Archive for Film Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Jeffrey Gurian Named Head of Live Comedy Programming for Third Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival

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When Peter Rosegarten from The Conversation Company called and asked me to get involved with the Gold Coast International Film Festival, on Long Island, I was open to it right away because of who the request came from.  Peter and Rory are legends in the comedy world, and I was proud that they thought to call me.

I met with Aviva Miller the head of events and planning and we decided to work together.  They wanted to honor a big comedy star with the Artist of Distinction Award in Comedy so I called my friend Susie Essman and she accepted the invitation to be honored.

Susie Essman and Jeffrey Gurian at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC.

Susie Essman and Jeffrey Gurian at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC.

 

We are holding the event in a gorgeous new theatre called “The Space at Westbury”, that can accommodate 800 people.

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Aviva Miller, Head of Events for  GCIFF, and Jeffrey Gurian in the lobby of the new "Space at Westbury."

Aviva Miller, Head of Events for GCIFF, and Jeffrey Gurian in the lobby of the new “Space at Westbury.”

Susie just got back from starring in 8 sold out shows in London’s famed Soho Theatre and headlines in major venues all across the country.

We will be showing a little video at the event where I got some funny video messages from friends of Susie like Mario Cantone, D.L. Hughley, and Richard Lewis, also from Curb, who shot his video in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club.

I knew he was in there but in my excitement in finding him, I couldn’t wait till he was finished doing his business. He didn’t seem all that happy to see me!

 

Richard Lewis on the toilet in the Men's Room of The Friars Club.

Richard Lewis on the toilet in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club.

I got him to calm down by showing him an article about myself in the Friars Club Epistle.

 

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Lewis in the Men's Room of The Friars Club, reading an article about Jeffrey in the Friars Epistle.

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Lewis in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club, reading an article about Jeffrey in the Friars Epistle.

 

This is a little video I shot with Susie recently when she hosted AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live at the Gotham Comedy Club in NYC.

The evening will also be honoring actor Paul Sorvino with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Paul has been in 140 movies, 6 television series, 2 operas, 3 Broadway plays, numerous musicals on Broadway and has performed at major theaters across the country … and that’s just a part of his tremendous resume.

The festival will be presenting  a special screening of his new film “How Sweet It Is,” followed by a Q&A with the legendary actor on Tuesday October 22 at the Soundview Theater in Port Washington.

 

Jeffrey Gurian, socialite/philanthropist Karen Koeningsberg, and Paul Sorvino celebrating Karen's birthday at The Dream Hotel PHD, Meatpacking District, NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian, socialite/philanthropist Karen Koeningsberg, and Paul Sorvino celebrating Karen’s birthday at The Dream Hotel PHD, Meatpacking District, NYC!

For tickets and information go to http://tinyurl.com/GCIFF-HowSweet.

For sponsorship information and tickets to the Gala, visit: http://www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org/gala

And finally the Mindel Family will be honored with the Honorary Founders Award.  They own several hotels through their company named  Samar Hospitality, which is a combination of the names Sam and Mary.

The Mindel Family has been a loyal supporter of the Great Neck Arts Center for many years, and through their company Samar Hospitality, they own and built The Inn At Great Neck, as well as other hotels like the Viana Hotel and Spa.

Sam and Mary Mindel were Holocaust Survivors that raised their children, Joseph, Marlene and Alan in Great Neck.  They believed strongly in supporting their community and instilled that in their children.

When they built the Inn at Great Neck, the realization of a long time family dream, incorporating an artistic touch was a must.  You can see their love of art throughout the Hotel; from the hand painted mural of the roaring 20’s to the gorgeous paintings in the restaurant.

Artistic design elements can also be found in the other Samar Hospitality hotels as well.

Most recently when the Viana Hotel and Spa was built, their son Alan incorporated the use of the ancient art of Feng Shui and specially commissioned art pieces to make the hotel a unique and stunning facility.

The Mindel Family has not only hosted many events for the Great Neck Arts Center at the Inn at Great Neck but has also catered events at the Center itself.  Alan and his wife Kara have brought their children there over the years to help continue their family legacy of love for the arts.

The Mindels are absolutely thrilled to be associated with and honored by the Great Neck Arts Center. 

We’ve done several media events leading up to the festival and all have been really fun!

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Sen. Alfonse Damato, Jeffrey Gurian and Aviva Miller at Oheka Castle in Hungtington, Long Island.

Jeffrey Gurian with Congressman Steve Israel in the Owner's Box at Citi Field.

Jeffrey Gurian with Congressman Steve Israel in the Owner’s Box at Citi Field.

 

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Producer Emily Conner, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling at Citi Field.

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WPIX news anchor Tamsen Fadal with Jeffrey Gurian in the owner’s box at Citi Field.

Singer/entertainer Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin with Jeffrey Gurian at the GCIFF press conference in Manhasset, Long Island.

Singer/entertainer Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin with Jeffrey Gurian at the GCIFF press conference in Manhasset, Long Island.

Regina Gil founded the Great Neck Arts Center more than 20 years ago and has worked tirelessly with her team of Aviva, Gala Coordinator Ronni Berger, Assoc. Director Caroline Sorokoff, Coordinator of the Furman Film Series Katie Mancher, Gala Chair Bonnie Zarabi, and Honorary Gala Co-Chairs Jill and Michael T. Lamoretti to make this third annual film festival the great success it will be.

 

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My Friend Kali Hawk, The Movie Star

I just went to see Tyler Perry’s “Peeples”, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had quite a cast with Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, Craig Robinson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Melvin Van Peebles, (who I almost called “Van Peeples!” LOL), Diahann Carrol, Ana Gasteyer and my old friend, the beautiful, and talented Kali Hawk.

One of the posters portraying the star-studded cast of Tyler Perry’s “Peeples”!

It’s not too often that you get to have a friend who’s a legitimate movie star,… especially one that you’ve known for many years. It’s a really nice feeling to be proud of someone’s accomplishments, and Kali has worked very hard to achieve what she’s gotten. Considering how young she still is, I’m almost afraid to think of how young she must have been when I first met her! (LOL)

(L-R) David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington, Tyler James Williams, Kali Hawk, and Kimrie Lewis-Davis in Peeples!

I remember her as a teenager, and how excited she’d be about watching stand-up comedy. I have this vague memory of standing with her at The Comic Strip, in the doorway to the showroom, watching the acts, while she wondered if she could do comedy. I recall going to see her perform in plays at the Theatre for the New City on the Lower East Side.

She was in high school by the tender age of 12 and in college before she was even 16. She started out doing commercials, but as gorgeous as she was, didn’t begin modeling until she moved out to LA, where she booked magazine ads and commercials for KFC, Clorox2, MTV Europe and was in several music videos for rock band Korn, Rob Zombie, Norah Jones, T.I., and Usher. It was only a matter of time until Kali made her way to the big screen.

Some years passed between the time we spoke and then in 2007, I was out in LA for a party made by Kent Emmons for a book I wrote called “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive” based on my writings for the Friars Roasts, which are notoriously raunchy, and Kali came to support me.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kali Hawk in LA, for a book party in his honor, in 2007!

She looked so amazing I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her! She has grown into such an elegant woman!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kali Hawk, who’s holding Jeffrey’s book “Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive” but he didn’t let her look inside!

Before “Peeples”, she was seen in the Lion’s Gate thriller ‘Holla’, alongside actor Michael Bergin. She would follow that project with a supporting role in the Spike Lee comedy “Lovers & Haters”, playing a scathing Hollywood diva opposite singer/superstar Mariah Carey, I saw her in “Get Him To The Greek” with Russell Brand, and Jonah Hill, and she played Trudy in “Couples Retreat,” another star-studded movie written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.

On TV, she has also appeared on the hit CW sitcom ‘The Game’, executive produced by Kelsey Grammer, was accepted as a cast member for the ill-fated remake of “In Living Color” that unfortunately did not come to fruition, and worked with my boy Tony Rock, on a TV project he was starring in. Tony was the featured performer in a sold out show at the Westbury Theatre on Long Island, that I co-produced starring the one and only Kevin Hart!

(L-R) Jordan Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, Richie Tienken and down in front Sherrod Small backstage at Westbury with Kevin Hart!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Kevin Hart at a promo event for their concert at Westbury!

Tony is also the new host of the Jamie Foxx remake of “Live At The Apollo”, aptly named “Apollo Live” shooting right here in Harlem, NYC! I went to the opening of the first season to cheer him on. Tony is amazingly funny, and the nicest guy you’d ever wanna meet!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Tony Roberts, Tony Rock, and Jordan Rock backstage at The Apollo!

So “Peeples” was exciting to me because Kali had so much screen time. She plays Gloria Peeples the lesbian daughter of Virgil Peeples played so well by David Alan Grier.

A cast shot of “Peeples” with Kali Hawk’s name on the big screen! Go Kali!

I hadn’t seen David since last summer in Montreal during the Just for Laughs Festival when he came in to kibbitz with Adam Carolla right in the middle of my interview with him. It was actually funny, because the door was closed, and we were backstage after Adam’s show, but nobody’s gonna tell David that he can’t come in, so he did! (LOL) And it turned out very funny, because as I recall he was trying to distract me, and we all had a good laugh!

Craig Robinson is also a great guy, and we did a cool interview together on the red carpet of the Comedy Central Comedy Awards.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Craig Robinson at a Comedy Central event at The Monkey Bar in NYC!

I’m heading out to LA in about ten days to shoot my third appearance on Comedy Central’s hit “Kroll Show” and I really hope to be able to get the chance to congratulate Kali in person!

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He’s Way More Famous Than You at AMC Loews

Most movies I don’t even see once, so it’s extremely rare that I see a movie twice. Halley Feiffer’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You” was the opening night film of this year’s Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, which was the first time I saw it, and I felt compelled to see it again.

Film poster for “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”, now playing at the AMC Loew’s in the East Village!

What’s so interesting about this film,… besides it being really funny,… is that some of it is based in truth with all of the characters playing themselves.

Halley Feiffer plays a sweet, sensitive alcoholic who had a small part in Noah Baumbach’s 2005 film “The Squid and the Whale.” In real life she played Jesse Eisenberg’s girlfriend in that very same film. In HWMFTY she finds herself struggling in life and her career. She loses her agent, her boyfriend, played by Michael Churnus, and what’s left of her career, and goes out to make a movie that will put her on top.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the super-funny and talented Halley Feiffer, co-writer and star of “He’s Way More Famous Than You!” To Halley’s right you can see almost every part of Michael Churnus except his face! (LOL) 

Through many funny contrivances, and lots of begging, with a touch of synchronicity thrown in, she gets an amazing star-studded cast like Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Mamie Gummer, Ralph Maccio, Jesse Eisenberg, Tracee Chimo, Michael Chernus, Liz Holtan, Austin Pendleton, and Vanessa Williams to play the roles she created with her co-writer and co-star Ryan Spahn.

Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer, and Ryan Spahn on the red carpet at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Natasha Lyonne playing Halley Feiffer’s A.A. sponsor in “He’s Way More Famous Than You”!

And she gets Michael Urie who will forever be known as “the gay guy from Ugly Betty” to also co-star and direct.

Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn are together in real life but in the movie Ryan plays Halley’s brother!

Michael Urie, Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Ryan Spahn, the director and co-writer from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Ralph Maccio and Mamie Gummer in a scene from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Geoffrey Soffer is the producer of the film, who also has quite a history as a casting director! One of his accomplishments was casting the final two seasons of the hit TV show “Ugly Betty”, which is a show that quite a few people in this film are connected to as well.

From 2003 to 2008, Geoffrey was a casting director at ABC/ABC Studios where his credits include the original pilots of “Army Wives”. “Miss/Guided” produced by Ashton Kutcher, “Dirty Sexy Money”, and the Sam Raimi produced series, “Legend of the Seeker.”

This past Friday the film opened at AMC Loews Theatre on 11th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, and I knew I had to be there to support it. Seeing a film for the second time gives you so much more insight into the action and the characters. I can see why people go to see a movie they like several times. Every time you watch it you catch something you didn’t see before.

Step into Theatre 6 to see “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Ben Stiller and Halley Feiffer in a scene from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

I’ll tell you two inside facts. The amazing scene where Halley is bicycling through Times Square was shot by producer Geoffrey Soffer from the back of his “hatchback”, as he described it, and the “film-within-a-film” shooting scene where Ryan Spahn’s character gets abruptly replaced by Ralph Maccio because according to Halley’s character “he’s way more famous than you”, was shot on Vanessa Williams gorgeous estate!

This is a fun film you really need to see, and I’m even more impressed with Halley Feiffer’s comedic chops than I was when I saw it the first time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a little trailer for the film:

And it even has a website:

www.actnaturallythemovie.com

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

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Halley Feiffer Scores at Opening of Friars Club Comedy Film Fest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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T.J. Miller Kills It Hosting Gotham Comedy Live on AXS-TV

It makes perfect sense that Chris Mazzilli, who I affectionately call “The Classiest Man in Comedy” would be running the classiest comedy club in town! And not just ANY town, but NYC, which is really saying something!

The marquee outside of Gotham Comedy Club, with T.J. Miller hosting the AXS-TV special Gotham Comedy Live!

Plus he’s always on the cutting edge of entertainment. Whether they’re shooting the auditions for Last Comic Standing, or live streaming Anthony Anderson’s Comedy Mixtape Show, he’s always offering his audiences something really unique. Now he’s got Marc Cuban, and Ryan Seacrest’s AXS-TV shooting Gotham Comedy Live every Thursday at 10 P.M. for 11 weeks with fantastic guest hosts, and a great line-up of comics.

Helming the series are Exec. Producers Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea whose Killer Bunny Entertainment has created week after week of great shows, starting with host Orlando Jones a few weeks ago.

This week I went to see the great T.J. Miller who I had been wanting to interview for quite a while. We first met up in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival back around 2010, and have kept in touch, but weren’t able to set up a specific date to get together. So when I heard he was hosting this AXS-TV special I made sure to let him know I was coming.

T.J. Miller wiping his mouth with one of Jeffrey Gurian’s scarves in the green room of Gotham Comedy Club! Fortunately Gurian had at least three more with him, so it was no problem!

Let me first tell you a little about T.J. I could sum it up by saying he’s been in 12 movies in the last three years, but that wouldn’t be doing justice to his talent. He’s not only a talented actor, he’s also a great stand-up, and impressionist, PLUS he makes faces, which he has developed into an art form, starting with just the simplest face he made as a young boy, which was basically moving his mouth to the side like a Bell’s Palsy victim. All of this came out in the fantastic, funny, and generous 40 minute video interview he gave me, which you will be seeing soon right here!

Later on in his career, he graduated to making much more complicated faces, some of which I was able to capture in my interview and will share with you as soon as it’s finished being edited. I was able to capture a couple of them in still photos and as you can see he’s widely considered a master at face-making!

T.J. Miller making one of his more complicated faces for Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV! He claims to have worked on that particular “face” for two to three years!

Everyone has different talents, and different strengths. I for one am good at mentioning things to people! Sometimes I’ll just walk over to someone and take the opportunity to mention something, … but that’s just me!

T. J. was named one of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch,” as well as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “Next Big Things in Comedy.” Miller will soon be seen starring in the upcoming Fox comedy series “The Goodwin Games” opposite Becki Newton and Scott Foley. The show will be centered on three siblings who reconnect after the death of their father when he leaves them his fortune. Miller will play the youngest Goodwin sibling ‘Jimmy,’ who has just been released from jail.

He will also be seen this October hosting Comedy Central’s “Mash-Up,” a unique new half-hour series – an exciting mix of stand-up and sketch comedy. In addition to his work on TV, he has a popular podcast on nerdist.com “Cashing in with T.J. Miller” which turns the traditional interview comedy podcast on its head, as it’s an interview show, but host Cash Levy only has one guest: T.J. Miller.

He always plays fun, interesting and unusual characters like his recent role in the Focus Features comedy “Seeking A Friend For The End of the World” opposite Steve Carrell and Keira Knightly, and in the Warner Brothers 80’s rock musical feature “Rock of Ages”, opposite Tom Cruise.

He co-starred in The Weinstein Company’s “Our Idiot Brother”, along with Paul Rudd. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 to rave reviews!(As opposed to regular every-day reviews!) He starred as ‘Ranger Jones’ in the Warner Brothers live-action/CGI feature film “Yogi Bear”, along with Dan Ayckroyd, Justin Timberlake and Anna Faris. He also appeared with Jack Black and Jason Segel in the 20th Century Fox 3D film “Gulliver’s Travels”, and in Tony Scott’s dramatic thriller “Unstoppable” with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

I really liked him in his co-starring role in the Paramount comedy, “She’s Out of My League”, opposite Jay Baruchel, a film which really brought him to the public eye. (Which begs the questions, ” Where is the public eye? Does the public only have one eye? And if so, does that make the public a Cyclops???)

He appeared with Jay Baruchel again in How To Train Your Dragon, a talent he promised to share with me, as I have a couple of small dragons at home on loan from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, which were lent to me by Peter Dinklage, on the promise that no one could know. Fortunately no one reads this Blog so our secret is safe! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with an old friend, award-winning actor Peter Dinklage, star of HBO’s “Game of Thrones!”. Earlier in his career Peter starred in Jeffrey’s short film ” Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” and wound up getting arrested for dancing in a “No Dancing” zone!

Dragon also starred Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson, and T.J. will reprise his role, voicing the character of “Tuffnut” in the upcoming “How To Train Your Dragon 2”! Reprising roles is another thing that T.J. is good at! The man has innumerable talents!

He also worked with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill in Universal’s “Get Him To The Greek” and basically there’s almost no TV show or film that he HASN’T been in! (LOL)

T.J. has also had two short films at Sundance, once as writer and star of the short “Successful Alcoholics” which the NY Times referred to as “hilarious”, a term that goes much better with comedy than drama, and last year’s “I’m Having A Difficult Time Killing My Parents”, which he also stars in and wrote.

He chose his home-town of Denver to record his first hour long stand-up special for Comedy Central, and he also released a comedy oriented pop/hip-hop music album with Comedy Central Records. Whenever available, he performs with his sketch comedy group “Heavy Weight,” with Brady Novak, Mark Raterman and Nick Vatterott.

Comedy Central has featured him on their “Hot List” special which focused on the top 10 stand-up comedians of the moment, and even though that moment has passed, he’s still on that list, and will remain there for the forseeable future!

I have no idea how he had the time to give me the interview he gave me what with fielding all those projects. In the short space of time we spent together riffing on all kinds of things, some of which even made sense, and were actually very funny, he fielded three different offers for new films! (While his manager was standing in the corner!)

I left him to prepare for his hosting role, which is different than his bakery roll, and even spelled differently. But not before I gave him a copy of my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, and signed it for him by his request saying “You can never have too many scarves!” It also gave me an opportunity to get yet another photo and experience more of the range of his face-making ability!

T.J. Miller holding a copy of Jeffrey Gurian’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh” in a humorous, and original way! Even holding a book this man is funny!

The line-up of the show was fantastic, with a real variety of different comedic styles, fortunately the one thing they all had in common was that they were all funny!

T.J. Miller onstage hosting AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, produced by Killer Bunny Entertainment!

I got there early to watch the rehearsal as I always like to see what goes on behind the scenes. That to me is where the magic is. So much goes into the making of a show. And this show goes out “LIVE”, so there’s little room for error! I went down to the green room to say “hi” to the cast.

It was Calise Hawkins, who as soon as she saw me started laughing about our interview last July in Montreal up at the Just for Laughs’ Festival where for some reason she felt she was slurring her words. There’s not much time to eat in Montreal during the festival so the drinks feel more potent!

Calise Hawkins of the wonderful, big hair, (which I totally respect! LOL) onstage at Gotham Comedy Live!

Then I turned around to see Keith Robinson, who also gave me a hysterically funny interview in Montreal. He happened to be sitting with the very funny Chelsea Peretti who you can see very often on Chelsea Handler’s show “Chelsea Lately”, and who recently did a star turn on “Kroll Show” playing an aspiring singer named Farley who wants Bobby Bottleservice to manage her!

Keith is a great guy and a real talent. The audience really responds well to him and his material. He had so many great lines, but one line that really stuck out for me was when he was talking about how people are offended so easily these days, because everything is so Politically Correct. But only people with good jobs can get fired for saying something seemingly offensive. You never hear anyone say, “What happened to Earl the dishwasher?” Oh, he got fired for his homophobic Tweets!”

(L-R) Yannis Pappas, Keith Robinson, T.J. MIller, Calise Hawkins, and Bill Dawes taking their bows onstage at Gotham Comedy Live!

And then in talking about gun control, he riffed on people saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Keith was like, “Guns do kill people. You never hear of a mass choking do you?”

Yannis Pappas was also on the bill. I always mean to ask him if his background is Greek! No one dresses up in the comedy world, and Yannis is no exception. He came out in like a sweatshirt and sneakers, and said to the audience, ” I don’t know if you can tell by my appearance, but this is what an adult looks like these days!”

Yannis Pappas at rehearsal waiting to be called onstage by host T.J. Miller!

Commenting on family, Yannis went on to say that our parents and grandparents worked so hard to make sure their kids had a better life than they did, and my generation doesn’t even want to have kids so they don’t ruin our lives!”

And Bill Dawes was an LA comic who I hadn’t seen before but I was really glad I got the chance. He said Latin women tend not to get drunk cause you can’t drink when you’re pregnant!

He also told about a threesome he was invited to join. Two guys and a girl. He said, that’s basically gay sex with a witness!” (I always felt the same way! Much too awkward!) But he showed up anyway, and said he was going hard for an hour when finally he said, “Hey, when’s that girl gonna show up?” That is HYSTERICAL!!!

Yannis Pappas, T.J. Miller, Calise Hawkins, and Bill Dawes. Keith Robinson was hiding in Calise Hawkins’ hair!

So afterwards when I went looking for him to congratulate him, I found him outside the Men’s Room, talking to two of his old friends, who had just seen the show, and I had to stand on the side awkwardly waiting for them to finish their conversation so I could congratulate him. I’m sure everyone has experienced something like that. You hope the conversation will go fast, but as it drags on you just finding yourself standing there like an eavesdropper! (LOL)

You don’t want to interrupt because no one knows who you are, but at some point you have to when it goes past ten minutes and you’re feeling like an idiot standing there listening to someone else’s conversation that you’re not a part of. It’s almost funny, but mostly in retrospect!(LOL)

Anyway, I finally interrupted and got to tell him how funny I thought he was, at which point he was joined by some of my old friends including Caron Bernstein the South African model, who was there with her husband. Caron and I go back a long way, and it was great to see her!

Caron Bernstein, with Noel Ashman looking on as Jeffrey Gurian does emergency “Healing” work on Caron’s sprained ankle!

A perfect end to a fun evening!

Anyway, T.J. Miller is actually headlining Gotham for another three shows tonight, so make sure you get out and see him. The snow wasn’t as bad as they predicted, so you really have no excuse not to go! And when you get there, … tell him I sent you!

www.HyperSmash.com

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I’m In Another John Gallagher Film!!!

As a director, John Gallagher has worked with some of the biggest stars in the business including John Leguizamo, Gretchen Mol, Amanda Peet, Zach Braff, Vincent Pastore, Heather Matarazzo, and Denis Leary. All you have to do is see his film “The Deli” and you’ll see more stars than you can imagine in just one film!

Director John Gallagher after being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the red carpet of the Soho International Film Festival!

That particular film was honored in last year’s Soho International Film Festival in Manhattan!

He’s got 15 feature films and 25 shorts under his directorial belt! His company 305 Media Group has been involved in 4 features and 14 short films in the last three years alone.

What’s cool about John though is that he takes the time to nurture new talent. Not every successful director does that. John lectures internationally, but also teaches classes and workshops at One on One NYC, and I know he has also taught at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse where the legendary acting coach Sandy Meisner also taught for over 50 years!

In his new film ” Act Naturally” which I will be appearing in as myself, (mostly because I’m the closest thing to myself that he could find!), he will be debuting two new stars Mia Pinchoff and Samantha Scaffidi, both of whom have studied with him. All three of them collaborated on this screenplay working from a series of improv writing sessions.

Act Naturally follows the sometimes comedic, sometimes heart-breaking path of two aspiring actresses struggling to make names for themselves in the dog-eat-dog world of show biz. I will be interviewing at least one of them on the red carpet of a film festival, and I am very excited to be part of this project. I was in another of John’s films called ” I Love You”, so this will be my second project with John, and I’m counting on him to direct a screenplay I wrote called “Men of Violence” that he says he loves.

Patience is key in this business. It’s not uncommon for a project to take years until it hits the big screen!

Mia is also in the comedy world and performs with a partner Anni Weisband in the comedy team Moneymaker Duo, (www.moneymakerduo.com). They wrote, produced and starred in a short film called “Appetite”, which John Exec Produced, and which was featured in between two of John’s films at this past year’s Soho Film Festival. “Appetite” went on to play in a half dozen other international film festivals.

(L-R) Mia Pinchoff, Mike Starr, and Anni Weisband at a film event in NYC!

And Mia just placed #35 out of 200 girls in IMDB’s “Hotness List”!

The lovely rising star Mia Pinchoff who I will be performing with in John Gallagher’s “Act Naturally!”

The lovely and talented Samantha Scaffidi in a pose reminiscent of sexy Italian actresses from the 60’s! Like a young Sophia Loren!

Besides the newcomers, Act Natural will star Frank Vincent (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Sopranos), Mike Starr (Dumb and Dumber, Goodfellas), Ryan O’Callaghan (Digger 3D, 79 Parts), and Brian Kelly (Blue Moon, Black Dog) and probably other films without a color in the title! (LOL)

Frank Vincent and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Soho Film Festival at an event honoring Frank for his body of work!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Mike Starr at the tribute to John Gallagher’s “The Deli” at the Soho Film Festival 2012 in NYC!

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project.

www.HyperSmash.com

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My Special Night With Paul Williams

I didn’t even remember what a fan I was of Paul Williams until I saw the Stephen Kessler directed documentary film about Paul called “Paul Williams Still Alive”, thanks to the people at Brigade Marketing.

Poster for Paul Williams Still Alive!

For anyone under 40, Paul is an Academy Award-winning American composer, musician, songwriter, and actor. He is perhaps best known for popular songs performed by a number of acts in the 1970s including Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song”, Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World”, David Bowie’s “Fill Your Heart”, and the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun”.

I know Chuck Negron the lead singer from Three Dog Night from back in the day, and still see him occasionally. I actually got to harmonize with Chuck on the corner of 170th Street and the Grand Concourse, where we used to sing acapella doo-wop music down in the subway station to get an echo chamber going.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s Paul was such a huge TV star appearing on every major talk and variety show. He even wrote the Muppet Song “Rainbow Connection”!

But sometime in the 80’s he kind of dropped out of sight. It seems he fell victim to drugs and alcohol, which seems to affect many sensitive and creative people.

Creative people tend to be highly sensitive to everything around them, and they internalize what they experience, which is often overwhelming. It can be confusing and can cause fear, and a general uncomfortability, and when people feel things like that, they naturally look for something to take that feeling away.

Alcohol, and other substances can feel like they do the trick for varying amounts of time, until they start working against you. Once that happens, your life begins to spiral downwards, like the water going down the toilet, and that for many people is their “bottom”.

And if you’re lucky, your bottom is horrible enough that it makes an impression on you. If you’re not so lucky, you continue living in your bottom, until something really terrible happens. Your bottom can get lower and lower until one day, you just turn up dead. That’s probably the worst bottom you can have, although some people say that living in your bottom, and continually relapsing is worse.

Thank goodness Paul Williams found sobriety, and that’s a lot of what this documentary film is about. Stephen Kessler did a very sensitive portrayal of Paul who obviously trusted him enough to let him follow him around for quite a while to make this insightful film.

Director Stephen Kessler at “Paul Williams Still Alive” screening!

He first encountered Paul at an event in Vancouver, I believe, and approached him with the idea of doing this film, and then kept after him until he gave in. Perseverance often pays off!

Paul watched it with us, and as he viewed himself on various talk shows during his “active” period, he said he was struck by the ego and arrogance that he displayed. After 22 years of sobriety, that is not who he is now.

Stephen Kessler, Paul Williams, and moderator at the screening of “Paul Williams Still Alive!”

He’s now a man who exudes a sense of comfort with who he is. He owns a serenity that only comes with double digit sobriety.

He greeted me warmly when he saw me, and made a point of thanking me for coming. I was able to give him a copy of my new book with Chris Rock, and tell him what a fan I’ve been all these years. It was a special moment.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Williams at the screening of “Paul Williams Still Alive!”

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