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 :
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.
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.
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!!!
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
Magic is the only word that came to mind when I got to the Grisly Pear at 107 Macdougal Street. I had performed there many times when it was a bar upfront with almost kind of a comedy space in the back. Now it’s a legitimate comedy club in the back with a bar up front! And it’s all thanks to the hard work and dedication of comic/producers Kenny Warren and Gabe Dorado.
You may know Kenny from his show “Comics Cutting Comics” in which he cuts comic’s hair before they get up to perform, which would be horrifying if he wasn’t a legit barber. Fortunately he is, and works out of a shop up in Harlem called Levels. I’ve been there for a shoot we did together called ” Comics Cutting Comics Live” where I had the chance to perform in the barber shop, which was scary to me. Those who know me know I do not frequent barber shops! (LOL) Just the thought freaks me out, but for Kenny I show up! (LOL)
(L-R) Matt Pavich, Norlex Belma, Kenny Warren, Pat Brown, Larry Beyah, Barry Ribs, Jeffrey Gurian
And to show you the kind of guy he is, he was nice enough not to insist on cutting my hair. Even when we did the show out at the Creek and the Cave, he let me slide on the cutting part, and he still let me perform.
When I got to The Pear, the first thing I happened to notice was a big poster like art thing of AMarie Castillo mounted on the wall.
It caught my attention, and then as I looked around I saw Kenny Babbitt, Napoleon Emil and Mallory Bryant up there too. And then I noticed that the walls of the entire place were covered with beautiful graphics of all the comics who performed there, with their social media tags.
Kenny is very big on giving up-and-comers a place to work out and feel at home. He even refers to the place as “the dojo.” He understands the struggle and what it takes to try and get known in this crazy business, and let me tell you it’s a very big thing to come into a club and see your very own picture up on the wall.
He’s doing six shows a week there, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including three on Friday alone, 8, 10, and 12, and he gets a packed house most of the time, unlike when the space was shared by other producers. He’s basically doing it on his own with people like Kathryn Henson producing their own shows, like her show “Late Night at The Pear” on Thursdays at midnight. Gabe Dorado runs the shows on Thursday at 10 P.M., Friday 6 and 8 P.M. and Saturday’s 10 P.M. and 12 A.M. slots.
The show I was on had a great line-up with the very funny Phil Duckett bringing it as the host. He really got the energy flowing, and then there was K.C. Arora, the aforementioned Katharyn Henson, Kareem Green who brought down the house with a very funny “choking” routine, a young funny comic named Marcello Hernandez, Onika McClean and just as I was leaving Neko White dropped by to do a set!
Kenny will be out in LA this month appearing at the clubs, and we wish him lots of luck! As for me, I hope to be doing more sets at the new Grisly Pear Comedy Club! Thanks Kenny!!!
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The Red Room is a very cool space in the KGB Bar on East 4th Street, coincidentally right next door to the new New York Comedy Club. And once a month comic/actor Boris Khaykin puts on a really unique variety-type show called The Breakdown with Boris Khaykin, with the help of producer Jeremy Moses.
I got invited to be a guest and went down the month before to check it out and needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I was duly impressed. Boris and his co-host Jawnee Conroy also a talented comedian and actor have created a very unique format, along with Boris’ co-writer and co-producer of the show Alex Estrada!
The audience warm up was not a stand-up comedian but a musical improviser named Rebecca Vigil. A great song came out of absolutely nowhere. Amazing. Then Boris and Jawnee took the stage and worked off each other for about 10 minutes or so, and then Exacto an amazing beatboxer did a solo performance that blew everyone away. It sounded like he swallowed a drum kit!
Then the first guest was called which happened to be me! I made a point of thanking Ethan “Exacto” Scott for his incredible performance and remarked that his teachers must have hated him because I’m sure he disrupted every class he was ever in.
I got to talk about my Amazon Best Seller book on Happiness, “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind – A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness”, a subject I felt the audience could relate to, and they did. We spoke about changing negative thoughts we were holding onto that were not working for us, and in doing so raising our self-esteem, and self-confidence and conquering the fear that tells us we can’t do something we’d like to accomplish. Fear is a bully and we have to stand up to it.
Speaking of fear, I even got to talk about how I cured myself of stuttering, and how people can overcome obstacles in their lives. I feel like it went well and the audience feedback was very positive.
We also discussed my hair and decided it was the exact opposite of Boris’ beard. If I turned my head upside down, I’d have something close to Boris’ beard, which is real by the way, and is what to aim for if you want to grow a beard.
Not everyone has the genetics for it, so don’t feel compelled to grow a beard if you can’t because believe me, no one is interested in your INTERPRETATION of a beard! You either have one or you don’t. There’s a big difference between having a beard, and just having hair on your face! None of that patchy shit! (LOL)
I talked about hair establishing your identity which is why in the Army they shave off your hair right away to make everyone the same and take away your own personal identity. I also said that “Most men wear their hair like they’re embarrassed for having any” and someone in the audience created an immediate meme for Instagram which I thought was very cool!
Then after my interview segment some talented improv artists, Nick Carillo, Katie Hartman, got up and did a sketch using the facts from my interview as inspiration, and that’s always fascinating to me that someone can remember so much of what somebody else said. I have a hard time remembering someone’s name immediately after being introduced to them! (LOL) And then there was a sketch in which Lauren Kahn played Jawnee’s ex-girlfriend.
Next up as a guest was Jamilah Lemieux named in 2015 to The Root’s (the magazine, not Jimmy Fallon’s band) Root 100 list of the nation’s most influential African-American citizens.
She’s a journalist, columnist, cultural critic and editor and afterwards told me she’ll be moving to L.A. to try and get into writing for TV. She’s already got an idea for a script and she wants to do stand-up comedy.
Speaking of stand-up comedy, Emmy Blotnick was the purely stand-up comedy segment of the show and I was glad to finally meet her. Of all things she did some “dental humor” and joked about having to wear a nightguard to protect against the damage caused by grinding and clenching the teeth. How could she have known that was my specialty? Anyway it gave us something to bond over! ( Bonding, … get it? LOL)
And then there was the big close with Boris and Jawnee back on stage, and lots of people hung out to just party because it’s that kind of a hang. Next month’s show will feature Richard Kind, and I’m sure it will be hilarious so make sure to go check it out. I had a BLAST!!!
So until next time we meet please remember that COMEDY MATTERS!!!
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Most of the time when you hear the names Ashley and Madison together the website for people who cheat on their spouses pops into mind. Now there’s a whole new affiliation since two talented comedians Ashley Austin Morris and Madison Malloy got together to create the Ashley and Madison Podcast.
And I got the honor of being their first guest! At least that’s what they told me! (LOL) Besides being a stand-up comic Ashley, originally from Texas, is also an accomplished actress who you may know from her role as Francine Carruthers in the revival of the PBS Kids children’s series The Electric Company, or from her appearances on The Big Bang Theory and Desperate Housewives.
Madison Malloy has been a staple of the stand-up comedy scene for a while, and has performed all over the country, in clubs, at festivals, and on radio and TV as well. The two of them together are a dynamite combination, and prove that you can be funny and still be beautiful! Many legendary women in comedy’s past like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Phyllis Diller have had to downplay their looks to make themselves palatable for the public to laugh at, because as a society despite what some may think, we’re trained to treat women respectfully which makes it harder to laugh “at them.”
These days women own their power and come out on stage looking any way they choose. Our podcast day started with them offering to travel on the subway with me to Brooklyn so I could find the studio more easily. I had a better idea and offered to drive, which they liked, so the day started with them meeting me at my home, which is like a comedy museum, with photos going back decades. In many of the photos I actually let someone else be in there with me! (LOL) Some people say I have more on my walls than some comedy clubs! (LOL)
Such a fun day!
They asked for the tour and what impressed Ashley the most was that I had a phone mounted in one bathroom right next to the commode. I had seen this at The Four Seasons hotel and decided that “hotel chic” was for me. She asked if she could try it out and was so excited she forgot to pull down her pants! Ooops!!!
I got so excited with this phone, I can’t believe I forgot to pull down my pants! Good thing I’m wearing black!
And then just like that, we were on our way to their studio, The Brooklyn Podcasting Studio, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. When we got there our parking karma was right on the money and we got a great spot. Then they led me to a garage. And I thought, is this gonna be like a Marc Maron thing where he does WTF from his garage?
But no it was more like a hidden speakeasy kind of thing where you had to walk through a garage and go up a couple of flights of stairs to get to this really cool studio. I thought we were gonna have to give some guy a password.
The studio had a big beautiful wooden round table/console set up with a bunch of mics, in a very cool room with lots of snacks, and it was run by a great guy named Josh Wilcox, the manager and lead engineer who was very helpful and made sure that the sound was perfect and that everything went smoothly.
He also was kind enough to take some photos while everything was going on.
Jeffrey making a point!
They wanted to talk about my new book on Happiness called “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind – A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness” which hit Best Seller status on Amazon, and how I used the concept of changing your thoughts to cure myself of a severe stutter that plagued me well into my 20’s and beyond.
In reality it’s more about overcoming obstacles in our lives, which we all face. The concept is that we’re all holding thoughts that are not valid for us. Most of the time they are negative thoughts about ourselves, given to us by people who did not have our best interests at heart.
Sometimes it was our parents. Other times bullies, school “friends”, people we dated, worked with or were married to. Those negative thoughts hold us back. They affect our self-esteem, our self-confidence and every decision we make in our lives. Every time you have to decide what to do you use your thoughts to decide but if your thoughts are faulty your decisions won’t work out for you.
You understand, … don’t you?
In order to be Happy, you literally have to “change your mind.” Anyway even though this stuff sounds kind of serious we had a lot of laughs along the way, and the three of us had a great connection. The girls are so funny, and we were all on the same wavelength. It just flowed.
Jeffrey making another point!
Then we had a fun ride back to the city trading stories, and we all made plans to do something cool together. More on that to come!
In the meantime the podcast officially launches this Monday Feb. 4th wherever you can listen to a podcast. My episode probably won’t air till March, but that’s ok. Good things are worth waiting for!
See how Happy we look?
Until then remember, … COMEDY MATTERS!!!
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There’s only a handful of comedians that can fill an arena like Madison Square Garden with 20,000 seats, much less four shows over one weekend! That’s 80,000 people who came out in the cold and pouring rain to see Sebastian Maniscalco do his thing on his Stay Hungry Tour.
There’s also very few performers who only need one name to identify them. Oprah, Cher, Elvis! Nobody ever said Elvis who? And now there’s Sebastian, holding it down in the comedy world!
I who drive everywhere had a feeling that wouldn’t be a good idea this night so I called for an Uber. I’m basically right across town from MSG, so theoretically it should take a good 15-20 minutes to get there.
The VIP meet and greet was set for 9-10 P.M. between his last two shows. I was told to go to the 8 Penn Plaza entrance which is for employees and media, and make my way to the 5th floor and then down to the third floor for the party.
The car picked me and my date up at 8:15, and I arrived at 8 Penn Plaza just past 9:30 after having to get out and walk the last four blocks in the pouring rain which had been predicted to be snow. For whatever reason traffic was INSANE. Much worse than usual. Every block, every avenue backed up! So lucky I didn’t drive.
As we walked over we saw huge billboards with Sebastian’s face on them announcing his show. I got excited just by seeing them. Most comics have the experience of seeing their face on a flier, but to see your entire being on a billboard in Times Square has to be beyond belief.
And in the Garden he and Pete Correale were up on the Jumbotron for their podcast “The Pete and Sebastian Show”!
The lines outside of MSG were crazy but I thought we’d have an easier time at the 8 Penn Plaza entrance. WRONG!!! The line was out through the door and into the street. We managed to get inside where it seemed like nobody was moving. They had metal detectors and heavy security but nobody was moving.
I called upstairs to let Sebastian’s Levity Live people know I was finally there, but it was so noisy it was hard to hear anyone. They had my tickets and VIP party passes at a special table, and we just missed an elevator because they said there was no more room. The guards made us put on our VIP passes. We weren’t allowed to just hold them, we had to WEAR them!
We finally got an elevator and the first guy that got in said, ” Hey I know you. Aren’t you the “Master Panelist” from Comics Watching Comics on Amazon Prime?” I admitted that I was, and then another guy got in who referenced me from “Too Much Tuna” with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and even the elevator operator said he knew me. That was kind of crazy! Obviously I’m very well known in elevators throughout the land!
When we finally got to the fifth floor, we were ushered vaguely to another place that wasn’t clear but some nice guy said, ” Don’t worry I’ll show you where to go.”
And we finally got there around 9:40 just in time to see Levity’s Alex Goodman standing with Sebastian’s opening act Pat McGann. Alex kindly showed me into the room where Sebastian was mingling and taking photos with the crowd, directed by Levity honcho Judy Marmel.
We got to exchange pleasantries with Sebastian, and I was amazed how calm he was knowing he was about to face 20,000 people in a few minutes, but I guess once you do it three times before, the fourth time feels like “old hat”, as they used to say in 1810!
When we took our seats, in the third row with a great view, I just sat there trying to take in the aura of 20,000 people. As a comic, if a club is full depending on the club there’s maybe 300 people. Lots of clubs have 125. Twenty thousand people is unimaginable, and you really have to put in years of stage time to be able to handle that and not go insane with fear!
You also have to hope they don’t all want to come over your house for a drink afterwards! That call to your wife would be crazy! Honey some people are dropping by. How many? About 20,000!
Pat McGann showed why he was chosen as Sebastian’s opener by doing a strong opening set with great stories about his wife, kids and family in general.
And then it was time for Sebastian, who hit the stage like a rockstar in a sparkly, multi-colored jacket that was the first thing he mentioned.
Then he discussed the fact that people had been wondering whether they’d have to cancel the show because of the weather. He laughingly said something to the effect of, “Hey this is not a brunch where you can just go, ” The weather’s not so great. We’ll do it next Thursday! This is Madison Square Garden. It took me two years to plan this thing. It’s not being cancelled for a little rain.”
He got thunderous applause from the time he came out till the time he left the stage. It’s not only his stage presence, it’s his physicality that always amazes me. He acts out almost every joke he does and contorts his body so it looks like the people he’s talking about.
He’s married to a Jewish woman which gave him the ability to compare Jews and Italians in talking about his wife’s upbringing as compared to his, and people were absolutely hysterical. A guy near me almost fell out of his seat!
He told great stories too like the time his wife made a one year old birthday party for his daughter and ordered an alpaca to make an appearance. He needed to get a permit for the alpaca and the story was hilarious. He even walked and made faces and noises like an alpaca. That’s not easy to do!
Talking about the condition his wife was in after she gave birth, he said she looked like she had been thrown out of an airplane, and that made me laugh out loud which like many people in comedy I don’t usually do.
I had to learn that early on when writing for very famous comedians who would look at the jokes I wrote and with a very serious face say, ” Oh that’s funny. And THAT one’s VERY funny. I’m hysterical!”, without even cracking a smile.
He announced the good news that he has a son on the way. Very exciting. He certainly proved why he was worthy of the respect of 80,000 people who braved the freezing cold and rain to come out and join him. I’m sure he could have done at least two more shows.
Funny and sexy is a great mix and not everyone can pull it off. Esther Ku’s got it down pat! To a science! In this day and age it may no longer be appropriate to tell a girl she looks sexy but I know Esther long enough that I feel comfortable doing that. She’s funny and sexy and she has so much foresight that she was Asian before it was even popular!
When she lived in New York we hung out a lot and hit a bunch of shows and I watched her grow as a performer. I even sat with her and went over material when she was preparing for Last Comic Standing.
She was one of my special guests on Ron and Fez’s Sirius XM show, now The Bennington Show, when I was a regular for a couple of years.
So to say that I know her would not be an overstatement! And I can honestly say that co-hosting the AVN (Adult Video News) awards show at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas, which she’ll be doing next Saturday January 26th, is a perfect gig for her. She has that rare duality of a naive yet intensely sensual creature, who’s totally unaware of her sensuality and doesn’t do it on purpose. She can’t help it! She could be one of the guys, wearing a baseball cap and hoodie, until you put her in lingerie! With the baseball cap on backwards!
Esther’s been on tons of TV shows like MTV’s Girl Code, and MTV2’s “Wild ‘n Out” with Nick Cannon, and she will be joining an all female cast for this show presented by MyFreeCams. She would actually be a great cam girl, and I could almost see her doing it for a laugh.
AVN CEO Tony Rios said that Esther ” brings a fresh, new approach to the show and we are looking forward to her contribution.” Howard Stern once selected Ku as a finalist in the Hottest Funniest Chick competition. AVN hosts in the past have been Dave Attell, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Norton, Aries Spears, Rebekah Kochan, Thea Vidale and the late Robert Schimmel and I think I can honestly say that Ku is the sexiest of the bunch! (LOL)
She’ll be co-hosting with two adult superstars Romi Rain and Bailey Rayne, pronounced exactly the same so you know that most people will think they’re related, .. the Rain Sisters! And the musical guest will be none other than Cardi B who knows a little something about being sexy herself. She often talks openly about her former life as a stripper.
Ku said, “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of hosting the AVN Awards! I feel so lucky!” When I heard that I had to call her and ask her about her sexy past. This is what she told me:
“Well I grew up super duper christian and in the midwest. My mom would block the TV when there was a kissing scene. I even got mad at my first boyfriend for watching porn because I thought that’s how you were supposed to react. I look back at that now and think that was so silly. But he watched so much porn they called him Porno John.”
How she might have looked in high school!
I asked her how she was in high school. She said, “I went to one dance in high school. I got my hair done and the captain of the football team kept telling everybody I looked like a porn star. I was so flattered! Because up till then I had glasses and was a band kid.”
Well things certainly have changed for Esther. I wonder what she’s going to wear. I just might have to fly out there to check it out! The event is part of the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo that runs from January 23-26. Hey Esther can you hook me up?
I’ve had the good fortune to know Lil Rel since at least 2012 when we met up at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is where this photo was taken.
Over the years since I’ve seen him many times and watched as his career blew up very deservedly I might add. The man is hilarious and multi-talented.
This past summer at the very same festival, which is the biggest and most prestigious comedy festival in the world, Rel received the award for “Breakout Comedy Star of the Year”, presented to him by his friend Deon Cole. This video was shot on the red carpet of the awards show.
Since his breakout performance in Jordan Peele’s smash hit “Get Out” back in 2017 Rel has been on a constant roll, with films Uncle Drew, Bird Box which is out right now, and his new film which will be at Sundance this year, “Brittany Runs a Marathon” co-starring Jillian Bell.
He’s currently on his Relevant 2 Tour and made a stop in NYC to headline at Carolines on Broadway one of the most prestigious clubs in NYC. I dropped by to catch the show and support, and needless to say it was a killer show, but I’ll say it anyway. And Rel looks great. He lost weight and looks really in shape. They even commented on it on his recent appearance on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne Tha God.
He had comic/actor/tour-mate Jay Alexander from “Rel” hosting the show, with comic/actor Reedo Brown from “Caught The Series” and “Rel” as his feature. Both were really funny and then Rel came out and totally crushed the room. He has such an easy way on stage and is so likable that he had the crowd from minute one! His delivery and intonation add to the humor and he’s very physical onstage as well. A couple of times he showed his ability to move, and the man can dance! (LOL)
He’s also a great story teller and his story about going to see a show where he expected to see The Jackson’s performing, but only Tito showed up on stage, and only played his part of the songs he sang in, was hilarious, as were the stories about his family and the people who hit him up for money now that he’s doing well. It was a smooth hour of non-stop laughter.
I was waiting for him when he got off stage and went back into the green room to hang out a little bit. Emmy nominated comedy writer/comic Sam Jay was there, who commented positively on my scarf, and told me she’s back writing for SNL, and having a blast, as was my man Jack Thriller who I didn’t recognize at first.
He was there with his trainer who’s turning him into a beast, and I was sitting right across from him thinking, ” This guy looks so much like Jack Thriller”, and finally someone addressed him as Jack and I realized that it actually WAS Jack Thriller. Jack told me he’s finally moving his fun, crazy Party and Bullshit Show down to Times Square in Manhattan where it belongs. Last time I was at the show he had Safaree from Love and Hip Hop performing. It’s always a whole lotta fun, packed with tons of girls too!
Rel was very accommodating to all of the people who came back and wanted to take photos with him, because he’s really humble and handling his fame really well.
After Sundance he’ll be in Nashville, Orlando and a whole bunch of other places so check it out on his website: https://thelilrelcompany.wordpress.com/ and follow him on Instagram at @comedianlilrel
That’s it for me. Until next time, remember that Comedy Matters! I’m OUT!!!