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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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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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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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Lisa Lampanelli Takes Divorce To Higher Levels!

The Friars Club held a major event last night to rename the famed monastery in honor of comedy icon Jerry Lewis.

Jerry Lewis laughing at one of the many jokes that were told during the ribbon cutting ceremony naming the Friars Club after himself!

Jerry Lewis laughing at one of the many jokes that were told during the ribbon cutting ceremony naming the Friars Club monastery building after himself!

Fifty-fifth street in Manhattan , which is known as Friars Way, was blocked off for a champagne celebration renaming the historic building.  It was packed with celebs and media names that came out to honor Jerry, and they even created a special star for him to be placed as the first star in a “Walk of Fame” like they have in Hollywood.

JerryLewisStar_9_15_14

 

Then they gave Jerry a huge pair of red scissors for a ribbon cutting ceremony!

 

Jerry Lewis brandishing the big red scissors he used to cut the red ribbon naming the Friars monastery after him!

Jerry Lewis brandishing the big red scissors he used to cut the red ribbon naming the Friars monastery after him!

Some of the attendees were Vincent Pastore, from The Sopranos, Steven ( Little Steven) Van Zandt from The Sopranos, and Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, Marvin Scott, ex-Mayor David Dinkins, Gilbert Gottfried, Pat Cooper, Bill Boggs, Rick Newman and his wife Chrissy, Tamsen Fadal, Joe Franklin, Jackie Martling, Dominic Chianese, Richard Johnson from the NY Post, and many more.

Vinny Pastore and Stevie Van Zandt sitting around at The Friars Club for Jerry Lewis!

Vinny Pastore and Stevie Van Zandt sitting around chatting at The Friars Club event for Jerry Lewis!

I had the honor of escorting my good friend, and comedy superstar Lisa Lampanelli, who I’ve been friends with for many years.  Lisa and Al Roker dressed up as construction workers to present Jerry with his star for the Walk of Fame!

Al Roker still dressed as a construction worker when he and Lisa Lampanelli presented Jerry with his "Star" for the Walk of Fame!

Al Roker still dressed as a construction worker when he and Lisa Lampanelli presented Jerry with his “Star” for the Walk of Fame!

Lisa was my recent guest on Sirius XM with Ron and Fez where I am a regular, and honored me by coming on despite the fact that she was not doing any other press.  She is still recovering from the loss of her dear father just a few months ago, and she made a decision to not allow any negativity into her life.

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

She only wants to do positive things which eliminates a lot of other radio shows that can tend to be mean-spirited.  Although she is known as “The Lovable Queen of Mean” I know another side of her, and that’s the side that came out on the Sirius XM show that we did.  We talked about positivity, and certain Spiritual principles that are important to incorporate into your way of life in order to achieve Happiness, which I capitalize for a reason!

To me Lisa embodies empowerment.  She has created more change in her life in the last year than most people do in a lifetime, and that takes a lot of courage.  She underwent weight loss surgery and lost 107 pounds, cut off her hair into what at first was a Mohawk, and is now just a very hip short look, that had purple streaks for a few minutes, and she made the loving, but difficult choice to leave a marriage that wasn’t working for her, but to her credit she did it on a very high level.  She and her husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, one of the nicest guys you can find, are parting on good terms.

As a matter of fact they are on such good terms that Lisa gave her blessing to his new relationship with singer Jenna Esposito.  

Jimmy Cannizzaro, Lisa Lampanelli with Jimmy's new girlfriend Jenna Esposito! One big happy family!

Jimmy Cannizzaro, and Lisa Lampanelli with Jimmy’s new girlfriend Jenna Esposito! One big happy family!

She told me personally and on the radio that if Jimmy and Jenna have kids she wants to be like the favorite aunt who spoils them.  That is a beautiful thing.  I went to Lisa’s home in Connecticut just a couple of weeks ago for a Labor Day barbecue, in the home she shared with Jimmy, and it’s a happy, joyous place on the water.  Very peaceful and filled with things that make Lisa happy to see, like her father’s art work.  He was an accomplished painter whose works fill her beautiful home.

So Lisa was expecting Jimmy and Jenna at the Jerry Lewis event and we all planned to meet up.  As I was walking into the monastery, I felt a tap on my shoulder , and heard someone saying ” Hey Jeffrey”, and it was Richard Johnson who for so many years ruled the gossip world as the king of Page 6, and now has returned with his own column, ” Richard Johnson- The Man Who Knows New York”, which should have had the tag, “Like No One Else!” LOL

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Johnson ex-Mr. Page 6 who now writes "Richard Johnson- The Man Who KNows New York!"  An understatement if I ever heard one!

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Johnson ex-Mr. Page 6 who now writes “Richard Johnson- The Man Who Knows New York!” An understatement if I ever heard one!

We exchanged pleasantries as they say, and I pointed out Lisa, Jimmy and Jenna standing outside talking.  He didn’t even recognize Lisa but I said to him, “there’s your story for the day! That’s Lisa, her ex and his girlfriend.”  So later during the evening I got to take these cool photos showing how well they all get along.

A dramatic example of how most wives usually handle a situation when they run into their ex with another woman!

A dramatic example of how most wives usually handle a situation when they run into their ex with another woman!

Even I got to join in the love fest! (LOL)

Even I got to join in the love fest! (LOL)

The other photos below are of some of the other fun guests.  And Vinny Pastore told me he wrote a new play about when he owned a bar in New Rochelle back in the 80’s and Steve Van Zandt’s wife Maureen is directing it, and he’s really excited about that.  It was another great night at The Friars Club!

 

With Vinny Pastore who told me he's excited about his new play!

With Vinny Pastore who told me he’s excited about his new play!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tamsen Fadal, the anchor from WPIX 11, and purple is his favorite color! LOL

Jeffrey Gurian with Tamsen Fadal, the anchor from WPIX 11, and purple is his favorite color!  At least it is now! LOL

And I thought I would end this column with a photo of Jerry and I from 1986 when I worked with him alone for two nights in his hotel room to prepare for his Friars Club Roast!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Lewis at the Jerry Lewis Roast in 1986!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Lewis at the Jerry Lewis Roast in 1986!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Breaking News, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Entertainment News, Jeffrey Gurian News, Nightlife Events, Stand-Up Comedy

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My Take On Bullying

Bullying seems to be a hot topic these days.  Not a day goes by when you don’t read an article in the paper about the effects of bullying, from a student committing suicide to a school shooting blamed on the shooter having been bullied.   What is it about us as human beings that causes us to be bullies?

The dictionary defines “bully” as “a person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.”  That makes sense until you consider that last October, of 2013, football player Jonathan Martin, at 6’5 and 300 plus pounds, walked away from his team for being bullied by teammate Richie Incognito.  If a 6’5″ 300 pound guy can be bullied I guess that ANYONE can be bullied!

And Incognito’s explanation mirrors what all bullies say, “I was just kidding around!”   He went on to say ” Jonathan’s lawyer says he experienced “a malicious personal attack,” but again, that’s because he doesn’t understand how our locker room relationship was. We’d carry on. We’re big, physical guys. I would put my hands on him, just messing around. Like head-butting. Give him a belly shot. Normal stuff, that’s all.”

We’re “big, physical guys?”  Is that an excuse for acting like a moron?   You get a pass based on your physical size?  Why does your size allow you to head butt someone?  Is that really a game?  That’s not even allowed in some forms of MMA, because it can be so damaging.  “A belly shot?”  I’ve always known that that’s how those guys think, but to hear them actually say it is still shocking to me.

Former Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde talked about “bullying” and “hazing” of new players, and what goes on in the locker rooms, in an article in the NY Post, and said “When Chad Pennington was a rookie with the Jets, we made him wear his helmet to breakfast, lunch and dinner in the cafeteria one day.  That was kind of our prank or joke on him to welcome him into the NFL.”  Now MY question is what would have happened if you had just said ” Welcome to the NFL, we’re really glad to have you.”  Would he have been disappointed?  Would he have felt unwelcome?  Would he have felt like ” Boy I really wish they had done something mean to me, or at least made me look stupid!”

In all honesty I experienced the same “Jock” mentality entering Dental School!  And all these years later I still can’t figure out why.  It should have been a great honor to be accepted to a professional school and the doctors on staff should theoretically have gone out of their way to make the students feel that way.  Instead they did everything in their power to humiliate us, demean us, and take away any amount of self-esteem we might have had.

I was bullied from my very first day when the Dean made a speech to “welcome” the incoming students and said, ” We don’t want any hippies with guitars here.  If you want to be a hippy with a guitar go to Dental School in California!”  Then a certain Dr. Lantz , with a Pennsylvania Dutch accent, came over to me and told me to get a haircut, and continued telling me that for the next four years,  until literally the very  day he handed me my diploma.  As I approached the podium to receive my D.D.S. degree after four grueling years of work, all he could manage to say was ” Gurian, get a haircut!”

And if you saw the length of my hair in those days you’d know they were out of their minds.  I also had grown a moustache which was in style in New York in those days and that really threw them over the edge.  In those days in Philadelphia, if you wore a turtleneck sweater you were considered a radical, … an anarchist!  I was not allowed to see patients for three whole weeks which put me in danger of not being able to complete my clinic requirements, and therefore not be able to graduate.

Because I grew a moustache I was told by my faculty advisor that I was “a disgrace to the profession.”   Meanwhile the halls bore the paintings of the school’s founders all of whom had huge mutton chop whiskers and plenty of facial hair.

The only saving grace was that Dr. Lantz and Dr. Mingeldorff ( I’m not kidding, that was his name!), who actually had a Confederate flag in his office that said ” The South will rise again” found out that my father had served in World War II.   And the way they found out was because my Dad had come down to Philly for me to do some work on his teeth and to speak to them about not letting me in the clinic, and they refused to let me work on my own father, until he had a talk with them and it came out that he had been in the O.S.S. ( Officer’s Strategic Service).  Dr. Lantz’s exact words which were seared into my brain were, ” Your Dad served us well in World War II.”

That still didn’t get me back in the clinic but they did let me work on my father, since he had driven down from New York City to see me.  My Dad told them that he didn’t feel he could tell me how to look because I was almost a doctor. It took my mother buying me a wig, with short hair and a part, in order for them to allow me to see patients again.  And I had to appear in Dr. Mingeldorff’s office , and slowly turn in a circle so that he could examine my hair from every angle.  He seemed to have no idea that it was a wig, because several weeks later, he showed his true nature by telling me it was time to get a haircut again because my “hair” was once again getting too long!

This was the length hair that got me banned from Dental School, and forced me to resort to wearing a wig in order to graduate!

This was the length hair that got me banned from Dental School, and forced me to resort to wearing a wig in order to graduate!

The bullying in Dental School got so bad that in the class where we were being taught how to give injections in the mouth, I was in the middle of giving an injection to a patient over the upper front teeth.  I was doing my best to make it painless. The needle was already into the gum, and some moron instructor came by and said to me, “Put it in further, don’t be afraid”,  and he actually pushed my elbow so that the needle went in too far.  I remember the horror of that till this day, and if it happened now he would have been fired.  In those days we were too afraid to speak up.  Today I would have.

The torment I faced for those four years definitely changed me as a person.  I know it and I try and fight it on a daily basis.  To be openly humiliated by the very people you’re trying your hardest to join , is not something you ever forget.  I wrote on my apartment walls with crayon that they would NEVER break me.  I told myself that I would have the last laugh, and I did.  I had a very successful practice and I never participated in any of the alumni events or had anything to do with the school , or any of the other students, since the day I graduated.

I’ve been bullied throughout my life.  By construction workers who didn’t like long hair when it started back in the 60’s.  By random strangers who’d make remarks to me on the street about my appearance!  By neighborhood gangs growing up in The Bronx!  By powerless insignificant people who Tweet mean things to make themselves feel important.  I know how it feels to be made to feel like you don’t fit in.

Fortunately the entertainment world is a lot more inclusive.  They are used to free thinkers, and encourage that as it’s a sign of your creativity.  When you go into the Army the first thing they do is to shave off your hair because your hair is a symbol of your identity, and they don’t want you to have your own identity.  They want everyone to be the same.  Crosby, Stills, and Nash said it best a long time ago when they advised, “Let your freak flag fly!”   To this day if I hear them sing “Almost Cut My Hair” it can still bring tears to my eyes.  That’s how much I was bullied about my appearance. 

In recent weeks a 10 year old Brooklyn boy ran away and rode the subways all night to try and escape the constant bullying he experienced at school.  He was terrified to ride the trains all night alone, but it was preferable to the terror he experienced daily being bullied.  The NY Post reported that a  6′ tall high school female senior had her face slashed with a razor, just two weeks before graduation,  for the audacity of being pretty enough to be a model.   Where she went to school that was enough to deserve a slashed face.  She already had a promising modeling career that was cut short by the jealousy of a bully that attended her school.  She said they made fun of her for her height, but she tried not to let it get to her.  She was the only model in her school.

And another football player at Rutgers has accused one of the coaches of bullying him, which is the same school where men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for bullying HIS players. The sporting field seems to be ripe with bullying since lots of sports guys have that same “jock mentality” I mentioned above, that belittles anyone without the right genetics.   Too many people take credit for their genetics, when it was really just a roll of the dice.

If you were ever one of the kids who got picked last when other kids chose up teams, you know the feeling.  I was considered a popular kid, and played a lot of different sports, but I often felt left out.

And the media bullies people too, as evidenced by the NY Post headline of May 7, 2014 about Monica Lewinsky, who is still trying to make a life for herself after being humiliated on a worldwide basis for being seduced by the President of the United States.  The headline read “After 10 years Monica breaks her silence”, and then it said “My life sucks” as if she said that.  I read the article.  Nowhere does she use the term “sucks.”  The clever press person who came up with the title thought it would be cute to continue the humiliation, while the guy who seduced her goes on to ignore an impeachment and is looked at as some great hero who makes millions of dollars giving speeches.

Bullying is bad enough when you’re a kid,  but you’re supposed to outgrow it.  When you’re still bullying people as an adult maybe you’re just sick and need help!

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The Most Horrible Parts of the Body

The Most Horrible Parts of the Body

Early in June, 2014 the world went wild with stories about Rihanna, who on June 2, 2014 walked into an event in a see-through dress.  It was an event at Lincoln Center and she was there to receive a Fashion Icon Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, presented by no less than the editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour! Rihanna’s gown was created by designer Adam Selman with over 216,000 Swarovski crystals.    Her critics, including Andrea Peyser of the NY Post,  felt it should have had at least 216,002 crystals, with the other two crystals covering her nipples which could be seen through the sheer material. ( I tried unsuccessfully to upload the photos from The Post but WordPress didn’t let me!)

On Wednesday June 4th the NY Post wrote an article about the occurrence, with a photo of Rihanna with the area showing her nipples blocked out.  Two days later Andrea Peyser of the NY Post, ( same paper) wrote an article she called ” Hey, nip this nonsense”, with an unblocked photo of Rihanna’s nipples, but the “nonsense” she was referring to was not the nonsense of making a big deal out of seeing Rihanna’s nipples, but the nonsense of her doing such a  dastardly thing as exposing them to public view!

What is it about the nipple that is so horrible that you’re allowed to exhibit and expose every other single part of the breast but that part?   How can such a small patch of skin with a little bump in the middle inspire such insanity in people?  Who was it who made that part of the breast so taboo, that it’s considered a sin for anyone to see it?  is it because that’s the part of the body that Moms feed their children with?

In Europe, toplessness is considered kind of normal.  European men must be geniuses!  Somehow they managed to convince European women that they could go to the beach topless, and no one would notice!  Maybe they just promised not to look!  That makes European women either the most gullible women in the world or the most relaxed and enlightened!

There are some people who still haven’t gotten over the Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson “Nipplegate” thing that happened back in 2004 during the Super Bowl in Houston, when 143.6 million people were titillated by the sight of Janet Jackson’s pasty covered nipple.  It was blamed on a “wardrobe malfunction!”  More than half a million people complained and some haven’t slept well since.  Most were women without nipples who were just jealous!

Back in the old days, burlesque queens and strippers wore pasties to cover their nipples.   Actually they still do!  And back when I was doing comedy videos for Playboy TV, I  had to audition girls from the strip clubs, and there was actually a time when they were letting them use clear, latex pasties that you’d spray on from a can.  You could actually see through them, but just the fact that there was something over their nipples was enough to get past the “no nipple” rule!

In this so called age of “equality” between the sexes, it seems there’s a real double standard!  You’re allowed to actually see men’s nipples, probably because they don’t do anything.  It’s a wonder that we have them at all.  I don’t think anyone’s ever found a real use for them.  But on a man the penis is the most horrible part that no one is ever allowed to see.  Now I’m not advocating that you should be allowed to see it or to show it to anyone, but it just seems strange from a comedic point of view, that there is a part of our body once again that is so horrible, disgusting, and obscene that you can actually be arrested for showing it to anyone.  It’s literally a crime to show someone your penis.  Unless they request a viewing!

Women have low cut tops, showing off most of their breasts.  At any fashion gala or even some spectacular event like the Academy Awards you see women with their breasts pushed up so high, they look like they’re about to pop out.  It looks more ridiculous than sexy! But again, there’s such a double standard.   Men don’t have low cut pants.  Fortunately there’s no such thing.  It’s not like you can show off the entire length of the shaft of your penis except for the tip, which would be the equivalent of a woman showing off her entire breast except for the center!

It’s funny that the two parts of the male and female anatomy used to either make children or feed them are the two parts people are shamed by and are illegal to show.  Where did that start?  Maybe back in The Garden when Eve ate the apple because the snake told her to, and man was given shame! We’ve been paying the price ever since, but for us comedy writers, it’s really just a big joke!

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Tracy Morgan On Road To Recovery

Anyone who knows my posts knows I only like to write about positive things.  I’ve been holding off on writing about the horrible accident that injured Tracy Morgan, and his fellow-comic passengers Ardie Fuqua, Harris Stanton, and Jimmy Mack who unfortunately did not survive.   I didn’t know Jimmy personally but from mutual friends I  heard he was a great guy and that Tracy considered him his mentor.

It’s a very different thing writing about someone you know.  Especially when it’s something terrible.  Most journalists write very dispassionately never having met the people they’re writing about.  Writing about a friend is much more difficult in many ways, because you never want to feel that you’re trying to draw attention to yourself, through their misfortune.

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

I saw Tracy as recently as April 15th when he came up to Sirius XM studios to do a special ” Unmasked” interview with Ron Bennington, the “Ron” from the legendary Ron and Fez Show.  Everyone was excited and Tracy did a very moving and intimate interview, really opening up about his life, and the things that are important to him, and moving both himself and the audience to tears!   I was in the green room watching, and after the interview there were big hugs all around!

The shocking news came through on Saturday, June 7th that Tracy was in critical condition after a tractor trailer slammed into his SUV limo bringing him and his entourage back from performing at a casino in Delaware.

The limo Tracy was in turned over, and Tracy was said to have sustained several injuries including a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs.  He already underwent surgery for the broken femur , and was said to be recovering, at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.

Fortunately Harris Stanton got away with relatively minor injuries if you can call any injury “minor”,  and was well enough to be released.

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice O'Neal at the taping of Patrice's last special "Elephant In The Room!"

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice O’Neal at the taping of Patrice’s last special “Elephant In The Room!”

Ardie who has been opening for Tracy for a while now, is still listed in critical condition, and to my knowledge no one has said anything  specific about his injuries.  I last heard from him the Wednesday before the accident, when he texted me all excited that Chris Rock himself had brought him on to the BET Awards.

Ardie is a super guy, loved by all who know him, who’s still recovering from the loss of his beloved son Ardley Jamaal Fuqua in May of 2012 in a freak accident, but he still manages to go out and make other people laugh despite his own personal pain.   He teased me for weeks about the fact that when I went out to Brooklyn a few months back to see him open for Tracy , I brought Tracy a copy of my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” as a gift, and signed it for him on the spot.  Tracy had known about the book, and I promised him a copy but for some reason Ardie thought it was hysterical that I would think to give Tracy a signed copy of my book!  I’m still not sure why he thought it was strange, but he did!  And he told that to everyone he saw when I was around! (LOL)

Ardie Fuqua and Jeffrey Gurian in an Ardie-taken selfie at Carolines!  His arms are REALLY long so they come out good!

Ardie Fuqua and Jeffrey Gurian in an Ardie-taken selfie at Carolines! His arms are REALLY long so they come out good!

Also seriously injured were Tracy’s assistant Jeffrey Millea, and there were supposedly two other people in the limo that were not injured.  Thank G-d Tracy’s wife Megan, and 11 month old baby daughter  Maven were not in the SUV as they usually travel with Tracy, and are there at every recent show of Tracy’s that I’ve attended.

Everyone, especially his friends in the comedy community are all praying for their swift and complete recovery!

 

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Colin Jost Takes Over Weekend Update on SNL Tonight

It’s been kind of a tradition that the head writer of SNL takes over the Weekend Update desk and now that Seth Meyers left to take over for Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Colin Jost gets to occupy the co-anchor seat next to Cecily Strong, as of tonight, March 1, 2014.

Jeffrey Gurian with SNL Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost at a comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian with SNL Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost at a comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

And for that I’m staying home, because Colin is a friend and I feel like I support him better by watching it live rather than taping it!

It’s a very prestigious position held by only a relative few in the show’s 38 year history.  Chevy Chase was the first with Gilda Radner from 1975-1976, then Jane Curtin from 1976-1980, followed by Dennis Miller from 1985-1991, Kevin Nealon from 1991-1994, Norm Macdonald from 1994-1997, Colin Quinn from 1999-2000, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon from 2000-2004, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler from 2004-2006. Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers from 2006-2008, and finally Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong from 2013-2014.

Like others before him on SNL Colin graduated from Harvard where he was President of The Harvard Lampoon, and joined SNL in 2005.  He worked his way up to head writer in 2012. 

I see Colin fairly often performing at The Comic Strip, which is one of his favorite clubs, and he’s really funny and very likeable onstage.  People will love him as the Weekend Update anchor.  His parents came to see him at one of the shows I was at and interesting fact, … his Mom is the Chief Medical Officer for the NYC Fire Department!

Colin Jost onstage at The Comic Strip!

Colin Jost onstage at The Comic Strip!

Make sure to tune in and watch!  But first watch this little video I shot with Colin backstage at The Comic Strip!

 

Posted in: Breaking News, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Central, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Entertainment News, Home Page, Jeffrey Gurian News, Nightlife Events, Sketch Comedy

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