Archive for Comedy Festivals

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Bill Burr back in 2005

 

With Bill Burr in Montreal at Just for Laughs

With Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club in 2018

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

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Ashley Madison – Not What You Think

Ashley Madison – Not What You Think

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

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

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

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

                                         Such a fun day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

                           Jeffrey making a point!

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

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

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

 

                  You understand, … don’t you? 

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

                Jeffrey making another point!

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

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

                              See how Happy we look?

Until then remember, … COMEDY MATTERS!!!

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

 

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The Phenomenon Known As Sebastian

There’s only a handful of comedians that can fill an arena like Madison Square Garden with 20,000 seats, much less four shows over one weekend!  That’s 80,000 people who came out in the cold and pouring rain to see Sebastian Maniscalco do his thing on his Stay Hungry Tour.

There’s also very few performers who only need one name to identify them. Oprah, Cher, Elvis! Nobody ever said Elvis who? And now there’s Sebastian, holding it down in the comedy world!

I who drive everywhere had a feeling that wouldn’t be a good idea this night so I called for an Uber. I’m basically right across town from MSG, so theoretically it should take a good 15-20 minutes to get there.

The VIP meet and greet was set for 9-10 P.M. between his last two shows. I was told to go to the 8 Penn Plaza entrance which is for employees and media, and make my way to the 5th floor and then down to the third floor for the party.

The car picked me and my date up at 8:15, and I arrived at 8 Penn Plaza just past 9:30 after having to get out and walk the last four blocks in the pouring rain which had been predicted to be snow. For whatever reason traffic was INSANE. Much worse than usual. Every block, every avenue backed up! So lucky I didn’t drive.

As we walked over  we saw huge billboards with Sebastian’s face on them announcing his show. I got excited just by seeing them. Most comics have the experience of seeing their face on a flier, but to see your entire being on a billboard in Times Square has to be beyond belief.

And in the Garden he and Pete Correale were up on the Jumbotron for their podcast “The Pete and Sebastian Show”!

The lines outside of MSG were crazy but I thought we’d have an easier time at the 8 Penn Plaza entrance. WRONG!!! The line was out through the door and into the street. We managed to get inside where it seemed like nobody was moving. They had metal detectors and heavy security but nobody was moving.

I called upstairs to let Sebastian’s Levity Live people know I was finally there, but it was so noisy it was hard to hear anyone. They had my tickets and VIP party passes at a special table, and we just missed an elevator because they said there was no more room. The guards made us put on our VIP passes. We weren’t allowed to just hold them, we had to WEAR them!

We finally got an elevator and the first guy that got in said, ” Hey I know you. Aren’t you the “Master Panelist” from Comics Watching Comics on Amazon Prime?” I admitted that I was, and then another guy got in who referenced me from “Too Much Tuna” with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and even the elevator operator said he knew me. That was kind of crazy! Obviously I’m very well known in elevators throughout the land!

When we finally got to the fifth floor, we were ushered vaguely to another place that wasn’t clear but some nice guy said, ” Don’t worry I’ll show you where to go.”

And we finally got there around 9:40 just in time to see Levity’s Alex Goodman standing with Sebastian’s opening act Pat McGann. Alex kindly showed me into the room where Sebastian was mingling and taking photos with the crowd, directed by Levity honcho Judy Marmel.

We got to exchange pleasantries with Sebastian, and I was amazed how calm he was knowing he was about to face 20,000 people in a few minutes, but I guess once you do it three times before, the fourth time feels like “old hat”, as they used to say in 1810!

When we took our seats, in the third row with a great view, I just sat there trying to take in the aura of 20,000 people. As a comic, if a club is full depending on the club there’s maybe 300 people. Lots of clubs have 125. Twenty thousand people is unimaginable, and you really have to put in years of stage time to be able to handle that and not go insane with fear!

You also have to hope they don’t all want to come over your house for a drink afterwards! That call to your wife would be crazy! Honey some people are dropping by. How many? About 20,000!

Pat McGann showed why he was chosen as Sebastian’s opener by doing a strong opening set with great stories about his wife, kids and family in general.

And then it was time for Sebastian, who hit the stage like a rockstar in a sparkly, multi-colored jacket that was the first thing he mentioned.

Then he discussed the fact that people had been wondering whether they’d have to cancel the show because of the weather. He laughingly said something to the effect of,  “Hey this is not a brunch where you can just go, ” The  weather’s not so great. We’ll do it next Thursday! This is Madison Square Garden.  It took me two years to plan this thing. It’s not being cancelled for a little rain.”

He got thunderous applause from the time he came out till the time he left the stage. It’s not only his stage presence, it’s his physicality that always amazes me.  He acts out almost every joke he does and contorts his body so it looks like the people he’s talking about.

He’s married to a Jewish woman which gave him the ability to compare Jews and Italians in talking about his wife’s upbringing as compared to his, and people were absolutely hysterical. A guy near me almost fell out of his seat!

He told great stories too like the time his wife made a one year old birthday party for his daughter and ordered an alpaca to make an appearance. He needed to get a permit for the alpaca and the story was hilarious. He even walked and made faces and noises like an alpaca. That’s not easy to do!

Talking about the condition his wife was in after she gave birth, he said she looked like she had been thrown out of an airplane, and that made me laugh out loud which like many people in comedy I don’t usually do.

I had to learn that early on when writing for very famous comedians who would look at the jokes I wrote and with a very serious face say, ” Oh that’s funny.  And THAT one’s VERY funny. I’m hysterical!”, without even cracking a smile.

He announced the good news that he has a son on the way. Very exciting. He certainly proved why he was worthy of the respect of 80,000 people who braved the freezing cold and rain to come out and join him. I’m sure he could have done at least two more shows.

I really look forward to seeing him again!

 

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Lil Rel Killin’ It Bigtime

I’ve had the good fortune to know Lil Rel since at least 2012 when we met up at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is where this photo was taken.

Over the years since I’ve seen him many times and watched as his career blew up very deservedly I might add. The man is hilarious and multi-talented.

 

This past summer at the very same festival, which is the biggest and most prestigious comedy festival in the world, Rel received the award for “Breakout Comedy Star of the Year”, presented to him by his friend Deon Cole. This video was shot on the red carpet of the awards show.

Since his breakout performance in Jordan Peele’s smash hit “Get Out” back in 2017 Rel has been on a constant roll, with films Uncle Drew, Bird Box which is out right now, and his new film which will be at Sundance this year, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” co-starring Jillian Bell.

He’s currently on his Relevant 2 Tour and made a stop in NYC to headline at Carolines on Broadway one of the most prestigious clubs in NYC. I dropped by to catch the show and support, and needless to say it was a killer show, but I’ll say it anyway. And Rel looks great.  He lost weight and looks really in shape. They even commented on it on his recent appearance on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne Tha God.

He had comic/actor/tour-mate Jay Alexander from “Rel” hosting the show, with comic/actor Reedo Brown from “Caught The Series” and “Rel” as his feature. Both were really funny and then Rel came out and totally crushed the room. He has such an easy way on stage and is so likable that he had the crowd from minute one! His delivery and intonation add to the humor and he’s very physical onstage as well.  A couple of times he showed his ability to move, and the man can dance! (LOL)

He’s also a great story teller and his story about going to see a show where he expected to see The Jackson’s performing, but only Tito showed up on stage, and only played his part of the songs he sang in, was hilarious, as were the stories about his family and the people who hit him up for money now that he’s doing well. It was a smooth hour of non-stop laughter.

I was waiting for him when he got off stage and went back into the green room to hang out a little bit. Emmy nominated comedy writer/comic Sam Jay was there, who commented positively on my scarf, and told me she’s back writing for SNL, and having a blast, as was my man Jack Thriller who I didn’t recognize at first.

He was there with his trainer who’s turning him into a beast, and I was sitting right across from him thinking, ” This guy looks so much like Jack Thriller”, and finally someone addressed him as Jack and I realized that it actually WAS Jack Thriller. Jack told me he’s finally moving his fun, crazy Party and Bullshit Show down to Times Square in Manhattan where it belongs. Last time I was at the show he had Safaree from Love and Hip Hop performing. It’s always a whole lotta fun, packed with tons of girls too!

Rel was very accommodating to all of the people who came back and wanted to take photos with him, because he’s really humble and handling his fame really well.

After Sundance he’ll be in Nashville, Orlando and a whole bunch of other places so check it out on his website: https://thelilrelcompany.wordpress.com/ and follow him on Instagram at @comedianlilrel

That’s it for me.  Until next time, remember that Comedy Matters!  I’m OUT!!!

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Comedy Matters Is Back Bigger Than Ever

COMEDY MATTERS IS BACK

Due to popular request I am bringing back my Comedy Matters blog/vlog. It’s an inside look at The Comedy World letting you hang with the comedy peeps you love, and meeting them on a personal basis. In this first one I will be doing a short review of some cool things that have happened in the comedy world recently, including Nick Kroll and John Mulaney debuting Season 2 of Netflix’ Big Mouth at the 92Y, the NY Comedy Festival with Bert Kreischer, Mike Birbiglia and Lisa Lampanelli, Hasan Minhaj talking about his new show Patriot Act also on Netflix. Ray Romano, Bill Burr, Scott Rogowsky from HQ Trivia, D.L. Hughley and John Oliver plus lots more with photos and videos of and with your fave comedy stars. 

  • BIG MOUTH DEBUT AT 92Y

WITH NICK KROLL AND JOHN MULANEY

The 92 Y keeps bringing in the heavy hitters in comedy.  Nick Kroll, John Mulaney and Jason Mantzoukas came to the 92nd Street Y along with their whole team from their Netflix hit “Big Mouth” to kick off the new second season.  Exec. Producer Andrew Goldberg, a childhood friend of Nick’s was there and he and Nick were the ones who came up with the idea for the show.  They premiered episode three from this new second season, and needless to say it was HILARIOUS.

The event was moderated by LA Times editor Meredith Blake, and other Exec. Producers on the panel were Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. For anyone who doesn’t know, the animated series follows a group of 7th graders through their experiences with puberty and sexual coming of age  including best friends Nick Birch played by Nick, Andrew Glouberman played by John Mulaney, and with Jason Mantzoukas voicing characters like Jay Bilzerian a guy who has sex with his pillow and with a character named Socrates.

WITH JASON MANTZOUKAS BACKSTAGE AT THE 92Y

 

Nick plays 12 different characters, including everyone’s favorite the Hormone Monster, plus the ghosts of Picasso and Richard Burton, while  Mulaney who’s plagued by the hormone monster who constantly makes him masturbate, plays at least three voices as well, as do Jordan Peele and Fred Armisen to name just two of the big stars whose voices recur on the show. Someone even plays Nick’s pubic hair, and Jessi Klein’s vagina.

During the Q&A a girl asked Jason Manztoukas if he wanted to “hang out”, and suggested that they meet at a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street.  He wasn’t taking any chances in this #MeToo age and invited everyone else there to join them.  And Jon Mulaney admitted that growing up his sexual fantasy was to be 40 and rich!  He must be very satisfied!

ACCIDENTALLY PERFORMING FOR JERRY SEINFELD

It all started on what was supposed to be a regular night at West Side Comedy Club.  I was scheduled to go on second around 8:30 or 8:45 when GM Gina Savage came in and said that Jerry Seinfeld had Tweeted that he’d be stopping by around 8:30.  That’s when people started streaming in.  And that’s what you call real live-streaming!  I happened to be sitting near the front door watching the MC warm up the ever growing crowd when I caught a glance of Jerry walking down the stairs.   He had his baseball cap pulled down low and was alone.  He greeted a few people and shook my hand as he walked by.

The comic scheduled to go on first had done 8 shows in the last couple of days, felt she was tired and decided to leave.  Gina asked Jerry if he wanted to go right up and he said he wanted to wait a minute so Gina looked at me and said “ Jeffrey, you’re up.”   Before I even had a chance to think about it or get nervous I was on stage while Jerry was in the room.  For whatever reason I felt calm, and was able to edit what I was doing while I was up there.  I often open with stuff about the weather, cell phones, and texting but for whatever reason I decided not to do any of that and went right into other material.

              WITH JERRY SEINFELD

Anyway Jerry went up after me to screaming and absolutely HUGE applause, and talked about many things including the weather, cell phones and texting, and it made me wonder what would have happened if I had actually done those same topics just moments before.  Might he have said, “ Well Jeffrey said all there is to say on these subjects!” LOL  I highly doubt it, but it made me think that at least I made good choices of topics to discuss. After I got off stage I totally re-thought all the stuff I could have done with Jerry in the room, which I think is pretty common for comics to do.

Needless to say Jerry killed with all of his new material, then did a Q&A with the audience which he likes to do.  One guy asked him what his favorite thing to do was and he said it was his show “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” and doing stand-up.

When he finished he left as low key as when he arrived.  By himself with his hat down over his eyes.  It was a special experience, made even moreso by the fact that it wound up on Page 6 in the NY Post and also on Page 6 TV.

Jerry Seinfeld and Jeffrey Gurian on Page 6 TV

D.L. HUGHLEY DOES IT UP RIGHT

I went to see my good pal D.L. Hughley truly one of the official Kings of Comedy.  He was headlining at Carolines and there was not a seat to be had.  I was with him for all three nights and it was as much fun as you would have expected it to be.

As usual D.L. is very generous with his opening spots and gives stage time to comics on their way up.  Bo “Last Name” Dacious is one of his regular openers who is always a killer, and Clint Coley has such a unique stage persona, and is so funny that you gotta come away liking the guy.  He really takes command of the stage. Part of Bo’s merch is “Miss Hattie’s rag” which you have to see to understand but it’s a great gimmick and he said one of his best ideas ever!

BACKSTAGE WITH D.L. HUGHLEY AT CAROLINES ON BROADWAY

D.L. is one of the only comics I know who is confident and relaxed enough to either hang out with friends backstage until literally the moment he’s announced to go up, and I know this because I’m usually sitting right next to him when I’m there, and I walk with him to the showroom, or else he arrives at the club just minutes before he’s due to go on, and just goes right up.  That is amazing to me.  Many comics like to be alone before, and center themselves in some way.  Some are still looking over their material until right before they go up.

The girl I was with sparked a deep conversation about the power of women that D.L. and I will continue on his radio show very soon! His radio co-host Jasmine Sanders was backstage on the second night that I went.  Always so good to see Jaz!

D.L. hits the stage, always dressed to the nines with his unique style, and does a flawless hour plus with no stress.  He saves his crowd work for the end.  And he always proves why he’s one of the true Kings of Comedy. I made it back for Sunday night’s closing night hang, which is always fun with DL. The dressing room was just D.L., his two nephews, and his long-time friends and fellow comics Smokey Suarez, and George Willborn.

We laughed for about 2 hours after the show ended until we closed the place down.  It was just us and the help.  Then they went out to grab a bit to eat, and I uncharacteristically went to get some rest for what I knew would be a crazy week at the  NY Comedy Festival.

PLANNING A SCARF BUSINESS WITH BILL BURR

I kicked off New York Comedy Festival week with a kind of secret show from Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club.  Secret only in terms of, … you had to know to know.  The room was packed to the proverbial gills. Joe Bartnick was the host and Mark Normand featured.

Unsurprisingly Bill did a flawless hour and has such a tremendous range of topics to talk about. He challenges people’s sensibilities which is such a good thing and he’s so smart that he presents things in a way that you have to see his point of view. Being that his wife is black he does a lot of very pertinent and necessary racial humor that everyone responded to very positively. He described himself as being so white he looks like a “bearded moon!”

He was gearing up for his headlining gig that Wed. at Madison Square Garden. He was there with “Late Night with David Letterman” legendary guitarist and Paul Shaffer staple Felicia Collins who happens to be an old friend of mine as well.  The room was so dark, and there were no seats, but thanks to owners Eugene and Nina Ashe they pulled me into a seat right next to Felicia, and she leaned over and said “ Jeffrey is that you?” After thoroughly checking, I came to the conclusion that it was me!

WITH BILL BURR AT WESTSIDE COMEDY CLUB

After the amazing show and huge applause that followed, Bill hung out to meet some fans, and take photos, and then Face Timed his wife Nia and their little daughter and he introduced us and we all got to say “hi” over his phone.  It was Felicia, GM Gina Savage, and manager Lori Sommer.

Bill’s got the third season of his hit show “F Is For Family” starting November 30th and besides Paul Virzi’s special that he just produced he has three more coming down the pike, if they still use that expression, all under the banner of his “All Things Comedy” network.  Next he was off to Chicago.

When I asked him what he had coming up the first thing he said was that he was designing a line of scarves, because he loves to joke about the way I dress, and some genius said he should call the line “Burrrrrr”, which would be incredibly perfect. We also had a long chat about fatherhood and how he felt when he first saw his daughter being born, because everyone told him it would bring tears to his eyes, but it didn’t.  I told him that when my daughters were born it brought tears to my eyes and he said that was because I was a wonderful person but that HE on the other hand was a German/Irish serial killer!

MIKE BIRBIGLIA’S NEW ONE 

Mike Birbiglia never disappoints.  His one man shows are always amazing and “The New One” at The Cort Theatre is no different.  I’ve seen them all starting with his first, “Sleepwalk With Me” and the man is a master story teller.  He opens the show and takes a minute to talk about his couch and you have no idea where he’s going with that, but he manages to weave it into a thread that carries throughout the entire show.

WITH MIKE BIRBIGLIA AT THE CORT THEATRE

It’s a wonderful story and again it’s a lot about becoming a Dad even though he had never planned on having children.  Mike paces the stage a lot during the show and sometimes walks in circles, and there’s one HUGE surprise that I promised I wouldn’t divulge.  It adds so much to the show and it’s something you’ve never seen before, and something that will totally surprise you.

After the show we went back to say hi and to congratulate him on his masterful performance, and ran into Nikki Glaser, Carmen Lynch and Myq Kaplan.

Then Mike and I shot a little funny Instagram video which you can see on my IG page @jeffreygurian  by clicking this link!   

The show will run for only 12 weeks so make sure you get out to see it.  You’ll hate yourself forever if you miss it!

BERT KREISCHER UNCUT AND UNDRESSED

Bert “The Machine” Kreischer was in town for the festival and had a show at Town Hall, which I knew for sure I had to attend.  I absolutely LOVE Bert Kreischer who like Mike Birbiglia, also happens to be a master story teller.  He’s just so unique, and when he came out on stage and immediately whipped off his shirt the crowd went insane.  It was non-stop laughs through the whole thing and he ended the show with his story of how “The Machine” came to be, and how he committed actual crimes with the Russian Mob.  His stories are so insane you know they have to be true.  No one could make that up!

SHIRT-SHOPPING WITH BERT KREISCHER AT TOWN HALL

After the show we went back to hang out and his Levity Entertainment crew was there to support, along with a bunch of industry people from different TV shows, with one Levity rep Bjorn Wentlandt having flown in from the UK.  Judy Marmel from Levity was there making sure that everything ran smoothly, and Bert greeted his friends still without his shirt.  We decided to shoot an Instagram video which seems to be the thing these days except that Bert took my phone from me and said “ Watch this”,  as he started filming from below his belly and up into his belly button to his chest while he addressed me and I talked about the show and the standing ovation he received when he was done.

It was a one minute masterpiece and again you can see it RIGHT HERE on my IG page.  (Please watch and follow!) Bert will be starting his world tour called “The Body Shots Tour” around January 9th with the kick-off in Portland, Oregon and hopefully ending in Moscow.  I’d give anything to travel with that tour!

 RAY ROMANO DOES CHARITY SHOW WITH NEW MOUSTACHE

Ray Romano came to The Cutting Room to do a charity spot for Bobby Collins’ Zeno Mountain Farm, a nationally acclaimed, ground-breaking camp for kids with disabilities.  They have facilities in Vermont, Los Angeles and Florida. It was a rare experience because it’s not often that you get to see Ray on stage in a smaller venue these days. He’s currently starring in “Get Shorty” a new series on Epix in which he plays a film producer.

Ray came out to tremendous applause and started out by apologizing for his moustache, which he said there was a reason for but didn’t explain.  He told great stories about getting older and about his family and especially his kids.  He’s got four, one daughter and three sons two of whom are twins.  He’s a real family guy and his stories are great.  I got to reminisce with him for a minute after his set about a time about 15 years ago when I brought Michael Bolton to the set of Everybody Loves Raymond so they could meet.
It seems they were mutual fans of each other but had never met.  I was out in LA talking to Michael about a potential TV show he wanted me to develop for him, and I had called Ray’s manager, and my longtime friend Rory Rosegarten, and so the three of us went over to the set to introduce Michael to Ray, and they were really excited to meet, which they did in front of the live audience, and we all had a great time.  Then Michael and I went back to his hotel and watched Ray on TV.  I brought the photo from that day of me, Michael and Ray, and Ray and I took a photo holding that old photo which is something I like to do.  Fortunately people indulge me! (LOL)

WITH RAY ROMANO AT THE CUTTING ROOM HOLDING A PHOTO OF ME, RAY ROMANO AND MICHAEL BOLTON

TEAM COCO PARTY WITH SCOTT ROGOWSKY AND JOHN OLIVER

Team Coco teamed up with TBS and took over SONY Hall on West 46th Street to create a pop-up comedy club called Team Coco House as part of this 15th annual New York Comedy Festival, which by the way gets bigger and better every year thanks to Caroline Hirsch and Louis Faranda the man who magically books all the shows.  Team Coco House lit up the street with it’s huge lighted signs and it featured shows, podcasts, musical acts, magicians, and all kinds of talent hand-picked by Team Coco and Conan himself.

Caroline and Louis were both at the huge party that took place on Thursday night after Bert’s show.  Louis doesn’t usually attend those things or stay out too late but he stayed at this one and everyone in comedy was there.  It would be impossible to name all the names but it was absolutely packed with comics and industry, and they served great drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres, and tons of desserts, and when I left around 1:30 A.M. it was still going strong.

One nice surprise was seeing my dear friend Countess LuAnn from the Real Housewives of New York come in with her super-agent Rich Super, and she told me that she’s with Live Nation now and will be going on a huge tour starting Dec. 19th at the Gramercy Theatre with Alexa Ray Joel, and comedian Murray Hill, and you can bet I’ll be there too. In the meantime she’s still filming for RHONY and I always tell her it’s so amazing watching her fulfill her dreams because this was what she always wanted, and she made it happen.  Most people don’t have the wherewithal, but she worked so hard and accomplished her dream.

WITH COUNTESS LUANN FROM RHONY

I was back there again to catch HQ Trivia star Scott Rogowsky do his long-running talk show Running Late this time starring John Oliver.  I walked in and the place was so packed there were literally no seats and then Matt Richards, who opened the show and is also an HQ Trivia host grabbed me and we hung out together at the bar with HQ Trivia producer Ellen Burke.

Scott wore a crazy jacket and joked with John about how long he had been trying to get him on as a guest.  John was his ever-pleasant self and told a lot of great stories and Scott had somehow found old video footage of John as a kid in some early TV show he did in England.  They showed the poster for the new season of Last Week Tonight and John had his face down on a desk which he explained by saying that he doesn’t like to see his face on posters.  For the last two seasons the poster didn’t show his face. But he showed his face in our photo below! (LOL)

WITH JOHN OLIVER

He talked about his wife who was a combat medic and his three year old son, and among other things told a funny story of how he had to interview the Dalai Lama and it dawned on him after he flew all the way to India that he was about to “fuck with the Dalai Lama.”  But he said thAt luckily the Dalai Lama was “a fan of fuckery” and they had a great time.

Backstage afterwards was a crazy scene and I got to see John and Scott and Matt, and Scott’s Dad who’s always on the show with him as well.

(L-R) MATT RICHARDS, JEFFREY, SCOTT ROGOWSKY, MARTY ROGOWSKY

 

LISA LAMPANELLI IS “LOSIN’ IT” – QUITS STAND-UP COMEDY

When Lisa Lampanelli told me she quit stand-up comedy I could almost hear the relief in her voice. I wasn’t really surprised.  I was actually surprised she was able to have kept doing it so long.  I think it’s very hard to create a persona that is opposite to who you really are and which can often be misunderstood, … especially these days, when there’s an entire segment of the population that can not WAIT to be offended by something.

There was a reason that Lisa had been known as not just The Queen of Mean, but as “The Lovable Queen of Mean.”  Anyone with an IQ over 11 knew she was always coming from a good place. She made fun of everyone starting with herself.  She probably made fun of gays the most and they were her biggest fans, as well as her main charity.

I know Lisa long before she became really famous, and saw her agonize more than once about whether the audience was truly getting what she was about. One particular time in Montreal at Just for Laughs was a particularly stressful time for her when the audience wasn’t sure how to take her “insult” comedy.  And it bothered her to the point where she said, “ I’m quitting comedy.”  I was there to hear her say that.  And then she went on to become a superstar, selling out Radio City and Carnegie Hall during her stand-up career.

Enough people “got her” to keep the venues packed where she performed. But around late 2013 when her beloved Dad got sick she started what I can only refer to as her Spiritual transformation which led to her having weight-loss surgery and losing 107 pounds, and going through what I can only describe as a “Spiritual divorce” in which she introduced  her ex-husband Jimmy Cannizzaro to his new wife Jenna, and made them part of her extended family.

Lisa has always had a good heart so when she announced her departure from stand-up comedy on Howard Stern recently, and said she was transitioning not sexually but to become a story-teller and Life Coach, it made perfect sense. She had been thinking about it for quite a while, and she tends to do these major things only after she has thoroughly thought them through.

WITH LISA LAMPANELLI BACKSTAGE AT THE GRAMERCY THEATRE

I had attended all of the incarnations of her one woman shows, where she started carrying her message of empowerment, and self-love. I was with her when she made her singing debut at The Friars Club.

When she did her AOL Build talk to announce her Grammy nominated album “Back to the Drawing Board” she honored me by having me moderate the four camera shoot and it was amazing.  We talked all about Spiritual principles, food, body-issues, self-empowerment and achieving your goals in life.

When Ron Bennington, king of Sirius XM radio helped me create a radio pilot called “The Happiness Show” to teach people how to bring Happiness into their lives, my first three guests were Colin Quinn, Susie Essman, and Lisa Lampanelli to talk about how they bring Happiness into their own lives. We have a long history.

So Lisa and I had made plans to meet up backstage at The Gramercy Theatre before she went onstage to perform her newest ensemble piece called “Losin’ It” as part of the New York Comedy Festival.  When I got there she was in her dressing room with her niece Christine Schiefer and Christine’s podcast partner Em Schulz, the hosts of “And That’s Why We Drink.” And typical of the new Lisa Lampanelli’s selflessness she wanted the focus to be on them.

I wound up shooting two separate videos with Lisa, one with her and the hosts of “And That’s Why We Drink”, and a separate one with just Lisa and I, with her talking about my best selling book on Happiness and how much she enjoyed it because of the principles that we share. The audiobook will be out next month sometime.
You can see the first video on my Comedy Matters TV channel on You Tube at www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork
This is the direct link :     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F-iD4mslnc

“Losin’ It” was great and it had Lisa being just one of the ensemble of story-tellers, with her mainstay Frank DeCaro from Sirius XM, Lauren Ann Brickman from UCB and Lisa’s former play “Stuffed” and Eden Malyn from Orange is the New Black. It was about empowerment, body image, and learning to love yourself, and incorporated a game show and a Q&A with the audience. A really fun evening of entertainment with a very powerful message. Major congrats to Lisa on this major life choice.

HASAN MINHAJ FIRST INDIAN HOST OF MAJOR TV SHOW

I was excited to see huge billboards around town of my pal Hasan Minhaj announcing his new Sunday night Netflix show “Patriot Act” and even more excited to find out that he’d be appearing at the 92Y.  The 92Y has been outdoing itself lately bringing in major comedy figures for special events, and this was another great one.

Hasan got an unprecedented order of 32 episodes of the show which is a comedy series exploring “ the modern cultural and political landscape” one topic at a time.  Each of the episodes I saw is kind of like a short one-man show on pertinent topics like our dependence on oil, and the one they showed at the Y on “Affirmative Action.”

Hasan is very animated in his delivery and it’s a multi-media production which I always appreciate.  It adds so much when you do more than just talk.  The evening started out as a one to one interview moderated by Vinson Cunningham, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and then they were joined by Exec. Producers Jim Margolis and
Prasanth Venkataramanujam, which even Hasan didn’t dare try to pronounce, and which Prasanth joked about himself. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for him as a child to learn how to write his own name.

The episode they showed on “Affirmative Action” dealt with Asian students who feel discriminated against by Harvard admissions, where they’re only 22% of all students, while Hasan noted that Asian parents who emphasize education would probably only be happy with 100%.

WITH HASAN MINHAJ BACKSTAGE AT THE 92Y

After the event we went backstage to greet Hasan and congratulate him and we shot an Instagram video in which he laughingly described me as his “lucky charm”.  I’ve known him for several years having first met up in Montreal at JFL,  and have supported his talent ever since.  I was there at the Cherry Lane Theatre for the premiere of his hit show “Homecoming King” which as a Netflix special  won a 2018 Peabody Award.

The story was that he had asked a girl named Bethany to his high school prom and when he got to her house to pick her up she was getting ready to go with another guy, because her family was concerned that Hasan wouldn’t look right in the pictures they would inevitably be taking that night to send to their family. I had seen him do the story on earlier performances and was so moved by it that I told him it would make a great one-man show.

I shared the excitement with him when he became a correspondent on The Daily Show, which lasted four years, and then again when he hosted the White House correspondent’s dinner last year.

So it was a great feeling to see him now the master of his own show.  I never had any doubt that he would make it big.

I certainly hope you enjoyed this comedy review of recent events and hope you will subscribe for upcoming Comedy Matters blogs/vlogs! Please check out the website at www.comedymatterstv.com and subscribe to Comedy Matters TV on You Tube at www.youtune.com/guriannewsnetwork @jeffreygurian on Twitter and IG

With love to all,

Jeffrey
jeffrey@jeffreygurian.com

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The Making of "Make ‘Em Laugh"- 35 Years of The Comic Strip

On June 15, 2008, I was at The Comic Strip with Ann Curry, and Gilbert Gottfried and we were giving Ann tips on how to do stand-up comedy for some kind of event she was preparing for. And despite the fact that I had been there for so many years, and had seen the walls before, I found myself transfixed by all the amazing memorabilia that I noticed that day.

Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken on the day that Jeffrey suggested doing a book on the iconic Comic Strip!

So I said to Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the club, “You know we should do a book on this club!”

I didn’t know that other people had suggested that to him before but for some reason he wound up not doing it with them. He came to my home for a meeting and ended by saying “You have more photos on your walls than I have at the club”, and he decided to trust me with telling his story, and the stories of all the huge stars that came out of the club.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken in the lobby of Jeffrey’s building after their meeting to agree on doing the book!

The club officially opened on June 1, 1976 with Billy Crystal as the opening act. On JUne 17th a young, and unknown Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition. In those days people were graded on their auditions. Jerry was graded “Good”, and then someone wrote on his sheet, “Definitely put on Mon. 6/21!” Whoever that person was had a good eye for comedy! Jerry stayed at The Strip for four years until he left for LA in 1980. It was his home club.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Richie Tienken on the day of Jerry’s interview for the book!

In the book Jerry said he felt like he was born in 1976, because that’s when he began working at The Strip and that felt like the start of his life!

Eddie Murphy spent his early years at the club, and Richie Tienken was his manager for the years when Eddie was the biggest star in the world. That period of time spanned his days on SNL through Beverly Hills Cop 2.

The one night in 1986 Eddie came into The Strip and asked to see a Black comic. The only one around was a 19 year old Chris Rock who was setting up chairs in exchange for stage time, and had only performed for very small audiences at 2 or 3 A.M. Not wanting to disappoint Eddie, they put Chris up in front of a packed house on a Friday night, and Chris killed it in front of his idol.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip on the day we did Chris’ interview for the book!

That was the start of Chris’s rise to stardom. He hasn’t lost his gratitude for all that Richie did for him and wrote a fantastic, and funny introduction to the book.

He also came into the club and gave Richie and I a really super interview. Most of the big stars came into the club for their interviews because Richie and I felt that being surrounded by those four walls would bring back memories, and we were right.

Alan Colmes who many people don’t even know started his career as a stand-up comic came in wearing his 30 year old Comic Strip jacket that looked as if it was brand new.

Jeffrey Gurian with Alan Colmes wearing his original 30 year old Comic Strip jacket, which looked brand new!

In the middle of Paul Reiser’s interview he suddenly recalled what started the annual New Years Day brunch attended every Jan. 1, by himself, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Mark Schiff. There had even been a fifth member of the group, a friend named Michael Cain but he passed away very young.

Gilbert Gottfried and Lisa Lampanelli got interviewed outside the club, and Jeffrey Ross got interviewed inside the club with a dual book/documentary film video interview at the same time. That experience taught us never to do that again! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian, Gilbert Gottfried and Richie Tienken at lunch at Pastis where GIlbert spent most of his interview denying he had ever been at The Comic Strip. He did say they had good electricity though!

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian,(hidden behind the book! LOL) backstage at Westbury for Lisa’s recent sold-out performance

And then I flew out to LA to get an in office interview with Billy Crystal the first comic to hit the stage on opening night, back in 1976.

Other comics interviewed were Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Judah Friedlander, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Rick Overton, who has also gone on to have a very successful acting/film career, Jim Breuer, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, plus newer stars who frequent the club like Colin Jost and Jay Pharaoah from SNL.

Thanks to our agent J.L. Stermer from N.S. Bienstock, we got a deal with Skyhorse Publishing and the book is 250 pages down from the 500 I started out with. It took three years to get all of the interviews done and transcribed, because I did it myself by hand just by playing the interviews over and over again, and the fourth year was about editing and getting it down from 500 pages to the 250 that was needed. It was often a grueling process, but always a labor of love!

Since it came out, it’s gotten great reviews, tons of press, and lots of celeb attention as you can tell from the following photos.

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Tracy Morgan On Road To Recovery

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

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

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Kevin Hart Produces Keith Robinson Special

Keith Robinson is often called a “comic’s comic”, which means he’s very highly respected by his peers.  In the world of comedy that means a lot.  Because from the time they start out, all comics want to feel like they’re the funniest of all, and because of that they often don’t encourage their peers!  A lot of comics don’t even take the time to say ” Nice set” after another comic performs.  It’s such an easy thing to do, and means so much to a fellow hardworking comic, but out of fear, they keep it to themselves.

Keith Robinson and Jeffrey Gurian backstage at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC after Keith's killer show!

Keith Robinson and Jeffrey Gurian backstage at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC after Keith’s killer show!

I make it a point of telling other comics when I think they did well.  We all need encouragement.  Anyway, I digress! (LOL) Kevin Hart, who’s career is absolutely HUGE, and getting bigger by the moment, produced a Keith Robinson special called ” Back of the Bus Funny”, at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City.

But not only did he produce it,  he came out on stage to welcome the audience before the show started, and said that Keith Robinson was his mentor and he wouldn’t be who he was today if not for Keith!  What a tribute!  And what a  great, and selfless  thing to do.  Kevin didn’t have to say that but he was being honest, and you could tell that he meant it!

Keith Robinson producer Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian backstage after Keith's show "Back of the Bus Funny!"

Keith Robinson producer Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian backstage after Keith’s show “Back of the Bus Funny!”

I got to know Kevin originally when I co-produced a comedy show at Westbury Theatre on Long Island starring Kevin back in 2010.  It was right after the earthquake in Haiti and we decided to make it a benefit for that ravaged island.  My partner was Haitian and I have a lot of Haitian friends, and thanks to Kevin we sold out the place.  Three thousand people came out to see Kevin kill it, with Tony Rock as the feature, and Haitian-American comic Wil Sylvince as the MC! Needless to say, a lot of them were late, (LOL), but they came, and that’s what counts!

Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian promoting their show at Westbury Theatre back in 2010!

Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian promoting their show at Westbury Theatre back in 2010!

So when I run into Kevin periodically it’s always good, and I’m really happy for his success!  He’s got 11.7 million followers on Twitter and will probably have more than 12 million by the time I finish this blog post! (LOL)  Two years ago, when I interviewed him for Black History Month,  he had only 3 million followers, and in two years time his popularity has grown so much, … I wish my investments would grow like Kevin Hart’s Twitter following!

Zainab Johnson opened the show and it was really cool because I had just seen her the night before on Last Comic Standing.  She’s got a shaved head, .. I don’t wanna say “bald” because “Bald” to me implies that you somehow lost your hair.  Her’s is obviously a fashion choice!  And it works for her.  She wore a belly baring outfit on LCS and did the same at Keith’s special.  The girl is proud of her abs! (LOL)  And she’s funny too,  so it’s a good combination all around, ’cause abs by themselves don’t fill seats!

The audience was packed and there were lots of Keith’s friends from his Tough Crowd days.  Colin Quinn was sitting in front of me with Chris Rock and Gary Gulman.  Next to me was Robert Kelly and Vondecarlo Brown, Patrice O’Neal’s wife.  Keith gave Colin a shout-out in a very funny, but backhanded way by saying there were people in the audience who used to be famous, like Colin Quinn, and nobody laughed harder than Colin.  Well that was the confrontational energy that Colin brought to Tough Crowd, and he told me once in an interview that  he wanted it that way!

Kevin Hart and Chris Rock enjoying the festivities!

Kevin Hart and Chris Rock enjoying the festivities!

Robert Kelly, Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman backstage for Keith Robinson!

Robert Kelly, Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman backstage for Keith Robinson!

Vondecarlo and Jeffrey Gurian at the after-party for Keith Robinson's show!

Vondecarlo and Jeffrey Gurian at the after-party for Keith Robinson’s show!

The show had a really cool set and Keith came out, literally from the back of a bus, wearing a very cool looking suit.

The backdrop of Keith Robinson's set, where he stepped off the back of the bus to open the show!

The backdrop of Keith Robinson’s set, where he stepped off the back of the bus to open the show!

He thanked Kevin, and mentioned that Kevin had a HUGE following on Twitter, and that probably 12 of them were white!   He said that Kevin was like “the Red Lobster of comedy”! (LOL) He went on for an hour with really strong material.  There were so many strong spots but I particularly like when he’s talking about the saying, ” Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Now I’m paraphrasing here, but he says something like guns DO kill people.  if you wanna kill someone you use a gun.  No one goes around choking people.  There’s a reason you never hear of a mass choking!  And then he acts it out, like a guy’s sneaking up on someone to choke them, and it’s hysterical!

Many years ago, when I was writing for Weekly World News I did a story on a man who claimed to have personally killed every person in Manhattan!  He says he did it about two weeks before, and that he single-handedly snuck up on each and every person in the borough and strangled them, while under the influence of an entire pack of cigarettes.  Police spokesmen were quoted as saying they felt that the man either lying, or else he was covering up for someone else.  What the public wanted to know was, ” Who are police spokesmen anyway?  What kind of a job is it?  Are they actually policemen or just men who speak?  Has anyone you know actually ever met a police spokesman, and if not do they in fact exist?” 

Anyway, after the first show we all went backstage to congratulate Keith and it was Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Gary Gulman, Robert Kelly, Jermaine Fowler, Marc Theobald, Vondecarlo, Kevin’s posse, and lots more people eating, drinking and letting Keith know how good he was.  Then he had to split to do it all over again for the second show!  That has to be hard, following yourself on a really great performance!  Now they have to go to the next step!

Colin Quinn and Georgia O'Neal, Patrice's Mom!

Colin Quinn and Georgia O’Neal, Patrice’s Mom!

Everybody laughing and having a good time after the show!

Everybody laughing and having a good time after the show!

Another candid backstage photo of Kevin Hart and Chris Rock!

Another candid backstage photo of Kevin Hart and Chris Rock, with Keith in the foreground!

But  between Keith’s talent and Kevin’s heat they should have no trouble finding a home for this special!  I for one can’t wait to see it again!  It was a great night and very special to see Kevin and Chris again!

Chris Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, and Kevin Hart backstage after Keith Robinson's show!

Chris Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, and Kevin Hart backstage after Keith Robinson’s show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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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