Posts Tagged Jordan Rock

Tony Rock Hosts New Apollo Live on Centric

The Apollo Theatre, on West 125th Street in NYC is a legendary venue known for “breaking” lots of huge talent over the years. It started as “Apollo Hall” in the mid 1800’s.

The new stage of Apollo Live at The Apollo Theatre in Harlem!

It was always the pre-emiment showcase for African-American talent, which was definitely not a term that was used back in the 1930’s!

The great Ella Fitzgerald made her singing debut there at 17 on November 21, 1934, which was the year it introduced it’s regular Amateur Night shows hosted by a performer named Ralph Cooper.

Other stars that graced that stage at the beginning of their careers, as well as after they had made it, were Billie Holiday, James Brown, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Sarah Vaughan, and Machine Gun Kelly (rapper).

Comedy was also a big feature at The Apollo, and it spotlighted the performances of old-time vaudeville favorites like Tim Moore, Stepin Fetchit, Dewey “Pigmeat” Markham, and younger comics like Godfrey Cambridge, who some of my readers may never have even heard of. Jimi Hendrix won the first place prize in an amateur musician contest at the Apollo in 1964, but one thing The Apollo was always known for was how they rated the talent.

In the early days, they had a guy they called “the executioner”. Audiences were encouraged to let the performers know how they felt about their performance either by applause or by the loudest booing you ever heard. If it was boos, the executioner would come on stage with a broom, and literally sweep the performers off their feet.

Things haven’t changed much over the years. This Monday, July 9th was the debut of Apollo Live, Jamie Foxx’s remake of “Showtime At The Apollo” where aspiring singers put their self-esteem on the line, and come out to perform for audiences that have no qualms in standing up and booing, effectively drowning out the performance, while waving their arms motioning the performer to get off stage.

The sign on Tony Rock’s dressing room door, backstage at The Apollo!

Tony Rock was chosen personally by Jamie Foxx as the host of this new show, to air on Centric, which is a spin-off cable TV channel of BET (Black Entertainment Television). I wanted to be at the first one, cause generally I like to go to the first one and the last one and see how it changes during that timespan. They will be shooting for two weeks.

At this first show, Rob Stapleton was the warm-up comic and he is always great. Warming up the crowd is a specific talent in itself. Not every comic can do it. You not only need material, but you have to be really personable, and excellent at crowd work, which Rob is. I’ve seen him host several shows already and he’s always strong.

The very funny Rob Stapleton warming up the crowd at The Apollo before Tony Rock came out to host the show!

The judges were also fantastic and very right on the money with their decisions, even though the final decisions were left up to the audience. Michael Bivins from Bell, Biv, Devoe was one judge, Doug E. Fresh the rapper/beatboxer and inventor of “The Dougie” was a second judge, and the third judge, Gladys Knight, (without her “Pips”), got a standing ovation when she came into the theatre. She sat right near me and waved hello, ’cause everyone always thinks I’m in the music business.

Many years ago, I attended a black tie event in the music business with a girl I was dating at the time who was a singer, and one after the other, Billy Joel, Paul Anka and then Keith Richards all stopped off at my table to say hello to me personally, and shake my hand, to the great astonishment of the other people at my table, and the girl I was with, but no one was more astonished than ME! I guess they thought I was some music executive, and they didn’t want to take a chance and “brush me”!! (LOL)

Anyway, Apollo Live is a really fun show. The audience was out for blood, and started booing some singers almost as soon as they started. Some of them made it through their song anyway. The guy who won for the evening was really the best, and Gladys Knight for one said he touched her heart with his voice.

For a comedy break they had another Tony, Tony Roberts who I had seen recently with Cipha Sounds. Hot 97 was in the house, and after Tony’s spot he came backstage to shoot a promo for them. Seeing me in the dressing room, he pulled me on camera and introduced me as his real Dad! It was hilarious! Here’s the clip!

Jeffrey Gurian and Tony Roberts backstage at Cipha Sounds’ show at Carolines!

Tony Rock was a fantastic host. He looked slim and trim in a suit, and the crowd loved him. I went backstage afterwards with his youngest brother Jordan, who’s 21, and also a comic. Jordan performs at The Comic Strip the same way that Tony Rock, and Chris Rock did all those years ago.

Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Roberts, Tony Rock, and Jordan Rock backstage in Tony Rock’s dressing room at The Apollo!

When Tony Roberts came back to say hi to Tony Rock he was shocked to see me there. He was like, “Dude,you’re everywhere!” I was like, and when you get home, I’ll be waiting in your apartment! I think he was afraid to go home! (LOL)

I was excited for Tony, but almost even more excited for comic/actor Sherrod Small because he and Tony are like brothers, … even closer. They’ve been friends since early childhood, and started performing on the exact same night in July of 1998. And when they passed at The Comic Strip on the exact same night they hugged each other and cried on the corner, because they were so happy. It was great to see the honest joy that Sherrod had seeing Tony onstage hosting a major show like Apollo Live.

Tony Rock and his cousin and closest friend Sherrod Small backstage at The Apollo!

I think this show will be a hit. Make sure to tune in, and check it out!

Tony Rock and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV backstage in Tony’s dressing room at The Apollo Theatre in NYC!

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Next Generation of Stars At The Comic Strip

Well, after four years of hard work the final manuscript on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, that I wrote with owner/founder Richie Tienken was handed in, and should be coming out in October of this year from Skyhorse Publishing. Chris Rock is writing the introduction.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip.

Since The Strip is like a family, I broke down the chapters into things like “The Parents”, which were Richie and Bob Wachs, “The Older Kids” who were like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and Ray Romano, “The Younger Kids” who were like Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Gaffigan, and Judah Friedlander, and a chapter called “The Next Generation”, kind of like the grand-children, the up and comers, who will be the next stars of tomorrow coming out of The Strip.

These are names you may or may not know, but all have impressive credits and are on their way. There’s Marina Franklin, who was chosen as one of Jay Leno’s comedy correspondents, has been on Craig Ferguson,and Last Comic Standing; Ted Alexandro who’s been on Letterman, Conan, and Louis CK’s show “Louie”; Jon Fisch who’s been on Letterman, Last Comic Standing, and Celebrity Apprentice; Brian Scott McFadden who’s been on Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and in the Ice Age films with Ray Romano, and “Robots” with Robin Williams; Mike Vecchione, who had his own ( as opposed to someone elses? LOL) half hour Comedy Central special, and was seen on Leno, as a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing, and on Russell Simmons special “Stand-Up at the El Rey.

Jeffrey Gurian with Marina Franklin whose “home” is at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian and Ted Alexandro in Jeffrey’s “Dancing With Comedians” Series!

Jeffrey Gurian and Mike Vecchione hanging out casually backstage at The Strip! (LOL)

Then there’s a group of really young comics who work out regularly at The Strip, like Pete Davidson who’s 18, lost his firefighter Dad Scott on 9/11, and has been taken under the wing of Nick Cannon, who he now tours with and opens for; Nore Davis, also a “young ‘un” who’s been taken under the wing of Tracy Morgan, (not only birds have wings, “angels” have wings too!), and has appeared on Russell Simmons “The Ruckus” with J.B. Smoove; and Jordan Rock, just turned 21, who hosts late shows at The Strip on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and is the latest in line in the Rock comedy dynasty along with his brothers Tony and Chris.

Pete Davidson and Jordan Rock chillin’ backstage while waiting to go on at The Strip!

Then there’s two young guys who are already on TV, and happen to be on the very same show. Colin Jost is a senior writer on SNL, but as a stand-up has been seen on Jimmy Fallon and was featured at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and Jay Pharoah, who drops by The Strip very often to work out new material is a regular cast member on SNL. He’s an incredible impressionist, and will soon be seen in the upcoming films “Lola Versus” with indie favorite Greta Gerwig, and CBS Films’ “Get A Job”.

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Jost from SNL, a regular at The Strip!

Richie Tienken, Jay Pharoah from SNL, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip!

With this kind of talent calling The Strip “home” you can be sure it will be around for many, many more years!

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Young Talent At The Comic Strip

The Comic Strip is legendary for the people that came out of that club, like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, and Eddie Murphy just to name a few. But the nice thing about The Strip is that it also develops young talent who are going to be the stars of tomorrow.

Two that come to mind right away are Pete Davidson who’s only 18 and Jordan Rock who just hit the magic age of 21!

Comedy buddies Pete Davidson and Jordan Rock backstage at The Comic Strip!

Pete is being mentored by Nick Cannon, who’s really taken him under his wing, which is such an incredible thing for a young performer, and Pete deserves it. He lost his Dad in 9/11, and turned his life to comedy. I’m sure his Dad is watching over him, cause he’s doing very well!

He has funny energy, meaning that when he hits the stage you WANT to laugh. He dresses kind of “gangsta” for a White kid, but he explains it by saying that all of his friends are Black. I get it! He’s authentic!

Pete was all excited ’cause he just got back from doing five shows in Miami with Nick, and Kase Glenn at The Miami Improv, while staying at The Mayfair Hotel. Pete opened the show. It was the first time that Pete had to fly to a gig and he told me a very funny story.

The day he was to leave, he had a 10 A.M. flight but didn’t wake up until 9. He threw his stuff together and tried to call a cab but they told him it would be an hour. He got the valet guy to drive him for double the regular price, and offered him an extra $20. if he could make it in ten minutes.

Meanwhile his Mom was calling and yelling at him for being late. He got to the airport at 9:40, ran to check in and found himself on a long line. Just as he was resigned to missing his flight, the Black security guard recognized him, and yelled out, “Hey, you’re that dude from the show!”

Pete said,”I guess he had attended one night, and fortunately I did well!” The guard let him right through and referred to him as “The White Hope!” The other passengers were already aboard, and Pete ran on as they were about to lock the doors. He said he made it by one minute!

I had that happen to me once after having been snowed in the first year of the Aspen Comedy Festival. I had been stuck there for five days, when they gave me less than 30 minutes to catch a plane. I was literally running down the runway with my bags to catch the plane, and everyone stared, and glared at me as I straggled on board loaded down with stuff, and then first had to try and get it in the overhead bins, while everyone waited and rolled their eyes. Very uncomfortable to say the least!

Jordan Rock works The Strip as conscientiously as both of his brothers did, Chris and Tony, and it shows in the quality of his work. Nothing replaces stage time in perfecting your performance. He also hosts the latenight shows on Wed, and Thursdays, and I host them on Sundays and Mondays.

I predict that you’ll be seeing lots of these guys in the future. I wish I had started that young, but if you get famous in your 20’s you gotta be funny for 60 maybe 70 years! That’s a long time. I only wanted to have to be famous for maybe 20, … 25 years tops! Needless to say, I’m still waiting! (LOL)

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Gotham Holiday Party A Smash

Gotham Comedy Club keeps the holiday season alive by always having it’s holiday party after the holidays, which is a very cool idea. Like every year, it was packed with who’s who in comedy. Chris and Steve Mazzilli the owners of Gotham, and two of the nicest guys in the biz, threw this great party, and were actually dressed very casually which is rare for them, especially Chris who’s been known to wear a suit and tie on the beach! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chris Mazzilli of Gotham Comedy Club at the Laugh For Sight charity event, one of the many charity events that Chris holds throughout the year!

There was a real assortment of new and established entertainers, with a live band, plenty of good food, and a dance thing downstairs where the DJ was none other than Jim David. I asked him for some hip-hop and he looked at me like I had insulted his parents! (LOL)

I managed to dance anyway, but missed my chance to dance with Marina Franklin, who was occupied dancing with someone else! Some of the people there were Jordan Rock, who came with his Mom, Rose Rock, the matriarch of the Rock comedy dynasty, featuring brothers Chris, Tony, and now young Jordan, who was just 21.

Jordan Rock with his young-looking Mom Rose, the matriarch of the Rock comedy clan, that spawned Chris, Tony, and now Jordan! And no surprise, she has a great sense of humor!

I also saw Todd Barry, Ted Alexandro, Mike Yard, Carmen Lynch, Helen Hong, or was it Herren Hong, (both of whom are moving to LA very shortly), Angelo Lozada, Dan Naturman, Kyle Grooms, Greer Barnes, Yonah Grossman who runs the open mics with Jessica Kirson, Marion Grodin, Madison Malloy, Andrew Schwartztol, Jordan Ferber, Jamie Rosen, Mike Vecchione, and so many more that it was probably a silly idea for me to try and name them since I probably left out hundreds of people I was talking to.

“Brothas” in comedy Angelo Lozada and Mike Yard jus’ chillin’ at the Gotham Comedy Holiday party!

Brothers in comedy, Todd Barry and Ted Alexandro just chilling, at the Gotham Comedy Holiday party! (Get it??? Compare this photo caption to the one above, and let me know if you get it! LOLOL )

The people from The Syndicate, Matt Kleinschmidt, Chris Elles, and Tracey Zucatti, were there too, which was very cool, since it’s always nice to meet people in person who you talk to online. The Syndicate reps some very heavy hitters.

When I left by around 10:30 to host the Monday night show at The Comic Strip, the party was still going strong! Good job Chris and Steve, … as always!!!

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Tony Rock Headlines Gotham- New Host of Jamie Foxx’s Showtime at The Apollo

When I found out that Tony Rock was going to be headlining at Gotham Comedy Club I knew it was one show I wasn’t going to miss. Tony is not only hysterically funny, but he’s a great guy who deserves all the accolades he’s currently receiving.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage at Gotham with Tony Rock!

I’ve known him for quite a while now, but I really got to know him when I interviewed him for the book on the 35 year history of The Comic Strip. That’s really where he got his start. July 27th 1998 is the day that he and his cousin Sherrod Small passed their auditions at The Comic Strip. And according to Tony, they were so happy they “hugged each other and cried on the corner like two little girls!” (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV getting some love from Chuck Nice(L) and Sherrod Small! Classic!!!!

Last year he was the featured guest on a huge show I co-produced as a benefit for Haiti starring comedy superstar Kevin Hart, with Wil Slvince as the MC. It was a sold out 3000 seat event, and Tony killed it!

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

(L-R) Jordan Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, Richie Tienken and Sherrod Small doing his best Gary Coleman impression in front!

In the exclusive video interview below, Tony tells me how it came to be that he’s the new host of Jamie Foxx’s updated “Live At The Apollo”. That’s gonna be AMAZING, and you will definitely find me hanging out on 125th Street when that goes down!

So this night at Gotham, Buddy Fitzpatrick was the always reliable host. He’s just really funny and a crowd pleaser! Next up was Jordan Rock, the baby of the family who I’ve seen really come along in the last couple of years. It was his 4th anniversary of performing stand-up, and Jordan and I alternate as late night hosts at The Comic Strip on 81st and 2nd, the club where his brother Chris, … who they call Chrissy, … got his start back in 1986. Jordan had a regular spot and he did really well. It’s so cool to see him hanging out with his brother. It must be really exciting for Tony to see Jordan moving up in the ranks.

Jordan Rock, next in line after Chris and Tony, doing major damage onstage at Gotham!

The very funny Corey Kahaney was next and had some good advice for the crowd. She said if you’re divorced you should never badmouth your ex to the kids. Cause then you ruin the day when they find out for themselves!

Then Tony took the stage and knocked it out of the proverbial park. Almost every line was a killer. I particularly liked when he was giving the example of a conversation with his friend who had smoked too much weed. ” If you were invisible, which ex-girlfriend’s house would you rob?” The answer was, ” That’s deep! Cause technically you is invisible but the shit you steal ain’t! So now you just got a TV floatin’ down the street! That’s how I got caught last time! “

Tony Rock holding it down onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

And then he does a take on why Black women should not work in Customer Service, and he imitates the “angry Black woman” who he hopes he never gets when he calls for assistance! It literally brings the crowd to it’s knees, cause unfortunately, we’ve all had to deal with that woman!

He does a lot of hysterical Black/White comparisons, like a Black vs. White McDonalds, and a Black vs. White Church, but what’s different about Tony’s take, and I complimented him on this, is that he does it from an honest point of view, not just from a Black perspective. He himself admits, in his jokes, that Black people are not always the winners, and neither is he! I think it’s that honesty that endears him to audiences both White and Black! ( And Asian and Indian too, I’m sure! ) LOLOL

Check out the video below! Tony, … good luck with Showtime at The Apollo! Can’t wait to be there!

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Patrice Oneal and Robert Kelly Guest Judges in The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip

Every Tuesday night at 10:30 at the legendary comedy club in NYC, The Comic Strip, there’s a fun, live, streaming reality type show called “The Lottery Show.” Created by club manager JR, along with owner/founder Richie Tienken, young comics try their hand at passing to perform at the club, and are judged, … very honestly I might add,… by seasoned comedians.

(L-R) Robert Kelly, Patrice Oneal, Paul Mecurio, Richie TIenken and JR judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip!

The Comic Strip opened on June 1, 1976 and is still going as strong as ever after 35 years. It launched the careers of people like Jerry Seinfeld,Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Larry Miller, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and many many more!

The past few weeks has seen stars like Artie Lange, Tony Rock and Colin Quinn come in to be Lottery Show judges, and the show is quickly gaining popularity as a “hip” thing to do in the comedy world.

Jeffrey Gurian with Artie Lange backstage after a show in 2009!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Tony Rock, the night he was a judge on The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip!

This past week the three judges were Robert Kelly from HBO’s Tourgasm with Dane Cook, Patrice Oneal, one of my favorites, and a guy who pushes the proverbial envelope today the way Lenny Bruce did way back when, and Emmy award winning national headliner Paul Mecurio! The judges change but the host stays the same, and that position is filled by VH1’s Sherrod Small who’s due to break huge any day now.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his exact look-alike Patrice Oneal, after Patrice was a judge on The Lottery Show!

Sherrod is not only hysterical, but he controls the audience in a way that few comics can. And his bit about thanking certain segments of the audience after almost every joke, is a real crowd pleaser! And Jordan Rock is keepin’ it down on the ones and twos!

Sherrod Small and his longtime muse, … the lovely Marisa!

In this week’s show, which I will be providing a video of very shortly, you will see Patrice go off the way only Patrice can do. The judges were arguing very loudly over a call on whether a certain comic was funny or not, and why, and during what almost sounded like a street fight, a show broke out!

I will always be honored by the fact that Patrice chose me to be his co-host on his Sirius radio show, “The Black Phillip Show”. A couple of them are still up on the internet. This is one of them where Patrice is absolutely fascinated by the “hot” girls I’m with!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Patrice Oneal all the way back in 2001!

Can’t wait to finish editing the video tape of The Lottery Show so I can post it. Stay tuned for that!

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Jeffrey Gurian Documentary Reel with A-List Comics and Film Stars

This documentary reel about me was shot as a pre-cursor to a proposed TV project that I would host, taking the viewers “behind the scenes” in the comedy world, the film world and behind the velvet ropes of New York nightlife, all places where I have strong connections.

In this reel you will see great comics from late night TV like Ted Alexandro from Comedy Central, Letterman, Conan O’Brien, & Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Fisch from Last Comic Standing, VH1 and Comedy Central, Macio from The Chapelle Show, Uptown Comedy Club, & Comedy Central, Goumba Johnny, afternoon host  from WKTU, 103.5 FM, film stars Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Jason Statham, John Leguizamo, Vincent Pastore, Chris Meloni, Kal Penn, Sidney Lumet, Guy Ritchie, nightlife and TV legends Wass, Noel Ashman, and Countess LuAnn DeLesseps from Real Housewives of New York City, and Camille Grammer from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Please watch and feel free to leave a comment, and/or share it with your friends.  Thanks!!!

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