Posts Tagged Friars Club

Mike Wallace Gone at 93

I was shocked to see in the NY Post that Mike Wallace had passed away. I really thought he’d go on forever. The last time I saw him in person was in 2004 when he featured me in an episode of “60 Minutes” focussed on mentalist Marc Salem called ” How Did He Do That?”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the late Mike Wallace at The Lyceum Theatre for a “60 Minutes” special on Marc Salem, in 2004!

At the time Mike was 86, and I marveled at how good he looked. As you can see in the photo, he was tan and fit and really sharp, and I thought he looked like he was in his 60’s.

Marc Salem is a “mentalist” who had a show called “Mind Games” that is really beyond description, and Mike Wallace was determined to find out if he was on the level. I was in the audience to observe and had been invited by some PR person, who was involved with the show.

I was with a beautiful model named Sonya Gignac, and we both unexpectedly became the focus of the show. I even wound up in the video promo, which aired leading up to the show, and people from all over the country were calling and asking me why I was going to be on “60 Minutes”

I was in the audience as a journalist, to cover the show for my Comedy Matters blog, and Mike and I had known each other casually from The Friars Club.

Marc Salem does a thing where he stops his pulse, and Mike wanted a medical doctor to verify it. He asked the audience ” Is there a doctor in the house”, and no one responded. How rare is that? Literally not one doctor on the house! Obviously not a Jewish crowd! (LOL)

Then he said, ” There’s no one here with medical experience?”, and to save the day I was forced to “out” myself as a doctor, and was called up on stage. Mike was surprised to learn of my other life, since he knew me from the entertainment business. He greeted me warmly, and in between shots he grilled me as to what I thought was going on.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with mentalist Marc Salem who was the focus of a segment on “60 Minutes”.

I wound up assisting with a few different amazing things that Salem did, at one point sealing coins over his eyes with a bandana, and taking random objects from audience members that he identified, down to reading the driver’s license number off of someone’s out of state license, just by passing his hand over it. Truly incredible!

But it was when Salem claimed to have stopped his pulse that I really came in handy. I had been taking people’s pulses for years, … and had quite a collection of them at home! (LOL) But seriously, I was used to taking people’s pulses, so when I took his and suddenly it stopped, Mike asked me what I felt, and I told the audience that Salem had just passed away! It got big laughs.

Now unfortunately Mike Wallace has passed away, and no one’s laughing. He will be missed, and I’m so glad I knew him! R.I.P. Mike!

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Jeffrey Gurian on National Lampoon Radio Interview Show With Brian McCarthy

I ran into Brian McCarthy from National Lampoon Radio’s Interview Show recently at a party, and he reminded me of when we first met back in the 90’s.

He was kind of new in town, and said he used to see me at many parties and events with spectacular women, and always wondered who I was, but was too nervous to come over and say hello! (LOL)

Then one day he realized we had a mutual friend named Chris Walsch. Chris and I had a comedy sketch troupe that disbanded before we got to do any performances, but we were always hysterical laughing, and I wish I knew what ever happened to him. Brian asked Chris who I was and he told him to the best of his ability! (LOL)

Thankfully the ensuing years have given Brian more courage because the evening I mentioned above, he did come over to say hello, and we had so much fun reminiscing that he invited me to be a guest on his interview show. He and producer Marty Dundics do this really fun show, and I was a guest for about an hour.

Brian McCarthy, the host of National Lampoon Interview Show, showing that he has nothing in his hands, but still does magic with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Brian McCarthy, host of National Lampoon Interview Show and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, pointing each other out to the police, when asked “Who did it???”

You can check it out in the video below! We really had lots of fun!

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Multiple Richard Belzers At The Friars Club

I’ve been friends with The Belz since man first walked erect. I actually had an uncle who was the first man to ever walk erect, but he couldn’t hold it! It was very sad. Anyway, I’m having lunch at The Friars Club with a business associate about Comedy Matters TV going national, and as the lunch is winding down, I see Belz come in with his assistant Joel Silverstein.

Belz, Paul Shaffer and I have been taking a certain photo for about the last 20 years. We stand in the same order, Paul Shaffer, then me, then Belz and a few years later I bring the old photo and we stand in the same order, holding the old photo and take a new one. Recently we took the fourth in the series. The one below is number three:

(L-R) Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer, and Jeffrey Gurian, holding a photo of Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian, holding still a third photo of Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian at The Friars Club.

Then Friars photographer Richard Lewin managed to get #4 for us this past year.

Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian, holding a photo of Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian, holding a photo of Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian, holding still a fourth photo of Paul Shaffer, Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian, at The Friars Club!

So today at The Friars, we waved to each other and as I was leaving, he called me over to say “Hi!”. We wished each other a Happy Chanukah, which makes sense since we are both of the Hebraic persuasion, (and we acknowledge that), and while we were catching up, the Friars Club receptionist paged what sounded like “Richard Lewis”. Belz and I looked at each other like, ” Could it really be for Richard Lewis, or was it for Belzer and they made a mistake?” I knew that Richard Lewis had been in town earlier in the month to headline Carolines, because he let me know he was coming, but I thought he was back in LA.

I told Belz I’d go up to the front and check for him. I said to the receptionist, ” Are you paging Richard Lewis or Richard Belzer?” She said, ” Neither! I’m paging Richard Lewin.” Turns out they were paging Richard Lewin the same Friars photographer I mentioned above, who at that moment approached our table to say hello.

But it inspired Belz to tell me this funny story about Richard Lewis. He said that where Richard lives, in order to pull out in his car, there’s this little street he often uses illegally. One day a cop stopped him, and told him he couldn’t do that anymore, but he let him go. A couple of days later he did the same thing, and the same cop came over to him and said, ” C’mon Belz, you can’t keep doing that!” And Richard Lewis said, ” I’m not Richard Belzer, I’m Richard Lewis!” So the cop gave him a ticket!

Belzer agreed to be my first guest when I shoot the premiere episode of a new show I’m planning, tentatively titled Jeffrey Gurian’s Comedy Matters Houseparty! Stay tuned for more!

Richard Belzer and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV catching up at The Friars Club!

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Billy Crystal Replaces Eddie Murphy To Host Academy Awards

A lot of people were excited that Brett Ratner was producing the 2012 Academy Award ceremony. And then Brett added to the excitement by asking Eddie Murphy to host. It would have been a challenge for Eddie, cause you gotta be amazingly funny hosting The Oscars, but I understand he had already called in teams of writers to help him prepare. Then Brett went on Howard Stern, and it all ended. I wonder how many people have gone on Howard’s show and said something they later regretted.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

Howard has a way of tapping into everyone’s need to be “cool”, and with guys it can be devastating. To me, it all goes back to high school. Most people, especially those who are rich and famous now, did not feel cool, or like they really “fit in” in high school.

You hear it all the time when people write about their lives, how high school was an endless pit of depression and desperation. I always say, if high school was the best time of your life you should probably kill yourself!

Anyway, Brett was on Howard, and wound up saying things like he “banged” Olivia Munn a few times, and then forgot who she was when she came to audition for him. That sounds like the kind of statement high school guys make when they’re trying to impress each other with their supposed conquests of the fairer sex! There’s no other reason to say something like that.

But I’m sure Brett only said it because Howard said something that made Brett feel like he had to embellish upon who he was. All his success, respect in the business, power, and money did not feel like it was enough to make him feel secure, and keep that stuff to himself. Howard, who says he always felt like a geek, especially in high school, revels in getting people to say things that could potentially ruin their lives, or their careers.

Most people want to protect their friends from saying anything publically that might hurt them, or come back to haunt them in some way. On Howard, that seems to be the point of going on. To get people to say or admit something they never had any intention of sharing with the millions of people who listen. And once it’s said, there’s no taking it back. It’s great for Howard’s ratings but not so great for the person’s life who uttered the remark.

So when he asked Brett about rehearsing and Brett said something like “Rehearsals are for fags,” it was taken as a gay slur. In my wildest imagination, I could never believe that Brett, with his position in Hollywood, could have a homophobic bone in his body! He was probably just trying to be cool. He’s already cool, but must have forgotten that in the heat of the moment. I’m sure he knows lots of people who are gay, and probably socializes with people who are gay, and looked at his appearance on Howard as if he was on some kind of Roast or something. But in this day and age, you have to watch every word you say. Instead of bringing us together and being more inclusive, it’s separating us and creating more divisiveness.

Sometimes when non-comedians are trying their best to be funny, and time is of the essence like when you’re on the radio, they come out with something stupid that they wish they hadn’t said. Especially if the host says something provocative, and you want to respond in a funny way that people remember, plus come across as being “cool”, Professional comedians do it too, but not as much!

Anyway, as a result of those remarks, and others, Brett stepped down, and Eddie Murphy quickly followed. I wonder if Brett is sorry he went on Howard’s show. It would have been interesting to see how he produced The Oscars. Now we’ll never know!

The good news is that 9 time Oscar host Billy Crystal has agreed to step up and host for the 10th time, for first time Oscar producer, and Academy Award winner Brian Grazer, who will be co-producing with longtime pro Don Mischer. The 84th Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 26th, 2012 at the Kodak Theatre in L.A. and televised on ABC.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in LA in his office at Face Productions!

No one is worried about how Billy will do because he always kills! He’s the consummate showman. When I interviewed him recently for the book I’m doing on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip, he shared some great stories with me. One of the most memorable was on the best advice he ever got in his life. It was from Jack Rollins who was managing him in the early days, along with Woody Allen and Robin Williams. It was Jack who first introduced me to Billy so many years ago. I was a dentist at the time, and Jack thought Billy would be perfect to play me in a sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show biz!

Anyway, this was Billy’s best advice story. It was early in Billy’s career and Jack had come to see him perform. Billy killed it. The audience was roaring with laughter, but when Jack came back to see him after the show, this is what he said: “ I enjoyed tonight, but I don’t think you’re doing yourself any good with the kind of material your doing.”

Billy said, “So now I’m trying to butter my toast, and at the same time not stab him.” And I say , “ Whaddaya mean?” And he goes, “ It was all funny, and you can do very well with this stuff and you will, but you never once told me how you felt about something. I never heard “I” in it. Toys and games was what I heard. The audience really liked it, so take this if you want. But here’s the thing. You didn’t leave a tip! Always leave the audience something of yourself to remember! Always leave a tip!”

According to Billy that changed his entire way of performing. From the next night on he started talking about himself, and after a few weeks of awkwardness had written a whole new much more personalized act. He said it was the best advice he had ever been given!

And as far as his reason for hosting the Oscars again he said: “I am doing this so that the young woman in my pharmacy will finally stop asking me my name when I pick up my prescriptions.”

Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, because when he first met Jeffrey many years before, Jeffrey was a dentist, who Billy referred to as “the funny dentist!”

Tune in on Feb 26th for the 84th Academy Awards!

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Onassis The Sketch Troupe Not the Dead Billionaire

Onassis The Sketch Troupe Not the Dead Billionaire

I recently had the opportunity to experience a performance by an 11 member sketch troupe with the unlikely name “Onassis.” When I asked how they chose the name this is the answer I got : “It’s a handsome name on its own and has a regal connotation, but also conjures up subtly horrific images and the idea of a dark past.” Just what I would have guessed!

Most of the time I’m afraid to see sketch troupes, especially if I know someone in the troupe, because I find it very hard to tell them it was a great show, if I didn’t enjoy it, and unless it’s Monty-Pythonesque in style, which is the only way I can describe the fantasy-type sketches I enjoy, I usually come away feeling disappointed. Not so with Onassis!

(L-R) Jocelyn Deboer, Jason Saenz, Benjamin Apple, Ben Rameaka, Dawn Luebbe, Lauren Conlin Adams, Eric Cunningham, Emily Altman, Rob Michael Hugel, Seth Reiss, Mike Scollins, Frank Hejl!

Sketches are easy to get into but very hard to get out of, comedically speaking that is! There’s lots of funny premises, but the endings mostly fall flat as far as I’m concerned, … and no one really knows how far that is! LOL Again, not so with Onassis. I actually asked them afterwards if they minded being compared favoritively to the Pythons and they said they were flattered. Who wouldn’t be? LOL

Onassis is the house sketch team for The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and they premiered a film as part of the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, at the Clearview Cinema in Chelsea. One of my assistants, Corinne Fisher turned me on to Onassis, as she is connected to the troupe through one of the members Frank Hejl.

Debuting in January 2011 Onassis has gone on to win acclaim as one of the best sketch teams in New York City and was awarded the FrISC Sketch Comedy title at the Friars Club Improv + Sketch Competition in June 2011. Along with the award came a prize of $5,000 to commission a short film for the annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, which is the film I got to see!

The resulting work, “Onassis”, features one man’s wild journey to convince a small town to rename New York City’s Central Park. Directed by The Onion head writer, Seth Reiss, written by and starring Onassis, the project was filmed August – September 2011.

The film is serving as a pilot episode of an upcoming Onassis sketch TV series. I would definitely watch this!

Click here to see the Onassis interview with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV! It was one against eleven, but I think it worked out okay! (LOL)


And make sure to go and see their next live show this coming Monday, 11/14/11 at 9:30 P.M. at the UCB Theatre in Chelsea.
You can find out more about Onassis online at:
Facebook.com/OnassisComedy
Twitter.com/OnassisComedy

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Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist With Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy Opens Today

The long awaited Tower Heist movie starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda and Matthew Broderick is opening today. In shades of the Madoff scandal, when a group of hard working guys led by building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man Arthur Shaw’s Ponzi scheme, played by Alan Alda, they conspire to rob his high-rise penthouse apartment with the aid of street hustler Slide played by Eddie Murphy.

Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist opens today with Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda!

People are anxious to see Eddie in a funny action character again, and this could be the movie that puts him back on top. Eddie’s been making the rounds of the TV talk shows, like Letterman, Leno and Ellen Degeneres, and on each show he mentions The Comic Strip, the legendary comedy club that brought him to prominence. This year is the 35th anniversary of the club which is going strong. I know because I’m doing the book on the club, with owner/founder Richie Tienken, and have interviewed most of the big stars that came out of there including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Lewis Black, Susie Essman and many others!

Richie Tienken along with his partner Bob Wachs managed Eddie for about 11 years all the way from his SNL days through Beverly Hills Cop II. That included Raw and Delirious!

Eddie discovered Chris Rock there in 1986. And now that Eddie is gearing up to host The Academy Awards he’s gonna have to get back to his stand-up career which a lot of people feel he’s been wanting to do for a while now. I happen to know that Eddie has an open invitation from Richie Tienken to come and work out at The Strip any time he wants to. It would be like coming home for Eddie and we really hope he comes around.

In the meantime go and check out the film. Brett Ratner was recently honored at another legendary club, The Friars Club in NYC, where he is a proud member, and where he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by Russell Simmons. Also present were Richard Belzer, Ron Perelman, and Aisha Tyler. I have exclusive video on that right here! It’s not as funny as Tower Heist, but I think you’ll find it entertaining!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with director Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

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Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant at The Friars Club

Besides the 60 plus films screened by the The Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, they also offered fascinating and informative daytime panels for the people who attended the festival. One of the best I attended was the one with Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, (who I know as Ben Garant), one of the most successful writing teams in Hollywood.

(L-R) Ben Garant and Tom Lennon on the “step-and-repeat” at The Friars Club for their new book Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can Too!

Back before Ben was one of the team that formed MTV’s The State, he and I and Michael Ian Black wrote an inter-active film for Sony called “I’m Your Man”. As I recall, Sony spent about half a million bucks to outfit the Sony Theatre on 19th Street and Broadway with a series of buttons at every seat, where the actors would ask the audience to make choices during the film. “Should we escape out the window or should we go to the roof?” And the audience would vote, the votes would be tallied immediately, and the course of the film would be changed to accommodate the audience’s wishes. It was the first of it’s kind at the time.

The film poster for “I’m Your Man” written by Ben Garant, Michael Ian Black, and believe it or not Jeffrey Gurian! Ben wrote a billion dollars worth of movies since and I WATCHED a billion dollars worth of movies since!

A close-up of the credits on the “I’m Your Man” poster in case any of my readers don’t believe me!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Michael Ian Black at what must have been a formal event! If not, Gurian is way over-dressed!

He went on to become one of the founding members of MTV’s “The State”, (as did Tom Lennon), and then went on to be a co-creator of Comedy Central’s Viva Variety, a short-lived but very funny pseudo-European-type variety show of sorts. From 2003 to 2009, Ben and Thomas created and starred in Comedy Central’s hit Reno 911, a take off on the FOX show COPS that ran for 88 episodes over the 6 years it was on.

As writing partners, Garant and Lennon’s films have earned over $1.4 billion in box office revenue alone. Some of their films were Night at The Museum, Let’s Go To Prison, Balls of Fury, and Herbie Fully Loaded, to name just a few.

Tom Lennon stroking an imaginary beard, while making nefarious plans with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at The Friars Club!

In 2010, Garant and Lennon created a pilot for FX called USS Alabama, a sci-fi/comedy set a thousand years in the future, aboard a United Nations Peacekeeping spaceship, the U.S.S. Alabama, and they screened the pilot at The Friars Club!

In 2011, Garant and Lennon released a book about their careers called “Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can Too!

The book cover for “Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at The Box Office and You Can Too!

Ben and Tom met in 1988 while students at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and have been together ever since! They are so in synch when they speak! Like an old married couple,( in the best sense!) who know what the other is going to say before they say it. They did such a fun informative panel, and these were some of the their thoughts on L.A. and writing in general:

a. LA is gross! It’s an oil rig. As you land you’re like, ” Is that a poison gas?” It’s a lonely town. It’s a cess pit!”

b. No one reads anything in L.A, … they watch it! No matter what script you’re working on it’s too long! A script length of 105 pages is best!

When they were in The State, there were 11 people and they had to “pitch” ideas every day. “It was like getting thrown in the deep end of the pool!”

When they pitch they do a 12 minute rehearsed pitch, that they practice out loud. The two of them together do a very funny pitch. They kind of did one as an example.

They told a funny story about trying to sell a pitch about a Mall Cop to the studio that was already doing Paul Blart with Kevin James,( about a mall cop, … for any foreign men who might be reading this post!) and then had to show up at 11 other pitch meetings that were already set up to pitch the same project knowing that the answer would be “NO”!

They shot “Alabama” in 3 days on a Russian submarine. They describe it as Reno 911 on a rocket ship. It was very funny. Eddie Izzard who I recently ran into in Montreal plays the villain, the ruler of Tango.

Eddie Izzard in his on-screen personna as the villainous ruler of Tango in the FX pilot “Alabama”, written by Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon!

The “real” Eddie Izzard, the way he looked at the airport after The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal this past July!

There was a character named Mr. Magenta who looked like a really hot girl, but was actually a male on the planet she came from. They didn’t really rehearse except for practicing how they would envision themselves teleporting, and then landing at their destination in a way that looked believable.

(L-R) Ben Garant in character with Mr. Magenta in the FX pilot “Alabama”!

Matt Kiernan, interviewing Tom Lennon and Ben Garant about their new book at The Friars Club!

The host of this fun, and well attended event was Matt Kiernan!

On a personal note is was really special for me to re-unite with Ben after all these years and to be able to congratulate him on all of his success. What was even more special was to see how humble he was and how happy he is with his new wife Kathy, who was kind enough to shoot the little video you will be seeing very shortly.

I seem to be starting a trend. When I interviewed Jimmy Fallon recently,my D.P. wasn’t able to show up so Jimmy’s wife Nancy who is a TV producer, shot the interview for me!

PART 1 – http://wp.me/p1pHIm-mc

PART 2 – http://wp.me/p1pHIm-mo

This time, Ben’s new wife Kathy shot the interview for me! I should probably just limit my interviewing to celebs who are married and who bring their wives with them! Maybe my life would be a lot easier. I wonder if Kathy can edit??

Watch for the Ben Garant video coming soon! And don’t forget to buy the book!

Ben Garant in a historic, and patriotic salute from the step and repeat at The Friars Club, with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV!

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Brett Ratner Receives Lifetime Achievement Award At Friars Club

Last night Brett Ratner was honored at The Friars Club during the third annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival produced by powerhouse Exec. Director Charlie Prince, and his team some of which are Senior Programmer Susannah Gora, Social Media Director Sue Constantine, Programming Director Eric Johnson, Managing Director Jor Law, and Director of Communications, Jaime Marsanico, who did a fantastic job coordinating last night’s event.

The festival screened over 60 films over the five days that it ran and they were from an international pool of films. It was a HUGE amount of work and they are to be commended!

Brett Ratner is one of the most accomplished and respected film, and music video directors in all of Hollywood, and he’s only 42. He’s known for the Rush Hour series starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, as well as The Family Man, Red Dragon, and X-Men, The Last Stand. He was also a producer on the Fox drama Prison Break and will be producing the 84th Academy Awards next year, on Feb. 26th, 2012, with co-producer Don Mischer, and with Eddie Murphy as the host. What a team that should be!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Brett Ratner after he received his Lifetime Achievement Award from The Friars Club, during the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Eddie recently received the Comedy Icon Award from Comedy Central at the First Annual Comedy Central Awards and was presented that award by Tracy Morgan!

Tracy Morgan presenting Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Icon Award at the First Annual Comedy Central Awards!

But in 1990, Brett was still a film student at NYU. How he got in is an example of his determination. He was initially rejected due to his poor grades, but he got in to see the Dean himself and after literally begging him to watch one of his films, impressed him enough that he let him in as a student.

Brett’s student film was ” What Ever Happened to Mason Reese?” It starred Rebecca Gayheart, Anthony Michael Hall, and of course Mason Reese, an actor who became famous as a child in the 1970’s for a TV commercial he did for Underwood Devil Ham that swept the country, in which he mis-pronounced the word Schmorgasbord as “Borgashmord”. People loved it and he was an instant star.

Jeffrey Gurian with Mason Reese at Mason’s birthday party! He served a Borgashmord of course!

As an aside, for anyone who’s wondering about where Mason is now, he’s right here in NYC and doing great! He currently owns two restaurants in NYC. One is Paladar, a Pan-Latino restaurant located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and the other is “Destination Bar and Grille” located on Avenue A in the East Village. He’s an old friend and I see him a few times a year!

Brett found himself short on funds to finish his film, so he made another spectacular life-changing choice, and sent out “plea letters” to 20 different producers in Hollywood asking for monetary assistance to finish his film. He got only one response, but that was all he needed. Of all people, Steven Spielberg, of Amblin Entertainment sent him a check for $5,000, without ever meeting him.

Brett brought that same film to the attention of Russell Simmons, who was impressed enough that he got Brett into directing music videos, for the likes of Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, and Madonna! Not bad credits for anyone’s resume! (LOL) Russell has since been a close friend and was asked to present Brett with his Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brett once said he wouldn’t attempt to direct a feature film until he had directed 100 music videos. In 1996, the director of a film called ” Money Talks”, starring Charlie Sheen and Chris Tucker, dropped out and Russell suggested Brett Ratner to take over, which he did. That launched his career and led to his multiple big-screen successes.

Russell Simmons himself is not only known as a music impresario, but also throughout the comedy world for creating Def Jam Comedy. I recently attended some tapings he did for Comedy Central that were hosted by JB Smoove, with DJ Cassidy on the ones and twos, that starred comics like Tony Rock, Capone, Tifffany Haddish, Wil Sylvince, Earthquake, Owen Smith and tons more!

Russell Simmons with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the step-and-repeat for Brett Ratner, at The Friars Club!

JB Smoove host of Russell Simmons Comedy Central Stand-Up NY specials with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Edison Ballroom!

DJ Cassidy, super hot DJ for Russell Simmons’ Comedy Central special with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Russell Simmons came to present Brett Ratner with the award, and even billionaire Ron Perelman dropped by to say a few words and pay his respects to his good friend Brett.

Russell Simmons making his opening remarks before presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to his pal Brett Ratner!

Ron Perelman paying his respects to director Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

Everybody is anxiously awaiting Brett’s new film “Tower Heist” starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and Matthew Broderick, which is set to open November 4th 2011, and should be a big hit!

(L-R) David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ben Stiller at Fez, circa 2000!

The Tower Heist poster, showing the incredible cast for the film opening November 4th, 2011.

Video of this fantastic Friars Club event can be seen right here, showing not only an interview with Brett, but also with other celeb guests such as Richard Belzer, and Aisha Tyler!

Russell Simmons chatting up the gorgeous comic/actress Aisha Tyler!

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Jeffrey Gurian Teaches Comedy Writing and Performing at The Learning Annex

The Learning Annex is the pre-eminent adult education forum in the country, and I was honored to have been asked to teach three classes for them. This one entitled ” How To Write and Perform Comedy”.

Check it out below!

Video streaming by Ustream

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Lisa Lampanelli Postpones Her First Anniversary Celebration With Husband’s Blessing

You know that saying, ” Behind every successful woman is a great man?” Don’t blame yourself if you never heard of it, I just made it up, but in Lisa Lampanelli’s case it’s true.

Lisa Lampanelli is a dear friend of mine, and one of the few to be in my “Dancing With Comedians” series of photos. A couple of the others were Phil Hartman and Gilbert Gottfried. Mostly men for some reason! (LOL)

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

Lisa’s husband, Jimmy Cannizzaro, or Jimmy Big Balls as Lisa affectionately calls him, has a security company, Canno Security, and is Lisa’s road manager. You HAVE to feel secure around Jimmy. He’s a huge, imposing individual, who is the quintessential “gentle giant”! The only people who wouldn’t feel secure around Jimmy are the kind of people who would try to ruin your evening. Those people would feel very INSECURE around Jimmy. To say he could be intimidating would be a gross understatement. He looks like he could take a bite out of a desk! I once saw him throw a guy out of a club with his eye! Just picked him up with his eye and tossed him out! (LOL)

Lisa Lampanelli and her husband Jimmy “Big Balls” Cannizzaro at the after-party for the Donald Trump Roast!

I see Jimmy a lot at Gotham Comedy Club, where he makes sure that everyone stays in line. He told me that even though their actual one year anniversary is this coming weekend, Oct. 2nd, he and Lisa were going to celebrate tonight. He even had tickets for a Broadway show, but she suddenly got a call from Whitney Cummings yesterday, to fly out to LA to do a guest spot on her new NBC sit-com the very next day, and he told her to go ahead, because they could always celebrate when she got back, but guest spots on hot shows don’t come along that often! That’s the kind of partner a show business person needs. Someone understanding.

No one should ever have to make the choice between taking an important gig or insulting your significant other! It’s not fair. In show biz you have to be where they need you to be when they need you, or else you miss out! Too many showbiz people wind up with partners who don’t understand that.

I’m a big fan of Whitney Cummings. I hadn’t really been aware of her until I started seeing her on the Roasts, and I was very impressed. First by her appearance, because there are very few such attractive women performing comedy. I was not surprised to find out she had been a model! They make fun of her relentlessly at the Roasts and she takes it in good stride because she’s obviously comfortable with her appearance! She also has a gorgeous smile, and I say that both personally and professionally, as I used to be a Cosmetic Dentist! I know great teeth when I see them!

Plus I’m a good judge of beauty, as Lisa Lampanelli referred to in the video interview I did with her recently when she made her singing debut at The Friars Club in NYC. She was preparing for her upcoming Broadway show tentatively titled “Bring Back The Fat Chick”, in which she’ll talk about her lief and her life-long battle with food and her weight!

She said that over the years she always sees me with hot, gorgeous women, and like many other people to whom I have not felt the need to explain, she wanted to know how I was able to get so many extraordinary women.

With Lisa it was different. I explained to her that I feel sorry for beautiful women because most men are intimidated by them and are afraid to ask them out. For that reason, many beautiful women are lonely. That makes me sad! That’s why when I see a beautiful woman, I go out of my way to be friendly and pay attention to them! And the more beautiful they are, the nicer I am to them! I feel it’s the least I can do! (LOL) Someone has to date them, … it may as well be ME!!! She agreed!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Lisa Lampanelli at The Friars Club in NYC!

Whitney Cummings is that rare breed of beauty who can also be very funny, and let it all hang out, like Chelsea Handler, and not worry about losing their femininity! The first time I ever met Chelsea Handler was at Carolines and she was doing BJ jokes with her father in the audience. That took balls! And I knew right then and there that she was destined for stardom. Not just because of her choice of material, but because of her stage presence, and the confidence it took to do that kind of material and not be shook by the fact that her father was there!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the beautiful and funny Chelsea Handler at Carolines Comedy Club back in 2005!

Needless to say, I was right, and Chelsea is at the top with her own show, Chelsea Lately, for quite a while now!

Jimmy told me that Lisa liked the interview I did with her so much that she showed it to Whitney, and Whitney loved it! Maybe now I’ll get to do a similar one with Whitney! How cool would that be? ( Rhetorical question, not requiring an answer! LOL )

Whitney has her own show “Whitney” on NBC, Thursdays at 9:30, and is Exec. Producer of “2 Broke Girls” on CBS. She’s definitely working it, and I’m looking forward to seeing her in the nurse’s uniform she’s wearing in the pilot! When I ran into her in Montreal, she was dressed exactly like her co-star Chris D’Elia described her. He said for the last 5 years that he knows her, every single day all she wears is a hoodie. Check out the photo below!

Whitney Cummings flashing her beautiful smile in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Nightlife Events, Page 6 Review, Red Carpet Events

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