Posts Tagged Gotham Comedy Club

Tricked- Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld On One Show

Tricked- Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld On One Show

Bill Burr at Gotham Comedy Club

Gotham Comedy Club is known for getting great headliners so when owner Chris Mazzilli told me that Bill Burr would be doing a special early show there one night I wasn’t the least surprised.  I got there early because I knew it would be packed but before I could even get to my regular table, #69 which is what they give me, I ran into J.Ken Feder, formerly known as comic Club Soda Kenny, who’s a former FDNY police detective and now owns a security company. Club Soda Kenny was a name he got from Andrew “Dice” Clay who he often did security work for as well.

We greeted each other and he asked me who I was there to see.  I said I was there to see Bill Burr and he said very seriously that Bill wasn’t performing that night and I must be mistaken.  Now I knew from the owner that Bill was expected and had even seen it on the website but Kenny sounded so convincing that I asked him who HE was there to see and he said ” Joe List.”  Now Joe List is very funny, and would probably fill Gotham but the place was overflowing with people, and something didn’t seem right. I couldn’t see how I could have made that big a mistake.

I sat down with Kenny at the comics table on the side as it was so crowded that my regular table was already taken, and we just talked about comedy and stuff and then we were joined by Paul Virzi who travels with Bill and is usually his opening act.  This was really strange.

Joe List comes over to say hello and then goes up on stage to host the show. I order my usual chicken sandwich, and am still talking to Kenny about comedy and all kinds of stuff.  Joe gets off after warming up the audience, and then Paul Virzi goes up and kills for about 20 minutes.  My food comes and I’m looking down at my salad when I hear a familiar voice laughingly say, ” So you’re watchin’ your weight eh?” and I look up and of course it’s Bill Burr.

Kenny and Paul were playing a trick on me and I fell for it.  Kenny was actually there as Bill’s security, but he played it so well that for a moment I actually questioned whether I was wrong and that Bill  wasn’t going to come.  I happen to like Joe List and was going to stay anyway!

So Paul finishes his set and then Bill is set to go up when out of the corner of my eye I see a familiar form with a baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes, and it’s Seinfeld standing with Chris Mazzilli. Joe List goes up on stage and tells the audience that at Gotham, you never know who’s going to stop by, and announces Jerry Seinfeld and the crowd goes berserk!

Full on standing ovation as he takes the stage.  Very rare to get a standing O before you even say a word.  Jerry came out with papers and did about 20 minutes of what sounded like new material.  Whether it’s old or new it’s always hilarious. He also did a Q&A and announced that he’d be back at The Beacon Theatre where he’s had a residency.  He loves Gotham and is good friends with Chris Mazzilli.  They are both avid car collectors.

And when he was done Bill Burr greeted him as he got off stage and they hugged.  And then Joe List announced Bill Burr and it was another standing ovation.  It was a straight hour of laughs and only one woman stood up and said she was “offended” by something innocuous that Bill said.  The audience cheered as she walked across the room and left.  And Seinfeld stood in the back watching Bill’s set.  He hardly ever does that, but it was so fun watching him laugh at Bill.  They couldn’t be more different in their styles and type of material, but talent at that level respects other talent at that level.

Keeping 300 people laughing for a straight hour is not an easy task but they both know how to do it. The audience got more than what they paid for and it was an amazing night!

 

 

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Posted in: Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Jeffrey Gurian News, Nightlife Events, Stand-Up Comedy

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Artie Lange Back on Track

ArtieLange_Gotham_5_4_14So great to see Artie Lange back on stage again, barely a month after coming out of the hospital due to an episode of “diabetic shock”!

Artie did a late show the other night at Gotham Comedy Club and was in rare form.  He lost 25 pounds and looked great!  He was taping material for an upcoming TV special but this particular tape he explained was for “the lawyers”, who he jokingly guessed would probably not like 90% of it! (LOL)

Artie is so relaxed before he goes onstage that he just sat in the back of the room, waiting for Rich Francese to finish his opening set, and both I and Richie Tienken the owner of The Comic Strip, were able to go over and say “Hi”.   A lot of comics sequester themselves in their dressing room before a show, but Artie doesn’t need to do that.  He’s just so relaxed, and confident in his ability to make people laugh.  

He also makes himself available to his fans, and talks openly about every single thing he’s been through, the hospitals, the mental wards, the heroin usage, and then manages to make every single incident funny.

He even posts self-deprecating Tweets about himself like the one he got from a supposed “fan” who wrote, “Too bad you didn’t croak, waterpig!”    Artie didn’t seem to care, but I personally, was so offended by that Tweet!  Only small insignificant people who feel they have no power in the world use anonymity to write hateful and heinous remarks to people who have accomplished so much in their lives.

To write something like that to a guy like Artie who is so talented and one of the nicest guys in the world, plus who has a history of a suicide attempt, is so disgusting to me.  It’s just another form of cyber-bullying, and I hope that even though Artie jokes about it, that on some level he doesn’t hold onto that negative energy, knowing that there are such sick people in the world.

I admire Artie for being able to read it, and actually go to the trouble of re-tweeting it.  I hope that someday I am confident enough to do something like that!  Long Live Artie Lange!

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Win $1000. as Funniest Professional at Gotham Comedy Club!

Andy Engel, long-time producer from Gotham Comedy Club, who also runs the Manhattan Comedy School, is running a really fun, exciting contest for professionals in many fields, searching for “New York’s Funniest Professional!”    The GRAND PRIZE will be $1000. , a guest spot on Gotham’s “New Talent” Show, and a guest spot on Gotham’s “All Star” showcase, as well as additional gifts from sponsors.

So all of you people out there laboring in different professions, knowing you can be as funny as the comics you see on TV or on stage who are already doing it, this is your big chance to show us what you’ve got.  Bring your “A” game!

Submissions must be in by May 4th and contestants will be announced on May 5th.  Each profession will have different nights to perform, and that info is listed below.

There will be prizes in 8 categories, so even if you don’t take 1st place you can still win in 7 other places!

For the preliminary rounds every comic will receive two tickets to a future Gotham show and anyone that knows Gotham knows they get the best talent to perform there!  Plus each comic will receive a FREE  HD video download of their performance! 

Go to this link IMMEDIATELY and download the submission information   http://www.manhattancomedyschool.com/new-yorks-funniest-professional/

The final show will have a celebrity host, so no matter what you’re doing when you read this, jump up from your desk right now and get ready to enter!  And make sure to tell Andy Engel that I sent you, and that Comedy Matters!!!

(Details below!!!)

Gotham Comedy Club &Manhattan Comedy School Present: “NEW YORK’S FUNNIEST PROFESSIONAL”Grand Prize of $1,000

Are you the funniest person in your workplace? Prove it! Compete against hilarious workers to find out which profession is the funniest, win big prizes, and become New York’s Funniest Professional in the largest amateur comedy competition in New York.

 

RULES

·         The competition will be two rounds. Each comedian will perform in one of the ten (+) preliminary rounds according to his/her field of work.

·         12 contestants will be accepted for each industry

·         One comic from each preliminary round will move onto the finale.

·         On each night, two judges will score comics on stage presence, originality, and most importantly, audience reaction.

·         Each comedian will get a 5 minute set.

 

Submission DeadlineMay 4th

Contestants AnnouncedMay 5th

 

COMPETITION BREAKDOWN

·         Advertising/Marketing/Digital Market – May 19th 7pm

·         Food Industry (Waiters / Bartenders/ etc.) – May 19th 9:30pm

·         Actors – May 20th 7pm

·         Lawyers – May 28th 9:30pm

·         Teachers – June 2nd 7pm

·         Housewives/Husbands – June 2nd 9:30pm

·         Real Estate – June 3rd 7pm

·         Sales Rep/Retail – June 11th 7pm

·         College Students – June 11th 9:30pm

·         Tradesman (Mechanics, Plumbers, Electricians, Construction, etc) – June 17th7pm

·         Journalists / On-air TV Reporters / Bloggers – June 24th 9:30pm

·         Finals – July 15th 7pm

There will be a celebrity host for the final show.

———————————————————————————–

 

SUBMISSIONS:

Follow this link and fill out the entire submission form.

Submit here: New York’s Funniest Submission Form

 

 

*Filling out a submission form does not guarantee admission into the contest. There are a limited number of spots for each industry. We will contact people with a confirmation if they have been accepted or not. All accepted contestants will be announced May 5th.

 

*There is NO entry fee for this competition.

However, there is a bringer requirement of 15 guests per round (2 rounds total). The shows have a $12 cover + 2 drink minimum.

 

 

PRIZES:

·         Preliminary Round

o    Every comic receives two tickets to Gotham Comedy Club to be used on future shows

o    Every comic receives a free high definition video download of their performance

 

Finals

First Place –  $1000 cash

·         Meet and greet with the Owner of Gotham Comedy Club Chris Mazzilli

·         One guest spot on Gotham’s “New Talent” and one guest spot on Gotham’s “All Star” Showcases

·         Additional gifts from our sponsors

Second Place –  $500 cash 

·         1 Guest spot on a Gotham “All-Star” showcase

·         1 Guest spot on a Gotham New Talent show

 

Third Place

Free class at The Manhattan Comedy School ($400 value)

 

 

4th – 8th place

Gift from our Sponsors ($250 Restaurant Gift Certificates)

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Jim Norton Closes Out Gotham Comedy Live’s First Season

Every Thursday night for about the last three months, Killer Bunny Entertainment has been filming a live comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club for Mark Cuban and Ryan Seacrest’s AXS TV channel!

Every week they have a great host and I’ve been down there to shoot videos for Comedy Matters TV with several of them like T.J. Miller, Susie Essman, and Carlos Mencia, but when I heard that Jim Norton would be hosting the last show of the season I was determined to get down there to see him!

Not only because he’s so funny but because I had been trying to set up an interview with Jim since the previous July when his last CD “Please Be Offended” first came out.

Jim Norton the final host of the first season on Gotham Comedy Live onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jonathan Brandstein’s office and I were working together to set it up, but Jim was so busy that it never happened. And then I ran into Jim in Montreal at the 30th annual Just for Laughs Festival where I was actually shooting for the festival, and it still didn’t happen. We ran past each other in the lobby where I was just able to yell out a quick “hello” and that I had been trying to get a hold of him. I shot 40 video interviews over those three days, but no Jim Norton.

Jim did a great show at Gotham, and the fun thing is that it’s live. For some comics that might be daunting, but Jim’s been on the radio with Opie and Anthony so long doing live stuff every day, that for him it’s nothing.

It’s also no holds barred. Anything goes. So Jim got to talk about one of his favorite subjects, … hookers! And how in Vegas when he called for a hooker they told him it would cost $3,000. And he was wondering how long she stayed for that, … forever? For three thousand dollars, does he get to cut off her head and keep it?

The always funny Jim Norton hosting the AXS TV special Gotham Comedy Live!

I don’t think that was really a desire of his, just a thought that briefly ran through his mind.

Jim’s observations are also right on, like when he said if you’re clearing your throat you sound like a liar. No matter what you’re saying, once you clear your throat in the middle of saying it, you automatically sound like a liar. In a way, and I mean this only as a compliment, he and Colin Quinn work very similarly. He actually imitated Colin’s voice and sounded just like him.

Drew Fraser warmed up the crowd and the man has a way of getting the audience really pumped. It’s a special talent to be able to host a show, and Drew’s got it!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Drew Fraser who not only warmed up the crowd, but heated them up to a boil! (LOL)

Louis Katz was first up on the show and was his usual funny self. He said he spent most of the day balding. He then went on to explain to the audience that with his look he can’t wear a hat, because with his glasses and a hat he’s a fake moustache away from looking like he’s in disguise!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Louis Katz right after he killed it on Gotham Comedy Live!

He talked about someone who had such bad breath he wanted to tell them, “You know there’s no such thing as street chocolate. You’ve been eating dog shit!”

Marina Franklin was up next and I love seeing Marina perform. Especially when she talks about coming from Chicago and wonders if she and not Michelle could have been The First Lady. But then reality kicks in and she realizes she ain’t no lady! She could have been the “First Ho!”

In talking about her dating life and her recent white boyfriend she said she doesn’t just date white guys exclusively, but the economy was bad!

Colin Jost, one of the head writers up at SNL was next, and he too is reliably funny. I always enjoy his performance and the tone with which he delivers his material, which is so important to a comic. He talked about song lyrics and how in one popular song they changed the lyrics to make them family friendly and have a guy apologizing to a girl by saying, ” I don’t mean to be rude but tonight I’m loving you!” He went on to explain that that’s nothing to apologize for. It’s one of the nicest things you can say to a person.

He also advised couples that if one of you loses a ton of weight you both better lose a ton of weight because it’s very awkward to see them and say, ” Mark, you look great, you must have lost 50 pounds! And Janet, ……………”

And closing the show was the always funny and sexy Lynne Koplitz, who openly says she’s 45 years old and it’s over! She calls herself Auntie Lynne and gives advice to the younger women in the audience like not to smile too much or you get laugh lines. Twenty years from now you’ll be asking yourself, what was so fuckin’ funny?

She goes for younger guys who she can control, and ruled out dating one older guy by saying ” You’re cute, but you probably have opinions!”

After the show, which got picked up for a second season, and which will be starting in May, I went down to the green room to have a long awaited chat with Jim Norton. It was well worth the wait, and here it is:

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Lisa Lampanelli Previews New Show with The New Group

Lisa Lampanelli has been working on her one woman show for a long time now, and it shows. In collaboration with the hot theatre troupe “The New Group” she work-shopped four performances at The Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row, which is on 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, right in the heart of Times Square! Very prestigious!

A row of posters for Theatre Row showing that Lisa is in good company!

The poster for the show says “The Untitled Lisa Lampanelli Project” underneath which it says, ” This ain’t stand-up bitches!” And she’s right. It’s not. It’s a proper one woman show, with lots of humor thrown in, but also some serious stuff as well.

The cool poster for Lisa Lampanelli’s as yet “unnamed” show!

I can’t tell you anything about it since it’s still in development, except to say that Lisa talks about her life and her transformation from being “the fat chick” to “the skinny bitch” she is now! Her words, not mine! (LOL)

In her early days she honed her insult skills to get even with any audience members who might heckle her about her appearance. After a while she began attacking first, with lines like “Hey one-tooth, with you here who’s running the tilt-a-wheel?”

She said she flew in from out of town, but she didn’t sit next to her husband Jimmy cause she flies first class! Jimmy would laugh harder than anyone else at that joke. He’s a great guy and I see him all the time! We always have a lot of laughs!

The newly “svelte” couple Lisa Lampanelli and Jimmy BB backstage at Westbury Theatre!

No one in Lisa’s audience is shocked by anything she says. She’s well known enough now that she draws an audience that demands she be who she is. She’s even made the “C” word acceptable! She says it so much you actually get used to it after a while.

She talks about many topics and about her gastric sleeve surgery that allowed her to lose 100 pounds and become the “skinny bitch” she jokes about. They take out 85% of your stomach. She truly is skinny, but it certainly hasn’t hurt her sense of humor. If anything she’s funnier than she ever was!

A rear view of the new and slender Lisa Lampanelli taken at her recent show at Westbury! She’s really a skinny bitch!

I saw her recently out at Westbury where she packed the place, and went backstage afterwards to congratulate her and say “Hi”! We had a chuckle about my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the history of The Comic Strip that she is in with a very funny interview! So we took a photo with the book!

Lisa Lampanelli holding my book “Make “Em Laugh” that she was kind enough to appear in with a really cool interview! I look pretty good in this photo, dontcha think???!

But at The Acorn, there were so many people waiting to see her backstage after the show, that I just left and sent her a text message how much I enjoyed it. I think maybe I’ll Tweet this post out to the Universe and see if she RT’s it!

Can’t wait till the show opens for real!

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Bret Ernst Headlines Gotham Comedy Club

Every so often I get to see someone I’ve only heard about, but never seen before. Such was the case with Bret Ernst who’s based in LA, but Chris Mazzilli makes sure to bring in the best talent from all over and gives them exposure at his clubs. That’s good for me! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with headliner Bret Ernst at Gotham Comedy Club!

Bret was one of four comedians featured in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland, along with Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Bret has also appeared on Comedy Central Presents and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,and was the host of the first season of Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too. He also appeared in Ke$ha’s Blah Blah Blah music video.

His Comedy Central 1/2 hour special was voted in the “TOP 5” of all of 2010, and his first comedy album “American Comic” was an instant success, breaking “TOP 10” on iTunes in its first week, so you can see why I was anxious to meet him and see him perform.

JImmy Failla hosting the Bret Ernst show at Gotham Comedy Club!

The always funny Jimmy Failla MC’ed the show and brought up Drew Fraser first. Drew is also a great host and often hosts events for Comedy Central. He said he’d rather get sick and lose weight than go to the gym. I often thought of that in terms of getting a high fever and hallucinating instead of taking drugs. It’s a legal way to hallucinate! But who do you go to to score a high fever???

Drew also talked about The Pope quitting, and said, ” you know the economy is bad when G-d starts laying people off!”

And on Latina women, he said they don’t age well. He was dating a girl who started out looking like J Lo and wound up looking like Ceelo!

Rachel Feinstein was next and she’s one of my faves! I love when she imitates her Mom talking about a joke she finds objectionable and asks Rachel, ” Can you take that joke out of your talent show?” She calls her act a “talent show”! That’s hysterical!

Rachel Feinstein onstage at Gotham, … as funny as she is pretty! Which means VERY!!!

And then she imitates her Mom as a rapper cause she says her Mom thinks she’s Wiz Khalifa! Just the juxtapostion of the words “Mom” and “Wiz Khalifa” in the same sentence you know it has to be funny!

And I’ve never heard another female comic do a guy’s voice as good as Rachel. When she imitates the “street” accents of the guys who cat-call her on the street by commenting on her appearance with lines like, ” Oh Mami, don’t do that to me!” … as if she purposely looks so sexy just to turn them on, she answers in her grandmother’s Jewish sounding voice with a come-back like, “I’m sorry Jorge,(Pronounced Hor-hay!), I guess I’m up to my old tricks again!” I could watch her all night!

Rachel Feinstein in one of her many characters, probably scolding some street guy who came onto her!

But her set ended and Bret Ernst took the stage to rousing applause. His crowd knew he was coming and turned out for him. Right away he proved his likeability, and went into imitating his cousin who tries to be super Italian, where he transforms himself into that “Jersey-shore” kind of Italian guy, even making up words and phrases like when requesting to use the GPS he’s like, “Put it in the “navigashe!”. Go to a restaurant and make a “reservache”! Just realizing that you understand what he’s saying, even using those made up words is funny in itself!

He has a great comedy voice, which not all comics have. Certain voices are better attuned for comedy than others and he has a good one! He also does a super “drunk” voice as well.

Bret Ernst in one of his many funny facial expressions to go along with his funny act!

Raised by a single Mom he wonders whether there are really any Dads anymore. Kids these days have “Dad sightings!” I think I saw your Dad in the mall!

Currently a bachelor, he explains that a “promise ring” is a ring that buys you some time. He wonders about all the rings you have to buy a girl these days, a promise ring, an engagement ring, a wedding ring. How many rings do you need? What are you Saturn?

Then he riffs on “Save the Date” cards. It’s basically a card that tells you to expect a card. He says it’s like me calling you up and telling you to hang up so I can call you back, “Yo, hang up! I’m gonna call you!” A great example of how comics take everyday things and occurrences that most people don’t notice, and make them funny.

Bret Ernst headlining and killing it at Gotham Comedy Club!

Talking about girls when they’re shopping he says his girl would say something like, ” That shirt would be great in Aruba!” He’s like, ” I don’t even know where that is!”

And he goes on to explain that girls make things more complicated than they have to be because they don’t know what they want. They live in a fantasy. They want to have fun but they make it impossible by coming up with things out of their head like ” I wanna go to a restaurant with a Mariachi band and a harp”, like an imaginary restaurant that only exists in Oz!

I’m really glad I got to see Bret Ernst and I hope I get to see him again soon!

Bret Ernst with his new fan, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Bret currently resides in Los Angeles, and hosts his own podcast on Tuesday nights at 9pm Pacific at the gocast.com network. If he likes this piece, maybe he’ll have me on as a guest???

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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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Carlos Mencia: Heavyweight in Comedy, Lightweight in Actual Weight!

The last time I saw Carlos Mencia he was a lot heavier. He told me he lost about 70 pounds, but fortunately he’s as funny as ever, if not funnier! It proves that weight doesn’t make you funny. Look at Lisa Lampanelli! A hundred pounds lighter and she kills it every time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with a heavier Carlos Mencia back in 2007 at a Latino Comedy Festival in LA!

So when I heard that Carlos was hosting the AXS TV special at Gotham, one of the “Gotham Comedy Live” series produced by Killer Bunny Entertainment’s Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea, I knew I had to get down there.

I let Carlos know to expect me, and we sat down together in the green room during the time between rehearsal and the actual show. He started by saying, “the last time you saw me I was a lot heavier!” Which led into a discussion I enjoy, about empowerment! Most people are too afraid to change their lives, even if they’re miserable, because at least they know who they are while being miserable. But if they radically change their lives, who will they be?

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the new and improved Carlos Mencia at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

That’s a scary concept for a lot of people. In my own life I was a very severe stutterer until I was in my 20’s. I couldn’t even say my name which is a common problem for stutterers. I realized that when I was in a room by myself I could speak perfectly. That told me that there was really nothing wrong with me. It took the next two or three years for me to make progress with my speech and free myself from the bondage of stuttering, but it’s an accomplishment that changed my life.

Carlos came from Honduras, as the 17th of 18 kids, so when he started doing well enough to afford having an appetizer in restaurants, he ordered them just because he could! Then a friend of his who had Diabetes told him he was in danger of losing a toe, and made the observation that when you see old people in their 80’s or 90’s they’re NEVER fat! And that’s true. That realization hit home for Carlos and he got serious about losing weight.

He looks and feels like a new person! Check out what he had to say in the video we shot:

Carlos’s Gotham Comedy Live show was one of the best I’ve seen, because of the energy he brought to it. Angelo Lozada was the MC and he’s always funny and reliable, which is why he gets to host a lot. He said, ” You know your girlfriend talks too much when she wakes up in the morning and her first words are, ” And then, ….”

Angelo Lozada warming up the crowd for Carlos Mencia at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jon Fish was up next and said he wishes his Dad had given him the advice, “When you realize you’re going bald, turn to whoever you’re with at the time and propose!”

Jon Fisch making a point while killing on the AXS TV special “Live at Gotham” starring Carlos Mencia!

He uses Hugh Hefner as an inspiration for dating younger women. He said that Hugh, 86, recently married a girl who was 26. A 60 year difference. That’s an entire old person between them!

Hadiyah Robinson was up next and was also very funny. She talked about not being able to have a gay guy as a roommate. She said she couldn’t live with a guy who didn’t want to have sex with her!

Hadiyah Robinson “bringin’ it” to the crowd at Gotham Comedy Club!

Most people in comedy have had the experience of meeting someone who tells them a family member is also very funny, and is starting out in comedy. Usually it turns out to be nothing. They were funny once at a family party or something. In the particular case of which I speak, the “someone” was the super of my building, who told me many times about his step-son who was performing comedy. I had no idea it was going to turn out to be Mark DeMayo, who happens to be very, very funny! He’s also an ex-NYPD cop, which gives him lots of relatable material.

The very likeable and funny Mark Demayo, ex-cop turned comic onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

When people ask him what he does now since he retired, he tells them he smokes pot! He got an extended applause break when he showed the audience how he used to bang on doors in the projects in order to get people to come to the door. He banged on them as if they were conga drums, and he was banging out a Latin beat! The audience pictured some guy dancing his way to the door to be arrested! Really funny visual, but Mark told me afterwards that the length of the applause made him have to leave out a joke. A lot of comics would like to have that problem!

Carlos liked him so much that at the end of the show he asked him to do an extra bit! Mark was there with his manager from Cringe Humor Cris Italia, who with his partners Paul Italia, Patrick Milligan and Dave Kimowitz own the super cool new comedy club/restaurant called The Stand! If you haven’t been there yet you must check it out on 20th Street and 3rd Avenue in NYC! And make sure to tell them I sent you! (LOL)

Jason Andors was also on the line-up and admitted that he cheated on his last girlfriend which he felt must have been Karma. He wondered, “what did she do to deserve that kind of treatment?”

The funny and flexible Jason Andors, onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

He also told about this Latina chick he was dating who would yell at him in public, so to counteract that he’d take out a script and make believe they were rehearsing a scene for a movie. Jason has a background in ballet, which he uses so effectively onstage in the physical part of his act, and is one of the best pop-lockers I’ve ever seen. He’s often the only White comic performing to a Black audience, and I can see why his material would go over so well.

But Carlos was amazing. He was so funny, he commented himself that he even wasted jokes during the commercial breaks when only the club audience would hear them, as opposed to the TV audience at home. He talked about so many diverse topics like:

Oscar Pistorius – You have no legs. Why are you shooting the one chick that was willing to have sex with you? She’s probably up in heaven now saying, ” I should have been f***king a guy with no arms!” (Did I mention that this show was “Live” with no censorship???)

Hurricane Sandy – In this country we called it a “Super Storm”. In India they simply say, ” A wave came and everyone died!”

Camping – Camping is for rich people who want to pretend to be homeless. Most regular people don’t even understand the concept. When I explained it to my gardener, he told me that his family has been “camping” for hundreds of years!

And at the end of the high energy show they all came out to take a bow!

Mark Demayo, Jason Andors, Carlos Mencia, Jon Fisch, and Hadiyah Robinson onstage for a cast bow at Gotham Comedy Club!

Carlos is a super guy who deserves all of his success. He alluded to working on a concept for a new TV show and personally I would love to see that! I’d love even more to be on it! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Carlos Mencia backstage at Gotham Comedy Club holding a copy of Jeffrey’s new book with an intro by Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh!”

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Sherri Shepherd Kills It At Gotham

Most comics have to worry about winning the audience over. Sherri Shepherd is one of those rare comic performers that the audience likes so much, they’re already on her side when she hits the stage. Gotham Comedy is a big club and when I got there it was so crowded for Sherri that my usual table was gone.

Sherri Shepherd killing it onstage to a sold-out crowd at Gotham Comedy Club!

Fortunately I got an even better table since I need to sit way in the back so I can jump up to greet the performers and get my photos during the show without disturbing anyone. I wound up with the corner table that had good light and put me right next to the comics who were on the show.

Angelo Lozada was the host, and he’s great at warming up an audience, which is a lot harder than just coming out and performing. I should never use the word “just” because coming out and performing stand-up comedy is the hardest thing in the world, even though Joel McHale once told me that he thought that brain surgery might be more difficult! (LOL – Your cue to laugh!)

Angelo Lozada hosting the show at Gotham Comedy Club for Sherri Shepherd!

Angelo told about a homeless guy on the train, and imitated the usual spiel, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I don’t mean to disturb anyone. I’m just trying to get some money to get my son a tattoo, and to start a record label.”

First up was Harrison Greenbaum, a favorite of mine. Harrison’s killer theme is that people think he’s gay. And he explains it openly, “If you walked into a room and saw me kissing a guy, you’d immediately say, ‘That guy is definitely gay.’ But if you walked into a room and saw me kissing a woman, you’d immediately say, ” That guy … is fooling himself!”

Harrison Greenbaum, Harvard grad, who explains how having sex with another guy is the straightest thing you can do!

He embellished upon that by saying, ” How do you know you’re not gay unless you’ve had sex with another man? That’s the straightest thing you can do is to have sex with another man and then say you didn’t like it.” He explained it so well, it almost made sense! (LOL)

He’s also very clever with lines like,” My friend reads the Bible religiously, which is really the only way to read it!”

Next up was Brad Trackman who I think I know even before he married his lovely wife Christina, who used to book acts at Carolines. Brad is one of the few comics who is always a hit and works clean.

A photo of Brad Trackman and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV taken at The Comic Strip, circa 2002!

He’s done lots of national TV appearances like NBC’s “Later” and “Friday Night”, CBS’s “Star Search”, ABC’s “NY Comedy Festival”, MTV’s “The Buried Life” and had his own commercial campaign for Spike Television where he played the fictitious presidential elect Biff Wolinski.

One of his CD’s called “Safecracker” is based on a killer bit he does about women being like safes and men having to figure out the combination to get into the safe. A compliment like ” Of course you don’t look fat in those pants” is like 22 to the left, etc. knowing full well that men will say anything they have to to crack the combination to the safe!

I heard rumours that Brad may be in line for a show! More on that to follow. He said his wife has trust issues and he knows that for a fact because he read it in her journal! That is really funny! And when she asked him if he would still look for her if they were both in Heaven, he had to remind of of their marriage vows, ” Til death do us part!” It’s Heaven, and he’s not making any promises!

Then Sherri took the stage to thunderous applause. She’s one of those performers that people like before she even says a word. There’s not that many. I once saw Artie Lange get a standing ovation just by coming out on stage!

Sherri automatically endears herself to the audience, but don’t tell her she’s adorable, or you’ll never hear the end of it. She hates being called “adorable” and I understand it cause I always hated it when people said it about me too! “Adorable” is more for a pet or an infant, not a grown-ass adult! (LOL)

Sherri Shepherd in the midst of one of her funny stories onstage during her headlining gig at Gotham Comedy Club!

People love Sherri because not only is she funny, but she’s honest and self-effacing. In talking about her preparation for Hurricane Sandy she said she stocked up on lots of food, and then ate it all in one day!

She talks about washing her wig, and even warned her son Jeffrey, ” Don’t you lie to me. I got eyes in the back of my wig!” And if you ever saw Chris Rock’s documentary entitled “Good Hair” on the state of Black women and their hair, you know not to fool around with a Black woman and her hair! That’s serious bizness!

Sherri replaced Star Jones as a co-host on The View back in 2007, and has also appeared on 30 Rock, Entourage and Hot in Cleveland. She’s also landed supporting roles in a range of films, from the 2009 drama Precious to the 2012 action comedy One for the Money. Also in 2012, Shepherd did a stint on Dancing With the Stars, and had some really funny stories about that, and how she got eliminated from the show. Meanwhile, just being on it is an honor in itself.

Ask Jeffrey Ross who was on for only a short time when his dancing career got put on hold due to a finger in his eye! Very hard to dance with a finger in your eye!

Sherri claimed as she was running towards her partner for him to lift her up in the air she swore she heard Maksim Chmerkovskiy say ” Ohhhhhh Jesus!”

Sherri is a great story teller. Some comics just get up and tell jokes. Others are able to tell stories. She’s one of those. She talks a lot about her new husband who she calls “Sal”, who’s supposedly very tall.

Sherri Shepherd and husband Lamar Sally, otherwise known as “Sal”!

When I heard her call him “Sal” I thought she married some big Italian guy until out of curiousity I looked it up, and saw that her husband’s real name is Lamar Sally, “Sal” for short, which made a lot more sense to me! (LOL) Her son’s name is Jeffrey which I feel is one of the greatest names to come along in all of history! (LOLOL)

I recently ran into Sherri after a guest spot she did at The Comic Strip and was able to give her a copy of my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of that legendary club! My co-author was owner/founder of the club Richie Tienken, who appears with us in the photo below.

Richie Tienken, Sherri Shepherd holding her copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Sherri is really fun, and really funny, and I hope to be able to interview her soon for Comedy Matters TV!

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Jim Gaffigan Takes Mira Sorvino As Wife in New CBS Sitcom

About six months ago I interviewed Mira Sorvino for a film she starred in called Union Square. I’ve been a fan of hers since she won the Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite back in 1995.

Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino with writer/director of Union Square Nancy Savoca at the press conference for Union Square!

As a matter of fact, I wrote a film script with her in mind for the lead. It’s a romantic comedy called “Baby and Max” where she goes from being a tough biker’s girlfriend to falling for a nebbishy stand-up comic, and I sent it to her reps for review where it is being looked at right now.

I know her Dad, Paul Sorvino for many years. As a matter of fact as silly as it sounds, back in 1990, when he played Big Paulie in “Goodfellas” for whatever reason I was supposed to call him the same day I saw the film. All I remember is that when I left the theatre, his performance had been so powerful that I was literally afraid to call him. I finally got up the nerve to call him and when I told him how I felt, he laughingly told me I was a “schmuck”!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with award-winning actor Paul Sorvino, when he played Big Paulie in Goodfellas, back in the day at Columbus Cafe!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Sorvino in more modern times at the birthday party of socialite/philanthropist Karen Koenigsberg, in the penthouse of The Dream Hotel!

Jim Gaffigan is a HUGE talent and I’ve been a fan and friend for many years. Jim gets offered one project after the next. I remember being at what I think was his first sit-com called “Welcome To New York”, back in 2000, in which he starred with Christine Baranski. I went to a taping in Astoria and I remember him being great in it, as he’s been consistently every time I’ve seen him perform.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Jim Gaffigan on the set of “Welcome To New York” back in 2000!

He occasionally headlines Gotham Comedy Club and I make sure to catch him whenever possible and he’s also very gracious about making appearances on shows for up and coming comics who ask him to do guest spots. Jim is very accommodating that way.

Jim Gaffigan with Gotham Comedy Club owner Chris Mazzilli!

Jim Gaffigan at Gotham Comedy Club after doing a guest spot for “up and comer” comic/producer Alyse Kenny!

Now CBS has partnered him up with Peter Tolan known for many projects but especially for co-creating hit shows like ABC’s “The Job” and FX’s “Rescue Me”, both starring Denis Leary.

In Jim’s new show, he will be playing a guy with five kids, with a wife played by Mira Sorvino named Jeannie, all true, and taken from his own life. Kind of like what Ray Romano did with “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I wish Jim the kind of success that Raymond enjoyed! He’s worked very hard and truly deserves it!

He’s also featured in my new book called “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, in which he gave me a funny, heart-warming and honest account of his early days. He talked about experiencing crippling stage fright for years, and said that for the first few years, his only credit was that Dave Attell told him he was funny!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Jim Gaffigan at The Comic Strip after Jim’s interview for Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh”, with a great introduction from Chris Rock!

Good luck Jim! We’re pulling for you!

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