Making a purposeful effort to make a home for myself at The Comedy Cellar, the legendary club owned by Noam Dworman and frequented by every major comedy star who hits New York, I went down on a Tuesday to catch their weekly podcast, “Live From The Table”, which this week featured the always hysterical Kurt Metzger and Dan Naturman. I was a guest a few weeks ago and had a blast!
The welcoming sign of “The Comedy Cellar” on MacDougal Street in NYC!
The logo from “Live From The Table” the weekly Comedy Cellar podcast!
Sitting at the bar chatting with Marina Franklin, we were soon joined by Tom (The Marriage Ref) Papa who invited me to stop by his monthly Sirius XM radio show which started right after the podcast at the Comedy Cellar’s other space, The Village Underground, conveniently located literally right around the corner.
“Come to Papa” poster at The Village Underground for Tom’s Sirius XM radio show!
Sexy fairy Marina Franklin onstage at The Village Underground for Tom Papa’s “Come to Papa” on Sirius XM radio!
What a beautiful space! A really nicely appointed room with lots of tables, dim lighting, big screen TV’s to be able to see well from all over the room, and for the last month or so, comedy as well. Tom hosts a show appropriately called “Come To Papa” which is kind of a throwback to something I had never really seen but only heard of, “scripted radio.” Before TV was invented in this country and even afterwards when people started to buy them thanks to Mr. Television himself, the legendary Milton Berle, most people listened to scripted radio shows for entertainment.
Tom Papa on one of the big screen viewers at The Village Underground, making it easy for everyone to see the show!
It’s hard to believe there was actually a time before TV, but when Milton Berle had his Texaco Star Theatre, people would gather in the streets to watch TV through the store windows of appliance stores selling TV’s, and thanks to the popularity of his show, so many TV’s were sold that that’s how he got the nick-name “Mr. Television.”
I had the honor of being sponsored in The Friars Club by Milton Berle who I also had the honor of writing jokes for, and who I considered a friend.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in LA, with his friend and sponsor in The Friars Club, the legendary Milton Berle, circa 1984!
Before TV, in the 1930’s and 40’s, families would huddle around the radio to hear their favorite shows, and their favorite comedians like Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn.
They also got to hear shows like Abbott and Costello, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, and Our Miss Brooks, which I know went on to become a TV show in the 1950’s.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comedy icon George Burns, Catskill Mountains, circa 1983!
Radio comedy ran the gamut from small town humor like that of Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the weekly “gag shows” like Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One and Can You Top This?, panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes.
So Tom Papa had a rich history to compete with and from what I saw he’s doing it well. He was joined by comics Cynthia Koury, who doubled as the MC, Dan Soder, the same Kurt Metzger from the “Live at the Table” podcast, Rick Crom who used his deep resonant voice as the announcer, and I stayed long enough to see a mix of stand-up, and written sketches where the comics read from scripts, before I had to run and cover my next event.
Comic Cynthia Koury holding it down on the stage of The Village Underground on “Come to Papa!”
(L-R) Kurt Metzger, Dan Soder, Rick Crom, and Tom Papa onstage at The Village Underground!
The event was produced by Aaron Hodges from Sirius XM radio who was kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my performance on Kroll Show in Too Much Tuna with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV playing himself on the set of Kroll Show with Nick Kroll, and John Mulaney as the “Oh, Hello” boys. After shooting the sketch “Too Much Tuna!”
The reaction of the audience and the strength of the performances I saw makes me want to attend regularly, and I can’t wait for the next one when I can stay for the entire show! Even better, Noam himself invited me back!
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:
I had a really great experience as a guest on the Comedy Cellar podcast called “Live From The Table.” Noam Dworman the owner of The Cellar is such a kind and hospitable guy, and I’ll tell you why I say so!
The inviting look of the outside of The Comedy Cellar! Makes you wanna go in and have some laughs!
First let me tell you about The Cellar. It’s a magical place where every single big star likes to hang out and perform. On any given night you’ll see Louis CK, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Attell, Jim Gaffigan, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, and anyone who happens to be in town from LA hanging out there or getting up to do a set. It’s not that the 150 seat room is so overpoweringly beautiful, because it literally is in a cellar, but I think it’s kind of an energy thing.
Rooms take on the energy of the people who own them and hang out in them, and I think it’s the positive energy that pervades the place that draws the big names. That and the Olive Tree Cafe that’s part of it with the VIP table in the back!
The VIP table in the back of the Olive Tree Cafe where all the stars hang out while waiting to go on! Here it’s set up for the weekly podcast on Tuesday nights!
The club at 117 MacDougal Street, was originally owned by Noam’s Dad, the beloved Manny Dworman, who opened it in 1980 as Cafe Feenjon, a coffeehouse that was a serious hang for musicians. I remember seeing that name as a kid hanging out in The Village. It always stood out to me because “Feenjon” was such an unusual name.
Manny was not only a nightclub owner, but also a talented musician who appeared as himself in the Seinfeld documentary film “Comedian” in 2002. The Cellar was renowned for its postperformance roundtable discussions with comedians in the audience about political issues, and it was these very exchanges that were the inspiration for ”Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn” on Comedy Central.
When Manny left us in 2004, Noam took over the helm of the club! And he hosts the Comedy Cellar podcast called “Live From The Table” which is done from the VIP table in the back of the club where the comics who are performing in that night’s show can be found along with the comics that just come to schmooze or hang out with their friends.
Noam had me on as a guest and made me comfortable right away. I got there early as I always do so I can just chill and be ready to go on the air. I had a bite to eat and even got to meet his beautiful little daughter Mila!
Noam Dworman, owner of The Comedy Cellar, holding his 15 month old daughter Mila, with comedy writer/comic Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!
One of the things we were going to talk about was my book called “Make ‘Em Laugh” which is about the 35 year history of The Comic Strip, the comedy club on 81st and 2nd. Chris Rock wrote an amazing introduction to the book and I interviewed comics that started out there like Seinfeld, Chris, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Billy Crystal, and several that frequent The Cellar like Ray Romano, Jim Gaffigan, Jim Breuer, Judah Friedlander, and Colin Quinn who was a bartender at The Strip until he quit to start performing stand-up.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with old friend Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey’s book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” which he is in!
I was on the podcast with Jim Norton who I had just interviewed a few days before for my Comedy Matters TV channel, when he hosted the last show of the first season of AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live at the Gotham Comedy Club.
Promo for the Comedy Cellar podcast announcing Jeffrey Gurian as a guest, and coincidentally it’s #54 which is Jeffrey Gurian’s lucky number! He even lives on 54th Street and graduated #54 in his class!
This was Jim’s fun interview:
Then it was also Lynne Koplitz who I love, and she had also just been on that same show with Norton, and then it was Dan Naturman who I know for many years and have always enjoyed his comedy.
Noam Dworman, Lynne Koplitz, and Dan Naturman on “Live From The Table” at The Comedy Cellar!
Noam was such a gentleman to have me on to talk about another comedy club, but I liken that to a beautiful woman who’s secure enough in herself to acknowledge the beauty of another woman without feeling threatened. Noam has nothing to be threatened about. He is the owner of a truly legendary venue that the biggest stars in the business call “home” today.
Not only did he help promote my book but he himself was kind enough to buy a copy and said on the air that he really enjoyed it. That’s not a just a gentleman, it’s the definition of a “Mensch” a word you may not find in your dictionary, … unless your dictionary was printed in Tel Aviv! (LOL)
Noam began by trying to give me a compliment by telling people that they should read about me, because I had an interesting background and an interesting look, and that I looked like a star, but Dan Naturman couldn’t bear to let him finish. He couldn’t wait to interrupt with an attempt to sabotage the compliment by yelling out “No, he looks more like a 70’s style producer” or something to that effect, but I stopped him in mid sentence.
I said, ” Why do you say “No’? Why can’t you let Noam finish saying something nice about me? Why do you have to jump in and try and say something negative?” Noam immediately agreed and stated that Dan was known for being negative, and Dan backpedaled by saying that what he meant to say was that I looked like a successful producer or someone who worked behind the scenes.
That led us into a discussion of “cock-blocking”, which that was a form of, where people try and block someone else from succeeding in some way. For whatever reason they can’t bear for someone else to receive something good. It kind of became the theme of the show, as you’ll see on the promo!
Now Dan is always a nice, mild-mannered kind of guy, and I don’t even think he realized he was doing that. It’s probably just second nature for him as it is for many comics.
Guys grow up being used to cutting each other down. It’s not necessary. Every meeting doesn’t have to be a rite of passage. Guys can support each other. For a lot of comics every casual meeting turns into a Roast. It’s why a lot of guys are not comfortable hanging out with other guys. Patrice O’Neal was supposedly famous for putting other comics in their place, or making remarks about them, but he never did it to me. It’s basically high school behavior!
Patrice and I had a closer relationship, and we really “got” each other. I would go so far as to say we had mad respect for each other.
(L-R) My special girl Jacqui B., Patrice O’Neal, Jeffrey Gurian, and Dante Nero at The Black Phillip Show!
Many people still don’t know that I was his co-host on The Black Phillip Show on Sirius, along with his original co-host Dante Nero. And if he hadn’t left us when he did, so prematurely, we would have probably had our own show together. Listen to a phone call he left me one night after we did our first show together. It’s something I treasure:
Anyway, I stayed on the podcast for the whole hour and when it was over, Noam invited me back, not only to the podcast but to hang in the club more often which I totally intend to do. It’s a rare magical place and he’s a rare magical guy! I can’t wait to go back! Here’s the link to the podcast:
Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane undertook a huge project and came out with a fantastic result. They decided to make a film examining the statement made from time to time by journalists like Christopher Hitchens, and well known comics like Jerry Lewis and Adam Carolla that women aren’t funny.
Producer Rich Vos and director Bonnie McFarlane at Carolines for the debut of their film ” Women Aren’t Funny!”
This of course is a big generality, almost like saying “Men aren’t fashionable!” A lot of men are slobs, but some men are fashionable, and it stands to reason that women can be funny. I know that Bonnie Macfarlane is funny. I love watching her work. She’s sharp and can hold her own with men who try and overpower her comedically. I’ve seen her do it several times!
I guess that comes from being married to Rich Vos. And he should be thanking G-d for that every day, (and I think he does!) (LOLOL)
Rich said he called in every favor he ever had, and got a very impressive list of people in the comedy business to offer their thoughts on whether women can be funny or not! Colin Quinn, who was the MC at the premiere of the film at Carolines on Broadway, joked that if that was every favor he ever had he should be ashamed of himself!
Rich Vos, whose attention span is so short-lived he can’t even look at the camera, and Colin Quinn at Carolines for “Women Aren’t Funny!”
To Rich’s credit, he even put up his own money to do this project. That’s when you know someone really believes in their work.
Asking women who make their living being funny if women can be funny is a little touchy, and one male comic was honest enough to say that a lot of guys aren’t funny either. To verify that all you have to do is go to as many shows as I go to and that will be obvious.
So they made this documentary film called “Women Aren’t Funny” and debuted it as part of Caroline Hirsch’s NY Comedy Festival to a packed house.
As Colin took the stage to make his opening remarks, he wondered aloud to the audience several times, what he was doing there!
Colin Quinn said after thinking it over he’d rather remove his eye than MC this event for Rich! Interesting option!
He also appeared in the film as did so many people like Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Silverman, Adam Carolla, Patrice Oneal, Judy Gold, Jim Norton, Joan Rivers, Artie Lange, Maria Bamford,Michael Ian Black, Tom Arnold, Chelsea Peretti, and literally a Who’s Who in comedy, which is an admirable feat!
Joan Rivers still looking sexy and proving that women can be funny!
Tom Arnold, once married to Roseanne, weighing in on whether women can be funny!
Sarah Silverman onscreen discussing her point of view on women and humor!
Michael Ian Black onscreen at Carolines, on whether women can be funny!
Lisa Lampanelli onscreen, … another woman proving that women can be funny!
I had to do that twice in the last few years and I can attest to how hard it is to get so many stars lined up to be in your project. In my book “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive”, based on my writings for the Friars Roasts, which was supposed to be a collection of celebs favorite nasty jokes, I got 250 celebs like Drew Carey, Jason Alexander, and Jeff Garlin, to share pure filth with me, and my pal Paul Provenza wrote the intro. After directing The Aristocrats, I think he knows a thing or two about filth!
In my latest book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with an intro by Chris Rock, it took three years to get all of the in-depth interviews with people like Chris, Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Billy Crystal, Larry Miller and so many more.
So I totally appreciate how hard it must have been to get all the people that were in this film and get them to offer their personal insight into this question.
They shot all over, and Bonnie and Rich even had footage of both of them on Opie and Anthony where Rich is a mainstay, and where in a touching scene he tried to convince Bonnie that he loved her!
(L-R) Anthony and Opie from “Opie and Anthony” on SiriusXM having some laughs with Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane!
Showing emotion is not that easy for Rich, but he tries his best with Bonnie and their adorable daughter Reina who he called out on stage, as Colin said, whenever he felt he needed more of the audience’s support! Reina was his life-saver!
Bonnie McFarlane and daughter Reina after the premiere of ” Women Aren’t Funny” at Carolines!
Bonnie opens her heart in this film, almost as if she’s wondering if she herself is funny. In one scene she even dresses as a guy, with a full beard and goes onstage at The Comic Strip to audition. It must have been one of the rare nights I wasn’t there, because I would have loved to see that in person.
Bonnie McFarlane onstage at The Comic Strip in full beard as if she was a hipster comic from Brooklyn!
Afterwards in an emotional moment, she kind of dissolves in tears, and Rich is there to console her, looking to the rest of the word as if he’s kissing a guy with a full beard. It was funny and moving at the same time.
Rich Vos in an attempt to be supportive, about to kiss what appears to be a guy in a beard!
From a psychological point of view, I have my own opinion about women and comedy. Obviously women can be funny, but as a society we don’t like to laugh at women because we’re taught to respect women. So when they try and denigrate themselves, which men do very easily, or do self-deprecating humor, the audience may not be as willing to go along for the ride.
Men are programmed to make fools of themselves. We do it effortlessly. But from the time women are little girls they’re groomed to be proper, and we’re taught that it’s not polite to make fun of girls or to laugh at them. I think that carries over to when women are on the stage.
It’s possible that the audience doesn’t like to see women talk about themselves in an unflattering way. It may make some people uncomfortable. We’re taught to respect women, and to try and not judge people by their appearance.
The audience may also find it hard to believe that attractive female comedians may have a hard time finding a date, which is a common comedic premise. It’s one of the reasons that women used to play down their looks when they went up to perform, although today there are several attractive women who go onstage looking very “hot”! I will not name them. They know who they are! (LOL)
I will however say that Lynn Koplitz joined Bonnie and Rich for the Q&A that followed the film, and both she and Bonnie are good examples of the above!
Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane and Lynn Koplitz handling the Q&A at Carolines!
But in women’s determination to be equal, which I don’t understand because they’re already superior,(LOL), they seem to be in competition with men sometimes on who can be more “gross”, as evidenced in recent films like
Men are naturally gross. They don’t even have to try. Why women would want equality in that area of life is beyond me! (LOL)
Anyway, all that being said, this is a film that needs to be seen, so if you get the opportunity make sure to go and see it. Hopefully it will get distribution and get a theatrical release, but Rich and Bonnie should be very proud of what they accomplished, … and I don’t only mean Reina! (LOLOL)
The comedy world is still in shock from the passing of the great Patrice O’Neal. I attended the services for Patrice yesterday at the Park Avenue Christian Church, on 85th Street and Park Avenue in New York City. I purposely did not use the word “funeral” because the program for the service was entitled “Going Home Services” for Patrice O’Neal.
Plus “funeral” is such a sad word, and as sad as it was to think of Patrice no longer being with us, the comedians who honored Patrice made it more into a “Fun-eral”! If it was possible to put the “fun” into “Funeral” they did it.
The Reverend spoke beautifully, and there were two world class singers. The first was Michael Wheeler who sang, ” I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”, and then the beautiful Antonique Smith sang ” Let It Be.” Their voices were like angels. Powerful angels! But I could almost see Patrice sneaking out, because I knew him as a humble man, (when he wasn’t on stage), and the attention, and having everything be all about him might have made him uncomfortable!
Jim Norton read the Obituary, which chronicled Patrice’s life and career, starting from when he was born in New York City and raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts, (where he led Roxbury High School to a football state championship in his senior year), to his recent first CD entitled “Mr.P”, which sadly will be released posthumously.
Patrice was a huge man in every way. At 6’5″ and 300 pounds he was a commanding presence, but not imposing when you were a friend. From the first time I met him, and told him I thought we should be roommates so we could save money and share clothing, I think he got a kick out of me! He laughed out loud at that one!
Standing side by side we couldn’t have been more different, but we were so much alike. And he knew that. And that was a Blessing to me. Patrice got me. He knew who I was, and welcomed me into his world.
Jeffrey Gurian with Patrice O’Neal at a comedy event for which Jeffrey was honored as part of Black History Month!
Whenever I saw him, I was compelled to hug him. There was just something about him, as big as he was, that just drew me to him. I can’t explain it in words, but he understood it, because when we were on the radio together and he would explain to his audience who I was, and why he had me on with him, he did it with love and affection. I told him if we ever did TV together he should walk out holding me in his arms like a baby! He laughed at that too!
(I also once told the head of the Hell’s Angels, who was about the same size as Patrice, that if anyone ever bothered him to let me know! I like doing that to really huge men. It makes them feel relaxed when they can have a good laugh!)
Many comics said he was harsh with them, or put them down in some way. I can honestly say I NEVER had that experience with Patrice. Patrice never ridiculed me, or gave me a hard time, as comics often like to do to each other. It seems to be some strange right of passage. I actually have tapes of us on air that I treasure, where Patrice said I was “amazing”, and that he was “envious” of me! I have it here, and it’s right at the beginning!
Our ideas of how to meet beautiful women couldn’t have been more opposite. I could NEVER get away with saying the things he said to women, and he could NEVER get away with saying the things I said, nor would he want to. He knew you had to be who you were. It had to come naturally from the heart! You couldn’t fake it.
That’s why to people who thought he was a misogynist, I say, you had no idea what he was about. He truly loved women. He just didn’t like what men had to go through to get them. How a woman’s power could reduce men to being such bumbling jerks!
Patrice could imitate a little girl’s voice on stage and you would see his gentle side come out. It was easy for him to expose that side of himself, because Patrice had nothing to hide. He was comfortable with who he was.
There was nothing you could say to embarrass Patrice, and there was nothing he wouldn’t say either on stage or in a personal conversation. One of my most treasured memories of Patrice is the excited phone call he made to me at 4 A.M. after one of our episodes of The Black Phillip Show on Sirius Radio. He was so happy with how it went that he wanted to call me that night, and suggest we do a show together, but he was so humble that he said he didn’t want to “assume” anything, … as if I might not want to do it! I jumped at the chance, but unfortunately it never developed. Shortly afterwards he went on the road, and like what happens with so many good ideas, it never came to fruition. Now it never will!
If you listen to it right here, you can hear the enthusiasm in his voice!
I write a lot about people in the comedy world who I’ve known over the many years I’ve been in it, and there’s a tendency when you do that to make it seem like it’s about you. How this person was to you. I wrote about ten drafts of this post trying not to do that.
I hope this post comes across as me attempting to explain how Patrice made me feel. If Patrice genuinely liked you, you felt validated. In terms of my comedy, a lot of people have no idea what I do. He took the time to find out.
In the obituary that Norton read, when he was talking about Patrice on “Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn”, he said that “many fans saw Patrice as the shows most controversial and obstinate performer, although only on the subjects of race, religion, gender, relationships, social status, and foreign policy! (LOLOLOL) Patrice was so smart. as I’ve described him before, he was not just a comedian, he was a comedy philosopher!
To some degree all comedians are comedy philosophers, giving you their world view. But Patrice was lightyears ahead in that respect. By the time he left the stage, and very often, he’d stay up there for a while, because he could pontificate, … you really felt you knew him. He made it very clear how he felt on certain subjects.
Several of Patrice’s closest friends got to give him a tribute. Robert Kelly, Wil Sylvince, Colin Quinn, Kevin Hart, and Rich Vos all spoke about the man we were there to honor.
Colin gave a heartfelt tribute, and also made us laugh, first by commenting on Robert Kelly’s opening with a fat joke about himself, and then with his stories of Patrice on Tough Crowd, how Patrice could go on for 20 minutes essentially taking over the whole show, and then say, “Sorry Colin, what do you think? After all, it’s your show!”
Robert Kelly was moved to tears during his tribute as was Kevin Hart. Wil Sylvince who had been Patrice’s roommate at one time said that Patrice spoke “Wil” and was able to translate when people didn’t understand what Wil was saying due to his speech impediment, … which I always thought was just a strong Haitian accent! (LOL)
By the time Rich Vos got up to speak, there had already been lots of laughter, which I know Patrice would have appreciated, especially when Vos told the crowd he’d be selling his CD after the service! I’m sure everyone there had a favorite Patrice story. I’m grateful that I get to give my tribute here!
Then Patrice’s beautiful stepdaughter Aymilyon got up to speak, read a prayer and talked about how “Mr. P.” which is what she called him, had added so much to her life in the seven years he was with her Mom Von. Von is Vondecarlo Brown, Patrice’s wife, and a talented singer/songwriter as well who wrote the song “Cool Ride” for Patrice’s recent one hour Comedy Central special “Elephant In The Room”. It was at that taping that Patrice brought me backstage to introduce me to his Mom, Gloria. You feel proud when someone does that.
It’s like dating someone and they decide it’s time for you to meet their parents! It’s an honor.
I got to the chapel an hour early hoping to see Von so I could express my personal condolences. I hadn’t seen her for a while, but she if anyone, knew what Patrice and I meant to each other. She was in a back room closed off for family so I just made sure I got a good seat and waited for the service to start along with everyone else. So many people came out to honor Patrice. Chris Rock was there, Dave Attell, Bill Burr, Gary Gulman, Ben Bailey, Jay Oakerson, Todd Barry, Keith Robinson, Wanda Sykes, and many more. Several people called and texted me that they were so sorry they were out of town. Macio was in Florida and Wayne Rada was very upset that his plane was delayed coming from Florida, and that he missed it. He and Patrice had a lot of history.
I was sitting on an aisle with Sherrod Small and his girlfriend Marisa. As the family procession came down the center aisle, I saw Von and was nervous to try and get her attention, because those kinds of situations can be very awkward. But as she passed me, she looked into my eyes and I threw her a kiss and touched my heart, and she got it.
After the service when everyone was leaving, I went into the back and was able to see her for a moment. We embraced, and I was able to tell her how sorry I was for her loss. She knew how much I loved Patrice, and as I tried to explain the bond we had, she said she knew, and that made me feel good. Even with his passing, it was important for me to know that Patrice felt the same way about me! And in the midst of her sadness, she did me the kindness of saying, “I was happy to see your face when I was walking down the aisle.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes!
R.I.P. Patrice! You were a one-of-a-kind, and much loved!
Jeffrey Gurian in his last photo with Patrice O’Neal taken at The Comic Strip on 9/27/11!
P.S. As a sick perfectionist, more than once I asked Patrice the proper way to spell his last name, either with an apostrophe or without, and he told me whichever way I wanted was ok, which I never really understood. On the program it was spelled with an apostrophe!
I just got the sad news that Patrice Oneal left us last night. He’s been on my mind every day since I heard he had a stroke on Oct. 19th. Mortality is always a weird concept to try and grasp. To think that one day you’re suddenly not here anymore is a sobering thought. When it happens to someone old you kind of expect it. When it happens to someone young who you know it shakes you to the core.
Patrice Oneal at Carolines back in 2002! He looked like a baby version of himself!
Patrice had so many friends in the comedy community and I’m proud to say I was one of them. Patrice was like a comedy philosopher. I respected his intelligence. He had a well thought out philosophy. And I respected his allegiance to his style and his choice of material. He wouldn’t bend to those who asked him to change his style, or to soften things up a little bit. He had to be who he was. I used to love watching him work. He’d take the stage, sit on a stool, and just pontificate.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with honored guest Patrice Oneal at a comedy workshop that Jeffrey was giving at Gotham Comedy Club!
One year I was honored as part of Black History Month for creating comedy workshops for inner city kids. It was a beautiful event at Hunter College. The workshops were held at Gotham Comedy Club and one of my honored guests was Patrice Oneal. He took the stage and held court for a while as was his style. He was only supposed to do a short set, but he was so kind, and the crowd loved him so much, he just kept on going. He even did a Q & A afterwards and posed for photos will all who asked.
When I did my book “Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive” I knew I could count on Patrice to give me some killer jokes. I had written jokes for the Friars Roasts for many years and was asked by journalist Tripp Whetsell, to do a book on celebs favorite nasty jokes. I got 250 celebs to tell me nasty, nasty shit! Paul Provenza wrote the foreward to the book, and Patrice had one of the longest entries. I gave him a full two pages, where most comics had one joke. And I kept a bookmark on Patrice’s page so when people came to my house, I showed them Patrice’s jokes as a representation of what to expect.
He began by asking women,” How would you keep your man if you didn’t have a pu**y? Say there was a terrible train accident, and the doctor was like, ” We gotta remove your pu**y right away or you’re gonna die.” How would you keep your man past the three months of like, ” I can’t leave the bitch, cause she just lost her pu**y in a train accident!” It goes on and on and gets funnier as you go. Only Patrice knew how to pull off material like that!
He also described weird sexual techniques that he felt Black men needed to learn from White men,including “The Fishhook”, “The Blumpkin”, “The Omelet”, “The Donkey Punch”, “The Fish Eye”, “The Chicken Cutlet”, “Puff The Magic Dragon”, “The Angry Pirate”, “The Houdini”, and last but not least “The Spider Man.” It’s all in the book.
After I did my first Black Phillip Show with him, which was part of Opie and Anthony’s “Virus” he was so jazzed about how we performed together he left me this really sincere, and meaningful message on my phone at 4 A.M. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be respected comedically by someone like Patrice!
Patrice Oneal in “pimp-style” with Opie from Opie and Anthony backstage at Gotham Comedy Club!
Patrice Oneal, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Dante Nero at The Black Phillip Show in 2008!
He asked me to be his co-host along with Dante Nero, not only because we were funny together but because he said I was the only white man he ever met who knew all the words to “Bitch Betta Have My Money”, a hip-hop classic from AMG from back in 1992. It happened to be his theme song.
He loved when I brought “hot” girls on the show which I did each time I came on. Dante said I had magical powers and he and Patrice named me a “Level 12 Pimp”, a title I wore proudly, because they meant it with the kind of respect one guy gives another when they brag about how crazy their friend is!
(L-R) Dante Nero, Catherine Leak, Drew Boogie, Dawn Leak, Jeffrey Gurian, Carlotta Butler, and Patrice Oneal in the studio at The Black Phillip Show!
Patrice always liked when I brought beautiful girls on the show. This time I brought Jacqueline Beaulieu, my muse at the time, straight from a fashion show runway, with Patrice Oneal, me, and Dante Nero at The Black Phillip Show!
The last time I saw him was on September 27th when he came to The Comic Strip to be one of the judges on The Lottery Show. He had been asked by host Sherrod Small, and when Sherrod told him on stage how much he appreciated it, Patrice said, ” You better appreciate it motherfucker!” I’m so glad I got the chance to catch up with him, and get some video and photos with him as I always did when I saw him.
(L-R) Jordan Rock, Robert Kelly, Patrice Oneal, and Paul Mecurio judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip on 9/27/11!
When I heard what condition his stroke had left him in and that he was only able to blink his eyes but yet still had his consciousness, which meant he was aware of what was happening, I thought to myself, no one deserves that kind of a nightmare. This is only my opinion. I have no way of knowing. But I think that no matter how much Patrice loved his wife Von, and his Mom Gloria, and I know he loved them with all his heart, he wouldn’t let himself live in that kind of condition. Patrice did things HIS way! I could see him willing himself to leave the planet, rather than stay in that kind of helpless state.
Opening act and close Patrice friend, Harris Stanton, Vondecarlo ( Patrice’s wife), and Patrice Oneal backstage at The Skirball Center after taping a Comedy Central special!
Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice Oneal backstage at The Skirball Center after the taping of Patrice’s Comedy Central special!
In any case, I know he knew he was loved, and I hope he knew how much he’ll be missed! I’m very, very sad right now!
R.I.P. my friend! And thank you for all of your kindnesses!!!
In honor of Patrice, Comedy Central will be re-airing his one hour special tonight, Wed. 11/30, “The Elephant In The Room” with an edited version at 8 P.M. and an unedited version at midnight.
See the previous Comedy Matters post on Patrice for more photos and video – http://wp.me/p1pHIm-Aj
About ten days ago, the comedy world was shocked to hear that Patrice Oneal had suffered a major stroke. It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around it. When you think of the proverbial gentle giant, you think of Patrice Oneal.
I know and have loved and respected Patrice for a long time, although expressing that sentiment might have made him uncomfortable! I was always drawn to him from the first time I met him. We had a little mutual admiration society going for us. I always felt good being around Patrice, and he always seemed to light up when he saw me! We were drawn to each other. Maybe it was the disparity in our physical beings. One of the first times I met him I suggested that we become roommates so we could share clothing! He thought that was funny!
Jeffrey Gurian and Patrice Oneal on 11/10/01, almost ten years ago to the day!
When we were planning on doing a show together I suggested that he come out holding me in his arms like a baby!
We connected on many levels. Patrice is a thinker. He’s a comedy philosopher. Really smart dude. He has everything figured out to a “T”! ( Whatever that means! Why do they use the letter “T” as a symbol of perfection???)
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV under the protective arm of Patrice Oneal! i still think we’d be great roommates!
We shared a deep and well thought out philosophy on women. He made fun of me being respectful to women, but at the same time gave me props for being genuine. Our approach to meeting women was world’s apart, … diametrically opposite, … but our end goal was the same. People might have mistaken him for a misogynist. I know him as a lover of women! He was just offended by their power, and how weak and dumb guys become around them!
When he asked me to be his co-host on The Black Phillip Show, (a radio show we did on Sirius), part of Opie and Anthony’s Saturday Night Virus, I was really honored. It was me, Patrice and Dante Nero, plus other guest comics. Patrice and I argued over our “meeting women philosophies”, with Dante often taking my side and explaining my thinking to Patrice and the audience. (LOL) What also swayed him to invite me to be part of his show was that he said I was the only white man he ever met who knew all the words to “Bitch Betta Have My Money”, an old-school hip-hop classic from AMG back in 1991! It happened to be his theme song!
Patrice talking about me is a big part of one of my demo reels!
I brought lots of fun girls on the show, after warning them of course about what they could expect from Patrice, who typically was very complimentary to them, but at the same time fascinated by what made them tick, and how they used their feminine beauty as a power! I was disappointed that we only got to do a few shows together before it ended.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV and Patrice Oneal after judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip on 9/27/11!
I saw him kill on the Charlie Sheen Roast recently, and then saw him in person a few weeks ago when he was a guest judge on The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip, along with Robert Kelly and Paul Mecurio. Some fun video of that is below.
(L-R) DJ Jordan Rock, Robert Kelly, Patrice Oneal, and Paul Mecurio judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip!
Comedy manager/producer Wayne Rada is also a long time friend and colleague of Patrice and when I saw him last night at the Andy Kaufman Awards at Gotham Comedy Club, which he was producing, he told me that Patrice’s comic friend Harris Stanton, told him that Patrice is in a hospital in New Jersey, breathing on his own, but on a feeding tube. At this point he’s only capable of blinking his eyes.
I’m a very big believer in the power of prayer, so hopefully everyone who reads this post will say a prayer for Patrice, and put that Healing energy out to the Universe, and help him to recover as quickly as possible.
Please respect his family’s privacy at this time. An email has been set up for fans to send him well wishes and his family will make sure he gets them. You can write to LoveForPatrice@gmail.com.