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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"Make Em Laugh" on WPIX TV Morning News with Dan Mannarino

Hurricane Sandy affected everyone in NYC either directly or indirectly. Luckily for me I didn’t lose power or have any flooding, but I did have several TV shoots cancelled, in which I was supposed to talk about my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip.

My co-author is owner and founder of the club Richie Tienken!

One of them was with WPIX TV, and it had something to do with their bus being out of service. When I heard the word “bus” I was thinking of something small like the little yellow school buses we see around the city. How wrong I was!

When we re-scheduled, WPIX reporter Dan Mannarino showed up at The Comic Strip in a block long custom made WPIX bus sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts! The thing was huge but outfitted inside like a limo, or a private jet. Very spacious and elegant!

We started the interview in the club with me and owner/founder Richie Tienken on the stage of the club telling stories from the book, then I took Dan on a tour of the club, and finished by going on the bus and doing more if the interview on there!

It was really fun and the interview is airing this coming Monday morning, Dec. 10, 2012, between 8 and 9 A.M. on the WPIX Morning News! Check it out!

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Marc Maron, Bobby Lee, Dov Davidoff at The Comedy Store in LA

I was heading out to LA to do my third guest spot on Nick Kroll’s Comedy Central hit Kroll Show, in which I’d be playing myself in a red carpet sketch during a Pub-LIZ-ity sketch with Nick as Liz G.

I love ALL of Nick’s sketches but Pub-LIZ-ity is really one of my faves so I was doubly exicted. But since I’m not a great traveler, I don’t like to fly across the country for one or two days, so I decided to go out out a few days earlier and stay a few days afterwards to visit some friends and check out the LA comedy scene.

My first night in town I went right to The Comedy Store to see my buddy Tommy Morris, who runs the place, and give him a copy of the documentary film I recently co-produced with Exec. Producers Scott Sobel and Gary Licker who also directed the film.

It was called “The Business of Comedy” and featured interviews with comedy icons like Budd Friedman, who opened the world’s first comedy club, The Improv, in NYC in 1963, Rick Newman who opened Catch A Rising Star in 1972, Richie Tienken who opened The Comic Strip in 1976, and comics like George Wallace, Robert Klein, Tom Dreesen, and newcomer Sasheer Zamata, all talking about the business end of the comedy world.

I wanted to bring Tommy his copy personally, and as you can see from the photo, … I did!

There’s always a star-studded show at The Store, and that night I ran into my old friend Marc Maron, with Cort McCown, who I had met on the Kandy Kruise where he was performing for 500 guys and even more important, 16500 girls from Maxim, Playboy, and Penthouse.

I also ran into Bobby Lee, and then I got to see Chris D’elia from Whitney, and Dov Davidoff who I just saw again headlining Gotham in NYC this past weekend. These guys go back and forth like it’s nothing!

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Jimmy "J.J." Walker at Broadway Comedy Club

If you were around in the 70’s, 1973-1979 to be exact, then you were aware of Jimmy “J.J.” Walker who played J.J. Evans in the Norman Lear, CBS hit “Good Times”, with Esther Rolle who played JJ’s mom Florida Evans, and John Amos who played his dad Michael Evans.

Interestingly enough, Good Times was a spin-off of Maude, which was itself a spin-off of All in the Family along with The Jeffersons. And it was co-created by Mike Evans, who portrayed Lionel Jefferson on the Norman Lear-produced series All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

JImmy “J.J” Walker onstage at Broadway Comedy Club without a floppy hat, but making one of his signature faces!

At the time that JJ was on the show he played so much younger than he actually was that John Amos who played his Dad was only 8 years older than him!

JJ’s signature phrase was “Dyn-O-Mite!” which follows him to this day. And in my interview with him recently at Broadway Comedy Club where he showed up with his agent and my old friend Roger Paul, he said he was grateful for that tag, “Dyn-O-Mite”! Very few performers have something that sticks for so long. Like Rodney Dangerfield will always be associated with the phrase “No Respect.” In comedy having an identity like that is magical!

The main room downstairs was packed, wall to wall, and JJ went up on stage and knocked it out of the park. He talked about the economy being so bad that when you rent an apartment they want the first month’s rent and the last month’s rent. JJ was like, ” I wasn’t even here last month! Why do I gotta pay that guy’s rent?”

Jimmy “J.J.” Walker killing it onstage at Broadway Comedy Club! The audience loved him!

In talking about doing drug testing of post office employees, he said, “The one drug you won’t find is speed!”

And in talking about crime, he told of a 21 year old man who tried to rob a Toys ‘R Us with a toy gun. He was shot by a 5 year old with a real gun!

And he said, ” As crowded as jails are these days, they always seem to have room for Black people!”

He was just filled with funny lines. He said that Kim Kardashian is like Kryptonite for Black men, and that they tried to do a Real Housewives of San Francisco, but they couldn’t find any.

He even acted out scenes from a fictional Maury Povich show where the Black characters were named what sounded to me like Aquaneshia and Tyquarius, and he called “Cops” a Black reality show with a three tattoo minimum and a 4 tooth maximum.

I was so glad to see him being so funny after all these years. And he was so kind to his audience. He stayed afterwards to greet people who wanted to take photos and buy his merchandise.

Jimmy “J.J.” Walker and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club!

It just goes to show you that being funny is like riding a bike. You never lose it, and if you fall off the end of the stage you get right back up and start telling jokes again!

Check out the cool video interview we did after the show!

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