Posts Tagged Larry Miller

George Wallace Visits The Comic Strip

Whenever George Wallace comes to New York, he always comes back to his “home” to visit Richie Tienken and The Comic Strip. That’s the place where he started back in 1976, before the place was even finished.

Before The Strip opened it’s doors on June 1, 1976 George came by selling bus advertising and convinced owner Richie Tienken to buy advertising that appeared on the back of buses going up 1st and 2nd Avenues that said ” Eat, Drink, and Laugh at The Comic Strip.”

(L-R) J.R. Ravitz, Marina Franklin, Jeffrey Gurian, and Richie Tienken, and holding down the back row by himself, is George Wallace! George is so big, he’s his own row!

It was the reason when Richie and I did the book on the 35 year history of the legendary club, we were originally planning to call it “Eat, Drink and Laugh”.

George and Jerry Seinfeld were and still are best friends. They were roommates in the early days and shared an apartment on West 71st Street. When Jerry left for LA, George kept the apartment and roomed with Paul Provenza.

George has been in Las Vegas for the last ten years with the highest rated 10 P.M. show on The Strip. He came into The Strip to do a set recently, which thrilled the crowd, and told me he’s thinking of moving back to New York.

George was the second interview I did for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh”, up in Montreal during the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, the summer of 2008.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with George Wallace backstage during rehearsal at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008!

He was hosting one of the huge galas that gets televised, and right before he went out on stage he asked me what I thought he should say! I had to laugh to myself that here was a guy, so accomplished that he didn’t even have to prepare to host a major comedy gala and would decide what he was going to say when he got out there!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with “All Star Gala” host George Wallace just before he took the stage!

Needless to say he killed it and after the show he took me out for a late dinner, where I did my interview, and we got to know each other. We’ve stayed in touch ever since.

I’m one of the producers of a new comedy documentary film called “The Business of Comedy” Exec. Produced by two great guys Gary Licker and Scott Sobel of Scott Entertainment. They went out to Vegas to interview George, and I gave them a signed copy of the book to bring George as I knew he hadn’t seen it yet. They were thrilled to do it and they said that George was thrilled to get it.

Scott Sobel and Gary Licker, Exec. Producers of the doc. film “The Business of Comedy” at the home of Jeffrey Gurian, filming him for the doc., on which he is also a co-producer!

One of the first things he said when he saw me was how much he loved the book!

So I was backstage with him this time too, and don’t you think that right before he went out to perform he asked me what I thought he should do! (LOL) I reminded him of the incident in Montreal and told him that whatever he chose would be perfect. The audience was already his!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with George Wallace at The Comic Strip!

He talked about going to Oprah’s party, and talked about getting parking tickets. He said he got so many parking tickets he was thinking of removing his windshield. That’s hysterical! He also told of the dyslexic cop who gave him an IUD, instead of a DUI!

He talked about his poor childhood and how in his day kids only got measles, mumps and chickenpox. It was all they could afford!

He said to some guy in the audience who was making remarks, “Where were you when your mind got up and walked away?”

Then he said he didn’t want to get racial, but advised white people to stop looking for ghosts! And then he did one of his classic bits which he calls “I Be Thinkin'” where he comes out with lines like, ” I saw a can that said “Evaporated Milk” and I thought to myself, then what’s in the can?” I told him he should do a CD by that name and he said he was already planning on doing that! Great minds think alike! (LOL)

He also said, ” You never see a homeless Mexican!” And it’s true. They’re like baby pigeons. You know they must exist, but you never actually see one! He said you give a Mexican 8 bricks and 3 packs of chewing gum and a week later you got a housing development!”

George hung out after his killer set, and took photos with his fans and with Richie and I. It was very cool night and if he does move back to New York, you can bet he’ll be a regular at his old home, The Comic Strip!

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, George Wallace and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip, holding the book ” Make “Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of the club written by Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken! George is featured prominently in the book as one of the originals from The Strip!

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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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Jeffrey Gurian Teaches Comedy Writing and Performing at The Learning Annex

The Learning Annex is the pre-eminent adult education forum in the country, and I was honored to have been asked to teach three classes for them. This one entitled ” How To Write and Perform Comedy”.

Check it out below!

Video streaming by Ustream

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Paul Reiser Hangs Out At The Comic Strip-New Show Debuts Tonight on NBC

Paul Reiser is one guy who doesn’t forget where he came from. As huge as he is, he’s still grateful for the people who helped him get there, so when he came to New York to promote his new TV show on NBC airing tonight at 8:30 P.M. with Paul playing himself, he came to visit Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip, the club where he started out so many years ago.

After taping Jimmy Fallon earlier, he came to the club, and did a spot at the 8:30 show, left and came back and did the 10:30 show and then came back the next night to do the 10:30 show, and even stayed to do the late show at 12:30, plus he stayed and mingled and took photos with anyone in the audience that wanted to meet him. That’s the essence of a nice guy who cares about the audience.

Paul onstage caught in a typical Paul Reiser expression, while performing at The Strip!

Richie Tienken, Paul Reiser, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Paul's set.

Paul is one of the many Comic Strip alumni, who went on to become huge stars, and that I interviewed so far for the book Richie and I are doing on the history of the club, which opened on June 1, 1976. This June will be 35 years.

On June 17th Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition and about a year later, Paul Reiser came on the scene, with other comics like Carol Liefer, Mark Schiff, Rich Hall, Larry Miller and a lesser-known comic named Michael Cain.( I think that’s how he spelled Cain. No one seems to know for sure, and unfortunately he’s long gone so no one can ask him!)

Paul told me great stories during the interview I did with him. One of them was how he got the movie “Diner” in April of 1982, a film role that really put him on the map! ( What kind of an expression is that? Who even came up with that? A cartographer back in Colonial days??? LOL )

Jeffrey Gurian, Paul Reiser, and Richie Tienken after Paul's interview for the book on the history of The Comic Strip.

It was February of 1981, and Paul had accompanied this friend comic Michael Cain, who was also a stand-up comic and a close friend, to an audition for this new Barry Levenson movie “Diner.” Paul was really on his way to go shopping at Macy’s for underwear and socks,because he had an upcoming gig at The Comic Strip in Ft. Lauderdale and rather than do laundry, he thought he’d just buy more underwear and socks.

That was his mission. So he accompanies Cain, who didn’t wind up getting the gig, but when the casting director saw Paul, she asked him for his headshot. He said he didn’t have one as he was only there with his friend and really just wanted underwear and socks.

She convinced him to come back the next day with his headshot, which he did and then he left for Ft. Lauderdale. He was down there two days when he got the call that he had gotten “Diner.”

His character’s name was Modell. There was no part actually written for Modell as Paul found out when they sent him the contract and the script. He gave the contract to Bob Wachs another founder of The Strip who happened to be a lawyer, and he gave the script to Richie Tienken to look at. Richie came back to Paul and said, ” Your character is Modell right?” Paul said ” Yes” to which Richie replied, ” Well, I don’t know how to break this to you buddy, but you ain’t in the script. Not even once.”

Tienken continued, ” They told you you gotta flesh out your part? Well, I sure hope you do cause you ain’t got any lines! “

Barry expected Paul to create his role on camera which he did. He improvised the whole thing and as he did he got more and more lines. Michael Cain became one of the inner circle of comics who met every New year’s Day for brunch, along with Paul, Jerry Seinfeld, Mark Schiff, and Larry Miller. After Michael passed away they kept doing it as a tradition, which they do to this day. They have brunch and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Jeffrey Gurian and Paul Reiser at The Comic Strip back in '09.

Well a lot has happened since then, and tonight is the debut of Paul’s new show on NBC called appropriately enough, The Paul Reiser Show. Watch this little video I shot with Paul to promote his show. We all wish him well and hope it will be a big hit. How can it not be? Paul Reiser is starring in it!

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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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Judah Friedlander Comes To The Comic Strip For Interview

On June 1, 1976 Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs opened the legendary comedy club called The Comic Strip.  It was at 1568 Second Avenue in Manhattan, between 81st and 82nd streets.  It’s still there and thriving.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip for Jerry's interview for the book!

On June 17th, 1976, barely two weeks after it opened, a young, unknown comic named Jerry Seinfeld came in to audition.  His sign-up sheet still hangs in the club.  It says ” Good.  Definitely put on Monday 6/21.”

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano and Jeffrey Gurian below Ray's old photo on the wall at The Comic Strip!

Not only did Seinfeld get his start there, but so did Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and many other huge stars who called that club their home.

Jeffrey Gurian, Susie Essman, and Richie Tienken after Susie's interview for the book!

Jim Gaffigan and Jeffrey after Jim's interview at The Strip. Richie must have been hiding!

Richie and Bob went on to manage Eddie Murphy for 11 years, from his SNL career through Beverly Hills Cop 2.  Richie also managed Adam Sandler, Tony Rock, and Colin Quinn.

Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, and Richie Tienken after Tony's interview at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian, Judah Friedlander, and Richie Tienken under the photo taken BEFORE Judah was World Champion! ( over his left shoulder!)

I have been chosen by Richie, to write the book on the history of the club, and so far have interviewed about 26 of the biggest names that have come out of the club, including Seinfeld, Larry Miller, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Colin Quinn, Ray Romano, and Chris Rock.

Recently Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock fame, and The World Champion, came to the club to sit down with Richie and I to reminisce about his beginnings, and his memories of the club in the early days of his career.  This is a little video excerpt of the interview.

Jeffrey Gurian Interviews Judah Friedlander at The Comic Strip

I hope you’ll like it enough to send it around to your friends!!!

 

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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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Speaking of Gilbert

My superstar P.R. team Goldman/McCormick has been working overtime and as a result, last night at 11 P.M., I got a call from Mark Amazon on 700 WLW News Talk Radio, known as “The Big One”, out of Cincinatti, Ohio for my take on the Gilbert Gottfried/AFLAC scenario.

Having known Gilbert for more than 25 years, I told them that I felt it was a mistake in judgment that Gilbert regretted, not only because he lost his position as the voice of AFLAC, but because he never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings.  He had already posted apologies on his own Twitter page.

With AFLAC having such a huge percentage of it’s business in Japan, I guess it couldn’t afford the potential losses from people who were insulted by Gilbert’s Tweets, and made the choice to let him go.  The only other way would have been for them to stick up for him, against an entire ravaged country, and that would be a very unlikely scenario for anyone to expect.

Gilbert was just being Gilbert, as he’s always been.  That’s what he does.  He goes where no one else dares.  Comedians often try to do that.  I have several thoughts on that matter.

 

Gilbert and Jeffrey back in 1992, when Gilbert starred in a short film Jeffrey wrote called “Seeing is Believing”, where Gilbert wears glasses like microscopes, and tries to get X-ray vision to see through women’s clothing. Also featuring Camille Donatacci Grammer, Kelsey Grammer’s recent ex, playing a very sexy nurse. Check it out at http://www.jeffreygurian.com

 

Comics spend every day looking for what’s funny about things that most people don’t see as funny.  Not cause they want to, cause they HAVE to.  They have no choice.  It’s how comics think.  It’s in their blood.  It’s a drug, and they’re addicted.

Some comics work clean, some work filthy.  Some comics say the most outrageous things, but they say them within the confines of a club, not in a forum to the world.  I think that’s what makes the difference here.

Sick, cruel humor has always been around.  Some people love it.  I happen not to, but that’s coming from someone who wrote nasty jokes for Friars Roasts for many years.  BUT, … I ALWAYS asked the person being Roasted if there was anything that was off-limits to him, so that I wouldn’t write anything particularly hurtful. That’s just me.

Maybe human beings have a naturally cruel side?  Just go to any schoolyard, or high school to see what I mean.  Probably all you have to do is think back to your own high school days.  Not a very comfortable time right?  Bullying isn’t something new.  Kids make fun of other kids if they don’t think you fit the mold.  And how many people actually did in those days.

I always say, ” If high school was the best time of your life you should probably kill yourself!” (LOL) For many people it was the worse time in their lives.

And very often those very same kids who didn’t fit in in high school went on to become comedians!  They used humor to help them fit in.  So many comics are socially awkward, and lacking in social graces. They only have personalities on stage.  It’s an amazing thing!  Offstage they can be quiet and shy.

In any case, Mark Amazon and the other radio hosts I spoke with didn’t seem to be coming down too harshly on Gilbert.  They all seemed to understand that Gilbert was being Gilbert.  It’s unfortunate that it had to happen at all, meaning the devastation that hit Japan in the first place, and the Tweeting that followed it.

 

Jeffrey Gurian and Gilbert Gottrried lunching at Pastis during Gilbert's interview for the book on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip, the club that launched the careers of Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Paul Reiser, Ray Romano and so many more. Jeffrey is writing the book with owner/founder of The Strip, Richie Tienken.

Let’s send Healing energy to all parties!

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