This Sunday night,11/18, at 8:30 P.M. cast members from SNL plus Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock will be performing at The Comic Strip on 81st and 2nd to raise money to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The show will feature Saturday Night Live’s castmembers Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Bayer, Tim Robinson, and John Mulaney and writers Colin Jost (head writer) and Mike O’Brien. 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander will also be performing.
(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Shayna Farrow, Richie Tienken, Jay Pharoah at The Strip!
Vanessa Bayer on stage at The Strip!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Mulaney of SNL after taping his comedy special at The Skirball Center!
Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock holding the book “Make ‘Em Laugh” on the history of The Comic Strip, with author Jeffrey Gurian!
Admission proceeds will be donated to New York Cares to help further the work they have done to aid victims in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent Nor’easter.
RAFFLE: We’ve received great product donations that will be raffled off to attendees at the benefit. Prizes include: Tickets to Late Night with David Letterman; Personal Training Sessions at Equinox; Restaurant Gift Cards; Beauty Makeover and Consultation with Celebrity Makeup Artist; Free Night at The Comic Strip, an autographed copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” the new book by me and Richie Tienken on the 35 year history of The Strip, with an intro by Chris Rock, and more.
In case you haven’t already seen it, this is a video of Jay Pharoah reading Chris Rock’s introduction in Chris Rock’s voice for JB Smoove and others at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal this past July.
Admission price is $50 plus a two-drink minimum per person. Reservations are required 212-861-9386. Tickets may be purchased at http://comicstriplive.com/
Let’s all come out for this fabulous show and opportunity to help out! This storm affected all of us whether directly or indirectly.
***If you are unable to attend the show, please consider donating: http://www.crowdrise.com/comicstriplive ***
The Comic Strip opened on June 1st of 1976. It’s an iconic comedy club on the Upper East Side of NYC, that launched the careers of stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Lisa Lampanelli, and many more.
Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris’ interview for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh” for which Chris also write the hilarious intro!
One day,on June 16th of 2008 I was at The Strip with Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and PR powerhouse Ryan McCormick of Goldman/McCormick PR, and after looking at all the talent on the walls, I suggested to owner/founder Richie Tienken that we do a book on the history of the club. He came to my house to talk about it, and saw even more photos than HE had in the club (LOL), and decided to trust me to tell his story. That was the long and the short of it.
(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Ryan McCormick, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken all trying to figure out why Ann looks so surprised! Maybe she heard it would take four years to do the book, and couldn’t believe it!
The front cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” by Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken with an intro. by Chris Rock!
That July, of 2008 I went up to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world, and did my first three digital audio interviews. First was with Larry Miller at his hotel, then George Wallace in a restaurant, and then Paul Provenza at the main hotel where the festival was being held.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Larry Miller at The Strip! Larry was the very first comic interviewed for the book!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with George Wallace at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008. George was the 2nd comic to be interviewed for the book!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Provenza, at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008. Paul was the the 3rd comic to be interviewed for the book!
From that point on, it took the next four years to see this book on a shelf in Barnes and Noble. I was on a quest to get every big star I could, who had come out of The Strip, to be interviewed for the book. And most of them came into the club to do it during the afternoon when we wouldn’t be disturbed. Richie and I would meet them there and sit casually in the showroom while we reminisced about the old days, into my recorder.
Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip with Jerry Seinfeld after his interview for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh”!
We felt it was helpful to do it in the club, because we thought, and rightly so, that being in the club would help bring back memories, and it did. During Paul Reiser’s interview, he claims to have suddenly remembered for the first time ever, what started the annual New Year’s day brunch that he has attended every year for the last 30 years or more with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and Mark Schiff. There was originally a fifth guy named Michael Cain, but unfortunately he passed away many years ago, way before his time.
(L-R) Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Ray’s interview for the book, ” Make ‘Em Laugh”!
So the book has cool stories from Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, who came in with his long-time manager Rory Rosegarten who he had met at The Strip, Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Paul Provenza, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Jeffrey Ross, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, and so many more!
I even flew out to LA to interview Billy Crystal which was a very special one to me, since during the middle of the interview he realized he knew me from the legendary Jack Rollins, who managed him, Robin Williams, and Woody Allen, back in the day!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in his Beverly Hills office! Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s rumored history as a former dentist! (LOL)
I wanted to do all the interviews before looking for an agent and a book deal, because I knew that agents would be skeptical of someone saying they could get this many interviews, with such big stars, and I wanted to be able to walk in with them already done.
After three painstaking years of doing interviews, and transcribing them by hand, my pal media powerhouse Judith Regan, introduced me to her agent at N.S. Bienstock, because she said for a celeb-filled book like this I need a powerful agent, and I spent most of the fourth year editing it down to the length that Skyhorse Publishing wanted it to be.
Media heavyweight Judith Regan and Jeffrey Gurian holding the book that she made possible, “Make ‘Em Laugh”!
I started with about 500 pages, and had to whittle it down to about 250 pages. I have all the stories digitally recorded on a disk, so our next project will probably be a CD of the stories that didn’t make it into the book!
Then I had to get blurbs for the book’s back cover, so I went to some of my famous friends and contacts and asked them to read the galleys and to provide meaningful blurbs and I got amazing stuff from ten people; Barry Katz, co-creator of Last Comic Standing, Judd Apatow, the king of Hollywood comedies, Richard Lewis, Mike Birbiglia, Charles Grodin, Elayne Boosler the first woman ever to have a cable TV special, Danny Aiello, Michael Imperioli, Nick Kroll star of the upcoming The Kroll Show, on Comedy Central, Tom Papa, and even DJ Cassidy, the world famous DJ who is also the DJ for Russell Simmons’ show “The Ruckus” hosted by JB Smoove!
The back cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” with blurbs from Barry Katz, Richard Lewis, Mike Birbiglia, Charles Grodin, Elayne Boosler, Danny Aiello, Michael Imperioli, Nick Kroll, Tom Papa, Bob Saget, and DJ Cassidy!
Speaking of JB Smoove, this summer in Montreal, I was the official celeb interviewer and shot 40 interviews with stars like Chelsea Handler,Bob Saget, Joel McHale, JB Smoove, Marc Maron, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Adam Carolla, and Howie Mandel, …
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chelsea Handler at Just for Laughs in Montreal!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bob Saget backstage at Bob’s gala at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal!
… and one night I got Jay Pharoah from SNL reading Chris Rock’s intro from my book, in Chris Rock’s voice, to entertain JB Smoove and a bunch of comedy execs that were hanging out in the lobby! That you must see, and it’s right here:
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!
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!
It goes without saying that if you’re a cast member of SNL that you have to be great at doing characters, but Jay Pharoah is in a class by himself. And he stopped by The Comic Strip to prove it! He came in with Colin Jost, who’s a writer on SNL and is a regular performer at The Strip. I would think that all young Black comics would want to perform on the stage that launched Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Shayna Farrow, owner Richie Tienken and Jay Pharoah at The Comic Strip!
Jay came in with his manager/sister Shayna,(I hope that’s how she spells it! LOL), and his agent and we all sat up in the balcony with owner Richie Tienken to enjoy Jay’s set. The packed audience was surprised and thrilled, and Jay did about 30 minutes.
Jay Pharoah from SNL onstage at The Comic Strip!
His impersonations of Obama, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington absolutely killed. Shayna kept the family name Farrow, but I like the way Jay spells it, cause it carries the power of ancient Egypt.
The cool thing about Jay is that he’s as humble as he is talented. I hope to be shooting a video with him real soon for Comedy Matters TV! Stay tuned!
Jay Pharoah from SNL with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV trading gang signs at The Comic Strip!