Archive for Comedy Central

Artie Lange Back on Track

ArtieLange_Gotham_5_4_14So great to see Artie Lange back on stage again, barely a month after coming out of the hospital due to an episode of “diabetic shock”!

Artie did a late show the other night at Gotham Comedy Club and was in rare form.  He lost 25 pounds and looked great!  He was taping material for an upcoming TV special but this particular tape he explained was for “the lawyers”, who he jokingly guessed would probably not like 90% of it! (LOL)

Artie is so relaxed before he goes onstage that he just sat in the back of the room, waiting for Rich Francese to finish his opening set, and both I and Richie Tienken the owner of The Comic Strip, were able to go over and say “Hi”.   A lot of comics sequester themselves in their dressing room before a show, but Artie doesn’t need to do that.  He’s just so relaxed, and confident in his ability to make people laugh.  

He also makes himself available to his fans, and talks openly about every single thing he’s been through, the hospitals, the mental wards, the heroin usage, and then manages to make every single incident funny.

He even posts self-deprecating Tweets about himself like the one he got from a supposed “fan” who wrote, “Too bad you didn’t croak, waterpig!”    Artie didn’t seem to care, but I personally, was so offended by that Tweet!  Only small insignificant people who feel they have no power in the world use anonymity to write hateful and heinous remarks to people who have accomplished so much in their lives.

To write something like that to a guy like Artie who is so talented and one of the nicest guys in the world, plus who has a history of a suicide attempt, is so disgusting to me.  It’s just another form of cyber-bullying, and I hope that even though Artie jokes about it, that on some level he doesn’t hold onto that negative energy, knowing that there are such sick people in the world.

I admire Artie for being able to read it, and actually go to the trouble of re-tweeting it.  I hope that someday I am confident enough to do something like that!  Long Live Artie Lange!

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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!

 

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Seth Meyers Takes Over Late Night Tonight

In the ever-increasing entertainment empire that is under the guidance/ownership/leadership of king-maker Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers will take over the reins of Late Night tonight, a week after his friend and former SNL cast-mate Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.

 

Jeffrey Gurian of ComedyMattersTV.com interviewing Seth Meyers on the red carpet of the Just for Laughs Awards luncheon!

Jeffrey Gurian of ComedyMattersTV.com interviewing Seth Meyers on the red carpet of the Just for Laughs Awards luncheon!

In a NY Post article, Seth credits the confidence needed to make such a move to Lorne’s support in suggesting him for the gig.  It’s such a HUGE thing to have someone like that behind you.  It makes all the difference in the world, when someone with that much power believes in you!

Jeffrey Gurian with Lorne Michaels at a Writers Guild Awards event!

Jeffrey Gurian with Lorne Michaels at a Writers Guild Awards event!

Lorne created Saturday Night Live in 1975 and the show has gone on to provide some of the biggest stars we know today like Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, TIna Fey, Amy Poehler, Eddie Murphy, Jimmy Fallon and on and on!

It’s a huge amount of pressure to do a show five nights a week where you have to interview A-list celebs every night, and keep it fresh and hip!  He’ll be in the same 30 Rock building  he’s called home, since 2001 when he joined the cast of SNL.  Within a period of two years he went from writing supervisor to head writer, and then to Weekend Update co-anchor with Amy Poehler.

He, like Jimmy Fallon has been doing test shows during the week with guest celebs like Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of “Today”, and a few guest comics as well.  His bandleader is also an interesting choice, former SNL star and current star of IFC’s Portlandia, Fred Armisen.

Interesting fact: Portlandia was created by Jonathan Krisel who also directs Kroll Show on Comedy Central, and during the last NY Comedy Festival, when Nick Kroll did a panel at The Paley Center, ( formerly the Museum of TV and Radio), Seth was the moderator, and Jon Krisel was on the panel, along with Nick Kroll and Exec. Producer of Kroll Show and sometime actor on the show, John Levenstein.

KrollShowGraphic_PaleyCenter_SetyhMeyers_11_9_13

(L-R) Jon Krisel, John Levenstein, Nick Kroll, and Seth Meyers at The Paley Center in a panel on Kroll Show!

(L-R) Jon Krisel, John Levenstein, Nick Kroll, and Seth Meyers at The Paley Center in a panel on Kroll Show!

It happened to be during that panel that I got a great surprise.  Not only did Nick give me a shout out from the stage, before showing my ” Too Much Tuna” sketch with him and John Mulaney, but they also showed the upcoming sketch I’m in, which I understand will be the finale of the 2nd season, with me playing myself in a sketch with Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, and Katy Perry!

Jeffrey Gurian with Laura Dern, as C-Czar's mom. on the LA set of Comedy Central's hit Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with Laura Dern, as C-Czar’s mom. on the LA set of Comedy Central’s hit Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler on the LA set of Kroll Show in a sketch that will air in the new 2nd season!

Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler on the LA set of Kroll Show in a sketch that will air in the new 2nd season!

Amy and Seth are very close as they shared the Weekend Update desk for two years from 2006-2008.  This past summer in Montreal at The Just for Laughs Festival which is the biggest comedy festival in the world, Seth presented Amy with the Breakout Comedy Star of the Year Award at a huge awards luncheon.

AmyPoehlerGraphic_Montreal_7:24:13

Seth Meyers at the podium at the Just for Laughs Festival presenting Amy Poehler with the Comedy Person of the Year Award!

Seth Meyers at the podium at the Just for Laughs Festival presenting Amy Poehler with the Comedy Person of the Year Award!  Amy is partly shown sitting behind where he’s standing!

She will be his first guest tonight along with VP Joe Biden.  Interesting mix!  Later in the week he’ll have Kanye West, and Patrick Stewart!

Seth is such a charming, humble, and likable guy, he’s a natural for the spot and people will love him.   Just last year he got married to human rights lawyer Alexi Ashe and he says his new schedule will allow him to start a family!  ( Not by himself, with Alexi’s cooperation, of course! LOL)

Between Seth, Jimmy, and David Letterman, they’ll be bringing major entertainment back to New York in a very big way.  So many more stars from LA will be here to do the shows!  Very exciting.

We’ll all be watching you tonight Seth, and we know you’ll totally kill it!  Below you can see my little interview with Seth in Montreal just before he presented Amy with her award!

 

 

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Hail (Sid) Caesar! There’ll Never Be Another!

When I heard the sad news that Sid Caesar passed away this week at 91 years old, I was very moved.  He’s one of the last of his generation of comedians from what has been referred to as The Golden Age of Television.  I think I first got to meet him when I wrote for his Friars Roast in 1983.  Every big star was there, and I was writing for the Roasts at the time and at that Roast I wrote for five different performers including Dick Shawn, Jan Murray, and Joey Travolta, John Travolta’s older brother, and the son-in-law of Dick Shawn, one of my very favorite comedians, and a friend.

(L-R) Bobby Shields, Norm Crosby, Gene Baylos, Sid Caesar, and Jeffrey Gurian at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar, 1983.

(L-R) Bobby Shields, Norm Crosby, Gene Baylos, Sid Caesar, and Jeffrey Gurian at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar, 1983.

Joey Travolta, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jack Carter at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar!

Joey Travolta, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jack Carter at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar!

Sid was the star of NBC’s “Your Show of Shows” from 1950-1954, and “Caesar’s Hour” from 1954-57, and created sketches with his co-star comedienne Imogene Coca that are funny to this very day.  Sid was a genius in what you might call “dialect comedy.”  He could make believe he was speaking almost any language, from German, French, Italian, Russian, or Japanese, and with the help of writers like Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen created many memorable characters.

He was also known for being incredibly strong physically, and supposedly once pulled a sink out of a wall in anger, and held Mel Brooks out of a window by his feet!  After we met, we stayed in touch for a while and I remmber going to see him in a theatre in NYC, and when I went backstage after the show to say “Hi” it looked like an underground bunker or construction site.

Jeffrey Gurian visiting Sid Caesar backstage in what looks like a construction site!

Jeffrey Gurian visiting Sid Caesar backstage in what looks like a construction site!

A different grouping at the Sid Caesar Roast, (L-R) Henny Youngman, Sid Caesar, Gene Baylos, Jan Murray, Norm Crosby, and Jeffrey Gurian!

A different grouping at the Sid Caesar Roast, (L-R) Henny Youngman, Sid Caesar, Gene Baylos, Jan Murray, Norm Crosby, and Jeffrey Gurian!

 

So many of the greats of that generation lived to ripe old ages. Milton Berle lived to be 93 or 94.  He was my original sponsor in The Friars Club and brought me into the LA club first where he was the President.   I was out there in 1985, which was where we took the photo below.

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985.  Milton was the Pres. of The Friars Club and was Jeffrey's sponsor!

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985. Milton was the Pres. of The Friars Club and was Jeffrey’s sponsor!

And in all the years I knew Milton I was always in awe of him.  I’d be on the phone with him and all I’d be thinking was, ” Holy s**t, I’m on the phone with Milton Berle!”.  Mr. Television.  The reason he was called “Mr. Television” was because people in this country bought TV’s just to watch him on Texaco Star Theatre.

He was the host on the show that ran from 1948 until 1956, eventually called “The MIlton Berle Show”, and people would crowd around in the streets watching his show through the windows of the television stores.  TV had only been around since 1941, and thanks to Milton TV ownership went from about 500,000 TV’s to over 30 million.

Milton was like a mentor to me, and we’d have lunch at The Friars Club in NY, just the two of us, and he’d tell me wonderful show biz stories and about things like “spitballing” where two comics run ideas back and forth to create new material.    He took me to his home in Beverly Hills, and showed me  his archives of kinescopes and jokes, and even showed me the thing he was most famous for in terms of his physical endowment! (LOL)  Not that I asked to see it, but I think he was so proud of it, that he showed it to people he trusted!

Jeffrey Gurian and Milton Berle at an event where Milton was performing! Circa mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian and Milton Berle at an event where Milton was performing! Circa mid-80’s.

I recall one instance where I felt he really came to my rescue.  It was 1985, and I was in a very down place emotionally.  It was a freezing cold winter day, and I got to the door of my 2nd floor studio apartment, just in time to hear the phone ringing.  I remember fumbling with my keys, hoping to get the call before they hung up.  I raced to the phone and picked it up just in time and who was it, … Milton Berle.  He had called to see how I was doing.   To this day I still can’t believe that.  If I had been one minute later, I might have missed it because who knows if Milton Berle would have left a message on my answering machine.

He wound up inviting me to a Friars Tribute in his honor.  I think he was named “Man of the Year”, and that’s where he introduced me to Sammy Davis Jr., who actually kidded me about the amount of jewelry I was wearing.  He who wore more gold than an Aztec god! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian with Sammy Davis Jr. at a Friars Club tribute to Milton Berle.

Jeffrey Gurian with Sammy Davis Jr. at a Friars Club tribute to Milton Berle. 1985

Some years later, I also attended a special event in Milton’s honor in Montreal hosted by the legendary Budd Friedman, owner and founder of The Improv, the very first comedy club in the world.  Budd sat at the head of the table, Milton sat next to him, and I sat next to Budd directly across from Milton.    When Budd inserted his monacle into his eye, I took a plastic spoon out of my pocket, ( I’ve been carrying at least one spoon since the early 80’s and no one knows why! LOL) and inserted that into my eye to “look at the menu.”

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman at the 89th Birthday Roast of Henny Youngman, for TV!

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman at the 89th Birthday Roast of Henny Youngman, for TV!

It was a character I created back in the 70’s which I called “Spoon-eye”, and which was copied many years later by Conan O’Brien, and written about in Cindy Adam’s column in the NY Post.  I provided photos of myself “with spoon” from back in the 70’s, and Cindy wrote, ” I don’t know why anyone would want to take credit for something like this, but Jeffrey  Gurian definitely did it first!

Anyway, Budd looked at me like  “What the F**K are you doing?”  And I simply said, ” It’s very big out on the coast”, not thinking that HE lived out on “the coast.”  He looked at me and said, ” I live out there and I have NEVER seen anyone do that.”  In the meantine, Milton was looking at me in disbelief, and I decided to take out the spoon and just change the subject.  I don’t think it ever came up again!

On May 14, 1998, when Frank Sinatra passed away, I happened to be out in LA.  I remember very clearly calling Milton from a pay phone. I guess my StarTAC clamshell cell phone was on “Roam”!  He took the call and told me that he wasn’t taking calls from anyone else because the press was calling him non-stop for quotes on Frank Sinatra’s passing, but he said when he heard it was me he took the call.  Another amazing moment for me.

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985.

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985.

He brought me to his home in Beverly Hills, and showed me his kinescopes and the 6 million jokes he had compiled over the years that he kept in a separate little house.  He also showed me the body part he was known for, … without me asking, … which is a whole other story for another time! (LOL)

I remember the first time he let me write for him.  It was for an event honoring Buddy Hackett.  I was supposed to go to Atlantic City to meet with Milton where he was performing, and I was bringing my wife at the time, as Milton’s guests, and a couple of days before we were scheduled to come, he called me at home and asked me to give him an example of the jokes I was writing about Buddy.  If they were funny I could come, if not, I guess he would withdraw the offer.  Now I was in the position of having to impress Milton Berle with my jokes, the man who heard every joke ever told.

Jeffrey Gurian with Buddy Hackett at a Friars Roast, mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian with Buddy Hackett at a Friars Roast, mid-80’s.

I recall saying to him, ” Clean or dirty?”  He said, ” One of each.”  My clean joke was, ” Buddy’s not a good looking man.  It took him a long time to get used to the fact that girls are supposed to close their eyes when they KISS you, not when they’re introduced!”  My “dirty” one was, ” A lot of people like to think of Buddy Hackett as a little man with a rubber face.  I prefer to think of him as a little rubber, with a man’s face!”  Milton laughed, and told me to pack my bags cause he was expecting us in AC!  AMAZING!!!

Through Milton I also got to meet George Burns who was performing at one of the grand hotels in The Catskills.  In those days all the big TV stars still performed at the hotels, like The Concord, Grossingers, Kutschers, and The Nevele. George lived to be 100 years old.

Jeffrey Gurian with George (God) Burns backstage at a hotel in The Catskills! Mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian with George (God) Burns backstage at a hotel in The Catskills! Mid-80’s.

I got to know Red Buttons very well, who lived to be 87, as well as Norm Crosby, “The Master of Malaprop” who fortunately is still with us, and is in his mid-80’s, as is Jerry Lewis who’s 87 and who I had the honor of writing for and working alone with, when he was Roasted by The Friars, back in 1986.

Jeffrey Gurian with Red Buttons at a comedy event, mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian with Red Buttons at a comedy event, mid-80’s.

Jeffrey Gurian with Norm Crosby at The Friars Roast of Don King, 2005.

Jeffrey Gurian with Norm Crosby at The Friars Roast of Don King, 2005.

And then there was Henny Youngman who lived to be 91 and who I knew well from The Friars Club and from Milton.  He and Milton once headlined together at Westbury Music Fair and when Milton saw me, he gave ma a shout-out from the stage.  It was one of the proudest moments of my life.  He would always kid Youngman with lines like, ” Nice suit Youngman, who shines it for you?”  And lines like that would crack me up, cause I love that kind of humor!

Jeffrey Gurian with Henny Youngman at a comedy event, Oct. 1990.

Jeffrey Gurian with Henny Youngman at a comedy event, Oct. 1990.

I got to work with Henny for his 89th birthday roast which was televised and which I wrote with Bill Persky, the genius who wrote and created “That Girl” for Marlo Thomas, Danny Thomas’s daughter, and was also known for “Kate and Allie” and for his writing on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

I consider myself Blessed that I got to meet so many of the legends I watched growing up, and I think it’s safe to say that no matter how talented the stars of today are, there’ll never be any others like Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and the others I mentioned.  And the fact that they all had such longevity adds strength to the concept that laughing keeps you young!  In any case, I certainly hope so!  As a matter of fact, I’m counting on it! (LOL)

 

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Comedy Matters Radio Launches on Sirius XM with Ron and Fez on Raw Dog

Many people have dreams that don’t get realized.  Every once in a while someone’s dream comes true!

One of my dreams has always to be a presence on the radio, and thanks to Ron and Fez that dream is being realized!

(L-R) Fez Whately, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ron Bennington in the Sirius XM studio on the next to last show before they moved to Raw Dog!

(L-R) Fez Whately, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ron Bennington in the Sirius XM studio on the next to last show before they moved to Raw Dog!

Over the years I’ve guested on many, many radio shows talking about my books, my comedy writing, and other assorted things, but this time is very special as I get to bring on well known comedians that I love and am friendly with.

I also get to cover the comedy scene in both New York and LA talking about what’s going on in the clubs, who got a spot on what show, and who’s doing what with whom, … comedy wise that is!!!

For instance my first promos were about NY comic Michele Buteau getting a spot in the FOX sit-com Enlisted, every Friday night at 9:30 P.M., and then the personally exciting news that Sasheer Zamata was chosen as a regular cast member of SNL, the first African-American female to be on the show as a regular in six years, since Maya Rudolph left, and the reason that’s so exciting to me is that she is featured in my new documentary film ” The Business of Comedy” which was on WNET, Channel 11 this past New years Eve at midnight!

And I was the one who brought her in to be in it.  We shot her interview at my apartment which is kind of like a comedy museum!

Jeffrey Gurian with new SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata in his apartment, during the shoot for the documentary film he co-produced and appeared in called "The Business of Comedy"!

Jeffrey Gurian with new SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata in his apartment, during the shoot for the documentary film he co-produced and appeared in called “The Business of Comedy”!

Lastly I promo’ed a story about LA comic Mark Schiff going on tour with Jerry Seinfeld.

They’ve been friends since the mid 70’s when they first started out, and Mark is one of the original  five guys who meet every year since 1980 in New York, for a New Years Day brunch and then walk across The Brooklyn Bridge. It’s Mark, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and George Wallace.  Originally there was a fifth guy named Michael Cain but he passed away very young.

My first guest on Comedy Matters Radio was Colin Quinn.  I started with Colin for several reasons.  First I know him for many years, but mostly because I’m in awe of his talent.  He is the ultimate wordsmith, and has had four one-man shows which is an amazing feat.  I recall his first one, “An Irish Wake.”  I told him on air that I had gone to every one of his shows and he said he took it for granted that I was there because I’m EVERYWHERE!

His show Long Story Short which was directed by Jerry Seinfeld told the history of the entire world in 75 minutes.   It was an amazing accomplishment.  His new show Unconstitutional, is about the Constitution of the United States, a daunting topic to tackle comedically, and Colin worked for a year with a lot of that time dedicated to studying the Constitution and reading things like The Federalist Papers, in order to be able to handle questions from the “Constitution geeks” that would show up at his shows.

Colin is also interviewed in my book “Make ‘Em Laugh”, about the history of The Comic Strip, featuring a foreword by Chris Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh" featuring an introduction with Chris Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh” featuring an introduction with Chris Rock!

I saw Colin perform Unconstitutional this past summer at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, and it got amazing reviews.   I did a little interview with him for Comedy Matters TV:

He’s actually on tour with his show right now, but was kind enough to take time out to come in and inaugurate Comedy Matters Radio.  The next night he was in New Orleans at the Joy Theatre and the following night in Dallas at the Wyly Theatre.  He was in such a hurry that he forgot to plug his shows, but I did it for him after he left.

Next up is Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, probably best known for his years on Howard Stern as Howard’s main writer.   He’s also been in several movies and performs all around the country in major venues.  Jackie knows more jokes than any other human being alive, and he’s been creating product like albums, books, toys, and in more recent years CD’s  for as long as I know him.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jackie Martling and Regina Gil head of the Gold Coast International Film Festival!

Jeffrey Gurian, Jackie  “The Joke Man” Martling and Regina Gil head of the Gold Coast International Film Festival!

Very recently we both participated in the Gold Coast International Film Festival.  I was the Head of Live Comedy Programming and produced a gala in honor of Susie Essman, and Jackie kicked off the festival with a pre-show that drew a full house.  I hosted that show and had the pleasure of opening for him, and also went on his radio show, Jackie’s Joke Hunt, to promote the festival, and to tell some nasty jokes!  He was also in one of the films called “Send No Flowers” with Sean Young!

I did this little Comedy Matters TV interview with him on the red carpet of the Gold Coast Festival:

I’m very much looking forward to his appearance on Comedy Matters Radio with Ron and Fez.  That’s this Tuesday, 1/14/14 at 2 P.M.

Jeffrey Gurian with Jackie Martling at the Gold Coast International Film Festival!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jackie (The Joke Man) Martling at the Gold Coast International Film Festival!

Please remember to follow me on Twitter at @jeffreygurian and please subscribe to Comedy Matters TV at https://www.comedymatterstv.com

 

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Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Host Golden Globes Again-Tonight on NBC

Last year when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globes, they both looked gorgeous and sexy, and viewership went up 17% over the year before, to almost 20 million people.  That’s a lot of people! Especially if you invite them all back to your house for a post-show snack!

I’m one of the lucky 20 million who got to tell Amy Poehler personally how much I enjoyed their performance.   It was on the set of Kroll Show, Comedy Central’s hit show starring Nick Kroll the man of a million characters, all of them funny, this past June.

Amy Poehler, Jeffrey Gurian, and Nick Kroll as Liz G. on the set of Comedy Central's hit Kroll Show!

Amy Poehler, Jeffrey Gurian, and Nick Kroll as Liz G. on the set of Comedy Central’s hit Kroll Show!

Nick had brought me out to LA to be in a sketch playing myself in a red carpet scene where I had to interact with Nick in character as Liz G., Laura Dern, Golden Globe-Award-winning actress, who played C-Czar’s mother, ( C-Czar is the toilet baby dating Pretty Liz!), internationally known singing sensation Katy Perry, and the super-talented UCB co-founder Amy Poehler!

Jeffrey Gurian with Laura Dern, as C-Czar's mom. on the LA set of Comedy Central's hit Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with Laura Dern, as C-Czar’s mom. on the LA set of Comedy Central’s hit Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with international singing star Katy Perry on the set of Kroll Show in LA!

Jeffrey Gurian with international singing star Katy Perry on the set of Kroll Show in LA!

What a thrill for me.  It’s enough to be on any show but when you get the opportunity to be on a show you absolutely LOVE it makes all the difference in the world.   Anyway after the shoot I got to tell Amy that she and Tina were incredible as hosts, and that I hoped they do it again.

Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler on the LA set of Kroll Show in a sketch that will air in the new 2nd season!

Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler on the LA set of Kroll Show in a sketch that will air in the new 2nd season!

When I think of comedy teams I think of the old greats Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers.  Comedy like that no longer exists.  It’s not hip enough.   Those guys probably couldn’t even get representation today.

Yet many young people still love the old comedies.

But there haven’t been any two women teams in comedy that I can think of and Tina and Amy  would be perfect to be the first ones to do it.  I told her that too! (LOL)

In their one co-starring movie, “Baby Mama” the film grossed more than $17 million in it’s opening weekend.

About a month or so later I saw Amy again in Montreal at The Just for Laughs Festival, and shot a little video with her again on the red carpet of the Just for Laughs Comedy Awards where she won for Comedy Person of the Year, in which she gave me the unexpected  honor of referring to me as her “co-star.”

Nick Kroll won for Breakout Comedy Star, even though he broke out a long time ago!  And John Mulaney who was recently written up in the NY Post as the next Jerry Seinfeld was there to present him with the award.

John also gave me a very unexpected shout-out in front of the entire comedy industry as he was introducing Andy Kindler to give his annual State of the Industry speech.  You can see it at the end of this little 3 minute video entitled “Who The F*@k is Jeffrey Gurian.”

I got to see Tina work in person when Tracy Morgan brought me to the set of 30 Rock where he was doing a scene with a horse.  I sat in the control booth with Tina’s husband Jeff Richmond and needless to say it was a really fun day! ( And if it was needless to say then why did I say it?)

Tina Fey, Jeffrey Gurian and Rachel Dratch at an Animal Fair event in NYC!

Tina Fey, Jeffrey Gurian and Rachel Dratch at an Animal Fair event in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock!

Tracy Morgan and the horse he co-starred with in a scene from 30 Rock! I keep in touch with that horse!

Tracy Morgan and the horse he co-starred with in a scene from 30 Rock! I still keep in touch with that horse!

Tina and Amy have been friends for more than 20 years, as you can tell by the chemistry they have together.

Tina got SNL in 1997 and Amy came on in 2001 and since then they’ve become super-powers in Hollywood.  They both have 4 year deals with NBC, with Tina doing a new as yet unnamed series she’s writing with Robert Carlock the showrunner of 30 Rock, (how’s that for a credit on your resume?) , and Amy  has a new sit-com as well written with her brother Greg called ” Welcome to Sweden”, set to air this coming summer!

So tonight at 8 on NBC, I will be watching and cheering them on, and I’m sure you will too!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sasheer Zamata To Join SNL Jan. 18, 2014

Sasheer Zamata is so funny, so pretty, and so talented, and she will be the first Black female comic to be on SNL since Maya Rudolph left 6 years ago.  I feel so proud of her, and FOR her!

Jeffrey Gurian with new SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata in his apartment, during the shoot for the documentary film he co-produced and appeared in called "The Business of Comedy"!

Jeffrey Gurian with new SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata in his apartment, during the shoot for the documentary film she was featured in and that he co-produced and appeared in called “The Business of Comedy”!

The first time I saw her perform was in a show out in Brooklyn.  I rarely go to Brooklyn because there are so many things for me to see right here in Manhattan, but I went out to Union Hall for what I thought was a party.  It was an invite from a young comic named Lisa Delarios, who is hilarious, (which sounds a lot like Delarios! LOL) and it invited me to The Party Machine’s Yacht Party on a Saturday night in April, and that sounded good to me.

I thought everyone would be dressed in white, and pictured a scene from The Hamptons.  I drove out with my assistant at the time, funny, funny girl Corinne Fisher from the comedy duo with Krystyna Hutchinson called “Sorry About Last Night”, to find a packed room, with everyone in black, not a white outfit in sight, and a very Brooklyn hipster crowd. Most of the men had unibomber-type beards, and looked like they lived in a cabin in the woods!  Lots of flannel! (LOL)  I fit right in, and blended in with the crowd as I always do! (LOL)

To make matters worse because I thought it was a party, we showed up fashionably late and missed part of the show!  The show was produced by Arden Myrin from Mad TV, and the aforementioned Lisa Delarios, who also produces shows around town, as well as producer Emily Kindler, related to the great comic Andy Kindler, known for his incredible “State of the Industry” speeches every year in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival, which everyone in the industry looks forward to and attends.

At this past one last July, John Mulaney introduced Andy and gave me a surprise shout out from the stage!  You can see it at the end of this little 3 minute video!

The invite also advertised “Yacht Passengers” Jessi Klein (SNL), Team Submarine (Just For Laughs, NPR) , Ben Kronberg (Jimmy Kimmel Live), Sara Schaefer (Jimmy Fallon), who went on to star in The Nikki and Sara Show on MTV, which I went to a couple of times, Lukas Kaiser (Spike TV), and Adira Amram (ECNY WINNER) so I thought it was a combination show and party and that they’d all be mingling in the crowd at the party! (LOL)

I felt like such a moron because there was no party.  That was just the name of the show.  I even wrote a blog post about how misinformed I was!

But that was the first time I saw Sasheer perform and I was struck by her presence.  There was something magical about her that I couldn’t get out of my mind!  I saw her again a short time later at The PIT, and was impressed yet again, so when Gary Licker and Scott Sobel came to me to appear in the documentary called “The Business of Comedy”, which just played on New Year’s Eve on WNET, Channel 13 at midnight, and I wound up becoming a co-producer on the project, I invited Sasheer to participate.

Gary Licker and Scott Sobel shooting Sasheer Zamata for the documentary The Business of Comedy in Jeffrey Gurian's apartment!

Gary Licker and Scott Sobel shooting Sasheer Zamata for the documentary The Business of Comedy in Jeffrey Gurian’s apartment!

We shot the scene at my apartment this past April and she was wonderful, and open, and forthright, and is featured prominently in the film which you can see on Hulu.

The promo card for "The Business of Comedy" a doc film co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian featuring Sasheer Zamata, pictured in the box right next to the producing credits.

The promo card for “The Business of Comedy” a doc film co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian featuring Sasheer Zamata, pictured in the box right next to the producing credits.

She talked about how much fun it is to get paid for doing comedy even though she’d do it for free just because she loves it so much.  She also lamented that she doesn’t see a lot of people who “look like her” doing comedy!  Maybe that’s because no one else looks like her! (LOL)

She has her own very unique look and it’s awesome!  Her eyes sparkle and her smile lights up a room!

And lots and lots of people will get to see her now, and all of her hard work will pay off.   And if being paid for doing comedy is fun, Sasheer should be having lots and lots of fun this year!

Congratulations Sasheer, can’t wait to see you on the show!

Jeffrey Gurian and Sasheer Zamata after the shoot for The Business of Comedy, shot in his "comedy museum"!

Jeffrey Gurian and Sasheer Zamata after the shoot for The Business of Comedy, shot in his “comedy museum”!

 

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My Synchronicitous Meeting With Larry David

People often tell me I know everyone in comedy.

If you watch this little video, you’ll hear Nick Kroll and Paul Provenza telling me exactly that, and until a few days ago my answer was always, ” Yeh, but I don’t know Larry David.”

For whatever reason, in all my years in the comedy world, our paths have never crossed, but I’m a huge fan and I always wanted to meet him.

So I’m at LaGuardia Airport , flying to Florida and who do I run into, … Larry David.  And he was alone.   And I was nervous to approach him, and I didn’t know what to say!

I turned into a little girl!   Only knowing his cantankerous ( I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before! LOL) character on Curb, I was reluctant to go over and introduce myself, not knowing what kind of response to expect.

I had been trying to reach him as recently as October 23rd to request a video message to Susie Essman, because I was producing a gala in her honor as part of the Gold Coast International Film Festival for which I was named “Head of Live Comedy Programming”,  and had gotten funny video messages from Richard Lewis, (which for a joke, we filmed in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club), Mario Cantone, and D.L. Hughley, but I couldn’t get to Larry.  I even have a friend who’s close to him but even he was reluctant to approach Larry, which made me even more nervous!

In D.L. Hughley’s interview, we made up to say something like, I tried to get J.B. Smoove and The Wayans Brothers but D.L. was the only one available.

Jeffrey Gurian with D.L. Hughely after D.L.'s show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jeffrey Gurian with D.L. Hughely after D.L.’s show at Gotham Comedy Club!

 

Jeffrey Gurian with J.B. Smoove on the red carpet of Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars, holding Jeffrey's book ""Make 'Em Laugh" , with an intro by Chris Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with J.B. Smoove on the red carpet of Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars, holding Jeffrey’s book “”Make ‘Em Laugh” , with an intro by Chris Rock!

 

Jeffrey Gurian bacjstage with Jeff Garlin at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian backstage with Jeff Garlin at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC!

 

But I realized that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.    I had to do it despite my nervousness.  What’s the worst he could say?   It felt like an episode of “Curb!”

To add to the tension, I was running out of time because he was walking towards his gate, with papers in his hand.  There was a terrible fog and everyone’s flights had been delayed for several hours.  I could tell by the look on his face that he was troubled which added to the tension of me approaching him.

Do I tell him that Jerry Seinfeld is in my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” that has an intro by Chris Rock?

Do I tell him I’m friends with Susie Essman, Richard Lewis, Jeff Garlin and J.B. Smoove, or will I just look like a name-dropper?

I realized I would have to do what I had been doing for most of my life, …. confronting my fear and doing something I was nervous to do.  It’s how I finally got up on stage to perform.

I knew that if I waited too long debating on what to say, I might miss the opportunity all together and never forgive myself, so I tapped him on the shoulder, which for whatever reason is where most people usually tap each other, when they want to get another person’s attention, and I said ” Hey Larry, I’m Jeffrey Gurian a comedy writer from NY and we have a lot of mutual friends!”

He was very friendly, gracious, and open and went and sat down while I stood in front of him talking to him.  The whole entire time, I kept wondering whether I was overstaying my welcome.  I got to tell him about the gala I produced in honor of Susie Essman, the video with Richard Lewis, how J.B. Smoove took a photo holding my book, that Jerry Seinfeld gave me an interview for, and he took it all in.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry's interview for the book "Make 'Em Laugh."

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry’s interview for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

I told him the book has interviews with Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock, Judah Friedlander, and about 50 more big stars that started  at The Comic Strip, several of whom talk about Larry!

And I told him the story that Comic Strip owner Richie Tienken always told me about Larry.  There were times in Larry’s early career when if he wasn’t happy on stage, either with his set or the audience, he’d throw the mic on the floor and storm off in the middle of his set.

Richie said that mics were expensive, so one night they played a trick on Larry, and glued the mic into the stand, and when he went to throw it he couldn’t get it out!  Larry smiled and said it was a good story, but he didn’t remember it.  Richie Tienken re-confirmed it for me when i got back to New York.

As I was about to leave, I thought of shaking his hand, but I had a feeling he wasn’t into shaking hands in general and to tell you the truth neither am I.  I actually wear a little bottle of Purell hanging from my belt at all times.   So I said to him, ” You don’t shake hands do you?  And he said, ” I prefer not to!”, at which point I pointed to my Purell and we had a good laugh.

I really wanted to ask for a photo but that’s where I drew the line.   Things were going so well I didn’t want to take the chance of him saying “No.”

However we did exchange contact info and I already sent him a copy of my book with a note that got delivered just yesterday, the date of  which will vary depending on when you read this Blog post! (LOL)

 

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Epix Presents: The Improv-Fifty Years Behind The Brick Wall

In 1963 a man named Budd Friedman changed the world.  And I’m not being over-dramatic.  He literally changed the world, and especially the world of entertainment, by opening what became the world’s first ever comedy club, The Improv.

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival's celebration in honor of 50 years of The Improv., July 2013!

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival’s celebration in honor of 50 years of The Improv., July 2013!

It was on 44th Street and 9th Avenue, in Manhattan, and it started out as a coffee house and a place for actors to come and hang out, and maybe get up on stage to perform after they got off stage at the nearby Broadway theatres.

At first it drew actors and singers, and then comedians began to come and perform.  Budd was the onstage host, and Danny Aiello was the door host/bouncer.   After a while more and more comics started showing up to hone their craft.

Before The Improv came along comics would perform only in nightclubs and theatres as part of variety shows, but there had never been an establishment that offered only stand-up comedy.

After a couple of years Budd noticed that the comics were predominating, and that the audiences loved it, so he started doing all comedy, hence the world’s first comedy club!

Fifty years later The Improv is still going strong on Melrose Avenue in LA.  I performed there a couple of times myself.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Improv, EPIX, the network that brings you the biggest movies including three of the biggest of 2012, like The Avengers, Skyfall, and The Hunger Games, is releasing “The Improv-Fifty Years Behind The Brick Wall” on Friday Dec. 6th, 2013.

Narrated by Adam Sandler and produced by Judy Pastore, Monica Bautista, Budd and his partner Mark Lonow, (who joined him in 1979), and Budd’s accomplished  daughter Zoe Friedman, who actually was the Exec. Producer, the film features footage with Judd Apatow, Lewis Black, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, and Damon, Keenen, Marlon, and Shawn Wayans all in intimate sit-down recollections of their early days at The Improv. accompanied by archival video footage and rare photos.  Only a legend like Budd could assemble that many huge names!

And those are just some of the comedy stars he helped become household names.   Besides having Danny Aiello as his door host/bouncer, other workers went on to achieve greatness.

First there was Chris Albrecht who managed the club when Budd went to LA in 1975, and went on to become the Pres. of HBO, then Les Moonves, currently  the Pres. and CEO of CBS, who was a bartender.  There were the waitresses, like Karen Black, who I got to work with last year on Kroll Show, and who we just lost to cancer this past August, and cable TV’s pioneer female comic/legend Elayne Boosler,  who also toiled as a waitress, and then there were a couple of other door hosts you may have heard of including Keenen Ivory Wayans and Joe Piscopo.

Jeffrey Gurian, Nick Kroll as Gil Faison, Karen Black, and John Mulaney as George St. Geegland on the L.A. set of Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian, Nick Kroll as Gil Faison, Karen Black, and John Mulaney as George St. Geegland on the L.A. set of Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with Keenen Ivory Wayans helping him cast the new "In Living Color".

Jeffrey Gurian with Keenen Ivory Wayans in NYC, helping him cast the new, but “ill-fated” “In Living Color”.

Jeffrey Gurian with Joe Piscopo at a fundraiser at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jeffrey Gurian with Joe Piscopo at a fundraiser at Gotham Comedy Club!

 

Jeffrey Gurian with comic extraordinaire Elayne Boosler at a Diabetes fundraiser she performed in produced by Jeffrey!

Jeffrey Gurian with comic extraordinaire Elayne Boosler at a Diabetes fundraiser she performed in produced by Jeffrey!

A&E immortalized Budd when they had him host “An Evening at The Improv” from his Hollywood club, which was a weekly series that ran from 1982 through 1996.  Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t performing in those days and never got to be on, but I watched the show religiously!

Over the years I got to know Budd and his partner Mark Lonow who joined him in 1979.  As a matter of fact, I wrote Budd and his lovely wife Alix into a feature film script I wrote in 1990 called Baby and Max, about a comic named Max Arnold who gets the worst gigs imaginable.  The film opens with Max trying to entertain a guy on Death Row.  He’s about to get the electric chair, and is already strapped in, and Max is in the execution room trying to tell him jokes.

On one of his other horrible gigs he’s trying to entertain passengers on a cross-country flight from NY to LA, by telling jokes in the main aisle of the plane, when he gets discovered by Budd Friedman who’s on the flight with his wife Alix. To find out what happens next you’ll have to come up with a budget to make the movie!

This past July at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is the biggest and oldest comedy festival in the world, Budd and Mark were honored with an award and the red carpet treatment.  I interviewed them both, once together on the red carpet and then separately!

Budd and I have history!  I recall many years ago he made a party in Montreal to honor Milton Berle who may have been the first honoree to be inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, and Milton invited me to attend as his guest.  He was also my sponsor in The Friars Club.  We sat at a long table, with Budd at the head, me on his right and Milton directly across from me.  Budd went to read the menu and put a monocle into his eye.  I had never seen that before and was kind of surprised.

Jeffrey Gurian and Milton Berle at the LA Friars in 1985!

Jeffrey Gurian and Milton Berle at the LA Friars in 1985!

Around 1970, I had created a character I called “Spoon-eye” who went around holding a spoon in his eye like  a monocle, as if he didn’t know it was there.  It sounds silly but at one point Conan O’Brien came out on his show with a spoon in his eye, and it took Cindy Adams to write that it was I who started that.  She wrote, “I don’t know who would even want to take credit for such a thing but it was Jeffrey Gurian who did it first.”   I actually showed it to Salvador Dali back around 1978, who was so intrigued he actually tried to put one of my spoons in his ear, instead of his eye.  I still have that spoon!

Jeffrey Gurian and his Spoon-Eye Club on an outing, circa 2003!

Jeffrey Gurian and his Spoon-Eye Club on an outing, circa 2003!

Anyway, when Budd put his monocle in I took out a spoon and put that it MY eye.  Budd looked at me like “What the heck are you doing?” and I made the mistake of trying to tell him it was very big on “The Coast.”  He said to me, “I live on The Coast and I NEVER saw anyone do that!”  Milton just sat there confused and I quickly changed the subject!

In 2007, Kent Emmons from All Comedy Radio made me a party in LA for my new book at the time based on my years of writing for the Friars Roasts. It was called “Filthy Funny, and Totally Offensive” and featured nasty jokes from over 250 celebs like Drew Carey, Jason Alexander, Chris Elliott, Jeff Garlin, the late Greg Giraldo, Colin Quinn, the late Patrice O’Neal, Artie Lange, Joan Rivers, Jason Alexander, and more than 200 more.  Budd was there as evidenced by the photo below!

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman in 2007 at Kent Emmons' party for Jeffrey's book "Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive."

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman in 2007 at Kent Emmons’ party for Jeffrey’s book “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive.”

Budd is also in the recent documentary film I co-produced called “The Business of Comedy, with Exec. Producers Scott Sobel of Scott Entertainment and Gary Licker who also directed the film.  It features Budd along with Robert Klein, George Wallace, Tom Dreesen, Susie Essman, Shecky Greene, and comedy club owners who were inspired by Budd, Rick Newman and Richie Tienken.  In actuality all comedy club owners were inspired by Budd, which is why when I opened this post I said that Budd changed the world!  In the photo below, a young Budd Friedman with a goatee, is on the upper right corner!

The promo card for "The Business of Comedy" a doc film co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian featuring Budd Friedman, pictured on the upper right hand corner.

The promo card for “The Business of Comedy” a doc film co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian featuring Budd Friedman, pictured on the upper right hand corner.

This is the trailer for the doc.

So on Dec. 6th at 8 P.M. ET, make sure to watch “The Improv-Fifty Years Behind The Brick Wall” on Epix and Epix.com .  You’ll thank me for the tip!

Watch the Epix trailer in case you need convincing:

 

 

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Nat Geo Gets Into Comedy With Duck Quacks Don’t Echo

They always say that everyone wants to be in comedy, and now I’m sure it’s true.  Even Nat Geo is getting into the mix.  I attended a taping the other night in the AMV/Unitel studios on West 53rd Street in Manhattan, where Wendy Williams does her show, to see “Duck Quacks Don’t Echo” with three of my comedy friends starring in the show, Tom Papa, Michael Ian Black and Seth Herzog.

DuckQuacksLogo

I had just seen Tom kill it at The Village Underground, a beautiful venue recently taken over by Noam Dworman of The Comedy Cellar.   Noam is very proud of the space as he should be.  He put in great lighting and sound, and every show I’ve seen there so far has been super!

Tom Papa on stage at Noam Dworman's The Village Underground

Tom Papa on stage at Noam Dworman’s The Village Underground, now part of The Comedy Cellar

 

Last week Paul Provenza came in to do his new show Set List, and everyone is talking about Jim Norton’s performance, and how great he was doing it for the first time.

The reason it’s called Set List is because Paul gives each comic their “set list” when they hit the stage, and not a moment before.  They have no idea what it’s going to be, and it’s not topics like “Internet Dating” it’s more like “Anorexic Dog”, or “Penguin Sex Therapist” which one comic actually got stuck with, when I saw the show in Montreal this past summer at Just for Laughs.

So I ran into Tom Papa at The Underground, and he invited me to see his new show and two days later, before I even got a chance to make arrangements with him to attend I got an invite.

Duck Quacks Don’t Echo is a comedy/science show where each of the three stars gets to present weird, unusual and incredible facts. In addition to telling us the fact, they will each participate in an on-the-spot experiment proving each fact. It kind of reminded me of the stuff I used to do in science class to make the other students laugh when the instructor wasn’t looking.

On one occasion I mixed the wrong ingredients together and accidentally created poison gas, and they had to evacuate  not only my class, but the entire floor.

The fact that stuck with me was than you can’t hum while holding your nose.  It’s true.  We  tried humming Yankee Doodle, which was a very synchronicitous choice as I’ll explain in a moment, and then Tom instructed us to hold our collective noses and all the humming stopped.  Who know that humming comes through the nose?

Another thing they could not have known is that I’ve always been fascinated by humming and actually did my college thesis on Abe Bembelman, the man who invented humming, back in the day when Yankee Doodle was popular.  Before Bembelman people would hear a song they liked and have no way of recalling the tune.  Then Bembelman came along and changed the entire world.

Bembelman was actually English but moved to this country during Revolutionary times, and during the Revolutionary War he was responsible for teaching the English to hum when they went into battle.   Fortunately for us, the English hummed so loud that the American’s heard them coming, and that’s how we won the war, because basically you can’t sneak up on anyone while you’re humming!  As a result Abe Bembelman became an American national hero.  It’s in the history books!  Look it up!

So towards the end of “Duck Quacks Don’t Echo” the guys took a break for a costume change and I was wondering what was going on, until they came back in what turned out be motion detection outfits but what at first looked like a re-enactment of “Blue Man Group Attacked By Ping Pong Ball Gang.”

Tom Papa in his new look for the film " Attack of the Ping Pong Ball Men!"

Tom Papa in his new look for the film ” Attack of the Ping Pong Ball Men!”

 

(L-R) Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Seth Herzog in a very strange stance that goes perfectly with his outfit!

(L-R) Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Seth Herzog in a very strange stance that goes perfectly with his outfit!

Seth Herzog is used to wearing costumes as he’s been known to do when doing his popular Wonder Woman routine, so he took to this quite naturally, as you can see in the photo.  Seth is the warm up comic for Jimmy Fallon and plays all the hot clubs in the city.

He also has his own show called “Sweet” every Tuesday night at The Slipper Room on Orchard Street, in NYC, where I hope to perform one day!  It’s one of the few stages I haven’t been on.

What made the evening even more special was getting to re-connect with two guys I hadn’t seen for a long time.  Michael Ian Black and Duck Quack’s producer Jim Biederman.

Michael and I have history.  Back around 1992 Michael and I and Ben Garant wrote the first ever interactive film for Sony called “I’m Your Man.”  It was shown in the Sony Theatre on 19th Street and Broadway and the audience got to change the outcome of certain scenes by pressing buttons from their seats.  From what I recall Sony spent about half a million bucks on outfitting the theatre with the buttons that attached to the arm rest of each seat.

Michael Ian Black with Jeffrey Gurian at a Roast, possibly for The Naked Angels!

Michael Ian Black with Jeffrey Gurian at a Roast, possibly for The Naked Angels!

This was before Michael went on to co-create MTV’s The State and the sketch group Stella of which he was a founding member, along with Michael Showalter, and David Wain.  They performed together from 1997 through 2005.  The photo below was after one of the Stella’s performances at a place called Fez, which was their home base, and Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo both came by that night.

(L-R) David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ben Stiller at Fez, circa 1997.

(L-R) David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ben Stiller at Fez, circa 1997.

Duck Quacks producer Jim Biederman is the head of JimCo Productions and I hadn’t seen him in maybe 15-20 years.  Jim was at Lorne Michael’s company Broadway Video back in the day working with a guy named John Head, who as I recall was in charge of film acquisition, and I was making short, bizarre little films in those days.

I had been sent up to see Herb by another legend Jack Rollins, best known for managing Woody Allen and producing all of Woody’s movies, and in those days was also managing Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.   When I first met Herb he said he didn’t even have to look at my stuff because if Jack Rollins said I was funny, I was funny!

I was still a practicing Cosmetic Dentist in those days, which is why in the photo below Billy Crystal is pointing to his teeth.  Jack Rollins had wanted to do a sit-com based on a dentist in show biz and thought Billy would be great to play me!

Jeffrey Gurian with Woody Allen who he had met many years earlier through his mentor Jack Rollins!

Jeffrey Gurian with Woody Allen who he had met many years earlier through his mentor Jack Rollins!

 

Jeffrey Gurian with Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, referencing Jeffrey's history as a dentist!

Jeffrey Gurian with Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, referencing Jeffrey’s history as a dentist!

But Herb did look at my films and set me up with a meeting with Jim Biederman.   I was doing a comedy news broadcast at the time with stories like ” Several men were arrested for smearing creamcheese on the ankles of elderly women who wore their stockings rolled down like bagels”, and “The Masters of Disguise” which were two master criminals who disguised themselves as inanimate objects to commit their crimes.

It started with two men disguised as coats who robbed a hat store by coming in over the arms of two other men who claim they had no part in the crime.  I did an interview with one of the victims who gave his account of what happened, and said that one of the coats pulled a gun and said, ” Just act natural like we’re your coats and no one’ll get hurt!”   Police artists did a composite drawing of the perpetrators.  One man was described as  a tan trenchcoat, the other man was said to resemble an overcoat, possibly black, …  but could have been navy blue!

I had several crimes like that culminating in 250,000 men disguised as vests robbed a suit warehouse taking all 250,ooo suits and the police artists were going out on strike so as not to have to draw pictures of all 250,000 vests!   As I recall Jim set me up with a meeting with John Head who said ” I see no reason why you shouldn’t be doing films for SNL”, and the reason it didn’t happen is a story for another day.

Jim went on to produce  a ton of TV shows including “The Whitest Kids You Know” and the Onion News Network, and I went on to write a column for Weekly World News called “Gurian’s World of the Bizarre” which the guys from The Onion told me they were fans of.  So it all comes full circle!

And the wild stories I was writing also became part of a comedy news broadcast which I shot up at WPIX TV.  Check it out here:

It was great to see Jim again after all these years and I wish him luck with Duck Quacks!

 

 

 

 

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