Archive for Comedy Central

The Phenomenon Known as "Keith and the Girl"

Ted Alexandro says I know everyone in comedy and that everyone knows me.

Richie Tienken owner and founder of The Comic Strip says I’m like the James Lipton of comedy. So imagine how embarrassed I felt not to be familiar with a comedy podcast phenomenon known as Keith and the Girl, currently celebrating 8 years of longevity!

Keith Malley and Chemda, better known as “Keith and The Girl!”

Keith and The Girl, began on March 7, 2005, and is made up of comedian Keith Malley and “The Girl”, who is Chemda Khalili. Chemda told me she doesn’t mind being referred to as “The Girl” since “Chemda” is a hard name for some people to say! (Not for me cause I’m one of “the tribe!” LOL)

Luckily their publicist Meredith Trotter thought to invite me to this weeklong 8th anniversary celebration of their podcast which gets over 1 million dowmloads a month and has an international following. (I’m not exaggerating about that!)

I hardly ever leave Manhattan with all the shows there are here to write about, but for KATG I drove out to White Wave, a very cool space on Jay Street in Brooklyn just to experience what KATG was all about. And I’m really glad I did!

I didn’t get to see the actual podcast but I attended two of the shows that made up their weeklong celebration, and then went to an after-party that they had for their fans in a special KATG space in a huge building across the street.

The last show was very special because it was Keith’s birthday and every year he records a new DVD of his comedy material. This year he did a compilation set of what he considered to be his best material culled from the last ten years of performing, but he attempted to do it all “clean” which he managed to do, … 99%! (LOL)

Keith in an animated pose during his stand-up set onstage at White Wave in Brooklyn!

Plus it was Chemda’s actual stand-up debut and I didn’t want to miss that.

Chemda making her stand-up comedy debut at the final show of the 8th anniversary celebration of “Keith and The Girl”!

A very funny guy named Tim Dimond (pronounced “Diamond”) was the MC and everyone seemed to know him so I guess he’s a regular part of the show. He has a deep, resonant voice which he claimed did not go with his “anorexic-looking” body! Only in comedy do we have the benefit of using self-deprecating humor. We say things about ourselves before other people do!

Tim Dimond, the very funny MC for last night’s KATG show!

Dan Soder was up next, and he’s always sharp and creative. I related to his line, “You can tell by my lack of facial hair that I’m from Queens!” Because everyone from Brooklyn looks like a farmer from the 1800’s with a full brush beard. They all look like “The Unibomber”. Like a guy who lives alone in a cabin in the woods and just cones out once in a while to tell a few jokes and then goes right back in to his cabin!

A clean shaven Dan Soder killing it for the KATG crowd!

They would all be perfect for my “Beard Painting” story in Weekly World News, ” Man Paints Replica of the Cistine Chapel With His Beard!” You need a Mike Lawrence type of beard for that. A Myq Kaplan kind of beard just won’t cut it! (Myq and John F. O’Donnell were two of the very funny comics I caught on the KATG show the night before, and I got there late, but I did happen to see Mike Lawrence in the background somewhere.)

Myq Kaplan at KATG, with a beard fit for many things but not “beard painting!”

John F. O’Donnell onstage at KATG with his own version of hipster facial hair, but not enough to actually paint with!

Dan also talked about how the current generation of kids would be when they take over the army. Everyone is allergic to Gluten! In 20 years he predicts our army will be in bad shape. “I WOULD storm the beach, but I have an allergy to shellfish!” (LOL)

So I drove out to Brooklyn two nights in a row and it was really worth it to me. I found it very exciting to see what was going on that I didn’t know about and how people actually traveled in from all over the world to celebrate with Keith and Chemda.

I spoke to one girl from Toronto named Mia who credited Chemda for giving her the courage to come out about her sexuality, and another girl and guy who traveled in from Colorado who are also rabid fans of the show. But that’s nothing. People actually traveled in all the way from Australia, and several other countries to attend and hang out with Keith and Chemda because they are totally accessible to their fans and audience.

That was one of the things that people said that I spoke to. They were not elitist and were very real, and made themselves accessible to their fans.

Chemda told me they have their own studio and record five days a week. Their next episode is this coming Wednessday, 4/17/13 at 2 P.M. You can find them on i-Tunes.

In the show, usually lasting an hour or more, Keith and Chemda discuss their lives and current events in a humorous and very honest, upfront, unedited fashion. The show’s tagline is “Keith and his ex-girlfriend talk shit”. They were once in a relationship which I think says a lot about them, that they could continue to work together after no longer being involved.

Keith now has a “fiance”, who Chemda told me had been a fan of the show, and Chemda introduced me to her significant other, a girl named Lauren who identifies herself proudly as a “transgender” individual. She was even kind enough to explain the difference to me between transgender and transsexual!

Chemda and her significan other Lauren! (I don’t know whether she identifies as bf or gf, and I forgot to ask!! LOL)

Keith and The Girl has consistently ranked in the top ten podcasts at Podcast Alley, and has also received multiple podcast-specific awards. The hosts have been interviewed by other popular podcasts such as WTF with Marc Maron, Never Not Funny, and many others, and I am excited to say that I have been asked to come on as a guest.

Keith Malley, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Chemda at the KATG anniversary show!

I’ll let you all know when that’s scheduled to happen! In the meantime tune in to Keith and The Girl just like I’m gonna do! I’m already a fan!

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John Gallagher’s New Feature "Act, Naturally" Filming IN NYC

I have to admit that I get to do some pretty cool things. John Gallagher is a film director who has directed some of the biggest stars in the business like John Leguizamo, Amanda Peet, Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, Denis Leary, Zach Braff, Debi Mazar, and tons more, and now how proud do you think I am to be able to add my name to that list?

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with director John Gallagher outside the venue for the Soho International Film Festival!

I had the honor of being in one of John’s award-winning shorts called “I Love You”, which played in a dozen international film festivals, and then he called me back to be in his new feature called “Act, Naturally”, which he co-wrote, and co-produced with two funny, talented women who also star in the film, Mia Pinchoff and Samantha Scaffidi.

Mia Pinchoff, John Gallagher, and Samantha Scaffidi outside the Sunshine East Theatre on Houston Street, in NYC!

Other people in the cast are Joe D’Onofrio (Are We There Yet?, Goodfellas, The Deli, Blue Moon, Digger 3D), Victor Colicchio (Inside Man, Goodfellas, and four of John’s previous films Street Hunter, Men Lie, The Deli, I Love You),Steve Stanulis (Long Shot Louie, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and five of John’s other films Cupidity, The Introduction, Mother’s Day Massacre, I Love You, Digger 3D), and Deborah Twiss (Kick-Ass, A Gun for Jennifer). One thing about John is that he’s loyal to people who work for him and if he likes you he calls you back!

His company 305 Media Group has six films at this year’s Soho International Film Festival, including the world premiere of Uncomfortable Silence, which has also been invited to the Cannes Film Festival in 2013! Sibyl Santiago is the Exec. Director of the festival and Carlos Santiago is the head of the screening and jury committee, and between them they put on an incredible festival with great films from all over the world with world-class after parties as well thanks to their partner NITETABLES!

The night he’ll be showing Uncomfortable Silence, he will also be producing an event in honor of his friend the late Ben Gazzara who he had also directed, and it should be a very special evening. I will of course be filming on the red carpet!

The next 305 Media Group pictures, all of which he’s directing, include DIGGER 3D, a feature adaptation of Euripides’ classic The Medea … and a film that I happened to write, my only non-comedy project, called “Men of Violence!” John read it and loved it and to my honor, committed to it right away!

So in Act, Naturally I’m playing myself which I feel is a part I was born to play! The truth is I almost didn’t get it because they weren’t sure I was enough like myself to do it, but in the end, John said I pulled it off perfectly!

Mia Pinchoff doing her best to distract Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV while he’s interviewing award-winning actress Samantha Scaffidi in their scene on the red carpet!

I play myself as the host of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Samantha Scaffidi on the red carpet of the Soho Film Festival right after she won an award for the film, ” No, But Yeah!” Mia Pinchoff plays her roommate who tries to hijack my interview by vamping shamlessly behing her while we talk, until I can not help but include her in the conversation. It’s a very funny scene because both of these girls are very funny actresses.

Mia Pinchoff vamping it up on the red carpet for a scene with Jeffrey Gurian, and Samantha Scaffidi in John Gallagher’s Act, Naturally!”

For me it felt natural. I did what I’ve done hundreds of times, and it was really fun. John said it was a great scene and that he got what he wanted which is all that’s important!

This is a little trailer for the film:

And it even has a website:

www.actnaturallythemovie.com

Please check it out and I’ll let you know when to look for it in the theatre as I’m sure it will find a theatrical release!

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Jack Black’s Friars Roast Red Carpet Coverage with Jeffrey Gurian

It’s a long-standing tradition that once a year The Friars Club raises money for charity by “Roasting” a huge star, where a couple of thousand people show up in the Grand Ballroom of The Hilton Hotel to hear other big stars say filthy things about the honoree. It’s been going on since 1950 when they Roasted Sam Levenson! Most of you will have absolutely no idea who that even was! (LOL)

More recently it’s been Donald Trump, Quentin Tarantino, Matt Lauer, Hugh Hefner, Kelsey Grammer, and on and on!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Friars Roastee Jack Black on the red carpet at the Hilton Hotel in NYC!

This year it was the multi-talented Jack Black star of stage and screen, who besides being an actor is also a producer, comedian, voice over artist, writer and musician. He’s best known for his film roles in High Fidelity, School of Rock, King Kong, Nacho Libre, Tropic Thunder, Bernie and Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2. He told me he’s working on Kung Fu Panda #3, which you can hear for yourself in the video right here:

He’s also a rock star with his comedy rock group Tenacious D which he formed back in 1991 with his friend Kyle Gass.

Jack Black on the red carpet of the Friars Roast in his honor being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Bob Saget was the Roast Master and I hadn’t seen Bob since last July when he hosted one of the TV galas at the 30th annual Just for Laughs Festival, the biggest comedy festival in the world. He was hosting the “triple XXX” show, and I told him today that it seems that the raunchier the show, the more clean-cut his appearance. He agreed with me! He also reminded me that the last time he saw me in Montreal, he bumped his head!

Bob Saget with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV holding Jeffrey’s new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” , for which Bob gave him a blurb that reads, “No matter how many years pass, I can never say “No” to Jeff Gurian. Hence this quote on his book’s back cover!”

Watch that video right here:

Bob gave me the nicest blurb for the back of my recent book “Make ‘Em Laugh” when he wrote “No matter how many years pass I can never say “No” to Jeff Gurian! Hence this quote on his book’s back cover!”

I was shooting video interviews on the red carpet and besides speaking with Jack and Bob, I also got some very cool interviews with Artie Lange, Amy Schumer, Gene Simmons of Kiss and his Family Jewels, The Beach Boys who I got to thank for saving my life in high school, Padma Lakshmi and more!

Gene Simmons was there with his wife Shannon Tweed and his son Nick, who’s really handsome and about 6’5″ at the very least! Gene is 6’2″ and Nick towered over him. When I told Gene that he was with his Family Jewels, Shannon corrected me and told me that Sophie wasn’t able to come and join them!

Amy Schumer and I talked a lot about her new show debuting very soon on Comedy Central called “Inside Amy Schumer” and about all the guest stars who have agreed to be on with her! She was very humbly amazed that they all said “Yes” to appearing!

I will be posting the video interviews as soon as I edit them! Stay tuned and please “Subscribe” to my Comedy Matters TV channel at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork

Thanks and hope to see you soon at something fun!

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Halley Feiffer Scores at Opening of Friars Club Comedy Film Fest

Film festivals are fun. Even more when you have a film in one and I’ve had that experience a couple of times. A film I wrote with Scott Baio called “Face to Face” was chosen as the opening night film of the Taos Talking Picture Festival, so I know the excitement that brings.

Charlie Prince runs the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival and Eric Johnson is the Director of Programming, and they always pick a killer film for the opening. This year they did themselves proud by choosing Halley Feiffer and Eric Spahn’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

The film poster for “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

The film debuted at NYU’s Cantor Film Center and the place was packed!

It’s a wild story with a great cast where everyone is playing themselves, which is very unusual and where art and life can sometimes get confused. (Especially if you have ADD like me!)

I like that cause I usually wind up playing myself in things too, and it’s fun but again, can be confusing. Like when I’m interviewing Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in their trailer after our shoot, and they’re still in character as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, and I’m trying to talk to them like they’re Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, but they’re answering me as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland!

Jeffrey Gurian on the LA set of Kroll Show with Nick (Gil Faizon) Kroll, and John (George St. Geegland) Mulaney

In the story, Halley, an up-and-coming film starlet loses her boyfriend, her agent, and her career all at the same time. In her attempt to recover from that huge loss she comes up with an idea to change her life my making a movie to become “way more famous!”

With the help of a stolen script and her brother, played by Ryan Spahn, who was also her co-writer, and his boyfriend, Michael Urie, from Ugly Betty, who is also his boyfriend in real life, they set out to make a film starring Halley that will take her to the levels of success she feels she deserves. Michael Urie’s character agrees to direct this project.

(L-R) Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer, and Ryan Spahn on the red carpet for opening night of the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

And Halley stops at nothing to get the film done. In the storyline of this film, in trying to get as many celebs in it as possible, they wind up kidnapping Ben Stiller. It also features stars like Jesse Eisenberg, Ralph Maccio, Mamie Gummer, and Natasha Lyonne.

The story is great, and funny but what stood out to me was the comedic talent of Halley Feiffer. Meeting her on the red carpet for a video interview which you will see shortly, I had no idea what to expect. She was funny and charming, but not to the extent of what she does in the film. She’s like a young Lucille Ball.

Jeffrey Gurian with Michael (Ugly Betty) Urie on the red carpet waiting for Halley Feiffer who’s behind on the step-and-repeat!

She’s energetic and so totally fun! You just wish you had a friend like that, and it makes you wanna hang out with her in real life!

During the Q&A after the film screened, I raised my hand to ask a question but prefaced it by saying how much I enjoyed the film and how Halley was a “comedic gem”! A very rare find. A performer like that makes directing easy because they take the words off the page to a whole different level.

(L-R) Ryan Spahn, Halley Feiffer, Michael Urie and Charlie Prince off the the side for the Q&A following “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

I was really so impressed with her talent. I would love to work on something with her!

What I also liked was that almost everyone had some connection to the show Ugly Betty. To me that was awesome, that a group of friends got together to create a cool, really fun project! And Halley and Ben Stiller had worked together in their joint Broadway debut in the play “House of Blue Leaves”!

Following the film we all went back to The Friars Club for the opening night party and stand-up comedy show where Charlie Prince opened the show and introduced Harrison Greenbaum, who’s always hysterical and also did a set before the film came on at the Cantor Center.

Film festival director Charlie Prince on the mic at The Friars Club opening party!

Harrison Greenbaum the exceedingly “straight” comedian opening the film and show at The Friars Club!

Others on the show were Justin Williams, Bonnie McFarlane, and Rich Vos!

Bonnie McFarlane killing it as usual for the crowd at The Friars. Her film “Women Aren’t Funny” was also in the festival!

The film is having a theatrical release on May 10th. Make sure you go out and see it! And tell them I sent you! (LOL)

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Peter Dinklage of "Game of Thrones" in Early Comedy Film

I first met Peter Dinklage more than 20 years ago, and I’m pretty sure it was through Ethan Hawke. I had been hanging out at the Naked Angels Theatre bringing my early work to be read, which is how I first met Ethan.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ethan Hawke back in 2005 during his performance in Hurly-Burly!

I had written a play called “A Punch In The Face”, and was going to their Monday night reading series where you could get up and coming actors to read your stuff out loud. The purpose was for writers to evaluate their writing and make changes after hearing it read.

I was doing readings of ” A Punch In The Face” and a young actor who introduced himself as Ethan Hawke came over to tell me he really liked my piece. I had just read about him that very week in people Magazine about a movie he starred in called ” Alive” about people who survived a plane crash.

The Naked Angels was made up of Marisa Tomei, Matthew Broderick, Kenny Lonergan, Fisher Stevens, Sarah Jessica Parker, her brothers Toby and Pippin, and a host of others that have become household names. Somewhere along the way Ethan introduced me to Peter.

I was offered the opportunity to make some short comedy films for the Toyota Comedy Festival, and had about two weeks to get them done from start to finish, and I created what came to be known as The “Men Who” Series, based on a series of ideas I had told to Woody Allen many years before when I was still in Dental School. It was about men who did very unusual things, like ” Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and “Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To”!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Woody Allen many years later in 2011!

In recent years when I re-connected with Woody Allen, as I was about to be re-introduced, I actually made him bust out laughing by saying, “Hi Woody, I’m a very close friend of yours!”

Anyway, back to The “Men Who” Series, … I cast them myself and when it came time to cast “Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” I went to Peter Dinklage who kindly agreed to be in the film. He was one of three men who danced in the street wherever they wanted to, despite the fact that there were “No Dancing” signs posted everywhere.

I had my artist make up a perfect “No Dancing” sign that looked just like a “No Parking” sign and even had hours on it. I think it said, ” No Dancing Tues, and Thursdays or any other time!” We shot it on Broadway and 28th Street, where I also shot ” Men Who Dance In Traffic With The Sunday Edition of The New York Times!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Peter Dinklage currently starring in HBO’s “Game of Thrones!”

When the shoot was over, we accidentally left the sign up, and it created quite a traffic jam for a few days, because even then parking was very difficult in the city and drivers who were looking for a place to park found it very confusing to come up against a “No Dancing” sign. It even wound up as a Page 6 item in the NY Post!

Anyway, Peter was always a very talented actor so I’m not really surprised that he went on to become such a big star. I loved him in the award-winning film “The Station Agent” in which he starred with his good friend, the amazingly talented Bobby Cannavale from Boardwalk Empire, and in about 15 minutes the new season of “Game of Thrones” is coming on and I’m running to watch.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bobby Cannavale at The Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row in NYC!

Check out below to see Peter dance where he’s not supposed to, … in a “No Dancing” zone!

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Lisa Lampanelli Previews New Show with The New Group

Lisa Lampanelli has been working on her one woman show for a long time now, and it shows. In collaboration with the hot theatre troupe “The New Group” she work-shopped four performances at The Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row, which is on 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, right in the heart of Times Square! Very prestigious!

A row of posters for Theatre Row showing that Lisa is in good company!

The poster for the show says “The Untitled Lisa Lampanelli Project” underneath which it says, ” This ain’t stand-up bitches!” And she’s right. It’s not. It’s a proper one woman show, with lots of humor thrown in, but also some serious stuff as well.

The cool poster for Lisa Lampanelli’s as yet “unnamed” show!

I can’t tell you anything about it since it’s still in development, except to say that Lisa talks about her life and her transformation from being “the fat chick” to “the skinny bitch” she is now! Her words, not mine! (LOL)

In her early days she honed her insult skills to get even with any audience members who might heckle her about her appearance. After a while she began attacking first, with lines like “Hey one-tooth, with you here who’s running the tilt-a-wheel?”

She said she flew in from out of town, but she didn’t sit next to her husband Jimmy cause she flies first class! Jimmy would laugh harder than anyone else at that joke. He’s a great guy and I see him all the time! We always have a lot of laughs!

The newly “svelte” couple Lisa Lampanelli and Jimmy BB backstage at Westbury Theatre!

No one in Lisa’s audience is shocked by anything she says. She’s well known enough now that she draws an audience that demands she be who she is. She’s even made the “C” word acceptable! She says it so much you actually get used to it after a while.

She talks about many topics and about her gastric sleeve surgery that allowed her to lose 100 pounds and become the “skinny bitch” she jokes about. They take out 85% of your stomach. She truly is skinny, but it certainly hasn’t hurt her sense of humor. If anything she’s funnier than she ever was!

A rear view of the new and slender Lisa Lampanelli taken at her recent show at Westbury! She’s really a skinny bitch!

I saw her recently out at Westbury where she packed the place, and went backstage afterwards to congratulate her and say “Hi”! We had a chuckle about my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the history of The Comic Strip that she is in with a very funny interview! So we took a photo with the book!

Lisa Lampanelli holding my book “Make “Em Laugh” that she was kind enough to appear in with a really cool interview! I look pretty good in this photo, dontcha think???!

But at The Acorn, there were so many people waiting to see her backstage after the show, that I just left and sent her a text message how much I enjoyed it. I think maybe I’ll Tweet this post out to the Universe and see if she RT’s it!

Can’t wait till the show opens for real!

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Bret Ernst Headlines Gotham Comedy Club

Every so often I get to see someone I’ve only heard about, but never seen before. Such was the case with Bret Ernst who’s based in LA, but Chris Mazzilli makes sure to bring in the best talent from all over and gives them exposure at his clubs. That’s good for me! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with headliner Bret Ernst at Gotham Comedy Club!

Bret was one of four comedians featured in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland, along with Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Bret has also appeared on Comedy Central Presents and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,and was the host of the first season of Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too. He also appeared in Ke$ha’s Blah Blah Blah music video.

His Comedy Central 1/2 hour special was voted in the “TOP 5” of all of 2010, and his first comedy album “American Comic” was an instant success, breaking “TOP 10” on iTunes in its first week, so you can see why I was anxious to meet him and see him perform.

JImmy Failla hosting the Bret Ernst show at Gotham Comedy Club!

The always funny Jimmy Failla MC’ed the show and brought up Drew Fraser first. Drew is also a great host and often hosts events for Comedy Central. He said he’d rather get sick and lose weight than go to the gym. I often thought of that in terms of getting a high fever and hallucinating instead of taking drugs. It’s a legal way to hallucinate! But who do you go to to score a high fever???

Drew also talked about The Pope quitting, and said, ” you know the economy is bad when G-d starts laying people off!”

And on Latina women, he said they don’t age well. He was dating a girl who started out looking like J Lo and wound up looking like Ceelo!

Rachel Feinstein was next and she’s one of my faves! I love when she imitates her Mom talking about a joke she finds objectionable and asks Rachel, ” Can you take that joke out of your talent show?” She calls her act a “talent show”! That’s hysterical!

Rachel Feinstein onstage at Gotham, … as funny as she is pretty! Which means VERY!!!

And then she imitates her Mom as a rapper cause she says her Mom thinks she’s Wiz Khalifa! Just the juxtapostion of the words “Mom” and “Wiz Khalifa” in the same sentence you know it has to be funny!

And I’ve never heard another female comic do a guy’s voice as good as Rachel. When she imitates the “street” accents of the guys who cat-call her on the street by commenting on her appearance with lines like, ” Oh Mami, don’t do that to me!” … as if she purposely looks so sexy just to turn them on, she answers in her grandmother’s Jewish sounding voice with a come-back like, “I’m sorry Jorge,(Pronounced Hor-hay!), I guess I’m up to my old tricks again!” I could watch her all night!

Rachel Feinstein in one of her many characters, probably scolding some street guy who came onto her!

But her set ended and Bret Ernst took the stage to rousing applause. His crowd knew he was coming and turned out for him. Right away he proved his likeability, and went into imitating his cousin who tries to be super Italian, where he transforms himself into that “Jersey-shore” kind of Italian guy, even making up words and phrases like when requesting to use the GPS he’s like, “Put it in the “navigashe!”. Go to a restaurant and make a “reservache”! Just realizing that you understand what he’s saying, even using those made up words is funny in itself!

He has a great comedy voice, which not all comics have. Certain voices are better attuned for comedy than others and he has a good one! He also does a super “drunk” voice as well.

Bret Ernst in one of his many funny facial expressions to go along with his funny act!

Raised by a single Mom he wonders whether there are really any Dads anymore. Kids these days have “Dad sightings!” I think I saw your Dad in the mall!

Currently a bachelor, he explains that a “promise ring” is a ring that buys you some time. He wonders about all the rings you have to buy a girl these days, a promise ring, an engagement ring, a wedding ring. How many rings do you need? What are you Saturn?

Then he riffs on “Save the Date” cards. It’s basically a card that tells you to expect a card. He says it’s like me calling you up and telling you to hang up so I can call you back, “Yo, hang up! I’m gonna call you!” A great example of how comics take everyday things and occurrences that most people don’t notice, and make them funny.

Bret Ernst headlining and killing it at Gotham Comedy Club!

Talking about girls when they’re shopping he says his girl would say something like, ” That shirt would be great in Aruba!” He’s like, ” I don’t even know where that is!”

And he goes on to explain that girls make things more complicated than they have to be because they don’t know what they want. They live in a fantasy. They want to have fun but they make it impossible by coming up with things out of their head like ” I wanna go to a restaurant with a Mariachi band and a harp”, like an imaginary restaurant that only exists in Oz!

I’m really glad I got to see Bret Ernst and I hope I get to see him again soon!

Bret Ernst with his new fan, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Bret currently resides in Los Angeles, and hosts his own podcast on Tuesday nights at 9pm Pacific at the gocast.com network. If he likes this piece, maybe he’ll have me on as a guest???

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Robert Klein at The Friars Club for the Documentary "The Business of Comedy"

I get involved in so many interesting projects. Sometimes things just seem to come out of nowhere because life is magical like that. So I find myself as an Associate Producer on a wonderful documentary film slated for PBS called “The Business of Comedy” working with two great Exec. Producers Gary Licker and Scott Sobel.

(L-R) Scott Sobel, and Gary Licker with trusty camera in Jeffrey Gurian’s writing room, after his interview for “The Business of Comedy!”

They made a name for themselves with a successful documentary called “Selling Cars in America”, about the history of the American car dealership and a look at the players who set the tone in the modern day, 21st century showroom. Scott produced it and Gary Licker directed.

“The Business of Comedy” examines just what it says, the business of comedy. So they’re not only interviewing comedians, but they’re speaking to club owners, managers, agents and anybody who makes the comedy world tick. That’s where I came in. First they interviewed me in my home, in what I call my “comedy museum” packed with photos and nostalgia going back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, when I was writing for Rodney Dangerfield and many Friars Club Roasts at the behest of Friars producer Bob Saks, and my original sponsor in The Friars Club, Milton Berle.

We had so much fun on that interview and we all got along so well that we decided to progress together with me being an Associate Producer. Now as a co-producer I brought the project to Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip where we not only interviewed Richie on his vast experience as the owner and founder of The Strip, but also interviewed a bunch of comics both established and new who shared their feelings on the business of comedy.

Then we spoke to Chris Mazzilli at the Gotham Comedy Club, who offered his unique perspective and who I refer to as “the classiest man in comedy”, and Gabe Waldman owner of Stand-Up New York, who we also filmed performing on stage. Very soon we will be speaking on camera with my old friend comedy legend/icon Rick Newman who opened the legendary Catch A Rising Star at the end of 1972, which was the admitted inspiration for The Comic Strip.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chris Mazzilli owner of Gotham Comedy Club at a Laugh For Sight charity event in 2011!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comedy icon Rick Newman founder of Catch A Rising Star and current co-owner of Stage 72 in NYC!

But this week was something special for all of us. We got to interview Robert Klein at The Friars Club. Both Gary and Scott made no secret of the fact that they were both incredibly excited at the opportunity to speak to Robert who is himself an icon of comedy, and one of the enduring bright stars of his generation. Not only has he established himself onstage but he’s appeared in over 40 feature films.

I think it was Gary who said that he’s interviewed many celebs but that the excitement of knowing he was going to interview Robert Klein kept him up the night before the interview! We had intended to do the interview in the beautifully appointed Milton Berle Room but as were were setting up we ran into Peter Rosegarten, Robert’s manager from The Conversation Company who facilitated us moving to the gorgeous dining room to do our interview. It’s actually Peter’s brother Rory who works directly with Robert and has done so for the past maybe 30 years ever since Robert left Rollins and Joffe.

Exec. Producer Gary Licker adjusting the microphone for Robert Klein before his interview at The Friars Club!

That story is in my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” in a great interview that Rory gave me. Rory and I go back many years and he represented me when I was writing for Joan Rivers.

Gary and Scott started out by playing a little audio recording of Budd Friedman founder of The Improv, which he opened in 1963, saying some very complimentary things about Robert Klein who was a regular there. Robert was very gracious and humbled by Budd’s statement, and said that as years go on, the more those kind of things mean to him. That kind of set the tone for what turned out to be a fantastic interview.

Exec. Producers Scott Sobel and Gary Licker interviewing Robert Klein at The Friars Club for their project “The Business of Comedy” on which I am Associate Producer!

Robert was so generous with his sharing of stories and his energy. I loved how he easily remembered the date of his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I believe he said it was Jan. 9th, 1968. He remembered Johnny also as being “generous” with his laughter and support.

In 1970 Robert had his own summer replacement comedy/variety show called “Comedy Tonight”, which he hosted along with frequent guests Peter Boyle and Madeline Kahn. He has since done nine HBO comedy specials, and is still very active performing around the country at different venues.

Exec. Producer Scott Sobel with his notes asking questions of Robert Klein for the doc film for PBS, “The Business of Comedy”!

His original manager Jack Rollins who helped me greatly in my own career and who originally introduced me to his other clients at the time Billy Crystal and Robin Williams figured greatly in Robert’s early career. I was still a Cosmetic Dentist in those early days and Jack thought that Billy Crystal would be perfect to play me in a sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show biz. That’s why when I interviewed Billy for my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” in one of the photos we took he was pointing to his teeth!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in Billy’s office in LA. Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s background as a Cosmetic Dentist!

Robert was inspired by Jonathan Winters, and Lenny Bruce who was persecuted, blacklisted and ultimately ruined for performing material that was considered obscene in those days, but would be considered tame by today’s standards, where literally anything goes. Robert spoke of comedy as a “craft” that used to have a certain “dignity”. I saw it that way as well.

I was also very glad to hear that Robert and I share the same sensitivity as to what is commonly referred to as “bathroom humor” and I can’t really grasp the fascination that many young comics seem to have with bodily functions that to me have no place in a show where men are taking women out for an evening of entertainment.

Neither Robert nor I are prudes in any sense of the word. I wrote filthy jokes for Friars Roasts for many years, but that wasn’t the material I chose to do when I went on stage, and neither did he. We just share the same dislike for unnecessary grossness which is all too common these days.

Robert literally gave us “gold” for the documentary with his honest evaluation of the comedy scene then and now, and he kept me on my toes by throwing questions at me, when certain names in comedy history didn’t quite come to him right away, like Dane Cook and Rosie O’Donnell! He also remembered many years ago when I approached him about writing some material for him. It’s amazing what sticks out in people’s minds that you would think they would never remember!

I was so happy I was able to give him a copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” because it’s about everyone he knows!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Robert Klein at The Friars Club, holding Jeffrey’s book ” Make’Em Laugh!”

His spirit was youthful and engaging and I hope to see him again soon and maybe even work with him on something fun and meaningful.

Btw, in case you’re interested this is the very cool trailer for the documentary “The Business of Comedy!”

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Carlos Mencia: Heavyweight in Comedy, Lightweight in Actual Weight!

The last time I saw Carlos Mencia he was a lot heavier. He told me he lost about 70 pounds, but fortunately he’s as funny as ever, if not funnier! It proves that weight doesn’t make you funny. Look at Lisa Lampanelli! A hundred pounds lighter and she kills it every time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with a heavier Carlos Mencia back in 2007 at a Latino Comedy Festival in LA!

So when I heard that Carlos was hosting the AXS TV special at Gotham, one of the “Gotham Comedy Live” series produced by Killer Bunny Entertainment’s Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea, I knew I had to get down there.

I let Carlos know to expect me, and we sat down together in the green room during the time between rehearsal and the actual show. He started by saying, “the last time you saw me I was a lot heavier!” Which led into a discussion I enjoy, about empowerment! Most people are too afraid to change their lives, even if they’re miserable, because at least they know who they are while being miserable. But if they radically change their lives, who will they be?

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the new and improved Carlos Mencia at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

That’s a scary concept for a lot of people. In my own life I was a very severe stutterer until I was in my 20’s. I couldn’t even say my name which is a common problem for stutterers. I realized that when I was in a room by myself I could speak perfectly. That told me that there was really nothing wrong with me. It took the next two or three years for me to make progress with my speech and free myself from the bondage of stuttering, but it’s an accomplishment that changed my life.

Carlos came from Honduras, as the 17th of 18 kids, so when he started doing well enough to afford having an appetizer in restaurants, he ordered them just because he could! Then a friend of his who had Diabetes told him he was in danger of losing a toe, and made the observation that when you see old people in their 80’s or 90’s they’re NEVER fat! And that’s true. That realization hit home for Carlos and he got serious about losing weight.

He looks and feels like a new person! Check out what he had to say in the video we shot:

Carlos’s Gotham Comedy Live show was one of the best I’ve seen, because of the energy he brought to it. Angelo Lozada was the MC and he’s always funny and reliable, which is why he gets to host a lot. He said, ” You know your girlfriend talks too much when she wakes up in the morning and her first words are, ” And then, ….”

Angelo Lozada warming up the crowd for Carlos Mencia at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jon Fish was up next and said he wishes his Dad had given him the advice, “When you realize you’re going bald, turn to whoever you’re with at the time and propose!”

Jon Fisch making a point while killing on the AXS TV special “Live at Gotham” starring Carlos Mencia!

He uses Hugh Hefner as an inspiration for dating younger women. He said that Hugh, 86, recently married a girl who was 26. A 60 year difference. That’s an entire old person between them!

Hadiyah Robinson was up next and was also very funny. She talked about not being able to have a gay guy as a roommate. She said she couldn’t live with a guy who didn’t want to have sex with her!

Hadiyah Robinson “bringin’ it” to the crowd at Gotham Comedy Club!

Most people in comedy have had the experience of meeting someone who tells them a family member is also very funny, and is starting out in comedy. Usually it turns out to be nothing. They were funny once at a family party or something. In the particular case of which I speak, the “someone” was the super of my building, who told me many times about his step-son who was performing comedy. I had no idea it was going to turn out to be Mark DeMayo, who happens to be very, very funny! He’s also an ex-NYPD cop, which gives him lots of relatable material.

The very likeable and funny Mark Demayo, ex-cop turned comic onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

When people ask him what he does now since he retired, he tells them he smokes pot! He got an extended applause break when he showed the audience how he used to bang on doors in the projects in order to get people to come to the door. He banged on them as if they were conga drums, and he was banging out a Latin beat! The audience pictured some guy dancing his way to the door to be arrested! Really funny visual, but Mark told me afterwards that the length of the applause made him have to leave out a joke. A lot of comics would like to have that problem!

Carlos liked him so much that at the end of the show he asked him to do an extra bit! Mark was there with his manager from Cringe Humor Cris Italia, who with his partners Paul Italia, Patrick Milligan and Dave Kimowitz own the super cool new comedy club/restaurant called The Stand! If you haven’t been there yet you must check it out on 20th Street and 3rd Avenue in NYC! And make sure to tell them I sent you! (LOL)

Jason Andors was also on the line-up and admitted that he cheated on his last girlfriend which he felt must have been Karma. He wondered, “what did she do to deserve that kind of treatment?”

The funny and flexible Jason Andors, onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

He also told about this Latina chick he was dating who would yell at him in public, so to counteract that he’d take out a script and make believe they were rehearsing a scene for a movie. Jason has a background in ballet, which he uses so effectively onstage in the physical part of his act, and is one of the best pop-lockers I’ve ever seen. He’s often the only White comic performing to a Black audience, and I can see why his material would go over so well.

But Carlos was amazing. He was so funny, he commented himself that he even wasted jokes during the commercial breaks when only the club audience would hear them, as opposed to the TV audience at home. He talked about so many diverse topics like:

Oscar Pistorius – You have no legs. Why are you shooting the one chick that was willing to have sex with you? She’s probably up in heaven now saying, ” I should have been f***king a guy with no arms!” (Did I mention that this show was “Live” with no censorship???)

Hurricane Sandy – In this country we called it a “Super Storm”. In India they simply say, ” A wave came and everyone died!”

Camping – Camping is for rich people who want to pretend to be homeless. Most regular people don’t even understand the concept. When I explained it to my gardener, he told me that his family has been “camping” for hundreds of years!

And at the end of the high energy show they all came out to take a bow!

Mark Demayo, Jason Andors, Carlos Mencia, Jon Fisch, and Hadiyah Robinson onstage for a cast bow at Gotham Comedy Club!

Carlos is a super guy who deserves all of his success. He alluded to working on a concept for a new TV show and personally I would love to see that! I’d love even more to be on it! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Carlos Mencia backstage at Gotham Comedy Club holding a copy of Jeffrey’s new book with an intro by Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh!”

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Sherri Shepherd Kills It At Gotham

Most comics have to worry about winning the audience over. Sherri Shepherd is one of those rare comic performers that the audience likes so much, they’re already on her side when she hits the stage. Gotham Comedy is a big club and when I got there it was so crowded for Sherri that my usual table was gone.

Sherri Shepherd killing it onstage to a sold-out crowd at Gotham Comedy Club!

Fortunately I got an even better table since I need to sit way in the back so I can jump up to greet the performers and get my photos during the show without disturbing anyone. I wound up with the corner table that had good light and put me right next to the comics who were on the show.

Angelo Lozada was the host, and he’s great at warming up an audience, which is a lot harder than just coming out and performing. I should never use the word “just” because coming out and performing stand-up comedy is the hardest thing in the world, even though Joel McHale once told me that he thought that brain surgery might be more difficult! (LOL – Your cue to laugh!)

Angelo Lozada hosting the show at Gotham Comedy Club for Sherri Shepherd!

Angelo told about a homeless guy on the train, and imitated the usual spiel, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I don’t mean to disturb anyone. I’m just trying to get some money to get my son a tattoo, and to start a record label.”

First up was Harrison Greenbaum, a favorite of mine. Harrison’s killer theme is that people think he’s gay. And he explains it openly, “If you walked into a room and saw me kissing a guy, you’d immediately say, ‘That guy is definitely gay.’ But if you walked into a room and saw me kissing a woman, you’d immediately say, ” That guy … is fooling himself!”

Harrison Greenbaum, Harvard grad, who explains how having sex with another guy is the straightest thing you can do!

He embellished upon that by saying, ” How do you know you’re not gay unless you’ve had sex with another man? That’s the straightest thing you can do is to have sex with another man and then say you didn’t like it.” He explained it so well, it almost made sense! (LOL)

He’s also very clever with lines like,” My friend reads the Bible religiously, which is really the only way to read it!”

Next up was Brad Trackman who I think I know even before he married his lovely wife Christina, who used to book acts at Carolines. Brad is one of the few comics who is always a hit and works clean.

A photo of Brad Trackman and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV taken at The Comic Strip, circa 2002!

He’s done lots of national TV appearances like NBC’s “Later” and “Friday Night”, CBS’s “Star Search”, ABC’s “NY Comedy Festival”, MTV’s “The Buried Life” and had his own commercial campaign for Spike Television where he played the fictitious presidential elect Biff Wolinski.

One of his CD’s called “Safecracker” is based on a killer bit he does about women being like safes and men having to figure out the combination to get into the safe. A compliment like ” Of course you don’t look fat in those pants” is like 22 to the left, etc. knowing full well that men will say anything they have to to crack the combination to the safe!

I heard rumours that Brad may be in line for a show! More on that to follow. He said his wife has trust issues and he knows that for a fact because he read it in her journal! That is really funny! And when she asked him if he would still look for her if they were both in Heaven, he had to remind of of their marriage vows, ” Til death do us part!” It’s Heaven, and he’s not making any promises!

Then Sherri took the stage to thunderous applause. She’s one of those performers that people like before she even says a word. There’s not that many. I once saw Artie Lange get a standing ovation just by coming out on stage!

Sherri automatically endears herself to the audience, but don’t tell her she’s adorable, or you’ll never hear the end of it. She hates being called “adorable” and I understand it cause I always hated it when people said it about me too! “Adorable” is more for a pet or an infant, not a grown-ass adult! (LOL)

Sherri Shepherd in the midst of one of her funny stories onstage during her headlining gig at Gotham Comedy Club!

People love Sherri because not only is she funny, but she’s honest and self-effacing. In talking about her preparation for Hurricane Sandy she said she stocked up on lots of food, and then ate it all in one day!

She talks about washing her wig, and even warned her son Jeffrey, ” Don’t you lie to me. I got eyes in the back of my wig!” And if you ever saw Chris Rock’s documentary entitled “Good Hair” on the state of Black women and their hair, you know not to fool around with a Black woman and her hair! That’s serious bizness!

Sherri replaced Star Jones as a co-host on The View back in 2007, and has also appeared on 30 Rock, Entourage and Hot in Cleveland. She’s also landed supporting roles in a range of films, from the 2009 drama Precious to the 2012 action comedy One for the Money. Also in 2012, Shepherd did a stint on Dancing With the Stars, and had some really funny stories about that, and how she got eliminated from the show. Meanwhile, just being on it is an honor in itself.

Ask Jeffrey Ross who was on for only a short time when his dancing career got put on hold due to a finger in his eye! Very hard to dance with a finger in your eye!

Sherri claimed as she was running towards her partner for him to lift her up in the air she swore she heard Maksim Chmerkovskiy say ” Ohhhhhh Jesus!”

Sherri is a great story teller. Some comics just get up and tell jokes. Others are able to tell stories. She’s one of those. She talks a lot about her new husband who she calls “Sal”, who’s supposedly very tall.

Sherri Shepherd and husband Lamar Sally, otherwise known as “Sal”!

When I heard her call him “Sal” I thought she married some big Italian guy until out of curiousity I looked it up, and saw that her husband’s real name is Lamar Sally, “Sal” for short, which made a lot more sense to me! (LOL) Her son’s name is Jeffrey which I feel is one of the greatest names to come along in all of history! (LOLOL)

I recently ran into Sherri after a guest spot she did at The Comic Strip and was able to give her a copy of my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of that legendary club! My co-author was owner/founder of the club Richie Tienken, who appears with us in the photo below.

Richie Tienken, Sherri Shepherd holding her copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Sherri is really fun, and really funny, and I hope to be able to interview her soon for Comedy Matters TV!

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