Posts Tagged Comedy

COMEDY MATTERS ROUND-UP-WEST SIDE OWNER EUGENE ASHE AT SUNDANCE, EDDIE MURPHY HOSTS SNL, CHAPELLE AT THE CELLAR, THE SULTAN ROOM, MARINA FRANKLIN BIRTHDAY AND MORE!!!

SYLVIE’S LOVE PREMIERES AT SUNDANCE

WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR EUGENE ASHE AT WEST SIDE COMEDY CLUB
(I’M THE GUY ON THE RIGHT!!!)

I dropped by West Side Comedy Club to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and ran into owner Eugene Ashe. Always good to see Gene but he’s not there as much as he used to be because he’s also a writer/director/filmmaker and travels quite a bit.

He had great and exciting news for me. A film he wrote and directed called Sylvie’s Love, will have its world premiere at Sundance on Jan. 27, 2020, less than a month from when you read this.

It’s a period piece set in 1957, with a star studded cast, including Tessa Thompson,and Eva Longoria. Tessa Thompson plays Sylvie a young woman fighting to stay loyal to her fiancee who’s off fighting in the Korean War. She’s an aspiring film producer working in her father’s record store in Harlem when she falls for Robert, a talented saxophonist played by Nnamdi Asomugha, and try saying THAT 3 times fast.

Nnamdi Asomugha is a Nigerian-American actor, producer and former American football cornerback who’s married to Kerry Washington, and played for the Oakland Raiders, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Francisco 49’ers.A

Years pass, the world changes, and their lives take different paths — but fate brings them together again, and they discover that their feelings for each other remain. Now both must decide what they truly want.

It’s Gene’s 2nd feature and took him about five years to write. Many good scripts take that long and longer. In an exclusive interview while sitting in a booth at West Side, Gene told me they originally wanted to shoot in New York, but because of the weather and the schedules of the actors they used they had to shoot in LA. They basically shot around Tessa Thompson’s schedule because the girl is so crazy busy.

But he said it was so cool to shoot on the classic backlots like at Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Disney, and “we kind of leaned into the fact that we were shooting on these incredible historical backlots and created this fantastical Hollywood love story.”

He continued, “The film’s period ranged from 1957 into 1962-63 so it went into like the Mad Men/Breakfast at Tiffany’s era, and people compare it to The Notebook, or The Way We Were, or Mahogany with Diana Ross.”

I asked him if it was a problem getting the cars and clothing for a period piece like that and he said it was “but one thing about that was that we got gowns donated to us from Chanel, so we have about 11 gowns that Tessa Thompson wears, and all from that era.”

“Tessa had about three to four weeks available in February, between shooting Marvel movies, Westworld, and Lady and the Tramp for Disney and we just decided to shoot it then in Los Angeles and just followed her wherever we could, because she was just such a perfect lead for our movie.”

I wish him so much luck, but even more I wish I could be there with him in Sundance to actually see the premiere!

EDDIE MURPHY HOSTS SNL

They say if you wait long enough everything will happen. Well if you were willing to wait 35 years you got to see Eddie Murphy come back to host Saturday Night Live.

I actually stayed home to watch it and it was worth the wait. In the middle of Eddie’s opening monologue he was first joined by Tracy Morgan, then by Dave Chappelle, who I ran into the very next night but that’s a story for a few paragraphs down, and then by Chris Rock who he discovered at The Comic Strip back in 1985. Each one of them asked Eddie if he looked at the sketch they supposedly sent him.

WITH CHRIS ROCK, AND RICHIE TIENKEN AT THE COMIC STRIP AFTER CHRIS’ INTERVIEW FOR THE BOOK “MAKE ‘EM LAUhGH

Chris wrote the intro to my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” which is about the history of The Comic Strip and features interviews with all the big stars who came out of that club like Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, George Wallace, Billy Crystal, Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman, Lisa Lampanelli and more.

Eddie was being managed by Comic Strip founder/owner Richie Tienken, whose son Richie Jr. now works at SNL and introduced himself to Eddie after the show. Eddie remarked that Richie Jr. has the same cleft in his chin as Richie Sr.

TRACY MORGAN, DAVE CHAPPELLE, EDDIE MURPHY, AND CHRIS ROCK

Eddie himself is not in the book as we were told that he often doesn’t like to relive the past. However he did shout out Richie on a comedy awards show in recent years.

DAVE CHAPPELLE READING MY BOOK AT THE BAR OF THE COMIC STRIP

DAVE CHAPPELLE AT THE CELLAR

When you walk into the Olive Tree Cafe which is the restaurant connected to the original Comedy Cellar on Macdougal Street you never know who you’re going to see there.

I walked in on the Sunday night after Eddie hosted SNL and it was so crowded, you would have thought they were giving away money. “The table” where the Cellar comics sit was packed into two rows, and was headed by Dave Chappelle himself. Also around the table were Keith Robinson, Rachel Feinstein, Michelle Wolf, Mark Normand, Sam Morril, club manager Liz Furiati, and several more!

INTERVIEWING DAVE CHAPPELLE AT THE JUST FOR LAUGHS FESTIVAL IN MONTREAL IN A RARE RED CARPET APPEARANCE

I joined a friend at the bar and sat across from Eagle Witt, Neko White and Rafi Bastos the 6’7″ Brazilian comedian, actor, journalist and TV personality with literally millions of followers on social media, who I’ve profiled in the past and who came to the Comedy Matters TV offices to shoot a video interview.

AT GOTHAM COMEDY CLUB WITH RAFI BASTOS, WHO FORTUNATELY WAS SITTING DOWN AT THE TIME!

Rafi told me he moved here permanently after living in LA for a very short time. He said he was thrilled to be passed at The Cellar right away after auditioning for Estee!

Anyway Dave held court as comics came and went to say hello and pay their respects, and as he turned, saw me, and waved, I went over to exchange holiday hugs and tell him how cool it was to see him with Eddie on SNL.

Sometime after 1 A.M. as I was leaving I saw him go downstairs with Wil Sylvince and take the stage to the delight of the crowd. That’s how it is at The Cellar!

NEW COMIC MEZZY AT BROADWAY COMEDY

Every once in a while I’ll go check out a new comic which I did recently because I had met her years before while doing a radio show with L’il Nat. Her name is Mezzy Desravines and I took her to some comedy shows, and now years later she’s performing. She says I’m her mentor and I’m good with that because she’s a natural. She’s got great stage presence and was born to do comedy!

MEZZY ON STAGE AT BROADWAY COMEDY

BRETT DAVIS AT THE SULTAN ROOM

Brett Davis is an Andy Kaufman award winning comedian, known for doing some pretty cool and unique shows. He took over Chris Gethard’s space at MNN to produce The Special Without Brett Davis which I attended, and was a guest on more than once, as well as his Podcast for Laundry, and now he’s one of the creators on Evan Shapiro’s new National Lampoon Radio Hour.

So when he invited me to be the special guest to be interviewed on his new variety show at a place called “The Sultan Room” I immediately said “yes” even though it was out in Brooklyn. I packed a beard and headed out there. It was a real variety show with comics, sketches, character pieces, music, and surprise audience interaction!

The Sultan Room lived up to it’s name, and I was so impressed with the decor. I don’t think you could have a place like that in Manhattan. Maybe on West Broadway, but it was perfect Brooklyn vibe. The theme was New Year’s Eve 1970 and I might have been the only one there who actually remembered it! (LOL)

BRETT DAVIS CAME OUT WEARING A CROWN AND HUGE WINGS

Brett produced the show with a band called Tredici Bacci and had a cast of interesting and very talented characters like Dougie Poole, Colin Burgess, Caroline Yost, and Sally Burtnick. I had such a great time. It was a real experience and I was sorry when the night ended with the entire room dancing and swaying to the tune of Auld Lang Zyne!

BRETT DAVIS GETTING READY TO RING IN THE NEW YEAR OF 1970

MARINA FRANKLIN BIRTHDAY PARTY

Before I hit The Cellar and ran into Dave Chappelle I stopped off at Fat Black Pussycat bar which is also part of The Cellar to wish Marina Franklin a Happy Birthday!

When I walked in the party was in full swing with Yamaneika Saunders, Matteo Lane, Keith Robinson, Vondecarlo and Marina singing along to hot songs that the DJ was playing. They all had great voices. At one point Keith shouted me out on the mic.

(L-R) MATTEO LANE, YAMANEIKA, (BACK) MARINA, KEITH ROBINSON, AND VONDECARLO

There were all kinds of snacks, like fries, cupcakes, chicken wings and other good stuff and I sat down with my man Derek Gaines until he got up to dance with Marina.

Marina complained that not enough people were dancing, so the highlight of the evening was when Keith Robinson, despite having had a stroke, ripped off his jacket and got down with Marina, and she said ” If Keith can do it, the rest of you can too!” Keith is a perfect example of not letting obstacles stand in your way.

MARINA FRANKLIN’S BIRTHDAY PARTY AT FAT BLACK

At one point Marina made a very heartfelt speech thanking everyone for coming and alluding to people we lost recently. It was a very special evening.

There’s probably more but I’m tired, so tune in soon for the next edition of Comedy Matters! And please subscribe to Comedy Matters TV with over 2.1 million views at https://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork

AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY COMEDY MATTERS PEEPS!!!

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Comedy Matters TV On The Scene with National Lampoon, Chris Distefano at Gotham, The Irishman, and more!!!

National Lampoon Back on the Scene!

National Lampoon which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020, just launched a new comedy space and weekly stand-up series, “LIC Comedy,” in Long Island City thanks to Lampoon Pres. Evan Shapiro, and Exec. V.P. of Digital Media Gian Hunjan, along with Creative Associate Claudia Barran. They acquired the brand back in 2017 but just partnered with LIC Artists and The Plaxall Gallery to do a series of comedy shows, besides bringing back the beloved and iconic National Lampoon Radio hour.

Premiering December 19, the new, 11-episode podcast, in partnership with Forever Dog Podcast Network and available on iTunesSpotify and other podcasting platforms will feature a collection of National Lampoon comedy sketches, characters, music and more, thanks to lead writers Cole Escola (Emmy-nominated “At Home with Amy Sedaris,” “Difficult People”) and Jo Firestone (Adult Swim, “The Tonight Show”).  

I went out there for the inaugural show and the place is amazing. It’s a huge 12,000 square foot community center/art gallery, with many rooms, and fortunately I got there early enough that Gian found me wandering in the street, greeted me and guided me in, and then Evan gave me the tour including an outdoor space right on some kind of waterway that will be amazing for parties during the nice weather. That’s THEIR plan not mine! Those who know me know that I LOVE parties! (LOL)

The plan is to have a show every Friday night in perpetuity. The inaugural show was well attended by an interesting and upscale, handpicked group of people, in a very relaxed setting and each of the comics commented on the unusual setting, … performing in a spacious art gallery, with a slide of a huge frame on the wall behind them.

First up was Pat Burtscher, who was originally from Toronto, then lived in London and moved here to NY as of last May. He stuck out to me because he had such unusual and unique premises, which I love and respect. Things like, ” We’re the only animals that give ourselves jobs” which is a great premise and then he expanded upon it, which is how I learned to do comedy, from some of the greats. You get a strong premise and build a bunch of jokes around it. That’s the essence of writing comedy. Or at least it should be!

PAT BURTSCHER TALKING TO HIS LIVER

When I went up to him after the show to compliment him he reminded me that we had already met back in August when we were on the same show at the Fairfield Comedy Club, and I drove him and two other comics, Beecher and Jason Salmon back to New York. Pat was sitting in the back seat so I didn’t get to learn his face! (LOL) I love unique because it’s so hard to find!

Also on the show was Ali Kolbert who talks a lot about being 27 but looking much younger, which is true. Ali had been an NBC page and wound up making her late night debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

And the always funny Ricky Velez came on next. Ricky’s part of the Fat Baby crew with Giulio Gallarotti, Josh Wesson and Benny Demarco and I love the energy that those guys bring wherever they go. Ricky is also tight with Pete Davidson and performs on shows with him on the road.

Ricky talked a lot about his baby, being a Dad, his own Dad, and how his wife comes from money and wears pajamas, which to paraphrase him is a rich person’s game!

RICKY VELEZ HOLDING IT DOWN, IN THE TIGHTEST SAGGIEST PANTS EVER- – – BUT SOMEHOW HE MAKES THEM LOOK GOOD!

Dave Merheje followed and I had seen Dave this past summer on the Ronnie Chieng TV gala when he surprised me by performing in shorts and a T-shirt for television, while Ronnie was in a beautiful suit.

Dave’s background is Lebanese and it was funny hearing him tell the story of how his uncle once came to the door for Christmas proclaiming that he was Santa Claus, without a costume, just a beard, yelled out “Ha, Ha, Ha” instead of “Ho, Ho, Ho”, and the kids were scared that Santa Claus had an Arabic accent! Btw, he didn’t wear shorts this time, he wore bright red sweats pants!

Giulio Gallarotti came out and closed the show with a strong set, talking about how he doesn’t like to smoke weed and gave a strong reason why, and I was hoping he’d do a song as Lil Young Big his rapper alter-ego. Maybe next time.

But it was a very cool event, and when I asked Evan what he wanted people to know about it he said to tell you guys that the show will run every Friday at 10, part of the ticket sales go to support local artists, the tickets are 15 bucks and they have the least expensive drinks of any comedy club in the five boroughs!

Chris Distefano Uses Family As Inspiration for Jokes

I’ve known Chris Distefano since the beginning when we used to do open mic shows at Gotham Comedy Club and he was honing bits like “Tell me no”, and talking about his Mom dating a guy named Phineas with polio, and he was always hilarious. So it was great to see him headlining Gotham with sold out shows. The place was so packed they threatened to put strangers with me at my table! (LOL)

I was seated right next to Chris’ manager comedy heavyweight Rick Dorfman of Authentic Talent and Literary Agency, who jokingly asked me if I didn’t have anything better to do than go to a comedy show!

BACKSTAGE WITH CHRIS DISTEFANO AT GOTHAM COMEDY CLUB AFTER HIS SOLD OUT SHOW!

He held it down for an hour with non-stop laughs and his very unique delivery. That’s a very rare thing to have and I was glad to tell him that after the show. It’s very hard to have a unique delivery. Gilbert Gottfried does it, Judah Friedlander does it, and Chris does it too.

He makes it sound like he doesn’t know what he’s going to say next in that very kind of staccato way he has of speaking, jumping from one thing to another. To the audience it sounds like he’s saying it all for the very first time. He hits on very current topics like memes, peanut allergies, cancel culture etc.

And he kept his jacket on the whole time too, but took it off for the VIP meet and greet after the show. Almost the whole audience signed up for it and lined up to buy merch and take photos.

A lot of his merch was about History Hyenas the podcast he does with his comedy bro’ Yannis Pappas. Both of these guys were my guests on Sirius XM’s Bennington Show. After the Gotham show I went backstage to ask him a couple of questions.

THE INTERVIEW

JG: So tell me about History Hyenas.
CD – History Hyenas is a podcast I do with Yannis Pappas, it’s been going on about 18 months now, we just sold out The Gramercy Theatre a couple of weeks ago and we’re gonna do another show , actually a residency there throughout 2020, and we’ve had Jim Gaffigan on, Bill Burr, Andrew Schulz, and all the episodes are available on i-Tunes…
JG – But what’s the concept of the show?

CD – The concept of the show is it’s a history show but it’s comedy first, so you’ll learn but you’ll laugh first and foremost, it’s always comedy and then we’ll throw in some history stuff that you can regurgitate at a party and sound and look cool!

JG – Do the comics have to study history before they come on?

CD – No, we don’t require comics to study at all. They come on and if they are passionate about it, like Jim Gaffigan came on and did a whole episode about the Samurai culture in Japan because he had just come from there and he loved it. Bill Burr came on and did a whole history tour of Boston because he knows all about it, and that works but we’ve had other episodes where we just had Michael Kosta on or Sam Morril and just shoot the shit just being three comics in a room.

JG – I just got back from Japan and it’s crazy over there. I did a couple of shows there and it’s insane.
CD – Yeh, I would love to go to Japan.

JG – It’s a long fucking trip!

CD – Yeh, I’ll take an edible.

JG – You better bring more than one for 14 hours. What else do you have that people should know about, … your special 38 Waist?

CD – Well my special 38 Waist is on Comedy Central, but I’m gonna do a second special Size 36 Waist, that comes out on Comedy Central in August of 2021.
JG- Really? Or are you just fuckin’ with me?

CD – No I swear. Cause I’ve been on Keto, and I have a good boxing trainer Paulie, who’s here tonight that feeds me oregano pills, he’s here in the green room, I have a cartoon in development with Comedy Central, and of course I hope that all those things go, but my real passion right now is the podcast Hisstory Hyenas. That’s why the shows were sold out at Gotham this weekend, and why shows in general are selling out for me now is because of that podcast.

JG – Where do you tape it from?

CD – We tape it from The Comedy Cellar, RiotCast Studios, Bobby Kelly’s podcast network, and we tape anywhere from 4 hours a week to 8 hours a week depending on how much coffee Yannis has had.

JG – Tell me about the cartoon.

CD – It’s slated to come out hopefully some time in 2020, and I also have a non-scripted show in development with Comedy Central. The cartoon’s about my life. it’s about being a single Dad, with a bi-racial kid, and a father who’s in the Mafia. ( Lots of laughter)

JG – That’s a hilarious story. It’s gotta be a hit.

CD – So it’s me and my Dad raising this Puerto Rican kid doing the best we can.

JG – Is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?

CD – Well in 2020, I moved up in certain markets to theaters, so I’m hoping to go from the comedy clubs to the theaters, and start selling theaters out, that’s really my main goal for 2020.

JG – Well I just have to say that I’ve seen you from the beginning and you’ve always been funny so I’m not surprised that you’re doing so well because you deserve it because you worked really hard.

CD – Thank you Jeff I really appreciate that. Thank you brother. Always a pleasure to see you!

John Belushi on Saint Marks

Thanks to long-time comedy manager Jason Steinberg of Steinberg Talent, I got to see this play. It’s called “With A Little Help – It’s John Belushi” and it’s at Theatre 80 on St. Marks Place, and owner Lorcan Otway told me his family has been in the theatre business for over 300 years! That’s longer than I’ve been in comedy!!! And the theatre is beautiful by the way filled with show biz memorabilia including some rare posters!

The award winning play is an ensemble piece with about 8 characters all of whom playing two or three parts except for Jack Zullo who wrote the show and plays a very spirited John Belushi. He definitely brings John’s energy level to the stage.

All good actors and very entertaining, but if I had to say anything at all in a positive yet constructive manner, 90 minutes into it they hadn’t gotten to the SNL years yet, and John’s discovery by Lorne Michaels. Otherwise as I said, … very entertaining. They mentioned National Lampoon a lot, so it was very fitting that when I left I ran out to LIC to catch the inaugural National Lampoon show mentioned above.

Jason by the way. who has been instrumental in the careers of many big stars handles Tony Woods who just had a big thing in the New York Times, and Donnell Rawlings who just launched a new podcast, The Donnell Rawlings Show. He announced it on Joe Rogan’s podcast that for the very first time he spoke by himself, all alone for 44 minutes! Joe had been encouraging him to do it for months, and he didn’t wanna show up on the show again without having done it, … so he finally did it!

KRYSTYNA HUTCHINSON GOES SOLO

I caught up with my girl Krystyna Hutchinson at Stand Up New York, and we hadn’t seen each other in too long so we took a moment to catch up. She was hanging with Justin Silver and she just did her first time solo headlining gig at American Comedy Company in San Diego and brought Justin to open for her.

She said that 4 out of 5 shows were sold out and she did 45 minutes for the first time and found it very draining, but lots of fun.

KRYSTYNA HUTCHINSON AND JUSTIN SILVER AT STAND UP NEW YORK

GM Jon Borromeo told me the club is focussing on discovering and promoting young talent, that hadn’t been able to get stage time at other clubs, and he named Zach Zimmerman as an example, who just happened to be standing next to him at the time, and said he did his one man show at the club!

COMEDIANS IN “THE IRISHMAN”

If you’re willing to sit through 3 hours of Martin Scorcese’s new hit “The Irishman” which I did because it’s on Netflix and I could get up, walk around, get a snack and pause it when I wanted to you’d see a bunch of comedians in roles, and I personally counted about 18 people I knew personally from the comedy and acting world.

Ray Romano has a big part as Bill Bufalino, the attorney who repped Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa and was the cousin of mob boss Russell Bufalino played by Joe Pesci.

WITH RAY ROMANO AT THE COMIC STRIP

In an example of perfect casting, Jim Norton had a nightclub scene where he portrayed the late legendary Don Rickles, and Sebastian Maniscalco who’s always hilarious had a great serious role playing the part of “Crazy Joe” Gallo, which he did so well.

WITH SEBASTIAN AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AFTER HIS SOLD OUT SHOW

Bobby Funaro who started out working the door at Carolines on Broadway and went on to be in The Sopranos played a character named Johnny, Paulie Herman who used to own Columbus Cafe and is in just about every mob movie played Whispers DiTullio, the late Vinny Vella played a meat company manager and others I’ve known and/or worked with or interviewed in different projects over the years were the amazingly talented Bobby Cannavale who played a crazy character named Skinny Razor, Bo Dietl, legendary detective who recently ran for Mayor and unfortunately did not win, Kathrine Narducci who played Russell Bufalino’s wife Carrie, as well as Artie Bucco’s wife in The Sopranos, and attended my play “A Punch In The Face” dedicated to actor/martial artist/Hells Angel Chuck Zito who also attended, Stevie Van Zandt from E-Street who played Jerry Vale in this movie, and Silvio Dante in The Sopranos, my old friend Danny Abeckaser who went from a club promoter/owner to movie actor and producer, Garry Pastore who played Albert Anastasia, and most recently played a gangster named Matty ” The Horse” in HBO’s The Deuce and is the cousin of another old friend of mine, Vinny “Big Pussy” Pastore, and there were more!

BACKSTAGE WITH BOBBY CANNAVALE AND CHRIS ROCK AND THE CAST ON BROADWAY WHEN COMIC STRIP OWNER RICHIE TIENKEN AND I WENT TO SEE “THE M-F’ER WITH THE HAT”

LOVE FOR PATRICE GOES ON

So I’m walking down St. Marks Place the other night on my way to the John Belushi play when I hear someone yelling out to me. At first I didn’t turn around cause I’m from New York, but then he said “Mr. Gurian”, so I turned and looked.

It was this nice young musician named Supremo Massiv who happened to have a gig right across the street but ran out and had to tell me what a big fan he was of the work I did with Patrice O’Neal on the Black Phillip Show and how much the show meant to him.

It happens wherever I go, most recently in Japan, but in Boston, at Skankfest, at a Syndicate event, and with people from all over the world, the love for Patrice lives on. And a few months ago I started taking a photo with each and every one of them.

WITH “BLACK PHILLIP” FAN SUPREMO MASSIV ON ST. MARKS PLACE IN NYC

MEDERI CENTER BENEFIT

The Mederi Center located in Ashland, Oregon was founded by a master nutritionist named Donnie Yance, who specializes in treating cancer and other serious illnesses with herbs and nutrition in conjunction with traditional medicine.

Some friends of his, including consciousness guru Alan Steinfeld of New Realities, saw me performing at West Side Comedy Club one night and the next thing I knew I was the MC at a big fundraiser they held on 11/22 at the Warehouse of the Fairfield Theatre Company in Fairfield, CT starring pop star and cross over artist Gino Vannelli and jazz singer Grammy nominee Roberta Gambarini. It was a fabulous night, well attended and raised a lot of money!

WITH JENNIFER YANCE, GINO VANNELLI AND DONNIE YANCE AT THE WAREHOUSE OF THE FAIRFIELD THEATRE COMPANY

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The Love For Patrice O’Neal Lives On!

WITH THE LEGEND KNOWN AS PATRICE O’NEAL

On Nov. 29, 2011 the comedy world and the world at large lost a luminous presence, … the great Patrice O’Neal. I thought of Patrice not only as a comedian but as a comedy philosopher. He had such a specific and well thought out point of view. One of my greatest honors was being named a co-host of The Black Phillip Show on XM radio, by Patrice himself.

The first night we went on the radio together was Feb. 10th 2008. It went so well that he called me that night at 4:05 in the morning, and left me a message which I keep on my phone to this day, to tell me how much he liked the show, and that we should do our own show together. But he was so humble, that when you listen to the phone call (below) you’ll hear him say that he didn’t want to assume anything.

As if I might not have wanted to do it with him. I would have done ANYTHING to have been able to do that show with Patrice. Unfortunately it was not to be.

Bill Burr and Maureen Taran produce a benefit for Patrice every year for the last 7 years. It’s usually held at Town Hall in NYC, which holds 3,000 people, and sells out well before the date.

I always knew The Black Phillip Show had a great influence on a lot of guys by the calls that came in while we were on the air, but it’s been pointed out to me lately by the amount of messages I receive on Instagram, and by random encounters in the street.

Recently I was down at The Village Underground which is part of The Comedy Cellar hanging out with Ardie Fuqua who was hosting a great show that night, and as I left and was walking to my car I heard someone yell out, ” Holy shit, it’s Jeffrey Gurian.” Not accustomed to getting called out like that I turned and saw two brothers, … and not brothers because they were Black, (which they were) but because they were true biological brothers.

WITH ARDIE FUQUA AT THE COMEDY CELLAR

We stopped to chat and they told me what big fans they were of Black Phillip and how much the show changed their lives. They were so sincere and so excited that I stayed there talking with them for quite a while and told them how it was working with Patrice and then I walked them back to the Fat Black Pussycat bar to meet Ardie.

BLACK PHILLIP FANS THAT STOPPED ME IN THE STREET

This past weekend I went to a wedding in Boston. Late at night I went into the basement of the hotel I was staying in to grab a snack from a vending machine, and two guys were sitting at a table looking like they were doing some writing work. Next thing I know one yelled out, ” We love your interviews!” and when I went over to chat, once again it was two “brothers” but this time not biological, … and they admitted to being big fans of The Black Phillip Show but said they were reluctant to yell that out.

MAKALANI ADISA AND RAKIM WILLIAMS IN BOSTON

We talked for quite a while and again I shared stories of the fun we had up at the studio and how when I brought models up to the show, which I did each time, I would warn them that Patrice would try and “deconstruct” them to take away their power. They were always cool enough to go with the flow!

And the show didn’t only have Black fans. White guys stop me too lately. Skankfest, the outrageously crazy comedy festival out in Brooklyn draws fans from all over the world. Last year at Skankfest two guys from Ireland stopped me about Black Phillip and I didn’t think to take photos of them, which I try and do now each time it happens.

This year at Skankfest two Indian looking guys from Scotland stopped me who were Black Phillip fans, then a guy from England and then three guys from Canada came up to me talking about how much Black Phillip changed their lives as well. Only two are in the photo below because the third one volunteered to take the pic!

NOT SURE OF THE ORDER BUT IT WAS JOHN BOWLEY AND JAMIE MALCOLM AND BEN DELLER I BELIEVE WHO SNAPPED THE PHOTO! ALL FROM CANADA!

At this years’ Patrice benefit produced by Bill Burr and hosted by Rich Vos, I heard someone calling my name at the after-party. It turned out to be Patrice’s Mom Georgia, who called me over to take a pic with her and her daughter Zinder. It’s always so wonderful to see her. The first time we met was backstage at the taping of “Elephant In The Room” when Patrice called me over to introduce me.

AT THE PATRICE BENEFIT AFTER PARTY WITH PATRICE’S MOM GEORGIA AND SISTER ZINDER
BACKSTAGE AT THE TAPING OF ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM WITH HARRIS STANTON AND PATRICE O’NEAL

These are just some of the messages I’ve received lately on Instagram for my work with Patrice on The Black Phillip Show.

It’s just nice to know that Patrice’s memory and his words and his commentary live on to inspire people and that in some small way I was part of that history.
R.I.P Patrice!

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Samuel J. Comroe, A Man of Inspiration

Every single one of us has some kind of obstacle to face in our lives. Some people allow it to overcome them and never accomplish anything. Others rise above it. Samuel J. Comroe is one who rose above it, and in a hilarious way.

Sam developed Tourette’s Syndrome at 6 years old. It’s a neurological condition characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. It was named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French neurologist who first described the condition back in 1885 before many of you were born!

Sam describes it more as a “twitch”, which can be embarrassing to people who have the condition, but Sam decided to take it and use it to create a successful comedy career. He took what could have been considered as a negative and turning it into a positive. As he says, ” I got 99 problems, but a twitch ain’t one!”

He made his TV debut on Conan, appeared on BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart, and became nationally known for his appearance on America’s Got Talent where he totally wowed Howie Mandel, and the other judges. He said that show changed the game for him.

He also won Ricky Gervais’ “San Francisco Comedy Competition” and has a huge following on social media. So when I heard he was headlining at Gotham Comedy Club I made sure to make it down there to see him.

Good thing I have my own table cause the place was so packed people had to pull in their stomachs and hold their breath to squeeze in and get a seat. Sam is pure high energy, and speaks so quickly it’s amazing. He spits jokes like rappers spit beats. Like a machine gun!

His positive energy is contagious and spreads to the audience who absolutely loved him and kept interrupting him with applause breaks. He brings a real likability to the stage as he talks about life with Tourette’s and a whole host of other things, like when his parents sent him to Tourettes camp.

He also does a Q&A with the audience towards the end and answers questions like ” What’s it like having sex with Tourette’s?”

In my recent best seller on Happiness I write a lot about the concept of “acceptance” and how there are certain things about ourselves that we must accept or else it will drive you crazy. Then there are things you can change. It’s the basis for what’s known as The Serenity Prayer, … “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

That last line is the most important as far as I’m concerned, … the wisdom to know the difference. In my case my own major obstacle was that I stuttered very badly starting around age 7 or 8, continuing well into my 20’s and beyond. If I had “accepted” that I would still be stuttering today, but I consider it Grace that I realized one day that I didn’t stutter when I was alone. I only stuttered when trying to talk to somebody else which told me that there was really nothing wrong with me, because you can’t have a disability based on your location.

A man with a limp limps in every room of his house. He can’t go into a room alone and walk perfectly. But if I could speak perfectly when I was alone then theoretically I could speak perfectly all the time. I used that fact to help me work on myself for the next few years.

I had no one to help me. I basically took my mind apart and examined all of my thoughts and identified thoughts I was holding that were not valid for me and were negative against myself. I was obsessed with getting better and after much hard work I was able to free myself from the bondage of stuttering.

Now as an avocation I work with stutterers to teach them how not to stutter. And I use my voice in everything I do whether it’s on the phone, on stage, on the radio or on TV.

I look at Sam Comroe as an example of what you can accomplish if you refuse to let your particular obstacle define you. Make sure you go see Sam when he’s performing in your town, … and tell him I sent you! (LOL)

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The Virzi Effect Live For The First Time

Paul Virzi is killing it! He’s having a really great year and it’s well deserved. He often opens for Bill Burr when Bill is on tour.

When I go to Gotham Comedy Club, as I do almost every night, I usually go backstage first to say hello to whoever is performing and wish him luck.

Paul was celebrating the 400th episode of his podcast “The Virzi Effect” but doing it live for the first time, and he chose The Impractical Jokers own Sal Vulcano to be his special guest.

The Virzi Effect is a really fun show. I have had the honor of being on the podcast and we did it from my place in the city. Paul was nice enough to bring his equipment and we did it from my “comedy museum”! (LOL) I knew that Paul would appreciate seeing all the photos of many of the greats in comedy going back to The Golden Age.

This night I opened the backstage door expecting to find Paul, and instead was greeted by a mob scene. A whole bunch of guys standing and chatting in a circle, and when that happens, and you realize that you know everyone, you don’t know who to say hello to first! (LOL) It’s awkward!

I tried saying hello to all of them at once. It was co-owner Steve Mazzilli, uber-agent and producer Rory Rosegarten who had just produced the huge Garden of Laughs event, and he was there with his son Ryan, Paul Virzi of course, Sal Vulcano and a close friend of Paul’s Sam Jackalow, who just happened to know my daughter Liz. Then Jon Fisch came in and he was doing another show upstairs and he and Sal realized that they had the exact same Members Only jacket that they bonded over!

We hung out and shared stories and laughed until it was time to start the show. Paul brought up Sal to huge applause from the audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FS5tH4oOH8

They are very close friends and it was obvious the affection that they had for each other. Paul gave Sal a gift of some very expensive alcoholic beverage, which as a non-drinker I was not familiar with, but Sal was very touched.

They talked about all kinds of fun stuff, and Sal was comfortable enough to admit to being very sensitive. He said he once cried at a Pep Boys commercial. I totally relate and have gotten emotional about songs, movies TV shows, and when talking about my daughters. I have to censor everything I watch, or watch it alone so I don’t have to feel embarrassed! (LOL)

Paul always does an “Unacceptable” segment where the guest and then members of the audience share experiences they had that they deem unacceptable.

I asked Rory Rosegarten if he thought I should share my experience of showing up at Madison Square Garden to do interviews for the Garden of Laughs event with Bill Burr, Tracy Morgan, Jon Oliver, John Mulaney, and a bunch of famous actors, and realizing that I had no microphone with me because my video assistant had forgotten to pack it. I would call that quite unacceptable and Rory agreed but Paul and Sal had already moved on, so I’m sharing it right here.

Luckily my assistant slightly redeemed himself by getting this little snippet from John Mulaney while I had to run home like a maniac through rush hour traffic to get my mic!

Bill Burr had his own take on the situation after I nearly killed myself to run home and get my mic!

Sal talked a lot about the new 8th season of his tru TV hit Impractical Jokers and told some funny stories, including the times when the guys almost got assaulted by people who were pranked.

Fans of Paul and Sal traveled from all over to attend this live show, so they saved a few minutes for a Q&A during which time I raised my hand to ask if they were still entertaining “Unacceptable” stories, which I was informed they were not!

Good thing I have this platform! (LOL) At one point Paul was trying to tell a story while Sal hummed ” I Believe I Can Fly” in the background, until Paul found it too distracting.

It was a really fun hour and even ran long because Paul wanted to get in some other things. He invited anyone who wanted to to hang out at Jake’s Tavern which is basically next door, to grab a drink and a snack, and he gave all of his guests special posters he had made up to commemorate his 400th episode and first live show.

I’m really glad I was there to celebrate this with them!

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STAR STUDDED GARDEN OF LAUGHS RAISES 2 MILLION BUCKS FOR KIDS

I had been waiting for weeks to cover the biennial “Garden of Laughs” at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. It’s a star studded event that raises money for underprivileged kids and kids with disabilities. It’s produced by Rory Rosegarten of The Conversation Company and his team, and features some of the biggest comedy stars in the biz as well as many top actors. We were expecting Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Burr, Jon Stewart, John Mulaney, Michael Che, John Oliver, Iliza Shlesinger, Tiffany Haddish, Brian Regan, and actors Debra Messing, Lucas Hedges, Ansel Elgort, Michael K. Williams, Toby Leonard Moore, Gaten Matarazzo, and all hosted by 3 time host Steve Schirripa of Sopranos fame.

WITH RORY ROSEGARTEN PRODUCER OF GARDEN OF LAUGHS

A lot of people don’t know that Steve booked some of the biggest comedy acts when he used to book talent in Las Vegas, and he’s very funny in his own right. Not every star decides to do the red carpet so we’re never really sure who’s going to come out. It was slated to start at 6:30, so I made sure to get there at 5:30 to have time to set up because there’s no real schedule with a red carpet. It’s very stressful. Sometimes several stars come out at once and while you’re talking to one, another one you would have liked to talk to walks by. It’s also all improv. Some journalists come with stock questions that they ask each person. Not me! All my stuff is improv’ed on the spot.

I specifically had my videographer show up at 4 to pack the camera bag and make 100% sure we had all of our equipment.  We went over it together.  So imagine my surprise at 6:10 when he suggested that we do a mic check and the shock ran through my body when we realized we hadn’t packed the microphone.  I can’t describe the horror, and the icy cold feeling that ran through my body. Weeks of planning, and I’m on the red carpet with no mic.

The one thing you need to do interviews besides the camera and we didn’t bring it. I decided I’d have to run home and get it. But I live on the other side of town and it was rush hour. Perfect! I told my assistant to try and shoot some B-roll, and I ran out like a maniac, flashing my red carpet badge to security as I ran through one door after another. As I was running I tried to figure out which would be the fastest way to get home. Should I run back to 8th avenue to take the train, call an Uber, or just jump into a taxi.

I chose the closest taxi and just like in the movies I told the guy to step on it. I said I had to get across town and back in 20 minutes which was impossible. I turned on my WAZE and we got to my house at 6:26. I told him to wait in the downtown direction, jumped out of the cab, ran past my doormen, got the mic and ran back downstairs so fast that both of my shoes opened and I didn’t stop to re-tie them.

Just past 6:30 my assistant texted me that no one had come out yet. As we got closer to the Garden he texted me that John Mulaney was on the red carpet! Shoot! I was hoping he’d come out late but he came out first. Luckily my videographer had the sense to tell John he was working with me, and that I had to run home to get my mic, so John left me this hilarious message, which made it a little bit better!

Of course as we got near the Garden we got stuck in traffic, and every block seemed to take a year. Finally we pulled up in front, I gave the driver a big tip just like in the movies and ran back in, not expecting to have to go through airport-like security again. But I was wrong. Very wrong.  I flashed my badge but it did no good. I told the guy I had forgotten my mic and had to run home to get it and I was missing the whole red carpet but he wouldn’t hear of it. He said he had to do his job. The only man in Manhattan who had to do his job. And of course because I was so nervous I kept leaving something metal in one pocket or another and literally had to go through the metal detector about 10 times while the people behind me waited patiently.

Finally he let me through and then I first had to re-fill my pockets. By the time I got upstairs I had missed Mulaney and Tobey Leonard Moore from Billions who I would have loved to talk to, so I finally bent down to re-tie my shoes, and then Michael K. Williams came along. I loved Michael’s characters “Omar” on “The Wire” and  “Chalkie” White on Boardwalk Empire so I was excited to talk to him. He told me that working with Martin Scorcese was a dream come true for him and that he also works with kids from Garden of Dreams which is the charity itself that Garden of Laughs raises money for.

WITH MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS ON THE RED CARPET AT MSG

To tell you the truth I had never noticed that he had a scar that ran from his forehead right near his eye and down onto his cheek. Obviously I didn’t bring it up, he did. He said he was working with a young boy of 14 who also has scars on his face from an assault, and that he was able to give him some reassurance that he’d be okay. Michael told me he had been assaulted by a gang on his 25th birthday. Man’s inhumanity to man.

Rory Rosegarten came out and told me had been looking for me because he knows I always come early to these things. When I told him the mic story he said the exact same thing that John Mulaney said without having heard him say it. You can hear it for yourself in the video below. He was there with his family.  I was able to congratulate him on another successful show, and it was great to see him looking so healthy again.

Michael Imperioli who played cousin Christopher Moltisante on The Sopranos came out next, and we hadn’t seen each other in years so it was so nice to re-connect. He’s got a movie coming out with Nick Cage, and an NBC TV series based on the movie The Bone Collector, and when we inquired about each other’s health and I told him I had survived a heart attack he said he was sorry, and it sounded like he said he was sorry I survived. Funny!!!

WITH MICHAEL IMPERIOLI ON THE RED CARPET AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

Bill Burr is always a great time on the red carpet and as soon as he sees me he starts yelling out things like “Oh no”, and “This is gonna be good.”  I told him I was thinking of texting him to let him know I was going to be there so he could think up some insults for me, but he said he didn’t need any advance notice because they just came naturally. He started out by asking me about my sport jacket and if I had gotten it at Woodstock, which was actually very funny.

LAUGHING WITH BILL BURR AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

 

I asked him if he knew of the You Tube video called “Bill Burr Roasting People” which has over 5.4 million views and opens with he and I on the red carpet where he says he hopes I go bald so that one day we’re two old bald guys on the red carpet.” He said that not only does he know about it he hates that people think he doesn’t like me because he LOVES me, … and that made me feel really good.

I had sent him a recording that the late great Patrice O’Neal had left for me on my phone one night at 4:05 A.M. It was the first night we had done the Black Phillip Show together and Patrice was so happy with it he couldn’t wait to call me and so humbly suggested that we do a show together just the two of us. He said he didn’t want to assume anything, as if I might have said “No”, but unfortunately we never got to do it. I still get messages and e-mails from guys who track me down to give me props on my work on Black Phillip.  R.I.P Patrice. Btw Bill said he listened to it, and I hope he did cause it’s one of my greatest possessions, along with the phone message that Richard Lewis left me saying that some jokes I had written for him were “hilarious” and if he was ever going to use anyone else’s jokes it would be mine!

Bill’s interview went on so long that at one point he asked me if it was still an interview or just two guys talking on the corner! Then he offered me a $700. class he was giving on how to end an interview. He’s hilarious and the very best! And he’s off on a tour from Iceland to Israel!

Just when I thought it was over, I left the red carpet but luckily didn’t pack up yet when I saw Tracy Morgan talking to Bill Burr and went over to catch up with Tracy. His new season if his TBS show “The Last O.G.” was premiering that night and we had a few laughs on camera. He always says something so nice to me and this time he said, “You ARE comedy!”

WITH TRACY MORGAN AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

Last on the red carpet was John Oliver who was going to be the very first presenter that night. I asked him if his kids were old enough to know that he’s playing Zazu the bird in the new remake of The Lion King directed by John Favreau due out this July.  He said his son is only three and he took him to a movie in which he did the voice of a porcupine named Steve.  He told him that was his Dad and his son said ” No it isn’t”, just like my Too Much Tuna sketch with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Anyway this little video is a recap of my adventurous day on the red carpet of Garden of Laughs.

Please feel free to “Like”, Comment and Subscribe and please share it with a friend.  On Twitter and IG I’m @jeffreygurian

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Humorist Up For Webby Award

A Webby Award is an award for excellence on the Internet and it’s presented annually by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a judging body composed of over two thousand industry experts and technology innovators. It’s a big honor to be nominated for a Webby and Marty Dundics’ Weekly Humorist is in line to win one for Best Humor Site, in the upcoming 23rd annual Webby Awards contest.

The event itself will be held on Monday, May 13th at Cipriani Wall Street in lower Manhattan, and will be hosted by everyone’s favorite Jenny Slate, so memorable from Kroll Show on Comedy Central. Jenny played many characters especially “niece Denise” and Liz from Publizity which was a sketch I got to be in.

Marty himself describes his recent comedy startup as an “underdog”,  but people love underdogs and they’re only up against College Humor, Funny or Die, The Daily Show and Cards Against Humanity which bills itself as a game for horrible people.

Marty, who’s the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Weekly Humorist birthed this babe and is basically a one man band. He has an office on Wall Street wHere he hosts the popular comedy podcast Talkward, and produces “Guaranteed Delivery” a monthly standup show at The Mailroom lounge, a very cool space in the same building. I’ve been on it and he gets great talent. This was a flier from his recent show in April.

He’s also the founder of Humorist Media, which develops comedy media programming and publishing.  Despite having a long history with comedy, having worked at National Lampoon, and The Late Show with David Letterman, he’s funny but he’s never performed himself.

Voting ends this Thursday April 18th with the winner to be announced on Tuesday April 23rd, and you can vote by going to this site, …but do it now while you’re thinking about it, because voting ends on Thursday :  

https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2019/websites/general-websites/humor

 

WITH MARTY DUNDICS DOWN AT THE WEEKLY HUMORIST OFFICE

PLEASE REMEMBER TO “LIKE” COMMENT AND SUBSCRIBE AND FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS WITH PEOPLE YOU HATE! 

 

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Comedians Rule Boy Band

With comedian/actor/writer Seth Herzog

When you hear the words “Boy Band” maybe you think of The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, or New Kids on the Block. Well change that image cause from now on you’re gonna be thinking of Seth Herzog, Dave Hill, Jordan Carlos and Steve Agee, who played part of a gay couple with Brian Posehn on the Sarah Silverman Program.

(L-R) Stephen Levinson, Dave Hill, Jordan Carlos, Joel Levinson and Seth Herzog

All four of the above are comedians who thanks to first time feature screenwriters Joel and Stephen Levinson play members of a boy band called “The Heartthrob Boyz” who were wildly successful in the 90’s,  and went into the studio 15 years ago to record an album and are still there working on the same album. They’ve aged, gained weight and lost hair but didn’t lose their childish sense of humor.

Joel and Steven wrote the script together and Joel directed it. They screened it last night at the Chelsea Music Hall on West 15th Street in Manhattan and preceded the screening with a VIP cocktail party at 7 P.M. I who am never late for anything was literally the first one there which is how I got to talk with Joel and Steve, and Seth who was there early too making sure that everything went smoothly, which it did.

Stephen Levinson holding the film poster with his brother Joel Levinson

I brought the lovely, talented and amazing Jessica Robinson with me, who is kind of my muse, and we had the best time!

The Levinson boys wrote the script over a six month period and shot it in 10 days in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the home of independent film! (JK) They shot it there because it’s near Dayton where they live and because that’s where they had connections for locations and also they said that the rates of everything else were much lower. ( Lower than New York? Who would have believed it? LOL)

I always like to know how things come about so I asked them how they met Seth Herzog. They met through comedy writer Rob Kutner who wrote for The Daily Show and Conan through a project called Purim Shpiel, a sketch comedy show in honor of the Jewish holiday of Purim, and Seth always played a wicked character named Haman, who to this day is responsible for Jewish people eating what’s called Hamantashen on the holiday of Purim, actually coming up later this month. (Google it!)

They said that Seth played the perfect asshole so he was the first one cast in Boy Band to play the bad boy of the group. He’s also a producer on the film. Last May at a John McEnroe charity event at Carolines on Broadway where I covered the red carpet I got to interview my buddy Seth and he told me all about Boy Band before it was shot.

The film was loaded with recognizable faces, like David Gruber Allen and Julie Goldman, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my pal Jerry O’Connell in a pretty big role as a newscaster, opposite Seth’s wife, on-air journalist/actress Hitha Herzog, who he somehow coerced to be in the film.  (LOL) Jerry will soon have his own talk show called Jerry O.  on FOX owned stations, and it’s set to begin on August 12th. It will feature celebs and comedy for sure because Jerry is a funny guy, who appreciates the importance of comedy.

Hitha Herzog and Jerry O’Connell

They even had Questlove from The Roots in the film playing an alien, hence the horns, also appearing in the newscast with Hitha and Jerry.

Seth as you should know is the warm up comic for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and so works with Questlove on a day to day basis. Stephen Levinson is also a writer on that show. And Gilbert Gottfried’s voice made an appearance speaking as a puppet named Morty who played an accountant.

The film also featured comedian Esther Ku playing the character of Tina, Steve Agee’s character’s girlfriend. Esther recently co-hosted the AVN ( porno) awards in Las Vegas, and she had a big part in this film.

Esther looked absolutely gorgeous as she did hosting the AVN awards, and it’s so nice seeing her owning that power and not playing down her looks like many female comedians of the past felt they had to do in order to be taken seriously as a funny person. (Having to be taken seriously as a funny person is a funny concept!) And Esther had the foresight to be Asian before it was even popular!

The screening had a great turnout, and was packed with lots of industry people. I ran into comedy exec. Maureen Taran, and Ali Farahnakian founder and owner of The P.I.T. who many people may not recall was also one of the founding members of USB. He was there with wife TV producer Beth Saunders, and he showed her the photo he took of me in the street many years before that wound up, unbeknownst to me, on the wall of the Men’s Room in The P.I.T.

Funny story, … I was walking in the street at a street fair when this nice guy who I had never met before asked if he could take my photo. He said he thought I had an interesting look and because he was so nice I agreed. At the time I didn’t know who he was. So one night I’m at The P.I.T. and I had to use the Men’s Room and while I’m standing there doing my business, I happen to look to my right and see my photo staring me in the face. It was hilarious and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s just a great guy.

And when Bravo TV wanted to shoot scenes with me for RHONY, with Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and Princess Carole Radziwill for a sketch I created and co-wrote for them, Ali was kind enough to give us The P.I.T. for the shoot and after-party.

Boy Band was a fun 90 minutes with a sci-fi element and even a touch of zombie stuff, and it’s available to be seen on all platforms that show movies! Make sure to check it out.

And with that, … I’m OUT!!!

Oh yeah, … and please make sure to like this post, comment and “Subscribe” to Comedy Matters TV by clicking on the “Follow” button at the bottom of the post. Also follow Jeffrey on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian.

 

 

 

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Comedy In An Alley

If you’ve been to any upscale, fancy Manhattan event chances are you’ve seen Francesco Belcaro. He’s hard to miss. Tall, handsome and stylish with 46 thousand followers on Instagram, and usually surrounded by models, chances are good he had something to do with making the event successful.

As a matter of fact I’ll be attending a black tie affair of his tomorrow night called The Venetian Carnival which will be held at The Top of the Standard. You can see him greeting me at a fashion party he arranged in a cool beautique, where the champagne was flowing freely in the  video below.

Pinko fashion Brand and Valdo Prosecco event.

Posted by Francesco Belcaro on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A force in marketing, promotion, and real estate you can imagine my surprise when he invited me to a comedy event.

And then I saw that Mehul Patel was involved and I know that he does comedy shows in upscale venues to try and create a party kind of atmosphere where the audience hangs out afterwards to keep the show/party feeling going. There was no question that I would attend. It was a concerted effort between those guys as well as Rick Rosa and Maria Ton.

This show was called Laughter at Alley Cat and was held at a place called “Alley Cat” on a street I didn’t even know existed in New York. Theatre Alley. I had no idea what to expect when I drove down there, but it was a good sign that Waze knew just where to take me.

Luckily I was able to find a parking spot where Waze said it was, but when I got out of my car I didn’t  know where to go. I was parked right across from this narrow alley and Waze said I had arrived so I tentatively walked into this alley. Late at night in New York you don’t just walk into any alley, but I didn’t know where else to go. When I first walked in all I saw was this.

I ventured further and suddenly saw velvet ropes which in New York is always a good sign.

As I got even closer I saw the logo of the Alley Cat and felt relieved that I was in the right place.

Right away it had a cool vibe. Security guided me downstairs and then upstairs into a showroom that was packed with people already drinking and having a good time. Francesco spotted me and took me to the VIP room where I saw the other comics, host Rashad Bashir who I had just met recently at a show at Alex Carabano’s V-Spot restaurant and comedy club, Kendall Ketchum representing those with two X chromosomes, Shawn Jackson, Elon Altman, the afore-mentioned Mehul Patel, and Matt Pavich.

Front Row: Shawn Jackson and Yours Truly, Rear )L-R) Elon Altman, Kendall Ketchum, Matt Pavich, Rashad Bashir, and Mehul Patel.

Rashad Bashir was a great host who really got the energy pumping, and one by one all the comics brought their A-game which wasn’t always easy because of the noise from the bar. That’s the only problem with doing comedy from a “hip” venue that is not a traditional comedy club, trying to control the noise from the bar, and from people who may have drank enough to forget their manners and that a show is going on.

Mehul Patel onstage

Fortunately the host reprimanded them and most of the comics projected loudly on the mic to overcome the background noise. Matt Pavich had a different approach which I really respected because it’s hard to do. Rather than yell, he took a chance and spoke quietly, and the audience in turn quieted down to hear him. I’ve seen it done before but it takes courage because if it doesn’t work you’re in worse shape than you were in the first place. I gave him props for that after the show because it was a choice he made that worked.

All in all it was a very strong show, and I hope to go back and perform on it myself one month.

That’s all for me. Just remember that Comedy Matters, … and with that I’m OUT!!!

And please go to my Comedy Matters TV You Tube channel to see fun video interviews with all your favorite stars, and follow me on Twitter and IG at @jeffreygurian

 

 

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Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Bill Burr back in 2005

 

With Bill Burr in Montreal at Just for Laughs

With Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club in 2018

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

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