Archive for Self Help Information

Breaking Down The Breakdown

The Red Room is a very cool space in the KGB Bar on East 4th Street, coincidentally right next door to the new New York Comedy Club. And once a month comic/actor Boris Khaykin puts on a really unique variety-type show called The Breakdown with Boris Khaykin, with the help of producer Jeremy Moses.

I got invited to be a guest and went down the month before to check it out and needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I was duly impressed. Boris and his co-host Jawnee Conroy also a talented comedian and actor have created a very unique format, along with Boris’ co-writer and co-producer of the show Alex Estrada!

The audience warm up was not a stand-up comedian but a musical improviser named Rebecca Vigil. A great song came out of absolutely nowhere. Amazing. Then Boris and Jawnee took the stage and worked off each other for about 10 minutes or so, and then Exacto an amazing beatboxer did a solo performance that blew everyone away. It sounded like he swallowed a drum kit!

Then the first guest was called which happened to be me! I made a point of thanking Ethan “Exacto” Scott for his incredible performance and remarked that his teachers must have hated him because I’m sure he disrupted every class he was ever in.

I got to talk about my Amazon Best Seller book on Happiness, “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind – A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness”, a subject I felt the audience could relate to, and they did. We spoke about changing negative thoughts we were holding onto that were not working for us, and in doing so raising our self-esteem, and self-confidence and conquering the fear that tells us we can’t do something we’d like to accomplish. Fear is a bully and we have to stand up to it.

Speaking of fear, I even got to talk about how I cured myself of stuttering, and how people can overcome obstacles in their lives. I feel like it went well and the audience feedback was very positive.

We also discussed my hair and decided it was the exact opposite of Boris’ beard. If I turned my head upside down, I’d have something close to Boris’ beard, which is real by the way, and is what to aim for if you want to grow a beard.

Not everyone has the genetics for it, so don’t feel compelled to grow a beard if you can’t because believe me, no one is interested in your INTERPRETATION of a beard! You either have one or you don’t. There’s a big difference between having a beard, and just having hair on your face! None of that patchy shit! (LOL)

I talked about hair establishing your identity which is why in the Army they shave off your hair right away to make everyone the same and take away your own personal identity. I also said that “Most men wear their hair like they’re embarrassed for having any” and someone in the audience created an immediate meme for Instagram which I thought was very cool!

Then after my interview segment some talented improv artists, Nick Carillo, Katie Hartman, got up and did a sketch using the facts from my interview as inspiration, and that’s always fascinating to me that someone can remember so much of what somebody else said. I have a hard time remembering someone’s name immediately after being introduced to them! (LOL) And then there was a sketch in which Lauren Kahn played Jawnee’s ex-girlfriend.

Next up as a guest was Jamilah Lemieux named in 2015 to The Root’s (the magazine, not Jimmy Fallon’s band) Root 100 list of the nation’s most influential African-American citizens.

She’s a journalist, columnist, cultural critic and editor and afterwards told me she’ll be moving to L.A. to try and get into writing for TV. She’s already got an idea for a script and she wants to do stand-up comedy.

Speaking of stand-up comedy, Emmy Blotnick was the purely stand-up comedy segment of the show and I was glad to finally meet her. Of all things she did some “dental humor” and joked about having to wear a nightguard to protect against the damage caused by grinding and clenching the teeth. How could she have known that was my specialty? Anyway it gave us something to bond over! ( Bonding, … get it? LOL)

And then there was the big close with Boris and Jawnee back on stage, and lots of people hung out to just party because it’s that kind of a hang. Next month’s show will feature Richard Kind, and I’m sure it will be hilarious so make sure to go check it out. I had a BLAST!!!

So until next time we meet please remember that COMEDY MATTERS!!!

Please like, comment and SUBSCRIBE to my Comedy Matters TV YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork and follow me on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian

See you all soon!

 

Posted in: Book Reviews, Books, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Entertainment News, General Information, Happiness Information, Happiness Information, Jeffrey Gurian News, Nightlife Events, Off-Broadway Show, Point of View, Singles Events, Sketch Comedy, Stand-Up Comedy, Variety Show

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My Take On Bullying

Bullying seems to be a hot topic these days.  Not a day goes by when you don’t read an article in the paper about the effects of bullying, from a student committing suicide to a school shooting blamed on the shooter having been bullied.   What is it about us as human beings that causes us to be bullies?

The dictionary defines “bully” as “a person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.”  That makes sense until you consider that last October, of 2013, football player Jonathan Martin, at 6’5 and 300 plus pounds, walked away from his team for being bullied by teammate Richie Incognito.  If a 6’5″ 300 pound guy can be bullied I guess that ANYONE can be bullied!

And Incognito’s explanation mirrors what all bullies say, “I was just kidding around!”   He went on to say ” Jonathan’s lawyer says he experienced “a malicious personal attack,” but again, that’s because he doesn’t understand how our locker room relationship was. We’d carry on. We’re big, physical guys. I would put my hands on him, just messing around. Like head-butting. Give him a belly shot. Normal stuff, that’s all.”

We’re “big, physical guys?”  Is that an excuse for acting like a moron?   You get a pass based on your physical size?  Why does your size allow you to head butt someone?  Is that really a game?  That’s not even allowed in some forms of MMA, because it can be so damaging.  “A belly shot?”  I’ve always known that that’s how those guys think, but to hear them actually say it is still shocking to me.

Former Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde talked about “bullying” and “hazing” of new players, and what goes on in the locker rooms, in an article in the NY Post, and said “When Chad Pennington was a rookie with the Jets, we made him wear his helmet to breakfast, lunch and dinner in the cafeteria one day.  That was kind of our prank or joke on him to welcome him into the NFL.”  Now MY question is what would have happened if you had just said ” Welcome to the NFL, we’re really glad to have you.”  Would he have been disappointed?  Would he have felt unwelcome?  Would he have felt like ” Boy I really wish they had done something mean to me, or at least made me look stupid!”

In all honesty I experienced the same “Jock” mentality entering Dental School!  And all these years later I still can’t figure out why.  It should have been a great honor to be accepted to a professional school and the doctors on staff should theoretically have gone out of their way to make the students feel that way.  Instead they did everything in their power to humiliate us, demean us, and take away any amount of self-esteem we might have had.

I was bullied from my very first day when the Dean made a speech to “welcome” the incoming students and said, ” We don’t want any hippies with guitars here.  If you want to be a hippy with a guitar go to Dental School in California!”  Then a certain Dr. Lantz , with a Pennsylvania Dutch accent, came over to me and told me to get a haircut, and continued telling me that for the next four years,  until literally the very  day he handed me my diploma.  As I approached the podium to receive my D.D.S. degree after four grueling years of work, all he could manage to say was ” Gurian, get a haircut!”

And if you saw the length of my hair in those days you’d know they were out of their minds.  I also had grown a moustache which was in style in New York in those days and that really threw them over the edge.  In those days in Philadelphia, if you wore a turtleneck sweater you were considered a radical, … an anarchist!  I was not allowed to see patients for three whole weeks which put me in danger of not being able to complete my clinic requirements, and therefore not be able to graduate.

Because I grew a moustache I was told by my faculty advisor that I was “a disgrace to the profession.”   Meanwhile the halls bore the paintings of the school’s founders all of whom had huge mutton chop whiskers and plenty of facial hair.

The only saving grace was that Dr. Lantz and Dr. Mingeldorff ( I’m not kidding, that was his name!), who actually had a Confederate flag in his office that said ” The South will rise again” found out that my father had served in World War II.   And the way they found out was because my Dad had come down to Philly for me to do some work on his teeth and to speak to them about not letting me in the clinic, and they refused to let me work on my own father, until he had a talk with them and it came out that he had been in the O.S.S. ( Officer’s Strategic Service).  Dr. Lantz’s exact words which were seared into my brain were, ” Your Dad served us well in World War II.”

That still didn’t get me back in the clinic but they did let me work on my father, since he had driven down from New York City to see me.  My Dad told them that he didn’t feel he could tell me how to look because I was almost a doctor. It took my mother buying me a wig, with short hair and a part, in order for them to allow me to see patients again.  And I had to appear in Dr. Mingeldorff’s office , and slowly turn in a circle so that he could examine my hair from every angle.  He seemed to have no idea that it was a wig, because several weeks later, he showed his true nature by telling me it was time to get a haircut again because my “hair” was once again getting too long!

This was the length hair that got me banned from Dental School, and forced me to resort to wearing a wig in order to graduate!

This was the length hair that got me banned from Dental School, and forced me to resort to wearing a wig in order to graduate!

The bullying in Dental School got so bad that in the class where we were being taught how to give injections in the mouth, I was in the middle of giving an injection to a patient over the upper front teeth.  I was doing my best to make it painless. The needle was already into the gum, and some moron instructor came by and said to me, “Put it in further, don’t be afraid”,  and he actually pushed my elbow so that the needle went in too far.  I remember the horror of that till this day, and if it happened now he would have been fired.  In those days we were too afraid to speak up.  Today I would have.

The torment I faced for those four years definitely changed me as a person.  I know it and I try and fight it on a daily basis.  To be openly humiliated by the very people you’re trying your hardest to join , is not something you ever forget.  I wrote on my apartment walls with crayon that they would NEVER break me.  I told myself that I would have the last laugh, and I did.  I had a very successful practice and I never participated in any of the alumni events or had anything to do with the school , or any of the other students, since the day I graduated.

I’ve been bullied throughout my life.  By construction workers who didn’t like long hair when it started back in the 60’s.  By random strangers who’d make remarks to me on the street about my appearance!  By neighborhood gangs growing up in The Bronx!  By powerless insignificant people who Tweet mean things to make themselves feel important.  I know how it feels to be made to feel like you don’t fit in.

Fortunately the entertainment world is a lot more inclusive.  They are used to free thinkers, and encourage that as it’s a sign of your creativity.  When you go into the Army the first thing they do is to shave off your hair because your hair is a symbol of your identity, and they don’t want you to have your own identity.  They want everyone to be the same.  Crosby, Stills, and Nash said it best a long time ago when they advised, “Let your freak flag fly!”   To this day if I hear them sing “Almost Cut My Hair” it can still bring tears to my eyes.  That’s how much I was bullied about my appearance. 

In recent weeks a 10 year old Brooklyn boy ran away and rode the subways all night to try and escape the constant bullying he experienced at school.  He was terrified to ride the trains all night alone, but it was preferable to the terror he experienced daily being bullied.  The NY Post reported that a  6′ tall high school female senior had her face slashed with a razor, just two weeks before graduation,  for the audacity of being pretty enough to be a model.   Where she went to school that was enough to deserve a slashed face.  She already had a promising modeling career that was cut short by the jealousy of a bully that attended her school.  She said they made fun of her for her height, but she tried not to let it get to her.  She was the only model in her school.

And another football player at Rutgers has accused one of the coaches of bullying him, which is the same school where men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for bullying HIS players. The sporting field seems to be ripe with bullying since lots of sports guys have that same “jock mentality” I mentioned above, that belittles anyone without the right genetics.   Too many people take credit for their genetics, when it was really just a roll of the dice.

If you were ever one of the kids who got picked last when other kids chose up teams, you know the feeling.  I was considered a popular kid, and played a lot of different sports, but I often felt left out.

And the media bullies people too, as evidenced by the NY Post headline of May 7, 2014 about Monica Lewinsky, who is still trying to make a life for herself after being humiliated on a worldwide basis for being seduced by the President of the United States.  The headline read “After 10 years Monica breaks her silence”, and then it said “My life sucks” as if she said that.  I read the article.  Nowhere does she use the term “sucks.”  The clever press person who came up with the title thought it would be cute to continue the humiliation, while the guy who seduced her goes on to ignore an impeachment and is looked at as some great hero who makes millions of dollars giving speeches.

Bullying is bad enough when you’re a kid,  but you’re supposed to outgrow it.  When you’re still bullying people as an adult maybe you’re just sick and need help!

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Princess/Housewife Carole Radziwill Writes A Fun, Sexy Book!

I get to meet lots of fun people within the confines of what I casually refer to as “my life”, (LOL) but I have to honestly say that one of the most fun people I’ve met in a long time is Carole Radziwill, who just happens to be a real live Princess.  Fortunately, … although she’s elegant, she doesn’t act like a Princess,(in a GOOD way!)

Jeffrey Gurian with Princess Carole Radziwill, who only dressed like a Princess because Jeffrey begged her to!

Jeffrey Gurian with Princess Carole Radziwill, who only dressed like a Princess because Jeffrey begged her to!

She became a Princess by way of marriage to Anthony Radziwill, who was the son of socialite Lee Radziwill, (younger sister of Jacqueline Bouvier, better known as Jackie Kennedy, wife of JFK), and his father Polish Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, which was how he came by the title he never used.

He passed away in August of 1999 after a five year bout with cancer during which time his wife Carole was his primary care-giver, which right away shows you a rare level of character.   Anthony was a cousin to JFK Jr. who with his wife Carolyn, and her sister Lauren, all perished in a plane crash that very same summer, while on their way to a wedding and a visit to Anthony.

The pain of those multiple overwhelming losses led to Carole’s first book in 2005, a memoir, and the NY Times bestseller, “What Remains ; A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love (Scribner)

And leaving her a young, attractive widow gave her the authority to write this new book “A Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating”, coming out on Feb. 11th, (today!), and  which I plan to purchase at her book-signing at Barnes and Noble on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 at 7 P.M.

That’s the Barnes and Noble  at 2289 Broadway for you New Yorkers, between 82nd and 83rd streets, on the ultra-hip Upper West Side.  When you really think about it, almost every part of NYC these days can be considered “ultra-hip!”

In an article in the NY Post, Carole talked a little about her book, and a lot of it seems to be about empowerment, a topic I love.  One of the tips she mentioned was ” when he shows up 20 minutes late for a date, you shouldn’t still be there.”  I love that, and wonder if it pertains to both sexes.

I’ve had women show up hours late for a date who were meeting me at my home, and several times I didn’t want to be there or answer the door when they finally arrived.  On more than one occasion I told the doorman not to ring me, but then felt guilty about it later!

It’s the height of disrespect to show up so late, but values these days seem to have changed.  It’s probably my own fault for dating out of my generation! (LOL)

In another tip she advises women not to have sex with a man until he THINKS he’s in love with you!  Not necessarily when he KNOWS he’s in love with you, but when he THINKS he’s in love with you.  However she admits that sometimes that can happen  for men before they even meet a woman.  If so, does that means sex on the first date?  I’ll have to ask her that when I see her!

I’m looking forward to the new season of Real Housewives of NY, which premieres on Tuesday March 11th on Bravo, not only to see what Carole and the girls are up to, but also because I’m going to appear in a few episodes this season.  I got to know Carole personally when I created a comedy sketch for her and LuAnn DeLesseps to perform in.

LuAnn DeLesseps and Jeffrey Gurian at a gala Jeffrey produced in honor of Susie Essman!

LuAnn DeLesseps and Jeffrey Gurian at a gala Jeffrey produced in honor of Susie Essman!

LuAnn and I have been friends for more than 20 years, and she had always told me she wanted to do comedy.  Last June I was out in LA shooting an episode of Kroll Show for Comedy Central and LuAnn was out there shooting a show for the Oxygen network and playing a character named “Donna” that she loved.

I went over to join her on set and she was having a blast and told me she definitely wanted  to do something comedic with me.  I told her to call me when we got back to New York, and she did.  She said that she and Carole wanted to make fun of their “royal” titles, which was very “hip” of them to do!  LuAnn is a legitimate Countess, and Carole is a legit Princess.  Both of them received their titles  the same way, … by way of marriage.

My writing partner Lance Rizzo, and I created a sketch for them that they loved, and that Bravo loved as well and it will be on the new season.  I brought them to The PIT, ( People’s Improv Theatre) founded by my friend Ali Farahnakian, who was one of the original founding members of UCB, and he graciously offered us the use of his theatre to participate in an improv class just to get the girls feet wet.  Bravo filmed us in that class.

(L-R) Improv teacher Richard Hollman from The PIT, Carole Radziwill, Jeffrey Gurian, and LuAnn DeLesseps after their improv class!

(L-R) Improv teacher Richard Hollman from The PIT, Carole Radziwill, Jeffrey Gurian, and LuAnn DeLesseps after their improv class!

Then Bravo came to my home and filmed me, LuAnn and Carole in a planning session about the script.  I though it would be best to film the sketch as a video and show it as part of a live “improv” show at The PIT, which is what we did.

Jeffrey Gurian, Carole Radziwill, and LuAnn DeLesseps in Jeffrey's apartment rehearsing the sketch for RHONY!

Jeffrey Gurian, Carole Radziwill, and LuAnn DeLesseps in Jeffrey’s apartment rehearsing the sketch for RHONY!

 

I brought in the hysterical Cult Comedy Picture Show group which I am proud to be a part of, and they filmed the sketch also at The PIT,  and some of them participated in the acting as well.   The founding members are George Gaffney, Brent Katz, and Lance Rizzo, along with Jake Hart who was our main host and voice over guy for the sketch.

The cast of Cult Comedy Pictures at The PIT for the RHONY shoot!

The cast of Cult Comedy Pictures at The PIT for the RHONY shoot!

Then we filmed the actual live show at The PIT where we showed our video sketch, the details of which must remain secret until the show airs.  And then after we wrapped the season, Carole had a surprise 50th birthday party which I was invited to and that got filmed for the show as well.

Jeffrey Gurian with Carole Radziwill at her 50th birthday party!

Jeffrey Gurian with Carole Radziwill at her 50th birthday party!

So I can personally attest to the fact that Carole is a spectacular and fascinating person, who is so funny and delightful, (much funnier than she even realizes!), and I hope you’ll join me at her book signing where I plan to buy the book and report back to you!

 

 

 

 

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My Synchronicitous Meeting With Larry David

People often tell me I know everyone in comedy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Bret Ernst Headlines Gotham Comedy Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bret Ernst headlining and killing it at Gotham Comedy Club!

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

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

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

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

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

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The Insult of a $2.40 Settlement Check from Wall Street

In the aftermath of the Wall Street meltdown of 2008, where so many people lost so much money due to the greed and dishonesty of the people who run Wall Street, many companies were sued in what are known as Class Action Suits, … one suit on behalf of the millions of people who were victimized in some way.

These suits are taken by law firms who get a large percentage of the settlement while the victims literally get pennies on the dollar to make up for their losses, adding only insult to injury.

Today after having a pretty good day, I got home, and checked my mail as I usually do. Inside it was an envelope identifying it as coming from SEC v. Bank of America Corp. Fair Fund. Underneath that it said ” Distribution Agent”. But the word “Fair” is the operative word here.

I read a letter that said I had owned 297 shares of Bank of America Corp. and as a settlement for my losses, which amounted to more than I want to think about, I was being reimbursed the grand total of $2.40. That is 0.008 cents per share. When I first saw the letter, I thought it had said I was receiving a check for $297. dollars. That would have been little enough. But $2.40? It must have cost more than that to send out the letter and statement!

What a joke, except it’s not even close to being funny. I expected to see an “LOL” after the amount. Wasn’t the person who wrote out that check embarrassed? How do you write out a check to someone reimbursing them for their losses and have the nerve to write two dollars and forty cents?

You wouldn’t even give that to someone as a tip. If someone helped you carry your heavy packages upstairs to your house, and you only gave them $2.40, I think you would be embarrassed. I can only imagine how much money the lawyers charged for this wonderful settlement of 0.0008 cents per share. Why even bother? I’ll tell you why, because you can be sure that made millions!

Not being a lawyer, my interpretation is strictly that of a layman. In most of these cases the defendant company never admits wrongdoing. They just eventually settle, with one of the contingencies seeming to be that they do not have to admit having done anything wrong. They just settle because they want to settle and have it over with.

I’m a firm believer in capitalism. I’m not one of those “Occupy Wall Street” people, who wants to tear it down, but I certainly understand their frustration. I stopped hoping for a Wall Street windfall a long time ago. To me the market is phony b.s.

It’s a big phony mess and the only people who make money are the traders. They don’t care if the market goes up or down. They make money either way. And then when the times comes to analyze the quarter and tell you how you did, instead of telling you how much money you made, they try and explain your current status in terms of percentages.

In other words, chances are you have less money at the end of the quarter than you did at the beginning, and on the surface even though it looks like you lost a lot of money, they try and spin it to show you how you didn’t do as badly as most of the other investment companies out there, as if that’s supposed to make you feel better. And they love doing it in percentages!

Whenever I’m in a conversation like that, all I keep asking is ” How much money do I have in my accounts?” I don’t care about the rest of the story and your percentages. Percentages mean nothing to me. Less than nothing.

I can’t spend percentages. I can only spend dollars. I want to know how many dollars I have now as compared to how many dollars I had before.

They hate that. They can’t answer you that way, with the truth, because all they could say then is that they’re sorry. They tried.

One day the market is up 200 points, the next day it’s down 400 points. It’s like gambling. Like going to Las Vegas, except on Wall STreet you’re gambling involuntarily with money you can’t afford to lose.

The market is driven by fear. Listen to any news broadcast. Every day they explain shifts in the market as being caused by “fears” of investors. Who are these investors who are so afraid of every single thing?

Every bit of news that comes across their computers puts them into a state of fear, where all they can think about is selling their stock so the market goes down, and so they can share their fear with others. Fears of inflation, fears of deflation, fears of trouble in The Middle East, fears of trouble in Europe, fears of unemployment, and if I hear the term “Fiscal Cliff” one more time, I may become ill!

What a disgusting term to keep repeating over, and over, and over again on every radio and TV station in America. Fiscal Cliff. That’s where these phony Wall Street guys belong. At the edge of a fiscal cliff. They pay themselves multi-million dollar bonuses for cheating people out of their life savings.

And short-selling is something I will never understand. How it is allowed that anyone can actually make money betting that the market will go down, by selling stock they don’t even own, is only a vehicle for unscrupulous people to make the market go down. I’m not sophisticated enough to know how they do that, but it’s obvious that they do, because every so often someone gets busted for manipulating the market in that way.

If the market goes down, NO ONE should be able to make money off of that. I think that would probably keep the market going up. And I’m sure they have their self-serving reasons to explain why short-selling is necessary, but once again it’s just another lie. It’s just another reason, or opportunity for them to make money at someone else’s expense.

So I’m not sure whether I’m going to cash this $2.40 check or not, or maybe I’ll just add it to another check I once got for 99 cents on another settlement, and go out and buy a candy bar, but when I saw it I just felt so disgusted with the people who have the nerve to send out checks for $2.40 and consider themselves having done a service, I felt I had to write about it.

I don’t know how these people sleep at night. And I don’t know who I despise more, the corporate people who cause the Wall Street downfall in the first place, or the scavenger lawyers who are supposedly representing the victims while lining their own pockets with the majority of the settlements. You can bet not one of these lawyers ever accepted a settlement for two dollars and forty cents!

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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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Andy Engel Offers Free Comedy Workshops at Gotham

Every so often Andy Engel, the Director of New Talent at Gotham Comedy Club and the founder of Manhattan Comedy School holds a free comedy workshop, and gets industry people and well known comics to come out and address the crowd of potential comics and comedy writers. It’s always a very informative day.

A rare photo of Andy Engel onstage addressing the crowd at Gotham Comedy Club, for his complimentary comedy workshop!.

This one was on a Sunday afternoon at 12:30 and Ben Rosen from Gawker, was the host. He was very funny.

Wali Collins was up first. Wali is great, and always reliably funny, and it was kind of like family day at Gotham because several comics brought family members with them. I had the pleasure of meeting Wali’s beautiful wife Iralma, who was really sweet. It’s nice when people can share things like that together.

He introduced me to her by telling her how I supported him with an article about his clothing line Ya Nevano, when it first came out. It’s also nice when people remember things like that!

Wali had some great advice for the aspiring comics in the crowd. One thing that stuck with me was that an old rule said that your closing joke should be a strong joke. Wali made the point that every one of your jokes should be able to be a closing joke, and to try and think of them that way. When you don’t, you’re not doing justice to your other jokes. Very interesting point of view.

Ha also advised not to engage hecklers! Especially new comics who don’t have the stage time or experience to know how to handle that! Ignoring them is always the best way to go, otherwise you can lose control of your show. Just point them out so the rest of the audience can hate them, and go on doing what you do!

Jimmy Faiila tried out a new prop during his set, his 3 year old son Lincoln, named after the 16th President I’m sure, because Jimmy is very patriotic, and would definitely do something like that! (LOL)

It was funny because Jimmy couldn’t get a babysitter so he brought his son with him, and when they introduced Jimmy and brought him to the stage, he left his son with one of the women to hold, and Lincoln started crying so loud that Jimmy came and took him on stage with him, and did his act with Lincoln holding on to him. It was very cute, but I don’t think he’d want to do that on a regular basis.

Although I thought I heard him say maybe he should have another child so he could see how it felt doing his act holding a newborn infant! (JK!)

Jimmy Failla onstage holding his new prop, 3 year old son Lincoln, making his stage debut at Gotham! It was hysterical, and may set a new precedent!

What was funny, (besides Jimmy’s jokes! LOL) was that he didn’t alter any of the language in his act because he was holding his young son, so if Lincoln grows up saying words he shouldn’t be saying, we all know where he got it from! That fateful day on stage at Gotham!

The comics performed first, and then addressed the audience and shared some nuggets of wisdom. Jimmy said something interesting that I never really thought about before. He said that many times the MC’s of shows are less experienced, because they are needed to stay for the entire show, which means they don’t have other spots scheduled anywhere else.

I always thought the other way, that MC’s had to be very experienced, since I think it’s hard to keep a show going, and you have to have more material than the average comic who just comes up and does his regular length set. I found that interesting.

Another rare photo of Karen Bergreen, Harrison Greenbaum, and Ben Rosen at Andy Engel’s comedy workshop at Gotham! Look closely! You may never see these three people together again!

The last two performers were also very good, Harrison Greenbaum, and Karen Bergreen who often hosts shows at Gotham, and Harrison geared his remarks to jokewriting. All in all it was a very informative day, and I bet that Andy got some new students for his classes!

I also got to meet a new young comic named Wednesday Suarez, and I’m hoping she’s funny because it’s one of the best stage names for comedy I ever heard! How could you not like a girl named Wednesday Suarez???

You can see an earlier post on Andy Engel’s industry comedy workshops at http://wp.me/p1pHIm-IQ

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Caron Foundation Honors Clive Davis, with Judy Collins, Geraldo Rivera, Chris Lawford, and Lots More!

The Caron Foundation is a nationally recognized nonprofit provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment. Thanks to their grateful donors, their treatment centers last year provided almost 14 million dollars in scholarships to addicted individuals and their families.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with music legend and Caron Foundation honoree Clive Davis at Cipriani’s 42nd Street!

Cipriani’s 42nd Street was the site of the Caron Foundation event honoring music legends Clive Davis and Judy Collins, and it was a spectacular, star-studded event handled by Rob Goldstone and David Wilson’s Oui2 Public Relations.

Clive Davis is the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment and a true legend in the music industry. The last time I saw Clive I was having dinner with Michael Bolton and we went over to his table to “kibbitz”! In the video below, you’ll see I had the opportunity to reminisce with him about the time I invited him to attend a Friars Roast, (I wish I recalled which one it was!), which led to Clive being honored as The Friars Man of the Year.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with good buddy Michael Bolton backstage in Vegas!

During his long and illustrious career, Clive Davis has discovered and nurtured the careers of many superstars including Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Barry Manilow, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and the late Whitney Houston.

Judy Collins’ career has spanned more than fifty years, and she has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. She’s also openly sober for many years and something so cool happened which you’ll see in the accompanying video. As I was interviewing Geraldo Rivera on the red carpet, we were suddenly, and unexpectedly joined by Judy Collins who was so open, and so kind that the other journalists thought I had planned it. But you could never plan something like that.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing both Geraldo Rivera and Judy Collins at the same time!

So there I was doing a three-way interview with Geraldo on one side of me, and Judy Collins on the other. I felt like I was watching a tennis match! I didn’t know which way to turn first! (LOL) Geraldo had bought a table for his friends from Fox News including national correspondent Laura Ingel, and Laurie Dhue who was the MC for the evening and was also openly celebrating five years of sobriety.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Laurie Dhue, MC for the Caron Foundation event honoring Clive Davis and Judy Collins!

I also got to see my old pal Chris Kennedy Lawford, who is a big supporter of the work that Caron does. He looks so much like his Dad, Peter Lawford that whenever I see him it reminds me of The Rat Pack, with Frank Sinatra, cause his Dad was one of the group.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing his pal Chris Kennedy Lawford at the Caron event at Cipriani’

Chris was a nephew of JFK, and is also very open about his own struggles with addiction. It hits every age group and social strata, and it’s always very courageous when well known people use their “celebrity” to bring attention to the need for help.

I never knew that Chris was instrumental in bringing the movie “Drunks” to the big screen, in which another old friend Richard Lewis was the star.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Richard Lewis at The Friars Club in NYC!

Laurie Dhue told me that Geraldo had been a big supporter of hers and she felt that he was very helpful in her staying sober. Geraldo of course was too humble to accept that assessment, but she assured me he helped her tremendously.

It was truly a night of reminiscing for me, because when I spoke to Geraldo I was able to reminisce with him about the great story his mother-in-law told me about how he was able to prolong his father-in-law’s life.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Geraldo Rivera at Cipriani’s 42nd Street for teh Caron Foundation event honoring Clive Davis and Judy Collins!

It was a powerful story of synchronicity, where his wife Erica’s Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Geraldo attended an affair where he just happened to be seated next to a doctor he had never met before who just happened to be an expert in prostate cancer and guided him to the surgeon who prolonged his father-in-law’s life. Unfortunately he later on succumbed to the disease, but his wife told me the story because she was struck by the synchronicity of the event.

Geraldo was surprised that I remembered it so clearly, but it’s the kind of story I hold on to, because it’s so meaningful. Theoretically it can’t even happen! (LOL)

I also got to reminisce with Geraldo about an evening we spent many, many years ago with Salvador Dali at the St. Regis Hotel in the King Cole Lounge. Check it all out right here!

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Jeffrey Gurian on National Lampoon Radio Interview Show With Brian McCarthy

I ran into Brian McCarthy from National Lampoon Radio’s Interview Show recently at a party, and he reminded me of when we first met back in the 90’s.

He was kind of new in town, and said he used to see me at many parties and events with spectacular women, and always wondered who I was, but was too nervous to come over and say hello! (LOL)

Then one day he realized we had a mutual friend named Chris Walsch. Chris and I had a comedy sketch troupe that disbanded before we got to do any performances, but we were always hysterical laughing, and I wish I knew what ever happened to him. Brian asked Chris who I was and he told him to the best of his ability! (LOL)

Thankfully the ensuing years have given Brian more courage because the evening I mentioned above, he did come over to say hello, and we had so much fun reminiscing that he invited me to be a guest on his interview show. He and producer Marty Dundics do this really fun show, and I was a guest for about an hour.

Brian McCarthy, the host of National Lampoon Interview Show, showing that he has nothing in his hands, but still does magic with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Brian McCarthy, host of National Lampoon Interview Show and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, pointing each other out to the police, when asked “Who did it???”

You can check it out in the video below! We really had lots of fun!

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