Posts Tagged “Gary Gulman”

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Bill Burr back in 2005

 

With Bill Burr in Montreal at Just for Laughs

With Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club in 2018

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

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Saturday Night Live Comes To The Comic Strip

The cast members and writers of SNL seem to have found a home at the legendary club called The Comic Strip, in NYC. This year is the 35th year that it’s open and still going strong. SNL made it’s debut in 1975!

The Strip opened June 1st of 1976, and on June 17th Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition. The reason we know this is that his original sign-up sheet is still on the wall. It’s also in the book that will be out Oct. 1, 2012, called “Make ‘Em Laugh” written by myself and owner/founder Richie Tienken.

Make “Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock will be out on Oct. 1st but is available right now for pre-order at a big discount on Amazon.com!

Recently D.L. Hughley filmed a Comedy Central special there because of it’s history with Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock. Richie was Eddie’s manager for the first eleven years of his career, from his SNL days through Beverly Hills Cop 2, so lots of big comics today grew up dreaming of someday being on that very same stage.

D.L. Hughley with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage at The Comic Strip for DL’s Comedy Central taping!

SNL writer Colin Jost is a regular performer at The Strip and he’s been bringing his buddies from SNL, writers and cast members to do shows at The Strip. Recently one went down on Sunday night. The MC was Danny McDermott, currently working with Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs as his managers.

Danny McDermott MC’ing the SNL show at The Comic Strip!

The packed crowd got to see a hilarious show, with an opening set by Teddy Smith who is always hysterically funny.

Teddy Smith killin’ it onstage at The Strip!

New featured player Kate McKinnon was there and her strength is character work, which is the only way you can get on SNL. I believe her first time on the show she did a sketch with Sofia Vergara, who was the host that week, and it was a faux Pantene commercial where she played Penelope Cruz.

Sofia got all the easy words and Kate as Penelope got all the impossibly difficult scientific words to try and pronounce in her Spanish accent! It was hysterical. This night at The Strip Kate put on a bee hat with little antennaes and discussed the mating habits of bees!

SNL cast member Kate McKinnon showing very unusual but effective mic technique onstage at The Comic Strip!

Mike O’Brien came up, who is in his third year of writing for the show. He is also the host of the very funny Hulu internet show called ” Seven Minutes in Heaven” which he created with another SNL writer Rob Klein! He takes celebs into a closet and tries to make out with them! I always thought only the kids I went to school with knew that game. I had no idea it was real and that other kids knew it too!

Mike also created the sketch “Kickspit Underground Rock Festival”, where they advertise things like spraying viruses on the crowd, and a band named Mrs. Potato Dick. That sketch he wrote with Colin Jost, while both were suffering from sleep deprivation! The part I liked best was that everyone who attended got a pitchfork!

That reminded me of a short film I made several years ago called ” Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, which was part of my “Men Who” Series, including “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and “Men Who Dance In Traffic With The Sunday Edition of the New York Times!” Watch it here if you dare!

SNL writer Mike O’Brien, host of Hulu’s “Seven Minutes in Heaven” onstage at The Strip!

I did a video with Colin recently for Comedy Matters TV which will be up soon. We kept passing each other in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival last month,and we kept saying we had to sit for an interview but it never happened. I knew I’d see him in NY though so we caught up backstage at The Strip one night and got it done!

Colin Jost with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in the luxurious, uncluttered private office of The Comic Strip!

I thought he was kidding when he announced from the stage that his parents were in the audience, because his material at the moment was not particularly parent-friendly, having focussed mostly on bj’s, but he was serious. So afterwards I told him of the first time I met Chelsea Handler, when she was performing and doing BJ jokes and her Dad was in the audience.

Chelsea Handler with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in Montreal at the Just for Laughs festival!

In the interview I did with Chelsea in Montreal recently I reminded her of that and she said she takes every opportunity she can to torture her father! That video will also be ready very soon!

And cast member Vanessa Bayer also performed at The Strip, and she’s adorable, and very funny! We all hung out backstage while they were waiting to go on. Her celeb impressions on the show include Kourtney Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, (although now she’ll need a short blonde wig for that one!), and Hillary Clinton!

SNL performer Vanessa Bayer onstage at The Comic Strip!

The last SNL performer to go on was Jay Pharaoah. His Denzel Washington is so killer! He and Colin Jost are both in my “Make ‘Em Laugh”, and when I saw him in Montreal at the Just for Laughs festival, he read out loud from the intro written by Chris Rock, in Chris Rock’s voice which was absolutely hysterical.

Jay Pharoah of SNL, the man of so many voices, onstage at The Comic Strip!

We were all just chillin’ in the lobby with JB Smoove, his manager Rick Dorfman, JB’s wife Shahida Omar, Lou Wallach past head of Comedy Central and a bunch of other people, when Jay took the book and started reading as Chris. I filmed it and the video will be ready for you guys very soon! Jay said when Chris sees it he’ll probably just “nod his head like he usually does when he sees my ass!”

Finishing up the show were Gary Gulman, who can take one concept and run with it for an extended period of time. Like when he examines the history of Greece and how they fell as a culture. They went from one of the most educated and sophisticated cultures in the world, to focussing on salad. One day in modern times they decided to put all their efforts into salad, and they knocked it out of the park!

Gary Gulman, an expert in Greek Salad, making people laugh at The Comic Strip!

Last up was Phil Nee, one of the original Asian comedians whose parents were so avant-garde, they were Asian before it was even popular! You can always count on Phil as a strong closing act, and that’s exactly what he did. It was a great night at The Comic Strip!

Phil Nee doing what he does best, onstage at The Comic Strip!

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Robert Kelly’s "You Know What Dude"???

I had a real treat last night. My friends from The Syndicate, and Laugh Button, Matt Kleinschmidt, Chris Elles, and Tracey Zucatti invited me to their client Robert Kelly’s podcast called “You Know What Dude?” at Gotham Comedy Club. I had even a better time than I expected.

“You Know What Dude” Poster at Gotham Comedy Club!

I first met Robert when he was doing HBO’s Tourgasm with Dane Cook, Gary Gulman, and Jay Davis, and thought he was very funny from the gitgo.

Jay Davis, Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV, and Robert Kelly back in 2006!

“You Know What Dude” is not the kind of podcast you’d share with your parents, but then again why are you sharing any podcasts with your parents at all???

Not only did they have mics set up at a table for the podcast, they had a standing mic on the stage of Gotham’s Vintage Lounge, so people could also get up and do some stand-up first which I think is a great idea, mixing the two. Let people hear some jokes first and then the comic joins the panel.

(L-R) Robert Kelly flipping the bird, Bonnie McFarlane, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Joe DeRosa at Robert Kelly’s podcast!

The room was packed to over-capacity, (just an exaggeration in case the fire department is reading this blog post! LOL), and I wound up sitting next to Conan Smith from Denis Leary’s Apostle Entertainment, who works with both Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa. The two of us were laughing our asses off!

Funny guy Joe DeRosa, who I happen to like very much for his distinctive delivery and sharp material opened the show and talked a lot about the age-old conundrum of whether a straight guy like himself, would rather have sex with a gorgeous female transexual who still had her male organs down below, or a female transexual, who became a bald, muscular tattooed male, but still had his female organs intact down below.

Joe DeRosa doing what he does best, … making people laugh!

I think the gorgeous female transexual was named Billy Jaye and DeRosa proclaimed that he “would happily skip into a fire to blow Billy Jaye.” That kind of solved that problem, at least for Joe, if not for the rest of the audience! (LOL)

Bonnie McFarlane is not only a funny comic but a very empowered woman. She always winds up in “pissing” contests, (not literally! LOL) with male comics who feel the need to try and “reign her in” comedically in some way. ( No pun attached to the fact that her daughter’s name is Reina. mostly cause I couldn’t think of a joke!)

Bonnie McFarlane giving it back to Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa who are definitely enjoying it!

To Bonnie’s credit she is NEVER intimidated, but instead goes on the attack and not only holds her own, but often comes out on top, which is exactly where I picture her when she’s with her husband Rich Vos! (LOL)

You gotta be a strong powerful woman to be married to Vos! And you gotta be able to take it when it’s dished out, as it often is when she co-judges The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip.

So when the guys accused Bonnie of self-sabotage, she struck back at Kelly by saying,” Bald people love to rape. It’s the same hormone that makes your hair fall out!” She followed that up with, ” If I was getting raped by a bald guy, I’d try a lot harder to get away, than if I was getting raped by a guy with hair!” You gotta be very hip to pull of a line like that, and she totally did!

What made the show even funnier was when Bob DiBuono came out and did Rich Vos! ( Not “did” him in the Biblical sense! Vos was in Florida, supposedly performing! LOL ) He did the best impression of Rich Vos that I ever heard. I closed my eyes and could actually picture Vos in the room. Everyone said he got more laughs than Vos gets doing his own material.

In the photo below, you can actually see a facial resemblance to Vos. When a good impressionist does his best work, he actually appears like the person he’s imitating. I think it has to do with how the speech muscles have to work in order to imitate a voice perfectly, and those muscles probably have something to do with a person’s appearance.

Bob DiBuono wearing a Rich Vos facial expression! (LOL)

That may explain this photo below when Vos tries his best to smile for a photo! (LOL)

Bonnie McFarlane with her husband Rich Vos who’s doing the best he can to smile! Either that or he’s doing his impression of a man with Bell’s Palsy! (LOL)

The topper on this show was when Robert noticed Wil Sylvince in the room and invited him to join the panel. I was hoping I’d get to hear Wil imitate his Haitian uncle, and anyone who’s ever heard him knows what I mean, ” Why you, why you, why you say dat to me?” (LOLOL)

Wil Sylvince having a laugh while doing Robert Kelly’s podcast “You Know What Dude?”

When I co-produced Kevin Hart back in 2010 at Westbury, in a sold out 2800 seat fundraiser for Haiti, along with Tony Rock, Wil was the MC, and the show was phenomenal!

So was “You Know What Dude?”, and at the end people lined up to have their “You Know What Dude” posters signed by the cast, and Kelly wrote, ” Dear Jeffrey, Thanks for all you do for comedy!”, DeRosa wrote ” Jeffrey you rule”, and what Bonnie wrote is just between her and I! (LOLOL)

I can’t wait to see it again, and maybe one day be a guest on it like I was on National Lampoon Radio last week, which should be airing today!

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Patrice O’Neal Goes Home

The comedy world is still in shock from the passing of the great Patrice O’Neal. I attended the services for Patrice yesterday at the Park Avenue Christian Church, on 85th Street and Park Avenue in New York City. I purposely did not use the word “funeral” because the program for the service was entitled “Going Home Services” for Patrice O’Neal.

Plus “funeral” is such a sad word, and as sad as it was to think of Patrice no longer being with us, the comedians who honored Patrice made it more into a “Fun-eral”! If it was possible to put the “fun” into “Funeral” they did it.

The Reverend spoke beautifully, and there were two world class singers. The first was Michael Wheeler who sang, ” I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”, and then the beautiful Antonique Smith sang ” Let It Be.” Their voices were like angels. Powerful angels! But I could almost see Patrice sneaking out, because I knew him as a humble man, (when he wasn’t on stage), and the attention, and having everything be all about him might have made him uncomfortable!

Jim Norton read the Obituary, which chronicled Patrice’s life and career, starting from when he was born in New York City and raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts, (where he led Roxbury High School to a football state championship in his senior year), to his recent first CD entitled “Mr.P”, which sadly will be released posthumously.

Patrice was a huge man in every way. At 6’5″ and 300 pounds he was a commanding presence, but not imposing when you were a friend. From the first time I met him, and told him I thought we should be roommates so we could save money and share clothing, I think he got a kick out of me! He laughed out loud at that one!

Standing side by side we couldn’t have been more different, but we were so much alike. And he knew that. And that was a Blessing to me. Patrice got me. He knew who I was, and welcomed me into his world.

Jeffrey Gurian with Patrice O’Neal at a comedy event for which Jeffrey was honored as part of Black History Month!

Whenever I saw him, I was compelled to hug him. There was just something about him, as big as he was, that just drew me to him. I can’t explain it in words, but he understood it, because when we were on the radio together and he would explain to his audience who I was, and why he had me on with him, he did it with love and affection. I told him if we ever did TV together he should walk out holding me in his arms like a baby! He laughed at that too!

(I also once told the head of the Hell’s Angels, who was about the same size as Patrice, that if anyone ever bothered him to let me know! I like doing that to really huge men. It makes them feel relaxed when they can have a good laugh!)

Many comics said he was harsh with them, or put them down in some way. I can honestly say I NEVER had that experience with Patrice. Patrice never ridiculed me, or gave me a hard time, as comics often like to do to each other. It seems to be some strange right of passage. I actually have tapes of us on air that I treasure, where Patrice said I was “amazing”, and that he was “envious” of me! I have it here, and it’s right at the beginning!

Our ideas of how to meet beautiful women couldn’t have been more opposite. I could NEVER get away with saying the things he said to women, and he could NEVER get away with saying the things I said, nor would he want to. He knew you had to be who you were. It had to come naturally from the heart! You couldn’t fake it.

That’s why to people who thought he was a misogynist, I say, you had no idea what he was about. He truly loved women. He just didn’t like what men had to go through to get them. How a woman’s power could reduce men to being such bumbling jerks!

Patrice could imitate a little girl’s voice on stage and you would see his gentle side come out. It was easy for him to expose that side of himself, because Patrice had nothing to hide. He was comfortable with who he was.

There was nothing you could say to embarrass Patrice, and there was nothing he wouldn’t say either on stage or in a personal conversation. One of my most treasured memories of Patrice is the excited phone call he made to me at 4 A.M. after one of our episodes of The Black Phillip Show on Sirius Radio. He was so happy with how it went that he wanted to call me that night, and suggest we do a show together, but he was so humble that he said he didn’t want to “assume” anything, … as if I might not want to do it! I jumped at the chance, but unfortunately it never developed. Shortly afterwards he went on the road, and like what happens with so many good ideas, it never came to fruition. Now it never will!

If you listen to it right here, you can hear the enthusiasm in his voice!

Patrice-Our Own Show

I write a lot about people in the comedy world who I’ve known over the many years I’ve been in it, and there’s a tendency when you do that to make it seem like it’s about you. How this person was to you. I wrote about ten drafts of this post trying not to do that.

I hope this post comes across as me attempting to explain how Patrice made me feel. If Patrice genuinely liked you, you felt validated. In terms of my comedy, a lot of people have no idea what I do. He took the time to find out.

In the obituary that Norton read, when he was talking about Patrice on “Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn”, he said that “many fans saw Patrice as the shows most controversial and obstinate performer, although only on the subjects of race, religion, gender, relationships, social status, and foreign policy! (LOLOLOL) Patrice was so smart. as I’ve described him before, he was not just a comedian, he was a comedy philosopher!

To some degree all comedians are comedy philosophers, giving you their world view. But Patrice was lightyears ahead in that respect. By the time he left the stage, and very often, he’d stay up there for a while, because he could pontificate, … you really felt you knew him. He made it very clear how he felt on certain subjects.

Several of Patrice’s closest friends got to give him a tribute. Robert Kelly, Wil Sylvince, Colin Quinn, Kevin Hart, and Rich Vos all spoke about the man we were there to honor.

Colin gave a heartfelt tribute, and also made us laugh, first by commenting on Robert Kelly’s opening with a fat joke about himself, and then with his stories of Patrice on Tough Crowd, how Patrice could go on for 20 minutes essentially taking over the whole show, and then say, “Sorry Colin, what do you think? After all, it’s your show!”

Robert Kelly was moved to tears during his tribute as was Kevin Hart. Wil Sylvince who had been Patrice’s roommate at one time said that Patrice spoke “Wil” and was able to translate when people didn’t understand what Wil was saying due to his speech impediment, … which I always thought was just a strong Haitian accent! (LOL)

By the time Rich Vos got up to speak, there had already been lots of laughter, which I know Patrice would have appreciated, especially when Vos told the crowd he’d be selling his CD after the service! I’m sure everyone there had a favorite Patrice story. I’m grateful that I get to give my tribute here!

Then Patrice’s beautiful stepdaughter Aymilyon got up to speak, read a prayer and talked about how “Mr. P.” which is what she called him, had added so much to her life in the seven years he was with her Mom Von. Von is Vondecarlo Brown, Patrice’s wife, and a talented singer/songwriter as well who wrote the song “Cool Ride” for Patrice’s recent one hour Comedy Central special “Elephant In The Room”. It was at that taping that Patrice brought me backstage to introduce me to his Mom, Gloria. You feel proud when someone does that.

It’s like dating someone and they decide it’s time for you to meet their parents! It’s an honor.

I got to the chapel an hour early hoping to see Von so I could express my personal condolences. I hadn’t seen her for a while, but she if anyone, knew what Patrice and I meant to each other. She was in a back room closed off for family so I just made sure I got a good seat and waited for the service to start along with everyone else. So many people came out to honor Patrice. Chris Rock was there, Dave Attell, Bill Burr, Gary Gulman, Ben Bailey, Jay Oakerson, Todd Barry, Keith Robinson, Wanda Sykes, and many more. Several people called and texted me that they were so sorry they were out of town. Macio was in Florida and Wayne Rada was very upset that his plane was delayed coming from Florida, and that he missed it. He and Patrice had a lot of history.

I was sitting on an aisle with Sherrod Small and his girlfriend Marisa. As the family procession came down the center aisle, I saw Von and was nervous to try and get her attention, because those kinds of situations can be very awkward. But as she passed me, she looked into my eyes and I threw her a kiss and touched my heart, and she got it.

After the service when everyone was leaving, I went into the back and was able to see her for a moment. We embraced, and I was able to tell her how sorry I was for her loss. She knew how much I loved Patrice, and as I tried to explain the bond we had, she said she knew, and that made me feel good. Even with his passing, it was important for me to know that Patrice felt the same way about me! And in the midst of her sadness, she did me the kindness of saying, “I was happy to see your face when I was walking down the aisle.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes!

R.I.P. Patrice! You were a one-of-a-kind, and much loved!

Jeffrey Gurian in his last photo with Patrice O’Neal taken at The Comic Strip on 9/27/11!

P.S. As a sick perfectionist, more than once I asked Patrice the proper way to spell his last name, either with an apostrophe or without, and he told me whichever way I wanted was ok, which I never really understood. On the program it was spelled with an apostrophe!

See the previous Comedy Matters post “Pray For Patrice O’Neal” –
http://wp.me/p1pHIm-Aj

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TWT Multi-City Comedy Benefit For Haiti

Jodi Lieberman, Amber J. Lawson, and Zoe Friedman are three powerhouses in the world of comedy, and I’m proud to say I know them all! They teamed up to create Transforming The World Through Comedy, a philanthropic organization simply known as TWT, because they said they wanted to use the power of comedy to help those less fortunate than them.

So tonight they held the world’s first multi-city,(NY, Chicago, and L.A.) multi-platform comedy fundraiser, which I attended. It was held at Gotham Comedy Club, thanks to owner Chris Mazzilli who always makes himself available for a good cause. He was there tonight as well, after having put in a full day of work before. ( In a suit and tie as usual! LOL )
The photo below was on a former night when he accidentally removed his tie! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Gotham Comedy Club owner Chris Mazzilli, sans tie!!!

TWT teamed up with an organization known as Off The Mat Into The World, or OTM, to bring this event to fruition, and the monies raised will go to Haiti. By the time I left there were 40,000 people online watching, … and laughing, I’m sure! Haiti still needs lots of help. Last year I was privileged to co-produce a 3,000 seat sold out fundraiser for Haiti starring Kevin Hart, and featuring Tony Rock with Will Sylvince as the MC. It was at the Westbury Theatre on Long Island.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kevin Hart at a promo event before the fundraiser for Haiti at the Westbury Theatre!

The TWT show was streamed live on www.TWTComedy.com and Stickam, which carried the Japan Aid show as well. The New York show started at 8 P.M., the Chicago show held in Zanies comedy club started at 8:30 P.M. Chicago time, and the LA show at the Hollywood Improv started at 8 P.M. LA time, which of course is 11 P.M. here in NY.

The footage will be live on TWTComedy.com for the next 7 days until 11/21/11, to be able to continue bringing in the donations.

Eddie Brill from The Letterman Show MC’ed the NY event, which is always a good choice because Eddie is an excellent MC. It’s much harder to be an MC than a regular comic cause you have to keep the energy running all night, and bring the acts up in a timely manner, while keeping the audience connected to what’s going on. Eddie’s like the Energizer Bunny, especially since he lost so much weight! It’s also a good analogy for him, because he does a bit on the Easter Bunny, and how you don’t find anything about chocolate or bunnies in the Bible.

Eddie Brill onstage, MC’ing the TWT event for Haiti!

First up in New York was Bonnie McFarlane, who I’ve been seeing a lot lately and enjoying more and more each time I see her. She has a certain quality on stage that really draws you to her, and not just because she’s so attractive! Her punchlines are not predictable and come out of left field, which I always appreciate. She’s married to comic Rich Vos, and in saying that I’m not giving away any secrets, because they’re kind of open about it.

Bonnie McFarlane making people laugh at Gotham Comedy Club at the TWT event for Haiti!

They travel together a lot. In just the last week alone, I’ve seen them both perform at the tribute to Mike DeStefano, who was a comic who left us much too soon this past year, and they were both judges on The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip this past Tuesday night. Very often they have their beautiful little daughter Reina with them, who Bonnie explains away by saying, ” I have a daughter. That’s what happens when you do it in the front!” (LOL) She guesses her daughter is about 4! (LOL)

People tell Bonnie her daughter looks like her, but Bonnie disagrees. She thinks she’s so much better looking than her daughter! I think Bonnie’s very cool!

Rich performed as well and was a crowd pleaser as usual. He knows how to take control of a crowd, and make them pay attention. He too is a great host!

Rich Vos, a favorite of Opie and Anthony, doing what he does best onstage at Gotham for TWT!

Tom Papa has TWO little girls, and the audience absolutely loves him. No matter what he says he gets big laughs. It’s not only his jokes, but the energy he puts behind them. Audiences respond to that. I see why Jerry Seinfeld chose him to host his show “The Marriage Ref.” Tom wonders where all the money went from the US, Europe and even China. No one seems to have any money except for Jay-Z. He must have it all!

He talks about no kid wanting to have a “hot” Mom. You want a cinnamon-scented fat-ass in a flowered dress! That leaves out Bonnie McFarlane! (LOL)

Tom Papa in the midst of an animated gesture, killing it onstage at Gotham for TWT!

In talking about tall thin fashion models, Tom wonders what you’d do with one if you had one in your house! He said it would be like having a live giraffe in your living room. They’d probably knock things over, and move around awkwardly. His advice, … ” Feed ’em cocaine. They seem to like that!”

Rachel Feinstein was next, and she’s turning herself into a real comedy “babe”! I like seeing her transform, and have been watching it happen with great interest and appreciation for a while now! For a long time, I think girls thought they had to come across as real plain in order to make people laugh. She does great “voice” work, and is one of the few women working who can imitate a guy’s voice dead-on!

Rachel Feinstein performing at Gotham to raise money for Haiti at the TWT event!

Like when she imitates the guys who hang out on the stoops in her hood in Brooklyn, and harass her as if it was “her naughty little idea to be a woman!” And when talking about dating older men, she also referenced doing The Charleston a couple of times, which is always good to me. Obscure references always work in comedy! It reminded me of a joke I once wrote, “You know a guy is old if he asks you to do The Hucklebuck!” Any word like “The Hucklebuck” is bound to get a laugh!

Gary Gulman was next and I was glad to see Gary cause it had been a while since our paths had crossed. Gary is one of those good looking guys who seems to hate the fact that he’s good looking and does everything he can to play it down. I’ve known a few guys like that. There aren’t many. It’s a sign of humility! In talking about Greece’s troubles, Gary wondered what happened to them. In a relatively short time they went from Plato and Aristotle to John Stamos and Yanni!

(L-R) Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman genuinely enjoying each other’s company at the TWT event for Haiti at Gotham Comedy Club!

And my old buddy Colin Quinn closed the show! I never get tired of seeing Colin perform. He too performed at the Mike DeStefano Tribute. There are some comics who are always willing to give of themselves for a good cause. They could all be out making money, but instead they donate their time to make others laugh to help collect money for worthy causes.

I don’t know how Colin did in school, but he’s a master of language and nuance. Talk about obscure references. Maybe only Dennis Miller has more, but Colin is funnier! (LOL) He analyzes every word and phrase ever uttered by anyone since time immemorial, and shows you the foolishness of every remark. Like when he describes how New Yorkers talk, and accuse you of things at the same time : ” Where’d you get that ice cream?” Or how they can come off as being very confrontational over nothing : ” Nice day today, … right or wrong?” You could be afraid to answer a question like that!

Colin Quinn with the smile that endears him to the audience, raising money through laughs at Gotham, for TWT!

Or like when he recounts having a conversation with an old guy in his neighborhood and mentioning a guy who was strong. The old guy says something like, ” that guy is so strong he could take you by the neck, drag you into the middle of the street, pull down your pants, and “have his way with you!” ( Except he didn’t use those exact words! LOL) Colin then asks the old man, ” Isn’t there another way for you to prove your point without me being sodomized against my will?” And the audience shrieks with laughter because we’ve all known people who embellish stories like that, and you’d secretly like to sign them up to take some sort of psychological test to find out why!

Needless to say, the show was a huge hit! Congratulations Zoe, Amber and Jodi! You guys did good!!!

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