Posts Tagged “Comedy Matters TV”

"Make ‘Em Laugh" With An Intro By Chris Rock

After four years of work, my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Richie Tienken, owner/founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip finally came out, and is in bookstores all across the country.

The front cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” with an intro. by Chris Rock, and interviews with Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Billy Crystal, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman and tons more!

It’s about the 35 year history of the club which Richie opened on June 1, 1976, and which is still going strong. I got the idea for it back in 2008 while at the club one afternoon with Ann Curry and Gilbert Gottfried, coaching Ann on how to do stand-up comedy for some event she was doing, and I suggested to Richie that we do a book on the club.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Ann Curry, PR guru Ryan McCormick, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken, owner/founder of The Strip!

It took three years to get all the interviews and transcribe them from the digital audio recordings, because I did it all by myself. Every word. Every single word. It takes a long time to listen to an hour long conversation, which most of them were, if not longer, and transcribe every single word, by constantly pressing “Repeat” and playing each sentence over and over again to make sure you got it correctly.

That first summer, I went up to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and got the first three interviews with Larry Miller, George Wallace and Paul Provenza.

Larry Miller with Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with George Wallace at Just for Laughs in Montreal, the biggest comedy festival in the world!

At the end besides having a killer, hilarious introduction from Chris Rock, I had interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Paul Provenza, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Lisa Lampanelli and many more! A book filled with stories from comedy legends on how they got their start and wound up at The Comic Strip.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry’s interview for the book!

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Comic Strip after Ray’s interview for the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh!”

Although Gilbert Gottfried claimed he had never actually been there and just showed up to the interview for a free lunch! He did admit to having heard rumours around 1974 that a club would be opening so he stood in that spot for years waiting for it to open, and he heard it did eventually open and had electricity. He also heard that many comics came there for dessert, at which point he started yelling out to no one in particular that he wanted a Peach Melba!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken trying to get Gilbert to admit he had ever performed at The Comic Strip!

This was as Richie Tienken was getting nauseous after having paid $50. to park, and was picking up the tab for lunch, to hear Gilbert say he had never been to the club. Needless to say, the interview was pure Gilbert, and hysterically funny.

I flew to LA to interview Billy Crystal, and that was really a treat. I hadn’t seen him in many years, and we got to reminisce about the days when I was a dentist and his manager at the time, the legendary Jack Rollins, who also managed Woody Allen and Robin Williams, wanted him to play me in a sit-com about a dentist in show biz.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in his offices in Beverly Hills! Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s former life as a dentist!

Most of the interviews were done at The Comic Strip because Richie and I felt it would be advantageous for the comics to be in that environment because it would help to bring back memories and it did.

We got to hear great stories like how Chris Rock was discovered by Eddie Murphy in 1986 when Eddie was considered the biggest star in the world and was being managed by Richie at the time. Or how Ray Romano started his career under the name “Jackie Roberts” for the first two or three months.

Then he “bombed” one night and experienced stage fright, so he quit and went back to selling futons for his best friend, which became an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond!” Two years later he returned to comedy at The Comic Strip under the name Ray Romano and the rest is history!

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Comic Strip after Chris’ interview for the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh!”

Interestingly enough, he even delivered a futon to Larry David who was already well known and true to character, was not happy with the futon, and made Ray take it back.

We have Jerry Seinfeld’s first sign-up sheet on the night he auditioned to perform at The Strip on June 17th, 1976. In those days you were rated, and Jerry was rated “Good” and then someone wrote, ” Definitely put on Monday, 6/21.” That person was smart!

And blurbs! You wanna see blurbs? I got so many celeb blurbs they almost had to use a separate page. I got blurbs from Judd Apatow the king of Hollywood comedies, Richard Lewis, Charles Grodin, Nick Kroll, (whose new “Kroll Show” comes out on Comedy Central in January with me on it!), Bob Saget, (who was kind enough to write: “No matter how many years pass, I can never say no to Jeff Gurian. Hence this quote on his book’s back cover!”) Plus Tom Papa, Danny Aiello, Mike Birbiglia, DJ Cassidy and more!

Back cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” with blurbs from Judd Apatow, Richard Lewis, Tom Papa. Nick Kroll, Mike Birbiglia, Bob Saget and more!!!

Since the book came out we’ve been getting a lot of attention. Tons of press. A great review from Larry Getlen in the NY Post, an interview on NBC TV, Channel 4, 7 P.M. news with Roseanne Coletti, an interview with WPIX TV, Channel 11 with reporter Dan Mannarino, which will be airing the week of Dec. 10th, radio interviews with Judith Regan, and Ron Bennington of “Ron and Fez” on Sirius Radio, plus radio shows all over the country.

And the book is in the hands of lots of huge comedy stars like Chris Tucker, JB Smoove, Artie Lange, Colin Quinn, and Judah Friedlander to name a few!

Chris Tucker and Jeffrey Gurian up at Sirius Radio with Chris’ copy of the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh”!

Jeffrey Gurian with Artie Lange at The Comic Strip with Artie’s copy of the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Richard Belzer at The Friars Club. Jeffrey is holding Richard’s book, and Richard is holding his copy of Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh!”

The book is available in all Barnes and Noble stores in NYC, and on Amazon.com

Coming up, I’ll be doing a guest spot on Artie Lange’s new podcast with Nick DePaolo, talking about the book and all things comedy!

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Al Lubel, The James Bond of Comedy, at Broadway Comedy

Al Lubel likes his name. He says it a lot. He says it so much in fact that it becomes hysterical. If you don’t believe me ask anyone in the audience at any of his shows. I see a lot of comedy but it’s really rare to hear such sustained laughter throughout one set.

The hysterically funny Al Lubel on stage at Broadway Comedy Club!

Even the funniest comics have ups and downs, but Al Lubel really brings it! And Al was just part of a fantastic show I saw at Broadway Comedy.

Chris Murphy who has hair that any rock star in a hair band would envy was the MC. Chris said he gets yelled at a lot in the street because of his hair. People make remarks. Once someone yelled out ” Faggot”, and he was really ticked off, until he realized that of all the men in the crowd he was the only one who turned around!

Comic/MC Chris Murphy onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

He’s also a redhead and said he hates it. He said if he married another redhead his kid would come out clear!

And he talked about the Irish being alcoholics. He said his father got a DUI, … during his driving test! (Hysterical!) And it was on the written part! (That’s what’s known as “the topper!”)

Not only is Chris funny, but he’s also a gentleman. He gave me a shout-out from the stage about my new book with Chris Rock called ” Make ‘Em Laugh”! Very cool!

Daniel Tirado talked about HIS father too. His father drank too but refused to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. He said that everyone knows he drinks, so he can’t be anonymous!

He also claimed to be a great cuddler, but said it’s not the kind of thing you can brag to your boys about! “Man, I cuddled the shit out of that girl!”

Daniel Tirado killing it onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

He also talked about picking up chicks in third world countries, and how the lines would differ from what you might use at home, ” Girl, I heard the Red Cross is in town this weekend. Maybe we could get together and get vaccinated!” Very funny stuff!

Ross Bennett is always a crowd pleaser, from the time he opens till he closes by asking the audience if they mind if he does a line from an old act, and with their permission says, ” How about that Watergate thing?” He always leaves the stage to huge applause.

Ross Bennett looking like he’s trying to hail a cab from the stage at Broadway Comedy Club!

Chips Cooney comes out as a master magician and purposely messes up the tricks but it’s hysterical!

Chips Cooney performing comedy magic at Broadway Comedy Club!

But Al Lubel is a story unto himself. Really strange thoughts, really clever, really funny. He’s obsessed with saying AlLubel, as if it’s one name like Cher, or Rihanna. The way James Bond introduces himself in his inimitable way by saying, “Bond. James Bond!” Al would say, “AlLubel! AlLubel”! It may not play well on paper, but onstage it’s a killer.

He was walking down the street thinking, ” Nothing ever dawns on me!” I love that. It reminds me of the fact that I enjoy “mentioning” things to people. I do it as a hobby.

Al Lubel wondering why things never dawn on him, at Broadway Comedy Club!

More Al Lubellism’s – He said he tried to raise his self-esteem but then he realized he wasn’t worth it.

After saying his name many times in a row, he said to the audience, ” The more I say my name, the more you look at me and say, ” Who is this guy?” I’m Al Lubel.

His room is so small, it’s only 5×10. He personally is 2×6. When he gets out of bed, he’s still in bed! ( I love that! LOLOLOL)

All he does all day is sleep and rest. On his tombstone they’ll write, ” May he continue to rest in Peace!”

He even thought about suicide, and wondered how people would react if he jumped off a building, and just before he landed he shot himself in the head. People on the ground would think, ” He couldn’t wait another second?”

I could listen to AlLubel all night. And the best part is that he works clean! A real rarity, even in my own act!

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My Special Night With Paul Williams

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

Poster for Paul Williams Still Alive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane Make A Movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All Female Comedy Show at Broadway Comedy

Last night I got to see a whole line-up of women disputing the point of whether women can be funny or not, as was addressed in Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane’s new film ” Women Aren’t Funny” which was part of the NY Comedy Festival.

Hosted by Christy Miller whose voice is so powerful she doesn’t need a mic, the show featured my longtime friend Gina Savage who I was so glad to see performing, Irene Bremis, Shecky Beagleman, Marla Schultz, Robin Fox, and Carole Montgomery, with a surprise guest appearance from Cory Kahaney.

Christy Miller hosting the “Broadly Comedy” show at Broadway Comedy Club!

Gina Savage peeking out from under her hat to tell jokes to the crowd at Broadway Comedy!

Several of the women chose to keep on their outerwear, which is an interesting look for the stage, and probably one of the only places you can go to work and leave your coat on the whole time! It almost makes it look like you’re ready for a fast exit!

Irene Bremis onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

The show was called ” Broadly Funny”, and Irene Bremis said that Honey Boo Boo is the reason that abortion should remain legal, … until 7 years of age.

Shecky Beagleman said she had to have root canal work, and went to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to save money where her doctor was a hot 15 year old Spanish girl, who was on the phone the entire time she was drilling.

Shecky Beagleman performing in full winter gear who buys her lingerie at The Container Store!

She also advised the audience that you can get a bra at The Container Store, which actually makes sense since they sell things you can put other things in!

Cory Kahaney said that now that she’s willing to use her feminine charms to get ahead, no one’s interested!

Cory Kahaney talking about all kinds of things onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

And Robin Fox talked about going through “the change”. She said she’s changing into her Uncle Leo, moustache and all!

Robin Fox with coat, sans moustache (LOL) onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

Another fun night at Broadway Comedy Club!

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Chris Tucker In A Rare Appearance with Ron, from Ron and Fez On Sirius Radio

I got to see Ron Bennington’s talent up close and personal recently when he interviewed me for a segment on Ron and Fez, his long-running show on Sirius Radio.

Fez Whatley, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Ron Bennington up at Sirius Radio for the Ron and Fez show!

He does his homework, and knows what to ask in a way that makes you feel really comfortable, plus it’s totally unrushed. So I understood why Chris Tucker, who rarely does any press, would agree to do an episode of “Unmasked”, an interview segment that Ron does with only the biggest comedy stars.

I was one of a small, select group who got invited to attend the interview up at the Sirius studios, where I’ve been spending a lot of time lately doing press for my new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, and Richie Tienken the owner/founder of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip.”

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip, the club where Chris was discovered!

Richie discovered both Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, and managed Eddie from his early days on SNL as a featured player though his starring role in Beverly Hills Cop 2, when he was arguably the biggest star in the world.

Anyway, Ron started off the interview by telling Chris how everyone loved him, which is true. He’s such a likeable guy, both onscreen and off. But he made his rise to the top sound too easy, and Ron got lots of laughs acknowledging that, and saying that it’s supposed to be much harder to make a name for yourself in comedy, than it was for Chris.

Chris started out as a class clown, which is a skill never truly acknowledged by anyone’s parents or teachers. As Ron said, no one says, ” Your child may only be in the 3rd grade but he’s funny at a 10th grade level!” Which is a great premise for a stand-up bit.

Chris grew up in Decatur, Georgia and made his comedy debut right there, even though he was underage. One of the headliners from a big club in Atlanta took a liking to Chris and said he wouldn’t perform if Chris wasn’t allowed to come in.

He moved to LA in 1992, and got picked for the 2nd season of Def Comedy Jam where he got to perform with Bernie Mac, and according to him, was the thing that really got him seen. Then in 1995 he got to do his first Friday film with Ice Cube. That really put him on the map.

Ron joked that every day Ice Cube wakes up asking if Chris Tucker called about being in his 4th Friday movie which he’s currently writing, and wants Chris to be in!

Chris’ role as Johnny Booze in Houseparty 3 was what got him an agent, and Ron also brought up his many faceted relationships with such major and varied people as Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton and Bono from U2. How many comics can lay claim to something like that??? (Redundant question, … no answer required!)

Heavy D had seen him performing at The Comedy Store and asked him to be in his video which is how ho got to meet Brett Ratner, and what eventually led him to be in Rush Hour with Jackie Chan.

His Mom was a missionary and his grandfather was a preacher, and Chris talked about tracing his African ancestry to both Cameroon and Angola, but when he went back there he said no one looked like him. There was no “tribe of Chris Tuckers!” (LOL)

These days he’s very particular about what films he appears in, and according to Ron has turned down over 100 million dollars worth of work, which he smilingly agreed with. And then afterwards seemed shocked as the reality hit him, of the enormity of what he had turned down!

One of the things that Chris Tucker said during his interview was that he was a big fan of Eddie Murphy, and that Eddie was a big influence on his career. So when the interview was over, Ron took me over to meet Chris and I was able to give him a copy of the book about the club where his idol Eddie Murphy started out.

He seemed really thrilled to get it and said he was looking forward to reading it, after I got the chance to tell him a few of the stories in the book, including how Eddie discovered Chris in 1986.

To tell you the truth, I was so excited to meet him I don’t remember what I wrote in it, but I do recall saying I was a huge fan of his. Then we posed for some photos, and I was out!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chris Tucker, up at Sirius Radio with Ron and Fez, holding Jeffrey’s book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh”, about the 35 year history of The Comic Strip!

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SNL Show to Benefit Victims of Sandy at The Comic Strip

This Sunday night,11/18, at 8:30 P.M. cast members from SNL plus Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock will be performing at The Comic Strip on 81st and 2nd to raise money to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The show will feature Saturday Night Live’s castmembers Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Bayer, Tim Robinson, and John Mulaney and writers Colin Jost (head writer) and Mike O’Brien. 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander will also be performing.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Shayna Farrow, Richie Tienken, Jay Pharoah at The Strip!

Vanessa Bayer on stage at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Mulaney of SNL after taping his comedy special at The Skirball Center!

Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock holding the book “Make ‘Em Laugh” on the history of The Comic Strip, with author Jeffrey Gurian!

Admission proceeds will be donated to New York Cares to help further the work they have done to aid victims in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent Nor’easter.

RAFFLE: We’ve received great product donations that will be raffled off to attendees at the benefit. Prizes include: Tickets to Late Night with David Letterman; Personal Training Sessions at Equinox; Restaurant Gift Cards; Beauty Makeover and Consultation with Celebrity Makeup Artist; Free Night at The Comic Strip, an autographed copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” the new book by me and Richie Tienken on the 35 year history of The Strip, with an intro by Chris Rock, and more.

In case you haven’t already seen it, this is a video of Jay Pharoah reading Chris Rock’s introduction in Chris Rock’s voice for JB Smoove and others at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal this past July.

Admission price is $50 plus a two-drink minimum per person. Reservations are required 212-861-9386. Tickets may be purchased at http://comicstriplive.com/

Let’s all come out for this fabulous show and opportunity to help out! This storm affected all of us whether directly or indirectly.

***If you are unable to attend the show, please consider donating: http://www.crowdrise.com/comicstriplive ***

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Sebastian Rocks Gotham Comedy Club

I first met Sebastian on the Kandy Kruise, a special charity cruise from Cali to Mexico that had 500 guys and 1500 girls. All the girls were from Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim, … you get the idea. It was a very quiet, relaxing cruise! (LOL) He was performing with Cort McKown from Playboy Comedy.

Sebastian Maniscalco and Cort McKown on the Kandy Cruise back in 2007!

Then I saw him again with Russell Peters on Russell’s Best of the Fest show in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival, and ran into him again when I was out in Cali doing Nick Kroll’s upcoming show on Comedy Central.

This week, Sebastian has been having sold out shows at The Gotham Comedy Club as part of the NY Comedy Festival, and if you have to ask “Sebastian who” you’re not in “the know”! ( To use an expression from 1810! LOL) One name is all he needs like Cher, Lindsay, Brad, … very rare for a comedian!

Sebastian, killing it onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in one of his 6 sold-out shows for the NY Comedy Festival!

He’s lucky he’s so well known cause “Sebastian Maniscalco” is not fitting on a marquee that easily! I popped in to see him last night and not only was my usual table filled, but the entire place was so packed, I wound up standing, which is something I don’t do. When I see a show at Gotham I’m popping up every few minutes to shoot photos, so I cant be wedged into a seat where I have to disturb other customers every time I get up.

Gotham is built for filming and shooting photos as they have a private passageway in the back of the room where you can shoot through glass. Sebastian’s show was so good, I made the decision to stand. So I positioned myself back there and took all the shots I needed.

First the show was MC’ed by Angelo Lozada, who I think is one of the best hosts out there today. There’s a special thing about being a host. Besides having great material, you have to be able to warm up the audience with some crowd work, and get people in the mood for a show. Angelo is very strong when it comes to that, and he knows how to put people in their place very gently but effectively.

Angelo Lozada hosting Sebastian’s show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Mark Normand was also on the show. His lines are very clever, and the crowd really liked him.

The very funny Mark Normand onstage at Gotham opening for Sebastian!

But let me see if I can describe what makes Sebastian so special. First of all he had his crowd there. They were there for HIM, and to that there was no doubt! His strength is not only his material, but his physicality. He embodies whatever person it is he’s talking about whether it be male of female, and moves constantly around the stage.

Somehow he manages to create a visual image of what he’s telling you, and with his sculptured and manicured look, when he does his “Italian thing” you could almost see John Travolta in his Saturday Night Fever days, if he had been a stand-up comic. And I mean that with the greatest respect, not as a slam in any way, shape or form!

When Sebastian talks about how in the old days you’d pick up a girl at a club, not only by your approach, but with your dancing, he totally nails it, and his moves are great! I was standing with Chris Mazzilli, the owner of the club and he totally agreed with me.

Sebastian said his tough Italian father never bought him and his siblings things. Instead he told then what kids owned the things they wanted, and where they lived, and left the rest up to them. “You know that dog you want? A kid five blocks away has that dog. That’s your dog.”

And his father always wanted to haggle over a deal. The dentist told him he needed a crown that cost 800 bucks. The father jumped out of the dentist chair and said, ” I got a crown guy. If I pay you cash, how much???” and Sebastian makes the “paying cash hand moves” that we’ve all experienced, with guys like that!

He talks about how badly we’re treated by airline personnel when going through the airport and how the only time they’re happy is when your bag is over the weight limit. “You’re three pounds over” the woman told him. “You have to take out three pounds of clothing.” He said,”And where am I supposed to put it?” And she said, ” In your carry-on!” And he wanted to explode, ” It’s still going on the plane! What’s the difference if it’s inside my luggage or in the overhead compartment? It’s the same three pounds!”

That observation got him an extended applause break of which there were many. And that’s why I put up with standing through the entire show, with no food or drinks. It was that good. And what’s really nice is that he told the entire audience to come and meet him afterwards to take photos if they wanted to. That’s a guy who really appreciates his audience!

I may actually go back to see him again tonight at 8 P.M. I just hope I don’t have to stand again! (LOL)

He’s also doing a new podcast with the very funny Pete Correale, and I can’t wait to check that out as well!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fourth Annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival

The most frustrating thing about attending any film festival is not being able to see all the films you’d like to see, because there’s just too many good ones to choose from. That was the case at the Friars Club’s Fourth Annual Comedy Film Festival.

The schedule for the 4th Annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Back in 2009, Friar Charlie Prince, an entertainment lawyer in Manhattan realized the lack of a film festival geared towards comedy. He suggested it to the Board of Governors at The Friars Club, and they agreed to give him the green light, so the festival was born. The second year they had 8 films in competition. This year they had over 40.

Charlie as the Exec. Director of the festival is aided by his indefatigable team, including Eric Johnson, head of Programming, Susanna Gora the Director of the festival, and Sue Constantine, Director of Communications. There are others as well not named “Sue”, whose names I don’t recall, but they all work tirelessly to make this festival the success that it is.

Films, (features and shorts) were shown over four nights, to packed audiences, in six different venues: the Cantor Film Center at NYU, The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, The Core Club, the SVA Theatre, The HBO Theater, and The PIT.

Opening night was fun with a film titled ” It’s A Disaster” starring America Ferrera, Julia Stiles and David Cross, which could possibly be described as an apocalyptic comedy if there is such a thing! It was directed by Todd Berger, and Todd, America, and David, along with a couple of funny actors named Jeff Grace, and Kevin Brennan, were at the Q&A that followed as well as the kick-ass opening party at the legendary Friars Club, a gorgeous mansion on East 55th Street in midtowm Manhattan.

(L-R) Moderator Charlie Prince, with America Ferrera, Jeff Grace, Kevin Brennan, and director Todd Berger from ” It’s A Disaster”!

I shot some very cool video interviews with Charlie Prince, David Cross and some of the comics at The Friars CLub which you will see as soon as it’s edited!

Other highlights of the festival for me, and there were several, were seeing my old friend, widely-loved comic Eddie Pepitone immortalized in a film about him,called “The Bitter Buddha”, as well as seeing the film “Price Check” with one of my favorite actresses, indie-queen Parker Posey, and actor Brian Berebbi, who was also there for the Q&A and for the after-party, along with director Mike Walker.

Actor/improv comic Brian (30 Rock) Berebbi, at the premiere of Price Check at the HBO Theater!

Brian played a fun role in the film and as I left the theatre, because my life usually turns into a Woody Allen movie, I fell down in the darkness, and unknowingly cut my hand. As I walked outside with my producer Rob Krieg, I saw Brian who called me over to introduce me to the film’s director Mike Walker, and producer Dolly Hall, and as I extended my hand to shake it was dripping blood.

(L-R_ Charlie Prince, Mike Walker, Dolly Hall, and Brian Berebbi on stage at the HBO Theater, for the Q&A for Price Check!

We all had a good laugh as I made my way to the Men’s Room to clean up. Fortunately it was a minor injury, but a funny visual for a film, trying to shake hands with people while you’re bleeding but trying to act very casual!

The Bitter Buddha was made by Steven Feinartz,(pronounced Fine Arts, which is about as good a name for a director as you can get! LOL.) The title is how Feinartz describes Eddie, who is often called ” the comedian’s comedian” meaning someone that other comics like to watch perform, and it was a great look into his life and what makes him tick.

Eddie Pepitone fielding questions during the Q&A for the film about him “The Bitter Buddha”!

The scenes of Eddie with his Dad, who doesn’t get to attend many of Eddie’s shows, but who unexpectedly came out to Gotham Comedy Club to support his headlining performance there were particularly heart-warming. You could see how proud he was of his son!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in the audience with Eddie Pepitone after his performance in “The Bitter Buddha” a doc on his life. I couldn’t resist holding up my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with a great intro by Chris Rock!

And it was particularly gratifying to me to see the turnout for the afterparties at The Friars CLub, and to see the club packed with so many young, creative people. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve been involved with the club for so many years, and it’s great seeing the energy that Charlie and his team bring to the club.

I attended the closing party with Shoko Tamai, a very talented, and super-creative ballet dancer originally from Japan, but who performs all over the world, and is also surprisingly very funny! I’m excited that she will be doing some comedy work with me, and we are planning some fun and unusual things together!

Friar Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, with internationally known ballet dancer Shoko Tamei, on the Step and Repeat at The Friars Club!

It was thrilling for me to be able to show her around the club, and watch her amazement at the show business history that is obvious everywhere you look in the club. There’s really no other place like The Friars Club, and it always feels good to be there.

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV, with international ballet star Shoko Tamei, in the Milton Berle room at the legendary Friars Club in NYC. Milton Berle was Jeffrey’s original sponsor in the Friars Club!

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