Posts Tagged Carolines on Broadway

Comedy Matters Is Back Bigger Than Ever

COMEDY MATTERS IS BACK

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

  • BIG MOUTH DEBUT AT 92Y

WITH NICK KROLL AND JOHN MULANEY

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

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

WITH JASON MANTZOUKAS BACKSTAGE AT THE 92Y

 

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

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

ACCIDENTALLY PERFORMING FOR JERRY SEINFELD

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

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

              WITH JERRY SEINFELD

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

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

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

Jerry Seinfeld and Jeffrey Gurian on Page 6 TV

D.L. HUGHLEY DOES IT UP RIGHT

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

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

BACKSTAGE WITH D.L. HUGHLEY AT CAROLINES ON BROADWAY

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

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

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

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

PLANNING A SCARF BUSINESS WITH BILL BURR

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

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

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

WITH BILL BURR AT WESTSIDE COMEDY CLUB

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

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

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

MIKE BIRBIGLIA’S NEW ONE 

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

WITH MIKE BIRBIGLIA AT THE CORT THEATRE

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

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

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

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

BERT KREISCHER UNCUT AND UNDRESSED

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

SHIRT-SHOPPING WITH BERT KREISCHER AT TOWN HALL

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

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

 RAY ROMANO DOES CHARITY SHOW WITH NEW MOUSTACHE

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

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

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

TEAM COCO PARTY WITH SCOTT ROGOWSKY AND JOHN OLIVER

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

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

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

WITH COUNTESS LUANN FROM RHONY

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

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

WITH JOHN OLIVER

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

WITH LISA LAMPANELLI BACKSTAGE AT THE GRAMERCY THEATRE

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

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

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

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

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

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

HASAN MINHAJ FIRST INDIAN HOST OF MAJOR TV SHOW

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

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

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

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

WITH HASAN MINHAJ BACKSTAGE AT THE 92Y

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

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

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

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

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

With love to all,

Jeffrey
jeffrey@jeffreygurian.com

Posted in: Animated Show, Broadway Show, Celeb Photos, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Jeffrey Gurian News, Stand-Up Comedy

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Richard Lewis, (aka "Lon Chaney’s Undertaker"), and Jeffrey Gurian on Nick and Artie

The logo and opening shot of “Nick and Artie”, seen nightly Mon-Fri, 10 P.M. to 1 A.M.on Sirius Radio and DirecTV!

I was really psyched to do the “Nick and Artie” Show and talk about my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, after Artie invited me to come on one night when he was judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip. The book is about the 35 year history of The Strip and is written with Richie Tienken the owner and founder of the club.

The promo for Jeffrey Gurian on the “Nick and Artie Show”!

Then I ran into Artie a few days later when he performed at a memorial show for Patrice O’Neal at Gotham Comedy Club, and he invited me again.

Patrice and I were very close and he honored me my making me his co-host along with Dante Nero, when he hosted The Black Phillip Show on Sirius Radio. We always had fun, and I always made sure to bring lots of hot models with me, cause nothing is more fun than mixing comedy with beautiful girls!

This is a phone call from Patrice that I will always treasure, inviting me to do our own show together! Unfortunately that never came to fruition, and will always be one of the great disappointments of my life!

Patrice Phone Call_Feb_2008 2

patrice phPatrice Phone Call_Feb_2008 2one call_1-2

(L-R) Dante Nero, Drew Boogie, Jeffrey Gurian, Carlotta Butler, Patrice Oneal, and in back Kathy and Dawn Leak, AKA “The Leak Sisters!”

So I make my arrangements to come on the show with Liz Canavan of “Twinsanity”, and I went down there with my buddy from L.A. Nathan Oventhal who starred in my film “Men Who Take A Fish To Work”, the newest addition of The “Men Who Series!”

Nathan Oventhal holding a fish with nightlife impresario Wass Stevens on the set of ” Men Who Take A Fish To Work”!

Liz greeted us and brought us to the green room, where I see that Richard Lewis is a guest on the show. Richard is not only a dear friend, but he also wrote a blurb that’s on the back cover if “Make ‘Em Laugh” and I hadn’t had the chance yet to give him a copy.

Luckily I had an extra one with me, so I told Liz to tell Richard I was here. Next thing I know I hear someone calling my name, and it was him. I hadn’t seen him since the year before when we did a private Comedy Matters TV interview at The Friars Club, and it was so great to see him again!

Richard Lewis being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Friars Club in NYC!

He said he was really excited about the book, and congratulated me on bringing it to life after four years of work. And the timing was so cool that I had one to sign and to give him. He wrote a hilarious blurb that said:

The hilarious blurb sent to me my my great pal Richard Lewis!

Richard has always been a favorite of mine in many ways. To my detriment I relate so much to his personna!(LOL) Back around 1997 when he was starring in the movie “Drunks”, I got the bright idea that I should be writing for him, although I knew he always writes his own stuff. But it was my dream, like when I got a chance to show my earliest material to Woody Allen, expecting him to leave what he was doing and run off and write films with me! (LOL)

That didn’t happen by the way! This is as close as I got to that!

The night I made Woody Allen laugh by saying, ” Hi Woody, I’m a very close friend of yours!” You can see how absolutely hysterical he is in this photo!

I did however make some films he encouraged me to make called “The ‘Men Who’ Series” about men who do very unusual things, like “Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and one special one in particular called “Men Who Swim To Work” starring Mike Bochetti, currently the side-kick on Nick and Artie, which airs on both Sirius radio and DirecTV!

Mike Bochetti as he appears today in 2012, with Jeffrey Guiran on the set of “Nick and Artie” where he is a regular!

And if you watch ” Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” you’ll see award winning actor Peter Dinklage, star of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” getting arrested for dancing in a “No Dancing” zone!

So I wrote up some material for Richard which I called his “Born To Be Nervous” Tour, and brought it with me to the theatre. For whatever reason I arrived late, and tried to bypass a long line of people waiting to get in, by running down a staircase which turned out to be leading to the Men’s Room! And who comes out walking towards me but Richard himself and he says, “What are you doing here?” To which I responded my handing him a manila envelope filled with neatly typed jokes.

These were some of them: My family are firm believers in the power of negative thinking. They feel you can ruin almost anything, if you really put your mind to it.

Low self esteem goes back in my family to the beginning of time. I actually had an uncle who was supposedly the first man to walk erect. But he couldn’t hold it. He’d take a few steps, and just slump over.

ALTERNATIVE – …. I actually had an uncle who was supposedly the first man to walk erect, but nobody noticed.

My shrink was also treating me for feelings of loneliness. At one point, I was so lonely, I tried to develop a split personality, just for the company.
I once knew a guy from group therapy who had a split personality. He dated a girl who also had a split personality. They used to double date.
He fell in love with her other personality, and she fell in love with his other personality. They got married, accused each other of cheating with themselves, and the marriage fell apart.

Anyway less than an hour after I got home, I got this message from Richard on my answering machine. Another message that I treasure:

Richard Lewis Phone Call

So as I reminisced with Richard about the video we shot at The Friars, Richard commented that it was a great interview but that he thought he looked like Lon Chaney’s undertaker, which we all thought was hysterical! I think he looked great! See what you think! (This is part 1. Part 2 is on the Comedy Matters You Tube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork)

Richard is in town headlining Carolines on Broadway this weekend through Sunday night. If you can still get a seat, go down and see him. It’s always a treat to see Richard perform.

So going on the show with Nick and Artie was exciting and they made me feel right at home. Appearing with two powerhouse comics like that can be intimidating, but they were very generous, and made it easy for me to tell my stories about the history of The Comic Strip and all the huge stars that came out of there, … although I really wanted to have time to do my one of my special GNN news reports which I often do on radio.

GNN (Gurian News Network) are unusual stories missed by mainstream media, like “Man Robs Bank With His Chin”, “College Professor Fired For Casually Removing His Spine in Class”, and “Hunter Lost in Wilderness Saved By His Moustache!”. These are the kind of stories I wrote for the legendary Weekly World News in my own column called “Gurian’s World of the Bizarre!”

There was the story ” Rare Virus Sweeps Japan, Victims Too Weak To Bow” about two men hurt in a bowing accident, and “Man Impaled On Spike, Still Shows Up For Work On Time!”, which is kind of self-explanatory! Hence GNN is known as your source for ” All The News That’s Fit To Dance To!”

Four of the stories, including “Man With Infant’s Head Sues For Discrimination”, and “George Washington Wore Wooden Pants” got made into animated films and wound up in the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

But with Nick and Artie, I got to tell some cool stories from Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock and also got to discuss my days writing for Rodney and some other fun people.

We also talked about the synchronicity of events in life and Artie told me that two days after getting out of rehab, during a quite stressful and confusing time of his life, Nick called and asked him to be his co-host on the show. Talk about synchronicity. I hope Artie knows how much he is loved,by his fans and the public in general.

I’ll never forget the reaction to Artie when he came out onstage one night at Town Hall, I think it was, to a standing ovation before he even said a word. I had never remembered seeing a reaction like that to any comic before. And he gave Mike Bochetti the great opportunity to open for him. That’s the kind of great guy that Artie is. I remember very clearly going backstage to congratulate him. I don’t recall 100% where it was, but it was a huge venue and it was sold out!

So I’m so happy for him that he gets to do this great show five nights a week with his good friend Nick!

Nick DiPaolo on camera on his fantastic “Nick and Artie” show!

Their set is also incredible. It’s like the ultimate man-cave, complete with Foosball, ping-pong, big screen TV’s all over, a photo booth, a full size kitchen and as they pointed out to me, pull out beds. Ohhh, and I forgot to mention two beautiful blonde twins Liz and Marie Canavan known as “Twinsanity”!

Artie Lange onscreen during the broadcast of the Nick and Artie Show, on Sirius and DirecTV, Mon-Fri. from 10 P.M. till 1 A.M.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in a “Twinsanity” sandwich with Liz on the left, and Marie on the right! (If you’re facing the screen!)

Part of the great “Nick and Artie” set where guests come to chat!

The photo booth on the set of “Nick and Artie” where I came out looking like Lon Chaney’s undertaker!” Only models who are already gorgeous come out good in those photos! (LOL)

It’s a total party, I had a great time, and I really hope they ask me back!

Nick DiPaolo, Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Artie Lange on the set of “Nick and Artie” , on Mon-Friday from 10 P.M. until 1 A.M.! Make sure to tune in!

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Stand-Up For Heroes at The Beacon Theatre

The NY Comedy Festival had so many star-studded shows, but the one that stuck out for me as being the most meaningful, besides being just entertaining was the Stand-Up For Heroes event, at The Beacon Theater on 75th and Broadway, produced in conjunction with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, honoring our brave servicemen and women who have been injured while serving our country overseas.

NY Comedy Festival poster highlighting all the big stars attending!

The line-up of talent was impressive including on the musical end John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, and Roger Waters, and on the comedic end Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, and Mike Birbiglia. Also on the style end were the two gorgeous style experts Ann Caruso and Mary Alice Stephenson, who you know from TV!

Stand-Up For Heroes Poster for event at The Beacon Theater on November 8, 2012!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV having a grand old time with two gorgeous style experts, Mary Alice Stephenson on the left, and Ann Caruso right in the middle! (LOL)

Covering a red carpet is difficult at times, because the huge TV networks tend to monopolize the stars as they make their way down the red carpet, so that by the time they get down to the independent press people like us, very often they’re out of time to speak, because the event is starting. And it’s difficult for the press people running the event to hurry everyone along.

Luckily I know a lot of the red carpet honorees so they stop off to say “Hi” even briefly. Besides getting to speak to Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais, who asked if I did my hair like that for him, (LOL), I got a very cool interview with Ann Caruso and Mary Alice Stephenson who styled the wives and female soldiers for this great event, and managed to get clothing donated from The Limited and even from Dior.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Ricky Gervais on the red carpet of Stand-Up For Heroes!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Style Experts Mary Alice Stephenson and Ann Caruso on the red carpet of “Stand-Up For Heroes!”

One of the biggest honors I had was getting to speak to some of the “wounded warriors” themselves. In the video accompanying this post you’ll see interviews with Lance Cpl. Michael Martinez, USMC who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan, but walks so well with his prosthetics that you wouldn’t even know. He walks with a limp, but walked the red carpet proudly with his girlfriend Megan Waters.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing hero /Wounded Warrior Lance Cpl. Michael Martinez of the US Marine Corps at Stand-Up For Heroes!

I also got to speak to Capt. Pat Horan, U.S. Army who was there with his wife Patty Horan. Capt. Pat had a bullet explode under his helmet, which within an hour destroyed his ability to walk, the coordination of his body, mouth, and his vestibular system which controls your balance. He lost all sensation on the right side of his body, and the ability to speak, read, and write, but as you’ll see in the video through lots of hard work in rehab has made an incredibly miraculous recovery.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviews Capt. Pat Horan, US Army on the red carpet of “Stand-Up For Heroes” at The Beacon Theater!

It was truly an honor to meet these brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country, and who were escorted down the red carpet by various stars in attendance. You can see the video right here:

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Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane Make A Movie

Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane undertook a huge project and came out with a fantastic result. They decided to make a film examining the statement made from time to time by journalists like Christopher Hitchens, and well known comics like Jerry Lewis and Adam Carolla that women aren’t funny.

Producer Rich Vos and director Bonnie McFarlane at Carolines for the debut of their film ” Women Aren’t Funny!”

This of course is a big generality, almost like saying “Men aren’t fashionable!” A lot of men are slobs, but some men are fashionable, and it stands to reason that women can be funny. I know that Bonnie Macfarlane is funny. I love watching her work. She’s sharp and can hold her own with men who try and overpower her comedically. I’ve seen her do it several times!

I guess that comes from being married to Rich Vos. And he should be thanking G-d for that every day, (and I think he does!) (LOLOL)

Rich said he called in every favor he ever had, and got a very impressive list of people in the comedy business to offer their thoughts on whether women can be funny or not! Colin Quinn, who was the MC at the premiere of the film at Carolines on Broadway, joked that if that was every favor he ever had he should be ashamed of himself!

Rich Vos, whose attention span is so short-lived he can’t even look at the camera, and Colin Quinn at Carolines for “Women Aren’t Funny!”

To Rich’s credit, he even put up his own money to do this project. That’s when you know someone really believes in their work.

Asking women who make their living being funny if women can be funny is a little touchy, and one male comic was honest enough to say that a lot of guys aren’t funny either. To verify that all you have to do is go to as many shows as I go to and that will be obvious.

So they made this documentary film called “Women Aren’t Funny” and debuted it as part of Caroline Hirsch’s NY Comedy Festival to a packed house.

As Colin took the stage to make his opening remarks, he wondered aloud to the audience several times, what he was doing there!

Colin Quinn said after thinking it over he’d rather remove his eye than MC this event for Rich! Interesting option!

He also appeared in the film as did so many people like Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Silverman, Adam Carolla, Patrice Oneal, Judy Gold, Jim Norton, Joan Rivers, Artie Lange, Maria Bamford,Michael Ian Black, Tom Arnold, Chelsea Peretti, and literally a Who’s Who in comedy, which is an admirable feat!

Joan Rivers still looking sexy and proving that women can be funny!

Tom Arnold, once married to Roseanne, weighing in on whether women can be funny!

Sarah Silverman onscreen discussing her point of view on women and humor!

Michael Ian Black onscreen at Carolines, on whether women can be funny!

Lisa Lampanelli onscreen, … another woman proving that women can be funny!

I had to do that twice in the last few years and I can attest to how hard it is to get so many stars lined up to be in your project. In my book “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive”, based on my writings for the Friars Roasts, which was supposed to be a collection of celebs favorite nasty jokes, I got 250 celebs like Drew Carey, Jason Alexander, and Jeff Garlin, to share pure filth with me, and my pal Paul Provenza wrote the intro. After directing The Aristocrats, I think he knows a thing or two about filth!

In my latest book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with an intro by Chris Rock, it took three years to get all of the in-depth interviews with people like Chris, Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Billy Crystal, Larry Miller and so many more.

So I totally appreciate how hard it must have been to get all the people that were in this film and get them to offer their personal insight into this question.

They shot all over, and Bonnie and Rich even had footage of both of them on Opie and Anthony where Rich is a mainstay, and where in a touching scene he tried to convince Bonnie that he loved her!

(L-R) Anthony and Opie from “Opie and Anthony” on SiriusXM having some laughs with Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane!

Showing emotion is not that easy for Rich, but he tries his best with Bonnie and their adorable daughter Reina who he called out on stage, as Colin said, whenever he felt he needed more of the audience’s support! Reina was his life-saver!

Bonnie McFarlane and daughter Reina after the premiere of ” Women Aren’t Funny” at Carolines!

Bonnie opens her heart in this film, almost as if she’s wondering if she herself is funny. In one scene she even dresses as a guy, with a full beard and goes onstage at The Comic Strip to audition. It must have been one of the rare nights I wasn’t there, because I would have loved to see that in person.

Bonnie McFarlane onstage at The Comic Strip in full beard as if she was a hipster comic from Brooklyn!

Afterwards in an emotional moment, she kind of dissolves in tears, and Rich is there to console her, looking to the rest of the word as if he’s kissing a guy with a full beard. It was funny and moving at the same time.

Rich Vos in an attempt to be supportive, about to kiss what appears to be a guy in a beard!

From a psychological point of view, I have my own opinion about women and comedy. Obviously women can be funny, but as a society we don’t like to laugh at women because we’re taught to respect women. So when they try and denigrate themselves, which men do very easily, or do self-deprecating humor, the audience may not be as willing to go along for the ride.

Men are programmed to make fools of themselves. We do it effortlessly. But from the time women are little girls they’re groomed to be proper, and we’re taught that it’s not polite to make fun of girls or to laugh at them. I think that carries over to when women are on the stage.

It’s possible that the audience doesn’t like to see women talk about themselves in an unflattering way. It may make some people uncomfortable. We’re taught to respect women, and to try and not judge people by their appearance.

The audience may also find it hard to believe that attractive female comedians may have a hard time finding a date, which is a common comedic premise. It’s one of the reasons that women used to play down their looks when they went up to perform, although today there are several attractive women who go onstage looking very “hot”! I will not name them. They know who they are! (LOL)

I will however say that Lynn Koplitz joined Bonnie and Rich for the Q&A that followed the film, and both she and Bonnie are good examples of the above!

Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane and Lynn Koplitz handling the Q&A at Carolines!

But in women’s determination to be equal, which I don’t understand because they’re already superior,(LOL), they seem to be in competition with men sometimes on who can be more “gross”, as evidenced in recent films like
“Bridesmaids”.

Men are naturally gross. They don’t even have to try. Why women would want equality in that area of life is beyond me! (LOL)

Anyway, all that being said, this is a film that needs to be seen, so if you get the opportunity make sure to go and see it. Hopefully it will get distribution and get a theatrical release, but Rich and Bonnie should be very proud of what they accomplished, … and I don’t only mean Reina! (LOLOL)

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New York Comedy Festival Packed With Stars-11/7-11/11

For the past 9 years Caroline Hirsch, owner and founder of Carolines Comedy Club has put together the NY Comedy Festival, a festival of gigantic talent and impressive proportions. I alternate between calling her “The Queen of NY Comedy” and the “First Lady of NY Comedy”, both titles of which she is deserving, for having Carolines Comedy Club thriving in NYC, and providing A-list entertainment for over 30 years.

The star-studded New York Comedy Festival takes over NYC for 5 days and nights!

The festival is made up of the biggest stars performing in the biggest venues, like Ricky Gervais at Town Hall,Kevin Hart at Madison Square Garden for two shows on Saturday, 11/10, Marlon and Shawn Wayans at Carolines for several shows throughout the festival, Denis Leary at the Paley Center for Media, Artie Lange at Town Hall in a show called ” Too Fat To Die”, Adam Carolla’s “Not Taco Bell Material” at Town Hall, and in a brilliant bit of casting, Jim Gaffigan, the whitest man in comedy, at The Apollo up in Harlem!

These are just some of the shows being offered. There are many more in many other venues, twenty-four altogether. I sat down with Caroline for a fun video interview which should be up very shortly, but we had a chance to reminisce about all of her clubs, which I’ve been going to since she opened in 1981. That club was in a small space on 26th Street and 8th Avenue, where she hired Jay Leno as the first comic to be booked there.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at Carolines on Broadway, with Caroline Hirsch, owner and founder of the NY Comedy Festival!

I don’t remember much of my life, but for some reason I remember very clearly seeing both Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser there, before either of them were known, and being so impressed with them both, that I offered to introduce them to comedy manager David Jonas who at the time was managing Freddie Prinze, and went on to get him ” Chico and the Man!”

I had been introduced years earlier to David by award-winning writer/director/producer Alan Zweibel, when Alan and I first met up at SNL in the early days, although when I first met Alan he wasn’t any of those aforementioned things yet! But it was David that got me started as a comedy writer for great comics like Dick Capri and Freddie Roman.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Alan Zweibel and Jeffrey’s new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock!

Alan was a comedy writer on the show, and was playing handball on the walls of the SNL offices with Neil Levy, a cousin of Lorne Michaels, and Neil was also a producer on the show at the time!

Caroline closed her 26th Street location in 1987, when she opened her magnificent South Street Seaport location, and that’s where Jon Stewart got his start as an opening act. He even did children’s parties on Saturdays, and Caroline thinks she remembers him wearing a cape.

Then after five years at that location, in 1992 Caroline opened in her current location on 50th and Broadway, a beautiful room that probably holds 300 people or more, and is usually packed whenever I go. Now it’s called “Carolines on Broadway!”

And it’s run by old, old friend Louis Faranda, who I go back with to the days when he was a bartender at Catch A Rising Star. Louis and I also got a chance to reminisce about old times, and I got to tell him that he’s in my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” in the Chris Rock story, of how he encouraged a 19 year old Chris to call Eddie Murphy after Eddie had given him his number. Chris was too nervous to call until he ran into Louis who said something to the effect, “Schmuck, if Eddie Murphy gives you his number call him!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in a rare photo with old friend Louis Faranda at Carolines on Broadway, the club he runs so well!

That led to Chris calling Eddie, going out with him and his entourage that night to see Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”, which led to a part in Beverly Hills Cop 2, which led to Chris Rock’s amazing career!

One NY Comedy Festival event in particular that I’m excited about is “Stand Up For Heroes” at The Beacon Theatre, whose red carpet I’ll be covering tonight. It’s a benefit for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to investing in national and community-based programs that connect our troops to the help they need— from individual needs like physical accommodations, job training, financial counseling, to larger social issues like homelessness and suicide prevention; educating the public about the needs of service members returning from war; and collaborating with key federal, state, and local experts to identify and solve issues related to the successful return of service members from combat to civilian life.

On that show and hopefully on the red carpet escorting injured servicemen will be Mike Birbiglia, (who kindly gave me a great blurb for the back cover of my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh”),Ricky Gervais, Patton Oswalt, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, John Mayer and Roger Waters.

Sneak peek of Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Ricky Gervais on the red carpet of Stand Up For Heroes at The Beacon Theatre!

I’m also excited about the prospect of seeing my good friend, style expert Ann Caruso, who worked with her best friend, and style expert Mary Alice Stephenson to style both the wives of the wounded warriors and some of the female warriors who were wounded as well and will be attending the event! It should be a spectacular evening!

For more info on the festival and the schedule of events please go to http://www.nycomedyfestival.com There’s almost 90 shows in 24 different venues!

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My Special Day With Richard Lewis

Many people have idols in their field, people who have inspired them, … and some of them even get to meet their idols. It’s rare but it does happen. Even rarer is to actually be friends with someone who’s your idol, and in my case that someone is Richard Lewis.

Jeffrey Gurian with his friend & comedy idol Richard Lewis in the Billy Crystal Bar of The Friars Club!

Let me try and explain the kind of caring individual that Richard is. We know each other for a long time, but when he agreed to meet me at The Friars Club at lunchtime the day after he opened at Carolines, I was going in hopes of just having a few laughs, and to take a few photos of us for my national column Comedy Matters.

I had hoped for, but didn’t really count on being able to do a video interview. Our plan was to meet before he sat by himself for hours at a time preparing for his show that night at 8 P.M. It’s nothing for Richard to sit for 6 hours reviewing his “premises.” I certainly didn’t want to impose on his time. But from the moment he walked in, he was nothing but accommodating. He actually suggested shots and things I could do to make the video shoot more interesting.

We went into the dining room first to get photos of Richard under his caricature done by the legendary Al Hirschfeld, which was a great honor and source of pride to Richard.  There we encountered the force known to the Friars as Frank Capitelli, the long-time Maitre-d’ who runs the dining room with an iron fist.

Richard Lewis in a calm moment with Gianfranco "Frank" Capitelli the long-time Maitre-D' of The Friars Club.

He and Richard suddenly started berating each other as only big stars can do with Frank, and Richard grabbed Frank’s lapels as they mock-threatened each other while barely being able to keep from laughing.

Richard grabbing Frank's lapel and threatening to ruin his Italian-made custom suit, if he didn't give him the table he wanted! (LOL)

The interview itself was similar to Richard’s act. There was no beginning, middle or end. All of a sudden you were just in the midst of it. It was happening. At one point he told me he didn’t need me that he could just interview himself.

It was one laugh after the next. And when it finally DID end, it was only with assurances from Richard that if I had any further questions, all I had to do was ask, and he’d answer them right away. And that’s because Richard is a “Mensch”!

For the book I’m doing on the history of The Comic Strip, I’ve interviewed some of the biggest stars in comedy. ALL of them were nice while they were there, … except maybe for one, who will go unnamed , … for now!

But it’s the effort it took to get some of them there that made the difference. Most it was easy.  Richie Tienken or I  just had to ask.  Some people are grateful for the help they received in getting to where they are now, like Chris Rock, Ray Romano, George Wallace, Larry Miller, and Jerry Seinfeld, while others want to conveniently forget where they came from and who helped them get there.  None of those names will be mentioned!

But it begs the question – HOW CAN YOU NOT BE GRATEFUL TO SOMEONE WHO HELPED YOU BECOME SUCCESSFUL??? HOW CAN IT BE SO DIFFICULT TO SCHEDULE ONE HOUR OF YOUR TIME,… LITERALLY ONE SMALL, MINISCULE HOUR OF YOUR TIME TO COME AND REMINISCE ABOUT YOUR PAST, WITHOUT HAVING TO MAKE A WHOLE “MEGILLAH” ( a big deal! ) OUT OF IT, AND INVOLVE YOUR MANAGERS, AGENTS AND ASSISTANTS TO SCHEDULE THE THING? DON’T YOU TAKE AN HOUR FOR LUNCH EVERY DAY? DO YOU HAVE TO SCHEDULE THAT THROUGH MANAGERS AND AGENTS? AND THEN MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO GET A RELEASE FROM THEM AFTER THEY DO IT??? WHY WOULD YOU SHOW UP FOR SOMETHING AND THEN NOT GLADLY SIGN A RELEASE???

But, I digress! That’s a topic for a whole other posting. By the time I’m finished with this I’ll have enough ideas for postings for the next decade! Back to Richard Lewis.

Richard prepares for his show like he does everything else in the world, … obsessively. To a fault.  And he’s the first to admit it!

He writes his premises in a notebook, about 5 times the size of regular letters, and fills the book with notes which he studies continuously for hours, by himself, coming up with thoughts on the topics he wrote.

During a conversation, something could strike him about his wife, as an example, and he’ll jot that down as a premise. Never the full joke. Only the premise. He’s one of those comedic geniuses that can actually develop a premise on stage. He’s been doing that for 41 years.

Sitting with Richard is to me like it would be sitting down with Bob Dylan, ( in the early days!), or Mick Jagger, ( which I did only once!)  or Salvador Dali (which I actually also did for a few hours, and which will be the topic for another posting!). Icons that most people don’t get a chance to know.

Sitting with Richard Lewis in the corner of The Friars Club dining room under the Al Hirschfeld drawing of Richard, of which he is very proud! ( And rightly so!)

For better or worse, ( in terms of my own sanity!), Richard encompasses everything I understand about the world. He also encompasses everything I DON’T understand about the world. He speaks for me. His sickness is MY sickness.

This is not to say that I think I could compare myself to Richard. Only in my private moments alone, when I wonder how things would have been if I had started performing back in the 70’s, would I allow myself to think I could have been good enough to be in that esteemed circle of Richard, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, David Brenner, … like that. All of whom I know from back in the day. It’s only when you’re coming up with guys, that you can allow them to see you grow as a comic.

In order to do that they have to watch you fail miserably many times. It’s the only way you get good. Every comic knows that. You have to try many things sometimes to find the thing that works. When you’re all starting out together, you’re kind of in the same boat, so you bond over that. You empathize with what the other guy is going through. So what am I saying here???

I’m saying I relate to Richard Lewis’ humor so much, that it feels part of me. I feel like he’s speaking for me. There’s an identification that goes down to the DNA. When I say I’ve had a stomach-ache since 1954, I know that HE knows what I mean because when I sat down with him today at The Friars Club, he told me he wants a plaque above the toilet in the Men’s Room, and referenced the drug Imodium.( Which is probably the only drug he can take anymore!)

Imodium is a great comedy word. In MY act, I reference the drug Lomotil. I didn’t think of Imodium. It’s a much funnier word. But I’m too late. Imodium is Richard’s and I’m stuck with Lomotil! ( As long as it works!) LOL

So we met in The Billy Crystal Bar, and as a matter of fact when Billy was honored with a ceremony at the club, the bar was roped off to Billy and his friends while the regular Friars just stood and stared past the velvet ropes, like they were looking at animals in the zoo.

I went up to the rope and before they had a chance to chase me away, Billy looked over and said, ” Hey, I know that guy. Let him in.” And they did. And everyone was shocked that Billy Crystal knew me. Jean Pierre who was the Executive Director of the club at the time was standing there, and he just smiled, as if to say, ” It figures that he would know you!”

Billy knew me from Jack Rollins. From the days when I used to hang out in Jack Rollins office on West 57th Street. Those were the days when I was married, was a dentist, and was living in Westchester, coming to the city every Wednesday to try and make my way into show biz.

I had sent a letter to Jack Rollins himself, ( on my dental stationery no less! ) telling him about the short films I was making and how everyone always compared my comedy to that of Woody Allen. How surprised was I to actually get a phone call from Jack himself, inviting me to come down to this office. It was a dream come true. Woody Allen’s manager asking me to come and meet with him.

Jack actually suggested a sitcom about me, a dentist who was trying to break into show biz. That’s how I met Billy. He thought Billy would be good to play me, and he only wanted to get involved if he was representing the star. So he introduced me to Billy, but Billy was already doing many other things. it could have been SNL or maybe Soap.

That’s when I suggested a young comic I had met who I really liked, Paul Reiser. Jack had never heard of him, because he was so new, but I raved about how funny he was, and Jack said I could call him and ask if he was interested. I remember calling Paul from the municipal parking lot on West 54th Street near what was then Studio 54, and asking him if he would consider playing me in a sitcom, if Jack Rollins was involved.

Jeffrey Gurian, Paul Reiser, and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip for Paul's interview for the book they are doing on the history of the club!

He said he would be glad to, and then about two weeks later, I think he landed a sitcom or a movie or something, and that was the end of that. Are you starting to see a pattern here???

Just a few years ago, when I wrote the award-winning short film “I Am Woody” about a mob boss obsessed with Woody Allen, I sent him the script to read.  In one of our many phone calls he said to me, ” How come I never managed you?”

The question hit me like a lightening bolt. In that one brief moment I felt elation and sadness at the same time, like I had never felt in my life. The elation that the legendary Jack Rollins who had managed Woody from the start, and produced every one of his movies, would have thought to manage me, was one of the biggest honors I ever had.

Then the incredible sadness of realizing the opportunity I had missed, and the courage I had to come up with to ask, ” Is it too late?”, not wanting to hear the answer I knew was coming.  He said it was too late for him in his career as he had retired years before.

I remember being there in his office for the first time like it was yesterday. And after he saw my films, he got on the phone and personally called the late Herb Sargent, who went on to become Pres. of The Writer’s Guild East, and who was running the writing team up at SNL at the time, and asked him to meet with me.

Herb was actually responsible for the name, ” Not Ready For Primetime Players”, and was in charge of shaping the legendary News Update, whose early hosts were Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Dennis Miller, who turned out to be my nemesis for getting on the show.

When I went up to see Herb at the SNL offices he said to me, ” I don’t even have to look at your stuff. If Jack Rollins says you’re funny, you’re funny!” But he DID look at my stuff, and liked it enough to set up a meeting for me with a guy named John Head, who in those days was in charge of film acquisition for SNL.

In those days I was doing films on “Monty-Pythonesque news topics”, like “Several men were arrested today for smearing creamcheese on the ankles of elderly women who wore their stockings rolled down like bagels. One of the victims, here only one month from Ireland gave us her account of what happened. She granted us an interview on the stipulation that she remain anonymous. Her name is Mrs O’Goyim,and she lives in The Bronx, but to honor her request, and protect her identity we’ll simply call her Mrs X.”

And then I got my dear grandmother, Nana Fay, to roll down her stockings which she would NEVER do, and let me put creamcheese on her ankles.  She also made believe she had a thick Jewish accent, where she explained that, “you know we have two kinds of stockings, … one for milk, and one for meat, ( an Orthodox Jewish “Kosher” reference! ) and this crazy man came over and shmeared creamcheese on my “Flaisheke” (meat) stockings and I can’t get it off!”

She said, ” Jeffrey, only for you would I do something like this!” She had such a great sense of humor, and was in other films of mine as well. But it was ALWAYS comedy news for me. That was my favorite thing in the world.

I think maybe because all news sounds ridiculous to me anyway. I think it’s the cadence. I got my “news announcer” training from Chuck Scarborough when I worked with him to prepare for his Friars Roast back in the 80’s.

Anyway, when I got my meeting with John Head I made what was to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest mistakes in my life. I was no longer married and I was trying to impress this young model/actress I had been running around with. This must have been around 1986. Dennis Miller was doing News Update. I get my meeting at SNL to show my films to John Head. I call this girl and ask her to come with me. WHAT KIND OF SHMUCK TURNS A BUSINESS MEETING INTO A DATE?

As I’m writing this all these years later, I still can’t believe I did this. I bring the girl with me, as if her presence was going to make my films funnier. Talk about low self-esteem. I wasn’t enough on my own. I had to have someone else who I thought was more special, to “validate” me!

We walk in and of course everyone takes notice. Especially Dennis Miller who was single at the time. We had already known each other from other friends of mine who were in the cast since I had been going up to SNL since around 1977. We also hung out at a place called Columbus Cafe on 69th Street and Columbus Avenue.

Dennis immediately takes notice of the girl, asks why I’m there, I excitedly tell him I’m there to show John Head my comedy news, not realizing that Dennis does comedy news, and he asks if he can sit in on my meeting. I, … like the moron I was, … was thrilled! Dennis Miller will laugh his ass off, John Head will be impressed, and I’ll become part of SNL.

What happened next is still almost too sad for me to tell, but I have no choice. We show the films and everyone’s laughing. John Head’s words were burned into my memory. He said, ” I see no reason why you shouldn’t be doing films for the show. I’ll set up a meeting with Lorne Michaels for next week. Call me on Monday.”

I was ecstatic. I was out of my mind with joy. I was going to be making films for SNL. A dream come true. I called John Head on Monday like I was asked to, and was told that Dennis Miller liked my stuff so much that HE wanted to be the guy who brought it to Lorne and that I should call him instead.  John said he was out of it.  I was a little shocked, but still ok that Dennis liked it that much.

Then he never took my call. Many messages later, I realized he wasn’t going to ever take my call, or call me back. Not only that, but he took the girl’s number who I was with and went out with her, adding insult to grievous injury.

Making it even worse, ( it that was even remotely possible!) they went out socializing with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and didn’t invite me!   I almost lost it over that. It was a lesson that haunts me to this day, about trying to be a bigshot and wind up looking like a putz!!!

I ran into Dennis some time later at Columbus Cafe where we all hung out. I asked him why he never got back to me. Rather than give me an answer he said, ” You wanna write for me? The show wants me to do remotes and that’s not my style. It’s YOUR style. Come up with a few ideas for me and if I like them, I’ll do them on the show.”  Then came the kicker!  “But I need them by tomorrow!”

Needless to say, I stayed up all night coming up with ideas to get them to him by the next day. It’s more than 20 years later, and I still haven’t heard from him.  Nice, …  right???

It took me a long time to just let that stuff go.  It doesn’t mean I don’t remember it, but I don’t let it make me ill!  It’s not worth it.

This blog, on the other hand, is getting to be like Richard Lewis’ act, … kind of like free association, but nowhere near as funny! When I saw him last night, among the million things he discussed,and let me say that there was one moment where he almost finished a sentence, … he told about missing the huge Woodstock festival in 1967 because it was drizzling, so instead he went to the movies and saw Fred McMurray in Flubber, which was one of his biggest errors in life!

And then he went on to tell how when he called his Mom to tell her he got The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, which should have sent her into a state of rapture, she simply asked him who else was on with him!

That was one way we differed. My Mom would take every opportunity she had to brag about me.  She would brag about the way I coughed. Did you see my son cough? Amazing. Your son may cough, but not like Jeffrey. When he clears his throat there’s nothing like it.  Rest in Peace Mom, you were the best!

Go see Richard at Carolines. He’s still there tonight, Sat. March 26th for two shows and one final show tomorrow on Sunday. Trust me, it’s not to be missed. Caroline herself came to see him on opening night and stayed through the whole thing.

If this post gets any longer, I’ll need a book publisher, and a literary agent to even GET the book publisher!

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Lewis after one of his sold-out shows at Joe's Pub in NYC!

To be continued!

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Richard Lewis Comes To New York

If you grew up idolizing the stand-up comedy of Woody Allen, … that’s assuming you’re old enough to remember when he performed stand-up on the Ed Sullivan show, …you can understand the frustration of knowing you’ll never see him perform stand-up again.

As a performer myself, I hate to compare one to another, but in my estimation the closest you can come to the kind of humor, and level of sophistication of humor that Woody did, is the great Richard Lewis, the Master of Angst!
(He’s also the creator of the expression ” the __________ from hell”, like ” the date from hell”, ” the vacation from Hell” This man put that into the lexicon!

Richard Lewis and Jeffrey backstage at Joe's Pub after Richard's sold-out show!

I’ve known Richard for a long time and was very excited to hear that he will be headlining Carolines on Broadway from March 24th thru March 27th. It’s a rare occurrence and one not to be missed! Especially if you’ve been enjoying him on HBO’s hit show ” Curb Your Enthusiasm” for the past 8 seasons.

I have a couple of Richard Lewis stories to share.

Back around 1996 or so, Richard was starring in a film called “Drunks” with Faye Dunaway, Calista Flockhart, Sam Rockwell, Parker Posey, Dianne Wiest, Amanda Plummer and other names that were not as big then as they are today. I was always determined to write for Richard not knowing that he never allowed anyone to write for him. I had gotten my start by actually showing my very early writings to Woody Allen himself, who was starring on Broadway in “Play It Again Sam” at the time,with Tony Roberts of course, and Woody was so kind he invited me back the next night to show him more of my work.

Richard Lewis and Jeffrey Gurian backstage at Westbury

One of the reasons he did that was because I had so little knowledge of what to do, that I went backstage during intermission instead of waiting till the end of the show, and he had to go back onstage. The story of how that all came about, and how I wound up backstage in the first place will be the subject of another blog, but suffice it to say that years later when I became friendly with both Jack Rollins and the late Charlie Joffe, both of whom managed Woody’s career for many years, they were both pleasantly surprised that Woody was so nice to me. Woody actually read through my ideas, and told me I had a very visual sense of humor and should think about making films of my work.

Jack said, “Woody must have really seen something in you to have done that.” Whatever Woody saw that night it took me many years to turn those early ideas I showed him into The “Men Who” Series a series of films about men who do very unusual things, like ” Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and “Men Who Take A Fish To Hot Clubs.” You can actually see those films on my You Tube page at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork

Anyway, I showed up at Drunks with jokes in hand expecting to give them to Richard in hopes he would use them. I wrote it as part of what I was calling his ” Born To Be Nervous” tour, which I wanted to suggest to Richard. Aside from the “Born To Be Nervous” Tour, I suggested a couple of the following lines-

My family are firm believers in the power of negative thinking. They feel you can ruin anything if you really put your mind to it.

Low self esteem goes back in my family to the beginning of time. I actually had an uncle who was the first man to walk erect. But he couldn’t hold it. He’d take a few steps and just slump over.

I was such a shy kid, I never even had the courage to go Trick or Treating. I tried doing it over the phone.

My apartment is a problem too. I just got my new lease, turns out I’m renting it by the hour.

I don’t like to burden my shrink with my problems. He’s too sensitive. One time I told him I was leaving him, he threatened to kill himself.

I think I would have made more progress with him, but when he told me to lay back on his couch, I couldn’t do it. My mother always taught me not to put my feet up on someone else’s furniture.

And I knew that if I did it, she’d find out and feel that somehow, it would be a reflection on her.

My shrink was treating me for feelings of loneliness. At one point I was so lonely I tried to develop a split personality, just for the company.

So anyway, I felt pretty good about the jokes and ran to the theatre with them in an envelope. The problem was I had planned to get there early to try and see Richard, but I was so nervous I made myself late, and when I got there, there was already a long line of people waiting to get in.

In a panic, I by-passed the line and ran down a staircase not knowing where it would take me, and who’s coming up the staircase right towards me but Richard Lewis himself. Those kinds of things happen to me on kind of a regular basis, although I have no idea why, or what to do in those circumstances.

He looked at me and said, ” Hey, what are YOU doing here?” I’m like, ” I came to see you”, and I was so shocked to actually run into him that I almost forgot to give him the envelope with the jokes in it. Fortunately I remembered and gave it to him, even though he was on his way into the theatre to do his presentation. Most people don’t like to be carrying things with them, but I didn’t know what else to do.

After the screening he took off pretty quickly, but by the time I got home there was already a message on my phone from Richard. I think it was the nicest decline of material I ever received. He said I was talented and hilarious, and you can listen to it right here because it meant so much to me I saved it all these years. He was so kind that he called me right away. That is a very, very rare thing for anyone to do, especially a star of his calibre. ( I think his caliber is 9 millimeter, or it could be .380. They’re very close in size! LOL)

Richard Lewis Phone Call

I always wonder if I didn’t put the (LOL) would people know it’s a joke? I guess if they didn’t, it wasn’t much of a joke! (LOL)

I remember seeing Richard in Westbury, and going to see him backstage afterwards when he told me that he stopped taking his notes out onstage with him at that very performance.

I also went to see him at Joe’s Pub a few years back, and again at Comix in 2008, and he did an incredible performance, in a kind of stream-of-consciousness style that is inimitable, and what he’s known for. I was amazed that anyone could go that long, with what looked like an unprepared act, in the sense that no one could memorize such a thing, with one thought leading him to another, and I wrote to him at the time –

“No one goes that long at that pace but you, with consistently funny, material that is not an act! Despite the fact that you rarely let yourself finish a sentence, it’s hysterical. You have the “un-act!”

So needless to say, I will be at Carolines at least once during his stay, which is one show Thursday at 8:00, one show on Friday at 8:00, two on Saturday at 8:00 and 10:30 and one on Sunday at 8 P.M. For tickets call (212) 757-4100 or go to the Carolines website.

All the info you need to see Richard Lewis at Carolines!

I also hope to see him at The Friars Club for lunch, cause when I asked him if I could come see him backstage, I got this e-mail :

I have six or seven tv n radio shows
Prep
Jet lagged
Five shows
Never backstage more than two minutes be it God, Dylan or you

PERFECT!!! He lumped me in with G-d and Dylan! Come see Richard at Carolines!
S

 

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