Archive for Entertainment News

Rafi Bastos Comedy Superstar With Only 12 MM Twitter Followers

If you look at this little video below, you’ll hear Paul Provenza openly declare that I know everyone in comedy and you’ll hear Nick Kroll freely declaring that no one has more access to people in comedy than me. So when I hear about a comedy star that has 12 million followers on Twitter, 2.5 million on You Tube, and 1.5 million on Instagram and I realize I don’t know that person, it makes me very nervous!

Such was the case with Rafi Bastos, the comedy superstar from Brazil. I heard he was performing at Gotham Comedy Club in an early 7 P.M. show.  It was Wednesday and really cold out, and I wondered if he’d draw a good crowd.  It was beyond expectation and when I got there the room was packed with fans.

I took my usual table and heard a voice call my name.  It was the hilarious Aaron Berg, the tatted up body builder from the foreign country of Can-A-Da!

He was sitting with Alexis Guerreros, and Charles McBee who was hosting the show, and he said, “Hey Jeff I wanted you to meet Rafi, he’s headlining tonight.”

So I shook hands with Rafi who was sitting down and who seemed to be the same size as all the other guys at the table. I say that, not because people usually look to see what size someone is, but because I didn’t notice anything until he stood up and saw that he was 6’7″.

Aaron went up and totally killed as usual.  He always announces his Jewishness, despite the fact as he says that he looks like he eats Jews and mixes them with protein powder.

He and his wife and baby Piper are moving to a new house next week.  Congrats and best of luck to the Bergs!

Anyway Rafi went up and did an amazing thing.  He did a smooth hour in a language that is not his first language. He has a nice Portuguese accent, and his English is amazing. It’s hard enough to be funny, but to be funny in another language you were not born into is a whole other thing. And he like Aaron Berg also announced his Jewishness. It seems we come in all shapes and sizes!

He had lots of Brazilian fans there, and said that when people think of Brazil they think of two things, Brazilian waxes and Pele. At the end of his set he did a Q&A in which he invited questions in both English and Portuguese.

The Portuguese fans were very exuberant, and for a few moments I was afraid that a soccer game might break out, complete with hooligans. But fortunately everything stayed under control.

After the show Rafi was very gracious and stayed to take photos with all of his fans. Afterwards we sat together in the green room so I could ask him a few questions, and shoot a little video.

He was a funny kid growing up but not the class clown.  He’d sit in the back of the room in school waiting for the right opportunity to say something funny.

He originally thought he wanted to play basketball, but according to him he had the height but he wasn’t good enough, and wound up with a broken cheekbone. I think he made a better choice, and so does he.

He owns the biggest comedy club in Latin America and since Brazil shares a border with 10 other countries including Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, he has plenty of room to expand!

The club holds about 300 people and he described it as kind of a cross between Gotham and the old Comix on 14th Street which he experienced, because he came here in those years to check out NYC.

In 1999 he had won a scholarship to play basketball in Nebraska. A tall, Brazilian Jewish guy with a good sense of humor playing b-ball in Nebraska. It doesn’t sound right and it didn’t feel right either.

I complimented him on his English and compared it to our mutual friend Gad Elmaleh, who also studied very hard to lose his accent so he could perform in English.

Rafi said his biggest challenge has been to speak English and have sex at the same time. He can only do one or the other comfortably. By the reaction of the female part of the crowd, I have a feeling there were a lot of girls at the show who would have been willing to give him a chance.

He’s also the Exec. Producer of Brazil’s version of SNL, and he’s the host of the Brazilian version of the Netflix show “The Ultimate Beastmaster.”

He was heading first to Boston to perform this weekend at Laugh Boston, a club the size of Gotham, then back to Cali to work on his comedy, and plan a tour with the working title of “Conquering America”, but we made plans to get together when he comes back to NY and hopefully do some comedy together someplace!

There was no one with us to shoot the video but his extended reach came in handy and he shot it himself.  After I left I realized I had totally forgotten to tell him that Pele lives in my building! Maybe he’ll see this and we’ll have a good laugh about it!

 

 

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My Night With Leslie Jones

I think that everyone agrees that Leslie Jones is funny.  Not just because she’s on SNL but because she’s genuinely funny.  So when Comic Strip owner Richie Tienken told me she’d be appearing at The Strip I changed my plans and made it over there to catch her.  It was a 10:30 show, and when I arrived at 10:30 the line was so long and the entrance was so packed I could barely make it to the little office where Richie lives.

Richie Tienken and Leslie Jones in “the office”

That little office was at one time the coat room, but since I know it everyone in comedy has been in there, like Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Jim Gaffigan, and one time we had Ray Romano in there with five other guys and I think we stretched out the room to it’s capacity.  It really only accommodates approximately 2 people, and probably about a hundred something coats.

I fought my way to the office but Richie wasn’t in there and I was trapped by myself for a while until the crowd was seated. Then I found Richie and he told me to come outside with him where I found him standing with manager Tom-E and Leslie Jones.  It was raining and she had a hood on and I couldn’t see her hair and for a minute I wasn’t sure it was her.  It was definitely her!

Leslie, Richie and I went back into that little office to chat before her set.  Ruperto Vanderpool was hosting and I was thrilled to see the club so packed.  There was literally not a seat to be had.  It was like when Jerry Seinfeld taped his Netflix special this past year.  That kind of crowded. As a matter of fact that’s what rejuvenated the club.  Ever since that time, and then when Adam Sandler followed up taping his Netflix special there, the club has found a new life.

Jerry decided to come back to his original home where he spent the first four years of his career, from 1976-1980, and where he achieved the rank of permanent MC faster than anyone else had ever done. Adam’s taping was a secret kept from Richie until he arrived at the club that same night! Nice surprise!!!

The club had been Jerry’s home and where he met his best friend George Wallace who happened to be in town this week and was hanging out with Jerry.  I know this because I ran into them the night before this all went down.

Anyway there’s only room for two chairs in the office so Leslie sat, and I stood and we all took turns regaling each other with stories from the past about the club, about Eddie, and how he discovered Chris Rock one night around 1986, and how Leslie started out as a short order cook, and waitress, and started doing stand-up in a place in LA that Eddie used to frequent.

She recalled a story of seeing him years later and humbly telling him she never thought she did that well when he came in, and he told her that he thought she was ALWAYS funny!

Leslie told great stories of how she’s gotten everything she wanted. Through a lot of hard work! She also shared stories of how she got SNL, got to be a regular cast member, and how much fun she has doing the show.

She prayed for the manager she wanted and got him and she prayed for a writer and got Lenny Marcus who she’s thrilled with.  She and Lenny met down at The Comedy Cellar and she thought he was funny, so she invited him out to a baseball game, and then REALLY thought he was funny.  Then he started giving her detailed notes on her act that made sense to her, and now they work together on the regular.

They just did a big outdoor gig together in Times Square for New Year’s Eve. We also talked about how you can be doing stand-up for many years and still feel nervous before going out there, especially if you’re not on stage every night.  Leslie’s duties on SNL  take up so much time that she doesn’t get a chance to perform that much and she LOVES doing stand-up.  I shared the story that Jim Gaffigan shared with me that for the first 6-8 years of his career he got physically sick every time before he went on stage. Finally it went away.

So when Leslie went up to HUGE applause, (the room really went nuts), she went out there with some notes, and did her thing. She started out using some 20 year olds sitting in front as her foils, and worked into a smooth half hour of material.  Great physicality.  She moves and jumps around the stage which really builds the energy in the room. She keeps a towel handy to wipe off the sweat that builds up from the energy she puts out. She said she had only planned on doing 20 minutes but once you’re up there and it’s flowing and the audience is loving it, it’s hard to stop yourself.

At the end she closed with a new bit about a Time Machine, and how she wishes she could go back and talk to her 20 year old self, and how her 80 year old self would come back and talk to her 51 year old self, and it may have been new but it was masterful. Most comics like to leave the stage with a big laugh.  This was more powerful than just a big laugh. She left the audience laughing but with a very positive message about appreciating and enjoying whereever you are in life, and the applause she got validated that they got it and appreciated it.

Afterwards we got to hang out a bit at the bar and she and Ruperto reminisced about all the gigs they had played together in different places around the country. It was a very special night and she’ll be back next week before SNL goes back on the air.

I told her I’d bring her a copy of the book I wrote with Richie on the history of the club. The latest version is called  “Laughing Legends” and it features a foreword by Chris Rock, lots of cool photos from the past, and interviews with Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Jeffrey Ross, Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman, Lisa Lampanelli, and so many more of the big stars that came out of this iconic club.

 

 

 

WITH D.L. HUGHLEY

WITH CHRIS ROCK

WITH DAVE CHAPPELLE

WITH JUDAH FRIEDLANDER

WITH HANNIBAL BURESS

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Stan and Ollie Is Truly Amazing – A “Must See” Film

Growing up very middle class in The Bronx I was lucky that my Dad had such a good sense of humor and would take me to see comedy films starting when I was very, very young.  I remember us sitting in the theater laughing together like it was yesterday.  Laurel and Hardy were my favorites.  I think because in some ways Oliver Hardy reminded me of my Dad. He was a big guy, certainly not as heavy as Oliver Hardy though in his mind I think he was, but he was one of those really nice guys and people often took advantage of his kindness. Just like Oliver Hardy!

I’ve been in the comedy world for decades now but comedy has changed drastically since the days of Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello, and The Marx Brothers.  However John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan did a wonderful thing.  They brought Laurel and Hardy back to life in their wonderful film “Stan and Ollie” which I was privileged to see at the 92nd Street Y the other night, and I’m so glad I went.

First I was wondering how they’d pull off the look because John C. Reilly, as talented as he is looks nothing like Oliver Hardy, but in some of the scenes you’d swear it was him, right down to the double chin.  The prosthetic people on this film deserve an award for doing magic.  Both John and Steve looked so much like the real guys it was uncanny. And with the way they had down the mannerisms, the walk, the accents, and facial expressions you’d think it was the real Laurel and Hardy.

I can’t even begin to imagine the time it must take to get all of those factors down. The pronunciation of the words was perfect.  And when Steve as Stan scratches his head like Stan Laurel did it was exactly like Stan did it.  The only thing he didn’t do was Stan Laurel’s cry.  When he used to cry in his films it was sad and hilarious both at the same time.  His facial expressions are what made him such a lovable character, and Steve Coogan nailed it. They both did.

Unfortunately for the world Laurel and Hardy left us quite a while ago, Ollie in 1957 at only 65 years old, and Stan in 1965 at 75 years old.  After Oliver passed Stan never performed again, but still wrote material that the two of them could have done on stage. They were brought together on the Hal Roach studio lot and the comedy world was never the same.

After the screening which was very funny and also very moving John and Steve came out on the stage to be interviewed. During the film John and Steve perfectly re-created the “Way Out West” dance from the movie of the same name that came out in 1937.  And I dare you to watch that dance without laughing hysterically.

Joining them onstage was the director Jon S. Baird and the evening was narrated by Annette Insdorf one of the best moderators I’ve seen at 92Y events.  She’s a Columbia Univ. film professor and was so knowledgable about the film and film in general and had such interesting insights that her questions kept the energy high and kept things moving along at a nice pace.  I often tell the people at 92Y that they should choose comedy people to moderate the event because they’re used to improvising all the time, but Annette was wonderful

 

(L-R) – John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Jon Baird and Annette Insdorf

I wish I had had the opportunity to tell John and Steve in person how much I liked it and to thank them sincerely as part of the comedy world for doing more than justice to the memory of these two talented men, but hopefully they’ll read this or their PR person will show it to them. The sad thing is that comedy like Laurel and Hardy no longer exists on the planet.  If two guys tried to do that today I don’t think they’d even get a meeting, no less representation.  There are no more duos in comedy. Unless you count Nick Kroll and John Mulaney and they both work individually too.  Laurel and Hardy were a team and that’s all they did.

Their kind of humor may not be considered “hip” for the 21st century, but you should have heard the laughs from the people in the audience at the 92Y!  It was genuine, and truly AMAZING!!!

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Lisa Lampanelli Takes Divorce To Higher Levels!

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

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

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

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

JerryLewisStar_9_15_14

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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The Most Horrible Parts of the Body

The Most Horrible Parts of the Body

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tracy Morgan On Road To Recovery

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

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

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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Artie Lange Back on Track

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Win $1000. as Funniest Professional at Gotham Comedy Club!

Andy Engel, long-time producer from Gotham Comedy Club, who also runs the Manhattan Comedy School, is running a really fun, exciting contest for professionals in many fields, searching for “New York’s Funniest Professional!”    The GRAND PRIZE will be $1000. , a guest spot on Gotham’s “New Talent” Show, and a guest spot on Gotham’s “All Star” showcase, as well as additional gifts from sponsors.

So all of you people out there laboring in different professions, knowing you can be as funny as the comics you see on TV or on stage who are already doing it, this is your big chance to show us what you’ve got.  Bring your “A” game!

Submissions must be in by May 4th and contestants will be announced on May 5th.  Each profession will have different nights to perform, and that info is listed below.

There will be prizes in 8 categories, so even if you don’t take 1st place you can still win in 7 other places!

For the preliminary rounds every comic will receive two tickets to a future Gotham show and anyone that knows Gotham knows they get the best talent to perform there!  Plus each comic will receive a FREE  HD video download of their performance! 

Go to this link IMMEDIATELY and download the submission information   http://www.manhattancomedyschool.com/new-yorks-funniest-professional/

The final show will have a celebrity host, so no matter what you’re doing when you read this, jump up from your desk right now and get ready to enter!  And make sure to tell Andy Engel that I sent you, and that Comedy Matters!!!

(Details below!!!)

Gotham Comedy Club &Manhattan Comedy School Present: “NEW YORK’S FUNNIEST PROFESSIONAL”Grand Prize of $1,000

Are you the funniest person in your workplace? Prove it! Compete against hilarious workers to find out which profession is the funniest, win big prizes, and become New York’s Funniest Professional in the largest amateur comedy competition in New York.

 

RULES

·         The competition will be two rounds. Each comedian will perform in one of the ten (+) preliminary rounds according to his/her field of work.

·         12 contestants will be accepted for each industry

·         One comic from each preliminary round will move onto the finale.

·         On each night, two judges will score comics on stage presence, originality, and most importantly, audience reaction.

·         Each comedian will get a 5 minute set.

 

Submission DeadlineMay 4th

Contestants AnnouncedMay 5th

 

COMPETITION BREAKDOWN

·         Advertising/Marketing/Digital Market – May 19th 7pm

·         Food Industry (Waiters / Bartenders/ etc.) – May 19th 9:30pm

·         Actors – May 20th 7pm

·         Lawyers – May 28th 9:30pm

·         Teachers – June 2nd 7pm

·         Housewives/Husbands – June 2nd 9:30pm

·         Real Estate – June 3rd 7pm

·         Sales Rep/Retail – June 11th 7pm

·         College Students – June 11th 9:30pm

·         Tradesman (Mechanics, Plumbers, Electricians, Construction, etc) – June 17th7pm

·         Journalists / On-air TV Reporters / Bloggers – June 24th 9:30pm

·         Finals – July 15th 7pm

There will be a celebrity host for the final show.

———————————————————————————–

 

SUBMISSIONS:

Follow this link and fill out the entire submission form.

Submit here: New York’s Funniest Submission Form

 

 

*Filling out a submission form does not guarantee admission into the contest. There are a limited number of spots for each industry. We will contact people with a confirmation if they have been accepted or not. All accepted contestants will be announced May 5th.

 

*There is NO entry fee for this competition.

However, there is a bringer requirement of 15 guests per round (2 rounds total). The shows have a $12 cover + 2 drink minimum.

 

 

PRIZES:

·         Preliminary Round

o    Every comic receives two tickets to Gotham Comedy Club to be used on future shows

o    Every comic receives a free high definition video download of their performance

 

Finals

First Place –  $1000 cash

·         Meet and greet with the Owner of Gotham Comedy Club Chris Mazzilli

·         One guest spot on Gotham’s “New Talent” and one guest spot on Gotham’s “All Star” Showcases

·         Additional gifts from our sponsors

Second Place –  $500 cash 

·         1 Guest spot on a Gotham “All-Star” showcase

·         1 Guest spot on a Gotham New Talent show

 

Third Place

Free class at The Manhattan Comedy School ($400 value)

 

 

4th – 8th place

Gift from our Sponsors ($250 Restaurant Gift Certificates)

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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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