. I had a BLAST!!!

So until next time we meet please remember that COMEDY MATTERS!!!

Please like, comment and SUBSCRIBE to my Comedy Matters TV YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork and follow me on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian

See you all soon!

 

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Ashley Madison – Not What You Think

Ashley Madison – Not What You Think

Most of the time when you hear the names Ashley and Madison together the website for people who cheat on their spouses pops into mind. Now there’s a whole new affiliation since two talented comedians Ashley Austin Morris and Madison Malloy got together to create the Ashley and Madison Podcast.

And I got the honor of being their first guest! At least that’s what they told me! (LOL) Besides being a stand-up comic Ashley, originally from Texas, is also an accomplished actress who you may know from her role as Francine Carruthers in the  revival of the PBS Kids children’s series The Electric Company, or from her appearances on The Big Bang Theory and Desperate Housewives.

Madison Malloy has been a staple of the stand-up comedy scene for a while, and has performed all over the country, in clubs, at festivals, and on radio and TV as well. The two of them together are a dynamite combination, and prove that you can be funny and still be beautiful! Many legendary women in comedy’s past like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Phyllis Diller have had to downplay their looks to make themselves palatable for the public to laugh at, because as a society despite what some may think, we’re trained to treat women respectfully which makes it harder to laugh “at them.”

These days women own their power and come out on stage looking any way they choose. Our podcast day started with them offering to travel on the subway with me to Brooklyn so I could find the studio more easily. I had a better idea and offered to drive, which they liked, so the day started with them meeting me at my home, which is like a comedy museum, with photos going back decades.  In many of the photos I actually let someone else be in there with me! (LOL) Some people say I have more on my walls than some comedy clubs! (LOL)

                                         Such a fun day!

They asked for the tour and what impressed Ashley the most was that I had a phone mounted in one bathroom right next to the commode. I had seen this at The Four Seasons hotel and decided that “hotel chic” was for me. She asked if she could try it out and was so excited she forgot to pull down her pants! Ooops!!!

I got so excited with this phone, I can’t believe I forgot to pull down my pants! Good thing I’m wearing black!

And then just like that, we were on our way to their studio, The Brooklyn Podcasting Studio, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. When we got there our parking karma was right on the money and we got a great spot.  Then they led me to a garage. And I thought, is this gonna be like a Marc Maron thing where he does WTF from his garage?

But no it was more like a hidden speakeasy kind of thing where you had to walk through a garage and go up a couple of flights of stairs to get to this really cool studio. I thought we were gonna have to give some guy a password.

The studio had a big beautiful wooden round table/console set  up with a bunch of mics, in a very cool room with lots of snacks, and it was run by a great guy named Josh Wilcox, the manager and lead engineer who was very helpful and made sure that the sound was perfect and that everything went smoothly.

He also was kind enough to take some photos while everything was going on.

                           Jeffrey making a point!

They wanted to talk about my new book on Happiness called “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind – A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness” which hit Best Seller status on Amazon, and how I used the concept of changing your thoughts to cure myself of a severe stutter that plagued me well into my 20’s and beyond.

In reality it’s more about overcoming obstacles in our lives, which we all face. The concept is that we’re all holding thoughts that are not valid for us. Most of the time they are negative thoughts about ourselves, given to us by people who did not have our best interests at heart.

Sometimes it was our parents.  Other times bullies, school “friends”, people we dated, worked with or were married to. Those negative thoughts hold us back. They affect our self-esteem, our self-confidence and every decision we make in our lives. Every time you have to decide what to do you use your thoughts to decide but if your thoughts are faulty your decisions won’t work out for you.

 

                  You understand, … don’t you? 

In order to be Happy, you literally have to “change your mind.” Anyway even though this stuff sounds kind of serious we had a lot of laughs along the way, and the three of us had a great connection. The girls are so funny, and we were all on the same wavelength. It just flowed.

                Jeffrey making another point!

Then we had a fun ride back to the city trading stories, and we all made plans to do something cool together. More on that to come!

In the meantime the podcast officially launches this Monday Feb. 4th wherever you can listen to a podcast. My episode probably won’t air till March, but that’s ok.  Good things are worth waiting for!

                              See how Happy we look?

Until then remember, … COMEDY MATTERS!!!

Please subscribe to Comedy Matters TV on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork and follow Jeffrey on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian

 

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