Posts Tagged Friars Club

Lisa Lampanelli Takes Divorce To Higher Levels!

The Friars Club held a major event last night to rename the famed monastery in honor of comedy icon Jerry Lewis.

Jerry Lewis laughing at one of the many jokes that were told during the ribbon cutting ceremony naming the Friars Club after himself!

Jerry Lewis laughing at one of the many jokes that were told during the ribbon cutting ceremony naming the Friars Club monastery building after himself!

Fifty-fifth street in Manhattan , which is known as Friars Way, was blocked off for a champagne celebration renaming the historic building.  It was packed with celebs and media names that came out to honor Jerry, and they even created a special star for him to be placed as the first star in a “Walk of Fame” like they have in Hollywood.

JerryLewisStar_9_15_14

 

Then they gave Jerry a huge pair of red scissors for a ribbon cutting ceremony!

 

Jerry Lewis brandishing the big red scissors he used to cut the red ribbon naming the Friars monastery after him!

Jerry Lewis brandishing the big red scissors he used to cut the red ribbon naming the Friars monastery after him!

Some of the attendees were Vincent Pastore, from The Sopranos, Steven ( Little Steven) Van Zandt from The Sopranos, and Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, Marvin Scott, ex-Mayor David Dinkins, Gilbert Gottfried, Pat Cooper, Bill Boggs, Rick Newman and his wife Chrissy, Tamsen Fadal, Joe Franklin, Jackie Martling, Dominic Chianese, Richard Johnson from the NY Post, and many more.

Vinny Pastore and Stevie Van Zandt sitting around at The Friars Club for Jerry Lewis!

Vinny Pastore and Stevie Van Zandt sitting around chatting at The Friars Club event for Jerry Lewis!

I had the honor of escorting my good friend, and comedy superstar Lisa Lampanelli, who I’ve been friends with for many years.  Lisa and Al Roker dressed up as construction workers to present Jerry with his star for the Walk of Fame!

Al Roker still dressed as a construction worker when he and Lisa Lampanelli presented Jerry with his "Star" for the Walk of Fame!

Al Roker still dressed as a construction worker when he and Lisa Lampanelli presented Jerry with his “Star” for the Walk of Fame!

Lisa was my recent guest on Sirius XM with Ron and Fez where I am a regular, and honored me by coming on despite the fact that she was not doing any other press.  She is still recovering from the loss of her dear father just a few months ago, and she made a decision to not allow any negativity into her life.

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

The new and improved Miss Lisa Lampanelli!

She only wants to do positive things which eliminates a lot of other radio shows that can tend to be mean-spirited.  Although she is known as “The Lovable Queen of Mean” I know another side of her, and that’s the side that came out on the Sirius XM show that we did.  We talked about positivity, and certain Spiritual principles that are important to incorporate into your way of life in order to achieve Happiness, which I capitalize for a reason!

To me Lisa embodies empowerment.  She has created more change in her life in the last year than most people do in a lifetime, and that takes a lot of courage.  She underwent weight loss surgery and lost 107 pounds, cut off her hair into what at first was a Mohawk, and is now just a very hip short look, that had purple streaks for a few minutes, and she made the loving, but difficult choice to leave a marriage that wasn’t working for her, but to her credit she did it on a very high level.  She and her husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, one of the nicest guys you can find, are parting on good terms.

As a matter of fact they are on such good terms that Lisa gave her blessing to his new relationship with singer Jenna Esposito.  

Jimmy Cannizzaro, Lisa Lampanelli with Jimmy's new girlfriend Jenna Esposito! One big happy family!

Jimmy Cannizzaro, and Lisa Lampanelli with Jimmy’s new girlfriend Jenna Esposito! One big happy family!

She told me personally and on the radio that if Jimmy and Jenna have kids she wants to be like the favorite aunt who spoils them.  That is a beautiful thing.  I went to Lisa’s home in Connecticut just a couple of weeks ago for a Labor Day barbecue, in the home she shared with Jimmy, and it’s a happy, joyous place on the water.  Very peaceful and filled with things that make Lisa happy to see, like her father’s art work.  He was an accomplished painter whose works fill her beautiful home.

So Lisa was expecting Jimmy and Jenna at the Jerry Lewis event and we all planned to meet up.  As I was walking into the monastery, I felt a tap on my shoulder , and heard someone saying ” Hey Jeffrey”, and it was Richard Johnson who for so many years ruled the gossip world as the king of Page 6, and now has returned with his own column, ” Richard Johnson- The Man Who Knows New York”, which should have had the tag, “Like No One Else!” LOL

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Johnson ex-Mr. Page 6 who now writes "Richard Johnson- The Man Who KNows New York!"  An understatement if I ever heard one!

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Johnson ex-Mr. Page 6 who now writes “Richard Johnson- The Man Who Knows New York!” An understatement if I ever heard one!

We exchanged pleasantries as they say, and I pointed out Lisa, Jimmy and Jenna standing outside talking.  He didn’t even recognize Lisa but I said to him, “there’s your story for the day! That’s Lisa, her ex and his girlfriend.”  So later during the evening I got to take these cool photos showing how well they all get along.

A dramatic example of how most wives usually handle a situation when they run into their ex with another woman!

A dramatic example of how most wives usually handle a situation when they run into their ex with another woman!

Even I got to join in the love fest! (LOL)

Even I got to join in the love fest! (LOL)

The other photos below are of some of the other fun guests.  And Vinny Pastore told me he wrote a new play about when he owned a bar in New Rochelle back in the 80’s and Steve Van Zandt’s wife Maureen is directing it, and he’s really excited about that.  It was another great night at The Friars Club!

 

With Vinny Pastore who told me he's excited about his new play!

With Vinny Pastore who told me he’s excited about his new play!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tamsen Fadal, the anchor from WPIX 11, and purple is his favorite color! LOL

Jeffrey Gurian with Tamsen Fadal, the anchor from WPIX 11, and purple is his favorite color!  At least it is now! LOL

And I thought I would end this column with a photo of Jerry and I from 1986 when I worked with him alone for two nights in his hotel room to prepare for his Friars Club Roast!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Lewis at the Jerry Lewis Roast in 1986!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Lewis at the Jerry Lewis Roast in 1986!

 

 

 

 

 

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He’s Way More Famous Than You at AMC Loews

Most movies I don’t even see once, so it’s extremely rare that I see a movie twice. Halley Feiffer’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You” was the opening night film of this year’s Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, which was the first time I saw it, and I felt compelled to see it again.

Film poster for “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”, now playing at the AMC Loew’s in the East Village!

What’s so interesting about this film,… besides it being really funny,… is that some of it is based in truth with all of the characters playing themselves.

Halley Feiffer plays a sweet, sensitive alcoholic who had a small part in Noah Baumbach’s 2005 film “The Squid and the Whale.” In real life she played Jesse Eisenberg’s girlfriend in that very same film. In HWMFTY she finds herself struggling in life and her career. She loses her agent, her boyfriend, played by Michael Churnus, and what’s left of her career, and goes out to make a movie that will put her on top.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the super-funny and talented Halley Feiffer, co-writer and star of “He’s Way More Famous Than You!” To Halley’s right you can see almost every part of Michael Churnus except his face! (LOL) 

Through many funny contrivances, and lots of begging, with a touch of synchronicity thrown in, she gets an amazing star-studded cast like Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Mamie Gummer, Ralph Maccio, Jesse Eisenberg, Tracee Chimo, Michael Chernus, Liz Holtan, Austin Pendleton, and Vanessa Williams to play the roles she created with her co-writer and co-star Ryan Spahn.

Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer, and Ryan Spahn on the red carpet at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Natasha Lyonne playing Halley Feiffer’s A.A. sponsor in “He’s Way More Famous Than You”!

And she gets Michael Urie who will forever be known as “the gay guy from Ugly Betty” to also co-star and direct.

Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn are together in real life but in the movie Ryan plays Halley’s brother!

Michael Urie, Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Ryan Spahn, the director and co-writer from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Ralph Maccio and Mamie Gummer in a scene from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Geoffrey Soffer is the producer of the film, who also has quite a history as a casting director! One of his accomplishments was casting the final two seasons of the hit TV show “Ugly Betty”, which is a show that quite a few people in this film are connected to as well.

From 2003 to 2008, Geoffrey was a casting director at ABC/ABC Studios where his credits include the original pilots of “Army Wives”. “Miss/Guided” produced by Ashton Kutcher, “Dirty Sexy Money”, and the Sam Raimi produced series, “Legend of the Seeker.”

This past Friday the film opened at AMC Loews Theatre on 11th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, and I knew I had to be there to support it. Seeing a film for the second time gives you so much more insight into the action and the characters. I can see why people go to see a movie they like several times. Every time you watch it you catch something you didn’t see before.

Step into Theatre 6 to see “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

Ben Stiller and Halley Feiffer in a scene from “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

I’ll tell you two inside facts. The amazing scene where Halley is bicycling through Times Square was shot by producer Geoffrey Soffer from the back of his “hatchback”, as he described it, and the “film-within-a-film” shooting scene where Ryan Spahn’s character gets abruptly replaced by Ralph Maccio because according to Halley’s character “he’s way more famous than you”, was shot on Vanessa Williams gorgeous estate!

This is a fun film you really need to see, and I’m even more impressed with Halley Feiffer’s comedic chops than I was when I saw it the first time!

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Halley Feiffer Scores at Opening of Friars Club Comedy Film Fest

Film festivals are fun. Even more when you have a film in one and I’ve had that experience a couple of times. A film I wrote with Scott Baio called “Face to Face” was chosen as the opening night film of the Taos Talking Picture Festival, so I know the excitement that brings.

Charlie Prince runs the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival and Eric Johnson is the Director of Programming, and they always pick a killer film for the opening. This year they did themselves proud by choosing Halley Feiffer and Eric Spahn’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

The film poster for “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

The film debuted at NYU’s Cantor Film Center and the place was packed!

It’s a wild story with a great cast where everyone is playing themselves, which is very unusual and where art and life can sometimes get confused. (Especially if you have ADD like me!)

I like that cause I usually wind up playing myself in things too, and it’s fun but again, can be confusing. Like when I’m interviewing Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in their trailer after our shoot, and they’re still in character as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, and I’m trying to talk to them like they’re Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, but they’re answering me as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland!

Jeffrey Gurian on the LA set of Kroll Show with Nick (Gil Faizon) Kroll, and John (George St. Geegland) Mulaney

In the story, Halley, an up-and-coming film starlet loses her boyfriend, her agent, and her career all at the same time. In her attempt to recover from that huge loss she comes up with an idea to change her life my making a movie to become “way more famous!”

With the help of a stolen script and her brother, played by Ryan Spahn, who was also her co-writer, and his boyfriend, Michael Urie, from Ugly Betty, who is also his boyfriend in real life, they set out to make a film starring Halley that will take her to the levels of success she feels she deserves. Michael Urie’s character agrees to direct this project.

(L-R) Michael Urie, Halley Feiffer, and Ryan Spahn on the red carpet for opening night of the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

And Halley stops at nothing to get the film done. In the storyline of this film, in trying to get as many celebs in it as possible, they wind up kidnapping Ben Stiller. It also features stars like Jesse Eisenberg, Ralph Maccio, Mamie Gummer, and Natasha Lyonne.

The story is great, and funny but what stood out to me was the comedic talent of Halley Feiffer. Meeting her on the red carpet for a video interview which you will see shortly, I had no idea what to expect. She was funny and charming, but not to the extent of what she does in the film. She’s like a young Lucille Ball.

Jeffrey Gurian with Michael (Ugly Betty) Urie on the red carpet waiting for Halley Feiffer who’s behind on the step-and-repeat!

She’s energetic and so totally fun! You just wish you had a friend like that, and it makes you wanna hang out with her in real life!

During the Q&A after the film screened, I raised my hand to ask a question but prefaced it by saying how much I enjoyed the film and how Halley was a “comedic gem”! A very rare find. A performer like that makes directing easy because they take the words off the page to a whole different level.

(L-R) Ryan Spahn, Halley Feiffer, Michael Urie and Charlie Prince off the the side for the Q&A following “He’s Way More Famous Than You!”

I was really so impressed with her talent. I would love to work on something with her!

What I also liked was that almost everyone had some connection to the show Ugly Betty. To me that was awesome, that a group of friends got together to create a cool, really fun project! And Halley and Ben Stiller had worked together in their joint Broadway debut in the play “House of Blue Leaves”!

Following the film we all went back to The Friars Club for the opening night party and stand-up comedy show where Charlie Prince opened the show and introduced Harrison Greenbaum, who’s always hysterical and also did a set before the film came on at the Cantor Center.

Film festival director Charlie Prince on the mic at The Friars Club opening party!

Harrison Greenbaum the exceedingly “straight” comedian opening the film and show at The Friars Club!

Others on the show were Justin Williams, Bonnie McFarlane, and Rich Vos!

Bonnie McFarlane killing it as usual for the crowd at The Friars. Her film “Women Aren’t Funny” was also in the festival!

The film is having a theatrical release on May 10th. Make sure you go out and see it! And tell them I sent you! (LOL)

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Robert Klein at The Friars Club for the Documentary "The Business of Comedy"

I get involved in so many interesting projects. Sometimes things just seem to come out of nowhere because life is magical like that. So I find myself as an Associate Producer on a wonderful documentary film slated for PBS called “The Business of Comedy” working with two great Exec. Producers Gary Licker and Scott Sobel.

(L-R) Scott Sobel, and Gary Licker with trusty camera in Jeffrey Gurian’s writing room, after his interview for “The Business of Comedy!”

They made a name for themselves with a successful documentary called “Selling Cars in America”, about the history of the American car dealership and a look at the players who set the tone in the modern day, 21st century showroom. Scott produced it and Gary Licker directed.

“The Business of Comedy” examines just what it says, the business of comedy. So they’re not only interviewing comedians, but they’re speaking to club owners, managers, agents and anybody who makes the comedy world tick. That’s where I came in. First they interviewed me in my home, in what I call my “comedy museum” packed with photos and nostalgia going back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, when I was writing for Rodney Dangerfield and many Friars Club Roasts at the behest of Friars producer Bob Saks, and my original sponsor in The Friars Club, Milton Berle.

We had so much fun on that interview and we all got along so well that we decided to progress together with me being an Associate Producer. Now as a co-producer I brought the project to Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip where we not only interviewed Richie on his vast experience as the owner and founder of The Strip, but also interviewed a bunch of comics both established and new who shared their feelings on the business of comedy.

Then we spoke to Chris Mazzilli at the Gotham Comedy Club, who offered his unique perspective and who I refer to as “the classiest man in comedy”, and Gabe Waldman owner of Stand-Up New York, who we also filmed performing on stage. Very soon we will be speaking on camera with my old friend comedy legend/icon Rick Newman who opened the legendary Catch A Rising Star at the end of 1972, which was the admitted inspiration for The Comic Strip.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chris Mazzilli owner of Gotham Comedy Club at a Laugh For Sight charity event in 2011!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comedy icon Rick Newman founder of Catch A Rising Star and current co-owner of Stage 72 in NYC!

But this week was something special for all of us. We got to interview Robert Klein at The Friars Club. Both Gary and Scott made no secret of the fact that they were both incredibly excited at the opportunity to speak to Robert who is himself an icon of comedy, and one of the enduring bright stars of his generation. Not only has he established himself onstage but he’s appeared in over 40 feature films.

I think it was Gary who said that he’s interviewed many celebs but that the excitement of knowing he was going to interview Robert Klein kept him up the night before the interview! We had intended to do the interview in the beautifully appointed Milton Berle Room but as were were setting up we ran into Peter Rosegarten, Robert’s manager from The Conversation Company who facilitated us moving to the gorgeous dining room to do our interview. It’s actually Peter’s brother Rory who works directly with Robert and has done so for the past maybe 30 years ever since Robert left Rollins and Joffe.

Exec. Producer Gary Licker adjusting the microphone for Robert Klein before his interview at The Friars Club!

That story is in my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” in a great interview that Rory gave me. Rory and I go back many years and he represented me when I was writing for Joan Rivers.

Gary and Scott started out by playing a little audio recording of Budd Friedman founder of The Improv, which he opened in 1963, saying some very complimentary things about Robert Klein who was a regular there. Robert was very gracious and humbled by Budd’s statement, and said that as years go on, the more those kind of things mean to him. That kind of set the tone for what turned out to be a fantastic interview.

Exec. Producers Scott Sobel and Gary Licker interviewing Robert Klein at The Friars Club for their project “The Business of Comedy” on which I am Associate Producer!

Robert was so generous with his sharing of stories and his energy. I loved how he easily remembered the date of his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I believe he said it was Jan. 9th, 1968. He remembered Johnny also as being “generous” with his laughter and support.

In 1970 Robert had his own summer replacement comedy/variety show called “Comedy Tonight”, which he hosted along with frequent guests Peter Boyle and Madeline Kahn. He has since done nine HBO comedy specials, and is still very active performing around the country at different venues.

Exec. Producer Scott Sobel with his notes asking questions of Robert Klein for the doc film for PBS, “The Business of Comedy”!

His original manager Jack Rollins who helped me greatly in my own career and who originally introduced me to his other clients at the time Billy Crystal and Robin Williams figured greatly in Robert’s early career. I was still a Cosmetic Dentist in those early days and Jack thought that Billy Crystal would be perfect to play me in a sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show biz. That’s why when I interviewed Billy for my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” in one of the photos we took he was pointing to his teeth!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in Billy’s office in LA. Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s background as a Cosmetic Dentist!

Robert was inspired by Jonathan Winters, and Lenny Bruce who was persecuted, blacklisted and ultimately ruined for performing material that was considered obscene in those days, but would be considered tame by today’s standards, where literally anything goes. Robert spoke of comedy as a “craft” that used to have a certain “dignity”. I saw it that way as well.

I was also very glad to hear that Robert and I share the same sensitivity as to what is commonly referred to as “bathroom humor” and I can’t really grasp the fascination that many young comics seem to have with bodily functions that to me have no place in a show where men are taking women out for an evening of entertainment.

Neither Robert nor I are prudes in any sense of the word. I wrote filthy jokes for Friars Roasts for many years, but that wasn’t the material I chose to do when I went on stage, and neither did he. We just share the same dislike for unnecessary grossness which is all too common these days.

Robert literally gave us “gold” for the documentary with his honest evaluation of the comedy scene then and now, and he kept me on my toes by throwing questions at me, when certain names in comedy history didn’t quite come to him right away, like Dane Cook and Rosie O’Donnell! He also remembered many years ago when I approached him about writing some material for him. It’s amazing what sticks out in people’s minds that you would think they would never remember!

I was so happy I was able to give him a copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” because it’s about everyone he knows!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Robert Klein at The Friars Club, holding Jeffrey’s book ” Make’Em Laugh!”

His spirit was youthful and engaging and I hope to see him again soon and maybe even work with him on something fun and meaningful.

Btw, in case you’re interested this is the very cool trailer for the documentary “The Business of Comedy!”

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Lisa Lampanelli Kills It At Westbury

Westbury Theatre out on Long Island holds about 2800 people. I know that because I co-produced a show there starring Kevin Hart back in 2010, and we filled the place. So did Lisa Lampanelli! I didn’t see an empty seat in the house.

A screenshot of Lisa Lampanelli on Jeffrey Ross’s show “The Burn”, which got mis-credited at the end as “The Bum”!

I had seen her the night before on Jeff Ross’s show on Comedy Central “The Burn”, and she was on with the very funny Anthony Jeselnik, whose new CD “Caligula”” just came out. It’s on my desk to be listened to the moment I have a free hour!(Does that even make sense, … the moment I have a free hour??? I might as well say ” The hour I have a free moment!!!”)

I TIVO’ed “The Burn” and at the end of the show, when it asks if you want to keep it or delete it, I noticed a typo on the credits! They called it “The Bum” instead of “The Burn”. I took pictures of it because I couldn’t believe it! See for yourself!

Tell me that doesn’t say “The Bum” with Jeff Ross! I have to Tweet this to Jeff!

I think she said it was her fifth time performing there, but it was her first time performing there as a thin woman! I’ll get into that later!

I drove out early so I could see her, and her husband Jimmy BB, before the show. Only really secure performers see people BEFORE the show! Most prefer to wait until after the show, but I think Lisa was leaving for another gig somewhere out of town the next day, and was leaving the theatre as soon as she was done, so she saw people before the show.

I went out there with my Chinese girlfriend Shu Lan, who Lisa would definitely call Ching Ping if she saw her in the audience, but in real life she would never say anything like that!

Shu Lan in the elevator on the way to see Lisa Lampanelli at Westbury!

For anyone who’s wondering, what Lisa does on stage does not match her offstage personna. She’s a sweet, loving person, but onstage she’s a human piranha who goes for blood! She lives up to her title, “The Loveable Queen of Mean!”

Lisa’s opening act is Mike Morse who’s very funny, and very easy going onstage. I guess people get used to performing for large crowds. The largest crowd I ever performed for was about 400 people, but I guess once you have enough experience, it doesn’t matter how many people are out there. Actually the more people, the more laughs you get, the louder it sounds, and the more it pumps you up!

The very funny Mike Morse, who opens for Lisa Lampanelli on the East Coast!

With 2800 people even if only 10% of them laughed at any particular joke, that’s still 280 people laughing which is a lot more people than you get in most comedy clubs!

Mike Morse made a lot of people laugh a lot of the time, with clever lines like, ” My wife and I decided we don’t want children. Unfortunately we already had two!”

Talking about how the people are in New Jersey he said he went to the hospital and told the nurse he wanted to give blood. She gave him a bucket and stabbed him in the neck!

On Chris Christie – A lot of people say he’s too fat to be President. I say he’s perfect for an oval office!

Talking about playing a club in Alabama where no one had teeth. He said one guy chewed on a potato chip for half an hour without breaking it!

And then he did an impression of his own penis when he has an orgasm. He said it looks like it has acid reflux, and then he acted it out! That was hysterical!

He ended on a really clever bit about a Martin Luther King Day commercial for used cars declaring things like ” Malcolm X-tra Savings”, and “We will overcome high prices”! He left the stage to huge applause.

Then Lisa came out and her audience was ready for her. You don’t go to a Lisa Lampanelli concert without knowing what you’re gonna get, unless you were brought there by friends who really should have prepared you!

The very thin Lisa Lampanelli performing to a sold-out crowd at Westbury! I have a feeling she doesn’t even know how thin she looks!

She saw an Asian woman in front and said ” Ching Ping, (which could have been my gf!), what kind of Gook are you???

She talked about her experiences on Celebrity Apprentice, especially with her best girlfriend Clay Aiken, who at one point took offense to some of her jokes about him, like the only thing “Aiken about him was his ass!”

She said that Lady Gaga was making a perfume that smelled like a combination of sperm and blood, and followed that up by saying, if she wanted to smell sperm and blood she’d punch Clay Aiken in the mouth! The audience howled with laughter at almost everything she said!

Luckily for her there was one Black guy in the front row, there with a white girl, and luckily for him, he had a great sense of humor! Lisa said there was a blackout in Connecticut, then added, ” Thank G-d they caught him!”

Lisa mentioned lots of people. Like Zsa Zsa Gabor, when she lost her leg, Lisa Tweeted, ” Zsa Zsa is selling her home. It’s 28,000 feet, which is 27,999 feet more than she has!” She claims that Zsa Zsa loved the joke!

She said she started sweating more than Jerry Sandusky at a cub scout meeting! In talking about “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, and about how badly he bombed at the Charlie Sheen Roast even though he thought he did well, she said he was as useless as a tampon at Betty White’s house!

Chaz Bono- She said most women get plastic surgery to look like eye candy. Chaz got plastic surgery to look like John Candy!

And she didn’t spare herself! When answering someone who asked about her dramatic weight loss of over 100 pounds she said,” I was lucky enough to get AIDS and cancer at the same time!” That’s so sick it’s funny, and the audience thought so too!

Actually she and her husband Jimmy both had weight-loss surgery. He told her to go first and if she survived he’d do it too. They look fantastic as you can see in this photo!

Lisa Lampanelli and husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, two little stringbeans, backstage at Westbury!

Lisa also did great impressions of Donald Trump, Lou Ferrigno and her Twitter enemy Dog The Bounty Hunter’s wife Beth.

Besides Shu Lan I also brought my new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” which Lisa is in bigtime! I had brought her a copy when I went to watch her rehearsal for the Broadway show she’s creating, but for some reason I didn’t get a photo with her that day. This night we took a couple!

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV holding Jeffrey’s new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” that Lisa is in with an in-depth interview about how she got her start!

When I asked for a second photo as a “safety” this is what I got! (LOLOL)

She’s an amazing talent and if you have not seen her yet, make sure you do! Just don’t bring your elderly parents! (LOL) (Unless they have a will, you’re the beneficiary, and you stand to get lots of money!!! LOLOL)

www.HyperSmash.com

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Lisa Lampanelli, "Loveable Queen of Mean" Comes To Westbury

In the comedy world where backbiting and jealousy are so rampant, its nice to be able to feel happy for someone’s success. With Lisa Lampanelli I get that opportunity all the time. Lisa is a comedy superstar, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years now.

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian at The Friars Club for Lisa’s singing debut!

I knew her when she was about 100 pounds heavier and as she lost weight over the years I sometimes worried that it might affect her career. If it did, it was only for the better, because now not only is she just hysterically funny, but she is also an inspiration for people who want to change their lives.

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian back in the day, circa 2002!

It doesn’t take much incentive to stay the way you are. Anyone can do that. But to take your current situation and decide that you’ve had enough of living like that, and decide to make a change is a rare and admirable trait. Most people don’t do it. I did it in my own life, as a former severe stutterer, whose speech could easily have kept me from accomplishing anything in my life that had to do with speaking, which is just about everything!

Instead I drew on some inner strength I didn’t know I had, and by focussing all of my energy, and refusing to continue my life as a stutterer, I was able to conquer that “disability”, and go on to do many things where I use my speech in public, like appearing on radio and TV, performing, and addressing large crowds of people, none of which I would ever have done as a stutterer.

Lisa did that by having the courage and determination to change her appearance into the rich, glamorous woman she is today, and I’m sure she’s still pleasantly surprised every time she looks in the mirror, which I hope is a lot these days! (LOL)

The new and improved Lisa Lampanelli, post weight-loss surgery! What an amazing transformation! Photo by Andrew Coppa.

She and her handsome husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, who has gone from looking like a building with clothes to just a garden apartment with clothes,
(and I mean that only in the best way!) (LOL) have done it together. It would have been too weird for just one of them to go through such a drastic change.

Jimmy Cannizzaro and Lisa Lampanelli at the Donald Trump Roast before they both went through their dramatic transformations!

Now her comedy is a whole other thing. She’s known as “The Loveable Queen of Mean”, which is a perfect title for her, as opposed to the “Queen of Mean” title that Leona Helmsley carried. It’s very fitting in Lisa’s case since in my mind she does a very important public service beyond making people laugh. She allows people to laugh at themselves before they laugh at each other.

Very few comics can do that, and the reason she can is because she comes from a place of love. You know that there’s no hatred in her heart for any ethnic group or sexual persuasion, which is why her comedy is so popular with every group. Russell Peters does something similar which is why I refer to him as “The Messiah of Comedy”. His audience is completely multi-ethnic, and within moments he has every group laughing at themselves and each other.

People can sense where you’re coming from when you say something and with Lisa they know it’s all in fun. This Friday, Jan, 18th she brings her unique talents to Westbury Theatre. I can’t wait to go and see her. When I spoke to her earlier this week she had this to say:

“I can’t wait to come back to Westbury Music Fair or whatever the f- that venue is calling itself today. Actually, when I play there, they should just call it the ‘T&A Theatre.’ No, that’s not short for ‘Tits & Ass.’ It’s short for Terrorizing and Antagonizing, which is what I do best! But for some reason people seem to be able to take it, and the people of Long Island are some of the best at that!”

The world needs Lisa Lampanelli. There’s too much Political Correctness and instead of bring people together, by making them respect each other, (which I think may have been the original intention), it’s actually divided people by making every group hypersensitive to the remarks of others. Lisa helps to break down those barriers and in doing so is doing a tremendous public service!

Lisa is also in my new book Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip” for which she gave me such a cool interview!

Jeffrey Gurian and Lisa Lampanelli the day Lisa did the interview for Jeffrey’s book ” Make ‘Em Laugh”!

She’s even part of my ” Dancing With Comedians” series of photos, of which very few comics have made the cut!

Jeffrey Gurian dancing with Lisa Lampanelli as part of his rare “Dancing With Comedians” photo series!

I can’t wait to see her at Westbury and then again at The Apollo at the end of the month! More on that to come!

For Westbury tickets, you can go to:

Ticketmaster — more specifically, http://concerts.livenation.com/event/00004957D54AC7A0?crosssite=TM_US:909543:141

Or you can get tickets on Lisa’s website, which is also cool to experience, at http://www.insultcomic.com

No matter how you do it, just do it and look for me there, and come say “Hi!” If you don’t see me, it just means I’m backstage taking photos! (LOL)

www.HyperSmash.com

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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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Ladies of Laughter 2012 Launches at Broadway Comedy, July 17th

Mary Jo Wobker was a comedy producer/comic who gave many new female comics their start, from around 1989 until her sudden demise in 1992. In those days they were called “comediennes”. Now the same way that girls would rather be called ” actors”, than “actresses”, girl comics just want to be called “comics.”

When Mary Jo passed away, that’s when Peggy Boyce stepped up to take over as a producer of female or double X-chromosome-type comedy events! (For you science majors out there! LOL)

Peggy is a former stand-up comedienne/juggler who has appeared in major comedy clubs and festivals, and has also provided public relations, special events and sponsorship marketing services to corporations that include Anheuser-Busch, CIBA, Citibank, Harrah’s Entertainment, Kraft and MasterCard.

She also teaches comedy workshops in the New York metropolitan area and is a member of the New York Friars Club.

Along with Mary Jo’s friends, Peggy created a women’s stand-up comedy competition in her name. The “Mary Jo Comedy Awards.” It served as a platform for women comics to gain publicity, and even cash ( which is always good!), to further their careers.

In 1998, the “Mary Jo Comedy Awards” evolved into a series of live events in New Jersey called “New Jersey’s Funniest Female.” In 1999, based on its success and popularity, plus having corporate sponsorship, they were able to extend their reach outward to an international level.

Now called the Ladies of Laughter, funny women around the United States, Canada and England regularly apply for participation.

This year, the Ladies of Laughter Kicks Off It’s 2012 Series featuring some of the funniest professional and amateur comediennes in America competing for the right to advance to the Finals for the 2012 Ladies of Laughter titles, paid comedy bookings, cash, major publicity and Leica Cameras! Not too shabby!

And charity-wise a percentage of the cover charges will go to benefit “Buddy Cares”, an organization which provides free grooming for abandoned animals.

For tickets/reservations go to: http://www.ladiesoflaughter.org/2012-series/

It’s going to be a great line-up. Some of the comics you’ll see are, Nancy Lombardo, Kerri Louise, Roberta Rockwell, Maryanne Donnelly, Lisa Pearlman, Sheila Smiley, Ellen Orchid, Marie Faustin, Nicci Page, Jamie Falk, Zoe Marsh-Leigh, Laura Agentar, Liza Acevado, Manjit Kalirao, and Jen Ramauro.

Who says girls can’t be funny??? I even suggested a couple of newer comics that I thought were good including Corinne Fischer, Aminah Imani, and Upa!

So make sure to come to Broadway Comedy for the kick-off event on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012! And tell ’em I sent you! (LOL)

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Friars Club Red Carpet for Betty White Roast

The Friars Club is older than Betty White and that’s really saying something cause Betty is 90! The Friars was born in 1904. I’m sure that people were making fun of each other before, but the first official Roast was in 1950 honoring Joe E. Lewis.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Friars Prior Stewie Stone on the red carpet of the Betty White Roast!

Even though they skewer you, it’s considered a great honor to be Roasted by The Friars Club and Betty White stepped up to the plate. In the video I shot on the red carpet (below) you’ll hear Stewie Stone, the Prior of The Friars Club tell about how when Quentin Tarantino was asked to be the honoree his PR company turned it down, and he happened to be there, noticed the letter from The Friars Club and said something like, ” What are you crazy, turning this down? This is a great honor.” And so last year, in 2011 Quentin was the Roastee!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing the king interviewer himself, Larry King on the red carpet of the Betty White Roast!

The red carpet was packed with press, so I took up a position all the way at the end, so far down it was almost in another hotel, hoping that some of my friends on the red carpet would come over to say “Hi” for Comedy Matters TV.

Besides Stewie Stone and Scott Blakeman who was doing interviews for The Friars archives, I got some great interviews with legends like Larry King, Dick Cavett, Abe Vigoda, Bill Boggs, Don Buchwald, Donny Deutsch, Dominic Chianese, and even Uggie from The Artist! He was very insightful!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing legendary talk show host Dick Cavett on the red carpet of the Friars Club Roast of Betty White!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Don Buchwald on the red carpet of the Betty White Roast!

Abe Vigoda explaining to Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV why people have been saying he’s dead for the last 20 years! There’s actually a story to it!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV sharing a laugh with Donny Deutsch on the red carpet of the Friars Club Roast of Betty White!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his old friend Dominic Chianese on the red carpet of the Friars Roast of Betty White!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bill Boggs on the red carpet of the Friars Roast of Betty White!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV getting the real scoop from Uggie, star of the Academy Award winning film, The Artist! The film was silent, but Uggie wasn’t! Check out the video!

I didn’t get to see Betty White, but she’s only 90 so maybe next time! Check out the video right here!

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Tuesday Night Comedy At The Friars

The flier for Tuesday night comedy at The Friars Club!

I’ve been going to The Friars Club since the late 70’s, and it’s as exciting today to walk in there as it was then. Granted, I don’t run into Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, or Joey Adams anymore, but I do run into people like Richard Belzer, Richard Lewis, and even people not named Richard, … like Alan Zweibel!

Friars Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV and Richard Lewis in the dining room of The Friars Club!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Richard Belzer in the dining room at The Friars Club!

In the last year alone, I shot video interviews there for Comedy Matters TV with Friar Lisa Lampanelli who made her singing debut at the club, Friar Richard Lewis who came to town to headline at Carolines, and Friar Brett Ratner, who was honored at the club, and you can see these videos on my Comedy Matters Channel at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Friar/director Brett Ratner at an event at The Friars in his honor!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Lisa Lampanelli at The Friars Club for her singing debut in preparation for her upcoming one-woman Broadway show!

The Friars is like a museum of show biz, and if you’re a comedy fan, you can’t help be excited to be within it’s walls. The club itself is a beautiful 6 story mansion on East 55th Street between Park and Madison, with a pool room, a well stocked gym, a couple of cool bars, like the downstairs Billy Crystal Bar, a fantastic dining room, a card playing room, and several gorgeous meeting rooms.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in Billy’s office in Beverly Hills!

Once a month, comic/producer Aaron Haber puts on a comedy show in where else, “The Milton Berle Room” on the 2nd floor. Aaron is the busiest guy. He also produces shows at Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club, and also just launched www.evilnewsdaily.com

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle in 1985 at the LA Friars, the year he sponsored me into the club!

This month he invited me to participate and in all my years at The Friars it’s the first time I performed stand-up comedy there.

I’ve been hosting shows at the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip for about a year now, so I felt I was ready to do The Friars. It was a great show. Aaron, who could have been the inspiration for Chris Rock’s play, “The Mother-Fuc*er With The Hat”, is a perfect MC, and somehow reminds me of Kevin Nealon, with his delivery. He’s very funny.

Aaron Haber or as he’s known, The Motherfu**er With The Hat, MC’ing his show at The Friars Club!

Also on the bill was Moody McCarthy, and I always mean to ask him how he got the name “Moody” cause he’s always in a good mood when I see him. He agreed to go on first which is always a tough spot, but not so much when you’re funny, and he is. It’s a very appreciative and supportive audience, and they loved him.

Moody McCarthy entertaining Friars in the Milton Berle Room!

Then my old friend Maureen Langan went up and killed it. Comics always reminisce about going on road trips together where they travelled to their gigs in the same car. Maureen lives on my block so we walked over together all the way from East 54th Street! What a reminiscence that will be some day! (LOL) Hey Mo, remember the time we walked three blocks together to get to that gig? And it was a little windy too! Remember that??? My hair almost got all messed up.

Maureen Langan making a comedy point to the audience at The Friars Club!

I followed Maureen and felt pretty good about my set. At least no one threatened to take away my membership, … and General Manager Michael Caputo was there, and was even kind enough to shoot the group photo you see below!

(L-R_ Moody McCarthy, Maureen Langan, Jeffrey Gurian, Aaron Haber, and in the back Josh Spear! ( A Spear in the back sounds painful! LOL)

The next comic up, Josh Spear, was an old friend of mine from the club scene days, where he used to promote hot parties. I hadn’t seen him in quite a while and was glad to see we were going to be on the same show, so it gave us a chance to catch up! He had a really good set, and told me he had to leave on the early side, because he was actually going back to college to pursue the education he never took the time to get previously. I thought that takes a lot of courage, and is very commendable since he already has a career in comedy.

Josh Spear being funny onstage at The Friars Club!

Friar Steven Scott doing his thing onstage at The Friars Club!

And closing the show was the always entertaining Steven Scott, who’s a perfect closer, cause he does so many things. Not only does he tell jokes, but he does imitations, voices, sound effects, and can even imitate music with his voice. Once we were on the Joey Reynolds radio show together, and he acted as an entire band, making the sound of each instrument with his mouth. It was truly amazing.

All in all it was a fantastic show, and all The Friars had a great time. You have to either be a Friar or a guest of a Friar to attend, so if any of you in the biz ever wanna come to a show, let me know and I’ll sponsor you for membership!

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