Posts Tagged Hot 97

Cipha Sounds and Tony Roberts Birthday Show at Carolines

Cipha Sounds is one of the busiest guys in comedy. He produces about a show a minute these days. At least it seems that way. Every time I check my e-mail there’s another Cipha Sounds show and they’re all good!

As soon as he ends one show he starts another, and for a guy who gets up at 3 A.M. every morning to do his radio thing on Hot 97, that’s not easy!

Cipha Sounds, Ruperto Vanderpool,( the Dominican Tupac !), and Esau McGraw spinning webs backstage at Carolines!

But I knew I had to catch his birthday show. I recently shot a cool video with Ciph at the Comedy Juice show at Gotham, where he finally explained to me what “Don’t Get Gassed” means cause that’s the name of his show. It’s the “Don’t Get Gassed Comedy Series.”

It’s an old school hip-hop expression for don’t get carried away with yourself. He was once interviewing Russell Simmons and DJ Funkmaster Flex yelled out in the background during the interview, “Hey Cipha, don’t get gassed. DON’T GET GASSED!”

And Cipha liked the expression so much, he used it for the name of his show. In the interview he told me about the birthday show, so I knew I had to show up and support!

It was a great line-up of talent, and I got to meet a couple of new guys I had only heard about, but had never seen before, Trixx, Esau McGraw, and Tony Roberts.

Cipha opened the show, and he does a round up of all the races in attendance. He salutes each one in their own dialect, and he does a very good “White” voice, which he explains by saying, ” I speak job interview!”

Then he goes around the crowd asking interesting questions. To one couple who he asked if they were married, and who said “yes”, he said, ” Black married or legally married?” That’s hysterical! He was like, ” How many years are you Black married for?”

He asked another guy, ” What part of Queens are you from, … Riker’s Island? (For those of you from out of town, Riker’s Island is a prison! LOL)

Then Trixx came out, and he’s from Toronto. Funny dude! He had this advice for White people: “Stop inviting Black people to go camping. We don’t wanna go!” And it’s true, you never see Black people camping.

You also don’t see them white water rafting, or bungee jumping, and other stupid dangerous things like that! Only bored White people do those dangerous things.

Andrew Schulz, the token White comic, with Tony Roberts backstage at Carolines! At least he’s wearing a backwards baseball cap!

Thanks to comedic affirmative action, they had a white comic on the show too, and it was Andrew Schulz. He was a big hit, and talked about his three female roommates, and how much hair he finds around the apartment. “It’s like living with three cats”, he says!

He went on to say, ” I don’t know how men go bald. It’s women that are losing all the hair.” He went into the bathroom and pulled what looked like a wolf out of the drain! (LOL)

On Mexicans: Mexicans are hard working people. Just to prove it to you, are there any Mexican’s here tonight? You see, they’re all working!”

People say that Mexicans steal our jobs. If you were going to steal a job, wouldn’t you steal a good job? What do they do, walk into a kitchen with a gun and say “Give me those dishes! This dishwashing job is mine!”

Then I got to see Esau McGraw. I knew I was going to like Esau even before I saw him from what Cipha told me in the video I shot with him the week before. Esau also had a great singing voice and he brought the audience to it’s knees with laughter. He had them gasping for breath, he was that strong!

He told of his uncle, who I think lives in Florida and lost 315 pounds, but now has all that extra skin. He has so much extra skin, when he goes swimming he glides around the pool like a stingray! (LOL) Great visual!

He also just found out that his step-Dad is his real Dad, and he was like, ” All those Sundays I sat on the porch waiting for you to come visit me, and you were here all the time?”

Esau is a Biblical name after the story of Esau and Jacob. I think their father was blind, and Esau was very hairy, and tried to steal his brother’s birthright. In other words, he tried to trick his father into giving him some land that was meant for his brother, but when his father felt his arm and felt how hairy it was he realized he was being tricked! So Esau McGraw is such a cool name. It’s almost like a Biblical cartoon name!

Ruperto Vanderpool, who is always a killer performer, and is so talented, came out as a surprise and did a character piece as “Dominican Tupac”. That man can dance, and has abs of steel! The audience loved it and they had no rehearsal at all. He and Cipha put it together right before the show, and I was backstage with them and saw the whole thing. They just put it together on the spot!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his son Tony Roberts backstage at Carolines! Can you see the resemblance???

Tony Roberts from Detroit was the closer. After we met and kicked it a bit we found out we were both friends with Frank Holder from Humor Mill Magazine, who hopefully will be posting this article! (LOL)

Tony came out singing this really funny song, which I think he wrote called “You Need Your Ass Beat”, and most songs that people write are lame, but this one wasn’t. It was actually funny the way he did it, and I think it’s on his new DVD, “Bitch Where You Been!” I’m not even sure if he was kidding or not with that, but I guess I can always check it out on Google!

He is so high energy, it’s not common to see someone work a stage like that. He almost makes Chris Rock look lethargic! (LOL)

I laughed my ass off when he mentioned a comedy porn he was working on called ” Not So Fast, Her Tooth Is Loose!” That is hysterical!

But the best part was after the show in the dressing room. A video guy from Hot 97 came in to ask Tony to do a “drop”, (a promo for the station), and right in the middle of it, he pulled me into the frame, and said I was his Dad, and that he was so happy to see me! I can’t wait to get a copy of it and show all you guys!

Needless to say, I had a great time, and I hope to see these guys again soon! (So if it’s needless to say, why did I say it??? LOL)

As a matter of fact, we all had so much fun that we all hung out after the show right outside the club, and talked comedy till my meter ran out and I had to run, cause in NY a ticket is $130. bucks! And that’s really CRAZY!

For more on Cipha Sounds see the previous Comedy Matters post – http://wp.me/p1pHIm-X5

Posted in: Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Red Carpet Events

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Irie Fashion Rave Scores Big Thanks To Marie Driven PR and Team Execution

Thanks to Marie Driven PR, and her Team Execution, I’ve been to some very exciting events from hip outlets like The Source, and Hot 97, but this one last night at LQ on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, was really exceptional!

If you’ve ever been to Jamaica you know that wherever you go, people greet you with the word ” Irie”, which is a word in Patois that describes a state of feeling great!

Covergirl, super-model Carla Campbell hosting Irie Fashion Rave at LQ!

So this event was the Irie Fashion Rave featuring lots of gorgeous Jamaican models wearing designs of several hot designers like Carlos Williams of Original Stush, John Paul Pierre, Hope Wade Designs, RepJA Clothing, which is a blend of Caribbean and American, Riddim Driven, (which I assume translates to mean Rythym Driven in regular English! LOL), and a line called MeeNeSsHouz, which I will need help with pronouncing, never mind understanding what it means! I’ll ask Marie to translate for me! (LOL)

I love the way Jamaican people speak! Sometimes you can almost figure out what they are saying! (LOL)

This was a really super fashion event. Most fashion shows are over in 10 minutes. This one went on for hours. It was hosted by Sports illustrated swimsuit Cover Model Carla Campbell, and an hysterically funny lady with shockingly red hair, who came in all the way from Jamaica, Miss Kitty,known as “The Fluffy Diva!”

Miss Kitty, the “Fluffy Diva” in all her “fluffiness” on the mic at LQ for Irie Fashion Rave!

I think she may use the term “Fluffy” the way comic Gabriel Iglesias uses it, to describe a “big” person! Miss Kitty was not only proud of her “belly” she flaunted it by wearing a tight white dress that accentuated her curves. She openly stated that “beauty doesn’t stop at Size 2!” A remark that got huge applause from the audience!

Now there’s a woman who owns her power! She even did kind of a “booty-shake” dance-off with Carla Campbell who has a smoking hot body, and even Carla couldn’t compete with Miss Kitty’s moves! Probably cause she was laughing so hard! (LOL)

There’s something really nice about a person who “owns” who they are. People come in all shapes and sizes and it’s nice to see people not only comfortable with who they are, but proud of it!

The Jamaican community seems to embrace the differences between people, and I like that!

The place was PACKED with press, from Getty, Wire Image, Vibe, The Source, Splash, AP Images and more, and was also packed with a really upscale, good-looking crowd, which I can also attribute to the hard work of Marie Driven!

The event drew a very upscale, good-looking crowd! No metal detectors were necessary! (LOL)

I myself spent a lot of time on the red carpet getting photographed, and ran into my old buddy Steve Mack as well as my pal nightlife guru El-Malik who was there “stylin” as usual, as well as shooting the event!

El-Malik’s hand on the camera shooting two gorgeous Jamaican dancers!

Also in attendance was Guest Model Oraine Barrett, and awards were given honoring record producer Robert Livingston, and female radio personality Pat McKay, who was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The screen honoring Pat McKay!

They also presented what they referred to as “Reggae Soldier” Awards to former Rapper Music Executive and Actor Heavy D and music producer Joel Chin, and the hosting duties for that part of the show were shared by Jabba from Hot 97!

Honoree Pat McKay and Jabba from Hot 97 at LQ for Irie Fashion Rave!

I think everyone’s favorite part was the bikini fashion show, … or maybe I should just speak for myself! (LOL) No matter where you come from, it seems that both men and women appreciate beautiful women in hardly any clothing! (LOL)

Hot lingerie and bikinis, a great mix!

Gangs of women in bikinis roamed the runway! (LOL) But no one even thought to call the police!

Bikinis not only look good from the front, they look good from the back too!

And as you can see by the photos, everyone had a blast! Can’t wait till the next event!

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Comedy Juice with Cipha Sounds and Jay Pharoah

I’m becoming a “Juice” addict. Every Tuesday around 9:30 I find myself wandering over to Gotham Comedy Club to see the Comedy Juice show. I can’t seem to help it! They always have a strong line-up. (Not a line-up as in what you’d see at a Police station, where you’re expected to identify someone. This is a comedy line-up, where you don’t have to identify anyone! LOL)

Jared Logan hosting the Comedy Juice show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jared Logan was hosting the show and he’s a really good MC. At one point there was kind of an angry woman in an unwanted dialogue with Jared, and she was saying something negative about New York City, that it made her realize how much she missed the small village near a stream where she came from.

Instead of yelling at her and trying to put her down, Jared made the opposite choice and did a bit of self-deprecatory humor telling her, ” I bet you’re wondering why a fat Lesbian is yelling at you on a microphone!” And that solved the problem. She finally shut up!

I was so glad to run into my boy Cipha Sounds from Hot 97 who came in to do the show. Cipha has to get up at 3 A.M. every day to be on the radio for his show Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg. He considers himself mainly a hip-hop DJ, and only recently began calling himself a “comic” when he felt he had enough experience to own that title.

Cipha’s real name is Luis Diaz and he’s from The Bronx, as he says, the only borough with a “The” in front of it. No one says, “The Queens”, or “The Brooklyn”, only “The Bronx” gets that distinction! I too am from The Bronx, so we had something else to bond over! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Cipha Sounds of Hot 97 playing rock, paper, scissors backstage after the show!

He is one busy guy, and is always producing a show somewhere. Recently he did his annual April Fools show at Madison Square Garden with Marlon and Shawn Wayans, JB Smoove, Tommy Davidson, and a bunch of other heavy hitters, including a guest spot from a favorite person of mine, the very funny Chaunte Wayans!

Chaunte Wayans onstage doing her thing!

This coming Tuesday, April 24th he’s doing a birthday show at Carolines with Tony Roberts. They both share the same birthday. One year Cipha celebrates and the next year Tony gets to celebrate! (LOL)

Cipha Sounds from Hot 97 and Jay Pharoah from SNL who’s executing a very difficult and very different kind of hand signal I had never seen before, and I’m pretty fluent in hand signals! (Not!)

He also does his Friday night shows at Laugh Lounge with Burt Smooth, and a killer line-up. Everybody wants to perform with Ciph! One of these days, I’m gonna hit him up for a spot! (LOL)

(L-R) Comedy producer Burt Smooth, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Mike Yard at Laugh Lounge. See if you can spot me! (LOL)

After his killer set, Cipha and I hung out downstairs in the green room of Gotham, and we shot this awesome video interview for Comedy Matters TV where I got to ask him all kinds of cool stuff, and he even answered me! He worked his way up to an on-air guy over 14 years that he’s been at the station. He is one hard-working M-F’er!!! (LOL)

Check out the video right here:

Also on the show was a favorite of mine, Jay Pharoah from SNL who I just added to my book on the 35 year history of The Comic Strip coming out this October from Skyhore Publishing. Jay is not only funny, he’s one of the most talented impressionists around.

Jay Pharoah getting into it onstage for Comedy Juice at Gotham!

He does such a great Chappelle, along with Kanye West, Jay-Z, Weezy, Dreezy, and that other great rapper Obama, (LOL) plus Eddie Murphy and Denzel. When he does Denzel you’d think Denzel was in the room. No wonder he’s such a favorite on SNL. He was there with his manager Shayna.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Jay Pharoah from SNL at the Comedy Juice show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Closing the show was a guy I had never seen before, but I’m sure I will see again. His name is Michael Lawrence, and as soon as I saw him I was like, this guy has to live in Brooklyn. In Brooklyn these days it’s important to take on the appearance of a woodsman, or a Civil War era farmer.

Mike Lawrence and his beard, on the loose at Gotham Comedy Club for Comedy Juice!

They seem to be going for the Unibomber look of a guy who lives alone in a cabin in some remote part of the woods, where no one can bother him and he can just sit by the fire and write jokes. I think maybe Zach Galifianakis started this look, and if you can attain that kind of success, I might be trying that beard thing next.

Look at Jason Mantzoukas. He and his beard are starring in the new Sacha Baron Cohen flick “The Dictator.”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, with Jason Mantzoukas and his beard on the Nick Kroll set in LA! Watch for Jason in “The Dictator”!

Anyway, back to Mike Lawrence. This guy was really funny. He said he recently got into a fight with a homeless guy, who thought that HE was a homeless guy trying to cut in on his turf!

Mike Lawrence, not only a funny comic but one of the pre-eminent beard painters of his generation, who recently painted a replica of the Cistine Chapel with his beard!

He also said, believe it or not he’s in a relationship, and it’s actually going well. It’s been 10 periods already!

And he dispensed wisdom like, “When a bald man masturbates, it’s like he’s strangling a tiny version of himself!” The audience loved him. I tried to see if he left in a camper, but I got distracted.

Anyway, I’ll be back next week for more Comedy Juice!

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Kevin Hart Releases Laugh At My Pain in Theatres

The Humor Mill is on top of everything in urban comedy, “urban” being a code word for those with more pigment than I have! (LOL) Which is just about everyone since I am one of the whitest men I know! (LOL) That makes it even funnier when I come out on stage and tell the audience, ” I know what you’re thinking, … another Black comic! “

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kevin Hart at a press promo event for their show at Westbury Theatre!

The Humor Mill broke the story of Eddie Murphy hosting the Academy Awards at least a day before it appeared in the NY Post. My partner Richie Tienken who owns the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip managed Eddie for 11 years, from his days on SNL right through Beverly Hills Cop 2. Then in 1986 they both discovered Chris Rock who was working at the club setting up tables in exchange for stage time.

The Humor Mill helped promote the show I co-produced at Westbury starring Kevin Hart along with Tony Rock and Wil Sylvince!

The Humor Mill recently announced the news that Kevin Hart was launching a new mobile app called “Little Jumpman”, which is a first in the comedy world, and is available at the Apple App Store, and through i-Tunes. Kevin is very tech savvy. He’s got millions of followers on You Tube, Facebook and Twitter, and spends lots of time on Twitter posting things personally, or at least he did when I was with him last year.

They also have backstage coverage of the red carpet event for the premiere of Kevin’s new film “Laugh At My Pain” which makes him one of only 5 comics to release a stage performance as a film. That group is made up of Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Richard Pryor, and The Kings of Comedy. Kevin is in rarefied territory with that accomplishment.

Richie Tienken, Wil Sylvince, Jeffrey Gurian, and Kevin Hart at the show Jeffrey co-produced last year at the Westbury Theatre on Long Island!

He’s a really funny and really nice guy who deserves all of his success. I had the honor of co-producing a comedy concert with my partner at the time, Jean Alerte, starring Kevin last year at Westbury Theatre, in New York, right after he had sold out his performances at the South Beach Comedy Festival. He also sold out Westbury, with 2800 seats, in a show featuring Tony Rock and Wil Sylvince where part of the monies went to benefit Haiti. Check out the TV commercial for the event:

Jeffrey Gurian with Kevin Hart after Kevin's sold-out performance at the South Beach Comedy Festival!

Every place I went with Kevin, to the radio stations, and even in the street, people swarmed him with affection. The public genuinely loves the guy. He’s funny and self-deprecating, and he definitely keeps it real!

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, Kevin Hart, Egypt, and DJ FaDelf up at WBLS radio, promo'ing Kevin's show at Westbury!

Comedy Central Insider did a promo for the Kevin Hart show at Westbury co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian in a benefit for Haiti!

This was a promo that Kevin shot specifically giving a shout out to me and my partner, thanks to WhatsPoppin.net. Check it out here:

Check out “Laugh At My Pain” at a theatre near you, and check out Humor Mill Magazine for everything going on in the “urban” comedy world! It makes me wonder, … what is the Caucasian comedy world known as, … “Suburban”??? LOLOLOL

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Soldiers in Afghanistan Want Kevin Hart

Last year I had the pleasure of co-producing a comedy concert starring the great Kevin Hart in a fundraiser for Haiti, at a huge amphitheatre in New York called Westbury Theatre. It’s a theatre in the round and as you might expect if you have heard of Kevin Hart, it was a super successful sold out event. Three thousand people laughing hysterically. The man is HILARIOUS!!!

Jeffrey Gurian with Kevin Hart at a promotional event at the W Hotel!

Also on the bill were TV and film star Tony Rock, who just happens to be Chris Rock’s brother, but is amazingly funny in his own right, and Wil Sylvince, a Haitian comedian and good friend, who also served as the MC. This was one of the promos for the event!

A few weeks before Kevin’s show at Westbury I was flown down to the South Beach Comedy Festival as their guest to cover the shows for Comedy Matters and got to see Kevin Hart kill there as well. Sold out shows wherever he goes!!!

Jeffrey Gurian and Kevin Hart hanging out at the South Beach Comedy Festival!

Afterwards at the after party Kevin was actually doing interviews for Comedy Central.

Kevin Hart jus' chillin' with the Comedy Central mic at the South Beach Comedy Festival!

When Kevin came to New York, the day before the event, my then partner Jean Alerte and I accompanied Kevin to several of the hottest radio stations in New York to sit with DJ’s like Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg on Hot 97, and Egypt from WBLS, and also to the WB 11 TV station, where Kevin went on air to do the weather. Hip hop weather. The weather was never so cool, till Kevin did it! ( Btw who was the first guy to take telling people the weather, and turning that into a business, when all you ever had to do was look out your own window and see what’s happening? How did that happen? ” Hey pal, nice day! That’ll be 20 bucks!” ) LOL

Jean Alerte, Kevin Hart, and Jeffrey Gurian doing promos for the show at Westbury

DJ Cipha Sounds, Jean Alerte, Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian down at Hot 97 in NYC!

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, Kevin Hart, Egypt, DJ FaDelf down at WBLS radio where Egypt holds court!

Jean and I went down to Kevin’s hotel and shot a promo for the event, and we all had a blast. The evening of the show on the red carpet, we had some great guests among them Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip, in NYC. Richie discovered both Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, and managed Eddie for about 11 years. The club also launched the careers of Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Ray Romano and so many more!

Anyway, very recently I got an e-mail from a soldier in Afghanistan. A female soldier named Devon Diaz, who was trying to do something nice for the soldiers she serves with in the 504th MP BN Deployed. I’m not sure what that is exactly, but I’m pretty sure I don’t wanna be there! Thank G-d for those people who are over there risking their lives to keep us safe. I’m including the text of her e-mail below, so you can see what she wrote. She found my name on the internet as having been involved with Kevin and sent me this heartfelt request to get in touch with him.

I thought it would be nice for people to see how well loved he is, and that he is being requested by our fighting troops overseas who have very little to make them smile some days, I’m sure!

Hi Jeffrey,

I am LT Devon Diaz with the 504th MP BN Deployed to Kandahar,
Afghanistan. There is not a day that goes by that you don’t hear
soldiers referencing a Kevin Hart joke. I think he is unofficially the
comic of the 504th. Nothing brings up our spirits more than a good
laugh. His CDs are watched and passed around constantly. We have had a few
losses in the past week and our unit is definitely in need of a morale
boost. I understand that Kevin Hart is an extremely busy entertainer but
if he truly knew how much it would mean to us, I’m positive that funds
could be worked out for payment, in order to have him come and entertain the troops.
I saw your name above one of his shows. Please reply, even if it’s a “hell no and have a nice
day.”
I have my non-official email address in the cc line. If there is
a possibility that it could happen then I will talk to higher-ups to see
where we will get the funding.
Also we return to Fort Lewis, Washington (Joint Base
Lewis-McChord) in late June so even if he couldn’t come out here (which
would mean the world) then could he come visit us then.

Wow, now that I have read everything I wrote, please believe I’m
not a fanatic or stalker, LOL. I just really want to do something for
my soldiers. They truly deserve this.
V/R
Devon Diaz
1LT , AG
BN S1, 504 MP BN
Camp Nathan Smith
Kandahar, Afghanistan

(L-R) Jordan Rock (Chris Rock and Tony Rock's younger brother), Sherrod Small, Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, Richie Tienken backstage at Westbury Theatre.

Kevin Hart should feel very proud that he can use his sense of humor to bring comfort to our fighting men and women overseas, and I thought it would be a good idea to post this, if for no other reason than to show that Comedy Matters!!!

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Comedy Diabetes Fundraiser at The Legendary Comic Strip

 

This Thursday, April 14th at 8 P.M. there will be a comedy fundraiser held to fight Diabetes at the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip.

The Comic Strip opened on June 1, 1976 and on June 17th a young Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition.  His first sign-up sheet is still on the wall, and it says ” Good.  Put on Monday 6/21!”

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry's interview for the book that Jeffrey is writing on the history of The Strip.

Aside from Jerry, the club also launched the careers of Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock just to name a few.

Richie Tienken, Paul Reiser, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip with Paul preparing for his new show on NBC.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris' interview for the book Jeffrey is writing on the history of this famous club!

This show will feature appearances by the great Elayne Boosler, the first woman to ever have a one hour TV special, on Showtime, Chuck Nice from VH1, Goumba Johnny the afternoon host of WKTU, Cipha Sounds the morning host of Hot 97, Jon Fisch from Comedy Central and VH1, Sherrod Small from VH1’s Best Week Ever, Eddie Brill from Letterman, Harrison Greenbaum, winner of The Andy Kaufman Award, and voted one of Comedy Central’s ” 10 Comics To Watch”, Macio from The Chapelle Show, Comedy Central’s Louis Ramey and more, plus special guests!

Jeffrey Gurian and Elayne Boosler freezing their behinds off, outside The Comic Strip!

This event is being produced by comedy writer/producer Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters and Richie Tienken, original owner/founder of The Comic Strip.

Tickets are $50. plus a 2 drink minimum and can be purchased over the phone by calling (212) 861-9386.

Please come and help make this a sold out show to fight Diabetes!  Proceeds from all ticket sales go directly to the American Diabetes Association!!!

 

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Chris Rock Rocks in The Motherf**ker With The Hat

Chris Rock made his Broadway debut in a hard-hitting and fantastic new show with one of the strangest names ever to hit Broadway, The Motherf**ker With The Hat.

The Schoenfeld Theatre Marquee for The Motherf**ker With The Hat starring Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, and Annabella Sciorra

What’s particularly funny to me as a comedy writer and something I’ve thought about since The Vagina Monologues came out, is that as a writer you can call your work anything you want, and people HAVE to say it if they want to either buy it or see it.

They could just have easily called this play The C**ksucker With The Beard, and nice, regular people would have to call up and say, ” I’d like two tickets for “The C**cksucker With The Beard”, and no one could say anything about it cause that’s the name of the play.

Before The Vagina Monologues, no one used the word “vagina” in regular conversation.  It felt too weird.  As a matter of fact, when I saw it, the next day my mother asked me what play I saw the night before, and I felt so uncomfortable I told her I didn’t remember.  She said ” How can’t you remember?  You just saw it last night!”

And that’s when I realized I would rather my mother thought I had brain damage than that I knew the word “vagina.”

Anyway, this play was superb.  it’s only in previews so by the time it opens officially it will supposedly be even better although I don’t see how that can happen.  Now I’m not a critic, so I look at a performance as to whether I enjoyed it or not.

I don’t notice things that critics tend to notice.  When I use a camera, I leave it on “Auto”.  If I can see the picture I think it’s a good camera.  When people rave about audio systems, it means nothing to me.  If I turn on my CD player, and I can hear the song, and it sounds good to me, that’s all I need to know.

I don’t know about the bass, the treble, and all that other stuff.  All I need to know is that I can hear the song clearly enough to tell it from another song,and I’m good to go!

Annabella Sciorra, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale in Chris Rock's dressing room after the show.

That being said, this cast is superb.  Every one of them is a shining star.  Chris Rock plays a guy named Ralph who’s the A.A. sponsor of a career criminal named Jackie, fresh out of jail, and trying to stay sober and do the right thing, played by the incredible Bobby Cannavale.

Even if you knew Bobby Cannavale personally, ( which I did), you would NEVER recognize him in this role. He actually changed physically, and looks like a completely different person. I’ve met him a few times over the years, and even looking at his photo I have to struggle to see that it’s him.

He used his talent to morph into a Puerto Rican or Dominican drug addict from The Bronx, who walks, talks, looks and sounds the part.

It’s not even acting.  He BECOMES that person.  He reminds me of my friend Cipha Sounds, the highly successful and talented non-drug addict radio DJ who does the morning show on Hot 97, Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, and who IS a Puerto Rican from The Bronx.

Over the years, I had met Bobby several times through my friends Ethan Hawke and Peter Dinklage, with whom he starred in the Academy Award nominated picture “The Station Agent”, but I think he must have worked out hard physically for this part as well as having learned the script.

His body is “cut”, but even his face is cut.  And he mastered the facial expressions, and even the hand motions of the kind of guy he’s playing.  In the photos we took after the show, he’s throwing some kind of street hand signs, … but doing it right! Bobby’s Dad is Italian and his Mom is Cuban, so he probably gets a great tan during the summer!

Chris Rock acts like he’s been on a Broadway stage all his life.  It’s his first show but he’s been on stages all over the world, so it didn’t intimidate him at all.

I went to the show with Richie Tienken, the owner and co-founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip.  Richie discovered Eddie Murphy and went on to manage him for 11 years and in 1986 they jointly discovered Chris Rock, so Chris is always happy to see Richie.

Watch the little interview I did with Chris backstage after the show.  Richie is in it as is Chris’ friend, hilarious comic Ardie Fuqua, who happened to sit right near us in the audience.

On the way up the 6 flights of stairs to Chris’ dressing room, ( and I’m not kidding about that!) we ran into the rest of the cast and brought them with us to take the photos you’re seeing here.

Annabella Sciorra has been a favorite of mine since The Sopranos.  She’s so talented and plays the long suffering wife of Ralph, Chris Rock’s character, in this, her Broadway debut as well.

She was running home to take care of her kids but was kind enough to come upstairs for a group photo for Comedy Matters, and that’s why she was wearing her hat and coat!

(L-R) Frt. -Annabella Sciorra, Jeffrey Gurian,Richie Tienken,(Back) Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Bobby Cannavale in Chris' dressing room after the show.

Chris plays a guy so cold he actually tells a guy in detail how he’s been with his girlfriend and when I say in detail, I mean “IN DETAIL”!  It was COLD, bro’!

I meant to ask Chris what that was like, even doing that on stage, cause most people could never do something like that in real life, but I didn’t get a chance to.  I plan on seeing the show again, so maybe I’ll get to ask him that next time.

So much of acting is learning to detach from self-consciousnessm so you can be free to do what you have to onstage.

Another actor making his Broadway debut, who wasn’t with us backstage is Yul Vazquez, a very talented actor who played such an unusual character called ” Cousin Julio”. He plays kind of like a gay Jean-Claude Van Damme character who is very ready to “throw down” at any moment, to stand up for his cousin Jackie, played by Cannavale.

Yul is the co-artistic director and founding member of the LAByrinth Theater Company of which Cannavale, Elizabeth Rodriguez, who plays Victoria, Jackie’s girlfriend, and writer Stephen Adly Guirgis are all members.

Gurguis who is a brilliant writer is the other co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theater Company.

I saved Elizabeth Rodriguez for last, because I wanted to give myself enough room to praise her. (LOL) She’s done lots of theatre and television, with recurring roles on NY Undercover, The Shield, and All My Children, besides numerous roles on other shows.  She’s also been in films like “Miami Vice”, “Jack Goes Boating”, and “Acts of Worship”.

Even more amazing to me, a day or two after I met her I found out she’s the next door neighbor of my dear friend Mary Elizabeth, who just happened to call and excitedly ask me if I heard about this play, telling me her friend and neighbor Elizabeth is in it.  I’m like ” Elizabeth Rodriguez?”  That can’t even happen!

The way Bobby Cannavale captured the essence of his character is the way Elizabeth captured the essence of hers.  I fully expected her to talk that way when I met her after the show, because it seemed to real to be a performance.

Obviously, while growing up,  she met many girls like the one she portrayed, and so have we all, but it’s one thing to meet them, and another thing to be able to bring them to life on the stage.   This girl is AMAZING, and sexy in a very subtle way.  She makes it very easy to fall for her character, who is tough as nails on the surface, but really just wants to be loved like everyone else. I plan to do a separate interview with Elizabeth in an upcoming posting, so stay tuned!

All in all this is a play not to be missed!

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Hot 97's Cipha Sounds Says "Don't Get Gassed"

Cipha Sounds is a straight-up cool dude from The Bronx, born Luis Diaz, who doesn’t speak Spanish, but speaks a language that lots of people like to listen to, which they do every day on his hit morning radio show, Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg.

I first met Cipha when I was co-producing Kevin Hart at Westbury last year in a comedy fundraiser for Haiti, right after the devastation that shook that country. The show starred Kevin Hart, featuring Tony Rock and Haitian comic Wil Sylvince who was also the host of the sold-out show. Check out the You Tube promo/commercial with Kevin Hart below.
Jeffrey Gurian and Jean Alerte Produce Kevin Hart at Westbury

We went up to the Hot 97 studio with Kevin to do some radio promos, and Cipha was great, and very accomodating, as was his partner Peter Rosenberg, another Jewish guy like myself who loves hip-hop music. I suspect there’s more of us than you might expect!

DJ Cipha Sounds, Jean Alerte, Kevin Hart, and Jeffrey Gurian up at Hot 97 studios.

I run into Cipha pretty often cause he hosts a lot of comedy shows. He’s very easy with his audience, and by that I mean he’s humble and makes them feel comfortable and relaxed. He’s a perfect host. I remember him telling me he didn’t really consider himself a stand-up comic, but I would argue that fact cause the guy is HILARIOUS!

Cipha Sounds and Jeffrey looking "hard" backstage at Carolines! ( You can't be smiling and looking hard at the same time! LOL)

I went to see him last night in his once-a-month. sold-out show at Carolines called “Don’t Get Gassed”. The room was so packed I had to smear Astro-Glide on my sides just to get through the crowd. And Cipha told me it’s usually even more crowded if that’s even possible. People had to take turns breathing, it was so packed. But there was plenty of room to laugh, and the line-up was killer!

I always like hanging out near the back wall at Carolines, right by the dressing rooms where the talent waits to go on stage. That way I get to offer my support to the comics before they go up, and take a few photos as well for my column and blog.

Cipha and I kicked it backstage for a little bit, and I meant to ask him what that title of his show was about, but it slipped my mind. We did discuss what happened recently with Gilbert Gottfried, and AFLAC, and unfortunately Cipha had a similar experience with an off-the-cuff on-air remark taken wrongly by a community of listeners.

As with Gilbert, Cipha is a man with no hate in his heart. Comics look for the funny and every once in a while they make a mistake, just like everyone else. The difference is that most people do it privately, and not publically on the airwaves. He apologized immediately,and all was forgiven.

Pat Brown chillin' with Capone in the audience after her killer set!

Cipha’s show opened with Pat Brown a really funny comic recently back in New York. I met her at Gotham one night when she first came back, and I had not heard of her yet. I was struck by her confidence, and when I saw her perform, I understood why she was so confident. She’s really funny, which always helps when you’re doing comedy! Not so important at the bank,or the supermarket … but when you’re up there on stage it definitely helps! She definitely held her own with the guys, and the crowd loved her.

Women have to be particularly strong to fit in on a show with Colin Kane, Mike Britt from Bad Boys of Comedy, and Mark Viera, “The Latin Prince of Comedy, three heavyweights in comedy as far as I’m concerned, ( and I’m still trying to figure out how far that actually is!!! LOL )

Colin Kane and Cipha Sounds showing us all the right way to look "hard"! Not really smiling!

It was great to see Colin again.  He and I go back to my early performing days at The Village Lantern with guys like Clayton Fletcher who often hosted the shows I would appear on. Colin always had an edge to his jokes, that made him stand out as a performer, and he’s developed that into a really unique stage personna.   I always knew he’d be big.  He’s the perfect white comic to play to a mostly Black crowd.
( For some reason I always capitalize the word “Black” in referring to race, but I don’t feel the need to do that with “white”. Is that reverse racism??? ) He doesn’t pander, although he does make fun of white people being kind of lame! (LOL)

Colin can get away with saying almost anything, and when he thinks he might have gone a little too far he says, ” Ohhh, so you want me to go home now? It’s 2011 people!” You can see Colin twice a month when he has a show he calls “Unzipped” at Gotham Comedy Club. The next one is coming up on April 7th.

Colin Kane being physical on stage at Carolines!

Now that we re-connected I definitely have to put that on my “to-do” list. You can see more about Colin at www.colinkane.com and follow him on Twitter at @colinkane.

Mike Britt is a more easy going comic, always funny, and he kills it every time I see him perform. Mark Viera is just so funny, especially when he imitates his grandmother, and does the Puerto Rican accent.  He’s definitely one of my faves.

He made one guy laugh so hard he accidentally spit his drink all over the stage. I think it was one of those deals where it shot out the guy’s nose. Hopefully he wasn’t on a date cause that could be really embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as dying on a date. That has to be the worst! How do you ever face the girl again??? You remember me, … I’m the guy that passed away after the appetizer!

Mark Viera backstage at Carolines just before going up on stage and destroying the room!

The great Capone, the gangster of comedy, was in the audience, sitting right next to me, laughing his ass off. He told me he was thinking of getting up to do a set, but I had to leave to put money in the meter, and run to my next event so I didn’t get to see whether he ever went up. I had just seen him perform at Gotham for Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show a few days before, so I didn’t feel as bad, in case I missed him. He’s a world class performer, even working clean like he was forced to do for Anthony’s show.

Capone and Jeffrey hangin' out at Anthony Anderson's Mixtape Show at Gotham!

When I told Cipha about my upcoming comedy fundraiser on Thursday April 14th, to help fight Diabetes, before I could even ask he volunteered to come and perform, since he lost his grandmother to that deadly disease.  I lost my Dad to that disease, and I look forward to seeing Cipha kill it at The Comic Strip on April 14th, and hope all of you guys out there will join us as well.

Tix are only $50. (plus 2 drinks of course!), and must be purchased in advance thru Pay Pal at

 

Diabetes Comedy Fundraiser at The Comic Strip-Thurs. April 14th, 8 P.M.-TIX ONLY AVAILABLE IN ADVANCE THRU PAY PAL, NOT AT DOOR

 

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