At the request of Nick Kroll, I flew out to LA to be in some sketches with Nick and John Mulaney for Nick’s upcoming show on Comedy Central. For right now it’s being called “The Nick Show Kroll”, but according to Nick that could change. I brought my camera equipment with me, hoping I’d be able to film something fun on set for Comedy Matters TV.
Nick Kroll, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and John Mulaney the way they usually look!
But when I got there, it was such a busy set, with so much going on that I didn’t want to impose on anyone by asking. Frankly, I was just glad to be there. I thought about asking Inman Young the producer, but held off thinking that at some point, when the time was right I’d ask Nick myself, since he was already familiar with the fact that I document everything I do with photos and video for my Comedy Matters Vlog and my Comedy Matters TV channel.
Jeffrey Gurian on set in LA with Gil Faizon, one of the “Oh, Hello” boys!
I had already asked if I could take stills during the shoot, and got the ok from Nick, so every once in a while, when I felt sure I wouldn’t ruin a scene being shot, I whipped out my ever-present camera and took some shots.
I am the guy, by the way, who accidentally put my camera down on the doctor’s sterile instruments while one of my daughters was being born, accidentally breaking the sterile chain, and had everyone in the delivery room screaming at me, while they rushed to rectify the situation. They told me it was ok to take photos, and I was so engrossed that when the baby came out, I got so excited I put my camera down on their instruments!
So it wasn’t that far fetched for me to picture accidentally taking a flash photo on Nick’s set, and ruining a scene that was being shot! I live with that fear of always doing something stupid! (LOL) Anyone else relate???
So anyway, on the second day of the shoot, I asked Nick and he said it would be cool at the end of the shoot. The thing was that everyone’s on the clock so at the end of the shoot, he and John were still in costume, and it would have taken a while for them to have their make-up removed and all, so we went into Nick’s trailer, and shot it with them still in character.
George St. Geegland, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Gil Faizon on the set of Nick Kroll’s show in LA!
I didn’t realize how confusing it would be for me since I had planned on interviewing Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and thanking THEM for having me on the show, and here I was interviewing Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland. This fact hit me right after my intro when I said, ” Hey this is Jeffrey Gurian for Comedy Matters TV and I’m here with Nick Kroll, or should I say Gil Faizon, and then I didn’t even say “John Mulaney”, I just said “George St. Geegland”, cause I realized that that’s who I was with.
So I’m trying to interview them, and thank them as themselves while they’re staying in character. It actually turned out very funny! See for yourselves!
Jodi Lieberman, Amber J. Lawson, and Zoe Friedman are three powerhouses in the world of comedy, and I’m proud to say I know them all! They teamed up to create Transforming The World Through Comedy, a philanthropic organization simply known as TWT, because they said they wanted to use the power of comedy to help those less fortunate than them.
So tonight they held the world’s first multi-city,(NY, Chicago, and L.A.) multi-platform comedy fundraiser, which I attended. It was held at Gotham Comedy Club, thanks to owner Chris Mazzilli who always makes himself available for a good cause. He was there tonight as well, after having put in a full day of work before. ( In a suit and tie as usual! LOL )
The photo below was on a former night when he accidentally removed his tie! (LOL)
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Gotham Comedy Club owner Chris Mazzilli, sans tie!!!
TWT teamed up with an organization known as Off The Mat Into The World, or OTM, to bring this event to fruition, and the monies raised will go to Haiti. By the time I left there were 40,000 people online watching, … and laughing, I’m sure! Haiti still needs lots of help. Last year I was privileged to co-produce a 3,000 seat sold out fundraiser for Haiti starring Kevin Hart, and featuring Tony Rock with Will Sylvince as the MC. It was at the Westbury Theatre on Long Island.
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Kevin Hart at a promo event before the fundraiser for Haiti at the Westbury Theatre!
The TWT show was streamed live on www.TWTComedy.com and Stickam, which carried the Japan Aid show as well. The New York show started at 8 P.M., the Chicago show held in Zanies comedy club started at 8:30 P.M. Chicago time, and the LA show at the Hollywood Improv started at 8 P.M. LA time, which of course is 11 P.M. here in NY.
The footage will be live on TWTComedy.com for the next 7 days until 11/21/11, to be able to continue bringing in the donations.
Eddie Brill from The Letterman Show MC’ed the NY event, which is always a good choice because Eddie is an excellent MC. It’s much harder to be an MC than a regular comic cause you have to keep the energy running all night, and bring the acts up in a timely manner, while keeping the audience connected to what’s going on. Eddie’s like the Energizer Bunny, especially since he lost so much weight! It’s also a good analogy for him, because he does a bit on the Easter Bunny, and how you don’t find anything about chocolate or bunnies in the Bible.
Eddie Brill onstage, MC’ing the TWT event for Haiti!
First up in New York was Bonnie McFarlane, who I’ve been seeing a lot lately and enjoying more and more each time I see her. She has a certain quality on stage that really draws you to her, and not just because she’s so attractive! Her punchlines are not predictable and come out of left field, which I always appreciate. She’s married to comic Rich Vos, and in saying that I’m not giving away any secrets, because they’re kind of open about it.
Bonnie McFarlane making people laugh at Gotham Comedy Club at the TWT event for Haiti!
They travel together a lot. In just the last week alone, I’ve seen them both perform at the tribute to Mike DeStefano, who was a comic who left us much too soon this past year, and they were both judges on The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip this past Tuesday night. Very often they have their beautiful little daughter Reina with them, who Bonnie explains away by saying, ” I have a daughter. That’s what happens when you do it in the front!” (LOL) She guesses her daughter is about 4! (LOL)
People tell Bonnie her daughter looks like her, but Bonnie disagrees. She thinks she’s so much better looking than her daughter! I think Bonnie’s very cool!
Rich performed as well and was a crowd pleaser as usual. He knows how to take control of a crowd, and make them pay attention. He too is a great host!
Rich Vos, a favorite of Opie and Anthony, doing what he does best onstage at Gotham for TWT!
Tom Papa has TWO little girls, and the audience absolutely loves him. No matter what he says he gets big laughs. It’s not only his jokes, but the energy he puts behind them. Audiences respond to that. I see why Jerry Seinfeld chose him to host his show “The Marriage Ref.” Tom wonders where all the money went from the US, Europe and even China. No one seems to have any money except for Jay-Z. He must have it all!
He talks about no kid wanting to have a “hot” Mom. You want a cinnamon-scented fat-ass in a flowered dress! That leaves out Bonnie McFarlane! (LOL)
Tom Papa in the midst of an animated gesture, killing it onstage at Gotham for TWT!
In talking about tall thin fashion models, Tom wonders what you’d do with one if you had one in your house! He said it would be like having a live giraffe in your living room. They’d probably knock things over, and move around awkwardly. His advice, … ” Feed ’em cocaine. They seem to like that!”
Rachel Feinstein was next, and she’s turning herself into a real comedy “babe”! I like seeing her transform, and have been watching it happen with great interest and appreciation for a while now! For a long time, I think girls thought they had to come across as real plain in order to make people laugh. She does great “voice” work, and is one of the few women working who can imitate a guy’s voice dead-on!
Rachel Feinstein performing at Gotham to raise money for Haiti at the TWT event!
Like when she imitates the guys who hang out on the stoops in her hood in Brooklyn, and harass her as if it was “her naughty little idea to be a woman!” And when talking about dating older men, she also referenced doing The Charleston a couple of times, which is always good to me. Obscure references always work in comedy! It reminded me of a joke I once wrote, “You know a guy is old if he asks you to do The Hucklebuck!” Any word like “The Hucklebuck” is bound to get a laugh!
Gary Gulman was next and I was glad to see Gary cause it had been a while since our paths had crossed. Gary is one of those good looking guys who seems to hate the fact that he’s good looking and does everything he can to play it down. I’ve known a few guys like that. There aren’t many. It’s a sign of humility! In talking about Greece’s troubles, Gary wondered what happened to them. In a relatively short time they went from Plato and Aristotle to John Stamos and Yanni!
(L-R) Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman genuinely enjoying each other’s company at the TWT event for Haiti at Gotham Comedy Club!
And my old buddy Colin Quinn closed the show! I never get tired of seeing Colin perform. He too performed at the Mike DeStefano Tribute. There are some comics who are always willing to give of themselves for a good cause. They could all be out making money, but instead they donate their time to make others laugh to help collect money for worthy causes.
I don’t know how Colin did in school, but he’s a master of language and nuance. Talk about obscure references. Maybe only Dennis Miller has more, but Colin is funnier! (LOL) He analyzes every word and phrase ever uttered by anyone since time immemorial, and shows you the foolishness of every remark. Like when he describes how New Yorkers talk, and accuse you of things at the same time : ” Where’d you get that ice cream?” Or how they can come off as being very confrontational over nothing : ” Nice day today, … right or wrong?” You could be afraid to answer a question like that!
Colin Quinn with the smile that endears him to the audience, raising money through laughs at Gotham, for TWT!
Or like when he recounts having a conversation with an old guy in his neighborhood and mentioning a guy who was strong. The old guy says something like, ” that guy is so strong he could take you by the neck, drag you into the middle of the street, pull down your pants, and “have his way with you!” ( Except he didn’t use those exact words! LOL) Colin then asks the old man, ” Isn’t there another way for you to prove your point without me being sodomized against my will?” And the audience shrieks with laughter because we’ve all known people who embellish stories like that, and you’d secretly like to sign them up to take some sort of psychological test to find out why!
Needless to say, the show was a huge hit! Congratulations Zoe, Amber and Jodi! You guys did good!!!
Carlos Mencia is the 17th of 18 children, believe it or not, and was born in Honduras. As an infant he was sent to the US to be raised by an aunt and uncle in the Maravilla Projects in Los Angeles,” (the city of Angels” in Espanol), but went back to Honduras as a young teenager to get away from the gang culture in his neighborhood. When he came back to the US, the school system took notice of how smart he was and automatically put him into the 10th grade, …proving that ” The Mind of Mencia” was not just the name of his hit TV show on Comedy Central from 2005 to 2008!
Carlos Mencia onstage at Gotham Comedy Club making a very pertinent point!
( I had a choice with that tag! As a comedy writer, I could have said, “the school system took notice of how smart he was and automatically put him into the 10th grade. Unfortunately he was 19 at the time!” and gotten a cheap laugh, but I like Carlos, so I didn’t do that! LOL )
Carlos started performing stand-up at The Laugh Factory and went on to become a regular at The Comedy Store, which is where I first met him. He performed there every night and drew quite a following. There was always a buzz about Mencia.
The “fluffy” Carlos Mencia I knew when I first met him out in LA! “Fluffy” being Gabriel Iglesias’ term for slightly overweight! LOL
So when I found out he was headlining Gotham Comedy Club I made sure to attend. But he lost so much weight I almost didn’t recognize him.
The newly thin, healthier, and funnier than ever Carlos Mencia onstage at Gotham!
To address that, he comes out and right away tells the audience that he doesn’t have AIDS. One day a friend of his made a comment that he was fat! (I understand it was Gabriel Iglesias who said it, which is hysterical, on many levels!)
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV and Gabriel Iglesias at a Latino Comedy Festival in LA! Gabriel is shocked by the size of Jeffrey’s big pen!
The next time they got together, Gabriel Iglesias got the bigger pen and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV got stuck with the smaller pen!
Carlos couldn’t believe it cause he never thought of himself as being overweight! Then he saw photos of himself, realized he was fat, and decided to do something about it! That’s what is known as “taking back the power!”
The man is half his size! But if he’s half his size, he’s twice as funny, with a wealth of material that most comics could only wish for.
He talks a lot about how great it is to be an American, and makes sharp racial observations like discussing why it’s a common thought that most Black people can’t swim. “Cause we used to chase them away from the pool. So ironically they became fast runners, but they never learned how to swim!”
A very thin and very funny Carlos Mencia killing it on stage at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!
He also does great dialects including African, French, Spanish of course and Japanese.
But the one concept that stood out to me the most was his take on Columbus discovering America, when the Native Americans were already living here. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something like, “You can’t discover a country if people are already living there!” He envisioned a guy from Mexico jumping the border and when he was stopped by border guards and told he was entering a sovereign country, would plant a flag and say, ” I am discovering this country for my people!” That’s comedic genius!
I’ve met lots and lots of stars in my day, but none more exciting, and adorable than Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who got on my lap almost as soon as I met her! Not because I’m that good with women, but because she’s only 4 years old! I have the pleasure of being good friends with her Dad, Kent Emmons who started All Comedy Radio, and headed up National Lampoon Radio for a while, and is now heavy into creating infomercials with his company Kent Direct!
Jeffrey Gurian holding Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, the new star of ABC's Modern Family, along with Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara!
When I told Kent I was coming out to LA last month to perform and also to interview Billy Crystal and Russell Peters, he insisted that I stay at his home in Westlake Village, and I’m so glad I did. Kent is the kind of host that makes you feel at home right away. And he and his assistant Sarah made sure I felt like part of the family for my whole stay!
Jeffrey Gurian and Kent Emmons in Kent's new home in Westlake Village!
As part of the family, I got to meet little Aubrey. I had met her before but it was when she was just born. I was out in LA with my new book at the time, “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive”, which was based on my writings for the famed Friars Roasts for many years, and Kent was kind enough to make me a book party at his home in the Hollywood Hills. It was a great party and Budd Friedman, the father of comedy clubs was there, as was uber-literary agent Peter Miller, and Hollywood starlet and dear friend Kali Hawk, among others. Kali, by the way, is gorgeous and talented, and will be HUGE, and I’m glad to say I know her for a loooooong time !!!
Comedy Legend Budd Friedman of Improv fame at the party that Kent Emmons made for Jeffrey Gurian's book "Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive."
Super literary agent Peter Miller at Kent Emmon's party for Jeffrey Gurian's book "Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive."
Jeffrey Gurian with the gorgeous and talented actress Kali Hawk at Kent Emmons' part for Jeffrey's book, " Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive" with the favorite nasty jokes of 250 celebs!
Anyway, I think Aubrey had been born about a week before I arrived, and I felt badly for her mom, comic Amy Anderson who really didn’t need house company at a time like that. I did my best not to cause any trouble! (LOL)
This time, I got to see Aubrey all grown up! What a beautiful, happy, well-adjusted child! Her parents must be doing something right. Her personality is that of a 12 year old, but she’s so loving and adorable, and accomplished. I got to spend quite a bit of time with her, and at the time I was there, we knew she was up for the role of Lily, on Modern Family, replacing the twins Jaden and Ella Hiller, but we didn’t know she got the role yet!
Kent Emmons and his beautiful daughter Aubrey, having the best time at a Reggae Festival!
We all went all over together and we even went to a Reggae Festival with internet master Adam Gilad, because the Reggae Festival was being produced by his son Amit, who I had also met when he was just a kid! All of a sudden he has a beard, and is producing music festivals! What happened???
Jeffrey Gurian having a laugh with TV star Aubrey Anderson-Emmons over dinner in a Mexican restaurant!
Anyway, I just got the good news from her Dad, and Aubrey was all over the trades this week. This is a cool article on her in Entertainment Weekly! AubreyEntWeekly
We wish her so much luck on her debut when the show returns on Sept. 21st. I already got an invite to return and stay with Kent, but I hope Aubrey doesn’t get so famous that she won’t wanna hang out with her uncle Jeffrey! (LOL)
Coincidentally, while I was in Montreal recently at the Just For Laughs Festival, I got a great little interview with Steve Levitan the creator and writer of Modern Family. You can check that out right here:
This is a brief compilation of my recent trip to L.A. featuring my interviews with Billy Crystal, the first comic to ever set foot on stage at The Comic Strip on June 1, 1976, and Russell Peters, one of the only comics to be able to fill stadiums, as he did in Vancouver when 18,000 people came out two nights in a row to see this dude!
Jeffrey Gurian with Billy Crystal in Billy's Beverly Hills office, Face Productions!
As I told Kal Penn when I interviewed him for Comedy Matters, ” there was a time, and not too long ago, when no one knew that Indian people could be funny!” And Kal cracked up because he knew it was true. Kal stars in the Harold and Kumar films and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Indian people can be funny. Russell Peters takes it ten steps further!
Jeffrey Gurian with Kal Penn for the release of a new harold and Kumar film!
Born in Canada, and speaking perfect English with no accent at all, Russell says he identifies more with being Canadian than with being an Indian man. He’s Indian in his DNA, and his skin color, so when he looks in the mirror he’s aware that he’s Indian, but that’s about it.
He sees himself as he is, and sees the humor in seeing everyone for what they are. What I love about him, besides just about everything he does, is that he has almost singlehandedly destroyed a stereotype, which is very hard to do. He has broken the stereotype of the humorless Indian man. To be able to see yourself as you believe others see you, and to make it funny is pure genius.
Russell Peters is not only “hip”, he’s too hip for the room! And that’s at a time when everyone is striving to be “hip.” The legendary Rodney Dangerfield who was the first big star I ever wrote for once told me, ” Jeff, you know who’s hip?” I’m like, ” No Rodney, who’s hip?” He’s like, ” Two guys in the Village.” And we all fell down laughing cause he was right. Everybody is so caught up in being “hip” when almost no one is, … except for these two elusive guys in The Village!
Jeffrey Gurian, jus' chillin' with Russell Peters at Russell's home in L.A.
Russell is a rare talent and I call him “The Messiah of Comedy.” All you have to do is attend one of his shows, to see the multi-cultural background of his audience. There are people there in turbans and traditional Indian dress and they’re laughing their asses off! I teach at NYU where the majority of students seem to be Indian females and almost all of them bust out laughing at just the mention of Russell Peters’ name. The man is a phenomenon!
He brings all ethnicities together and in a clever way makes fun of everyone, but he comes from such a good place that no one could ever be offended. He has the ability to see things clearly that other people miss. True artists are like that. And people love when you can imitate an accent. I don’t think I can think of one accent that Russell can’t do. But when he does the Indian accent, people are crying from laughing so hard. Not only does he do the accent but the facial expressions, the head movements and the hand and finger movements. He’s a genius at physical comedy. I am truly amazed at Russell Peters.
Jeffrey Gurian and Russell Peters checkout out the munitions artwork that adorns Russell's walls!
I wish I could do a Chinese accent. I talk about it in my act but it would be better if I could do it!
The only accent I can do is like a Greek accent or some kind of Eastern European accent, like when two guys meet in the street and one guy says, ” Hello my friend, how are you today?” And the other guy answers, ” Five thank you, how are you?”. First guy – ” Not too good, I feel a little six!” Second Guy – “Really, you don’t look six at all. You look just five to me!” And they go on through this conversation using numbers instead of the right words, until the end when the first guy says, ” I have to go now. Nice threeing you again!” and the second guy says, ” Nice threeing you two!” That’s the extent of my accent work, and it absolutely “kills”, … around my apartment!
I’ve never actually done it on stage, because I haven’t hated myself enough yet to try it out, ( just in case it doesn’t work!), … but maybe someday???
So anyway, I’m in LA and I call Russell ’cause his brother Clayton, who is a great guy and also his manager, left me a message that if I come to LA, Russell would make time to see me, and hang out. I had only a few priorities on my trip. The first was to interview Billy Crystal, the second was to hang out and interview Russell, and third was to perform in the clubs in LA cause I had never set foot on a stage in Los Angeles, and that was a hurdle I was ready to take on.
I wound up performing on Kevin Nealon’s show at Jamie Masada’s Laugh Factory. I happen to know Kevin back from his SNL days cause I was friendly with him, and Dana Carvey, and Jon Lovitz, and especially Phil Hartman. Listen to this weird synchronicity! When I packed to go to LA, I grabbed a small leather case that I used to carry my comedy material in, without looking at what was inside. When I got to LA and opened it up, I saw that it was material I had written for Kevin Nealon for the Friars Roast of Chevy Chase back in 1990. This was at least 3 days before I knew I’d be performing on Kevin’s show! Coincidence? I think not! (LOL)
Jeffrey Gurian with Kevin Nealon at Jamie Masada's Laugh Factory!
So I get the call that I’m on Kevin’s show and that after my set we’ll do an onstage interview. I’m like, ” Cool.” I hadn’t seen Kevin in a long time and I figured he’d be surprised to see my name on his show roster. I was told I’d be on third at 8:40. I got to the club a little after 8, while Kevin was on stage warming up the crowd, … not with jokes, with blankets and hugs! He was literally warming up the crowd because they felt chilly from the air conditioning! ( I’m just being silly!)
So he’s warming up the audience when he suddenly says, ” We have a great show for you tonight. Let’s see who’s on the list, and he starts reading names and when he comes to mine he says, ” Jeffrey Gurian? is Jeffrey Gurian here?”
And I was in the back of the room, so I answered that I was there. He was like, ” Jeffrey Gurian is here. He’s funny! Let’s put him on first. Give a warm welcome to Jeffrey Gurian.” And the crowd started applauding, and I couldn’t say anything, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, ” I thought Kevin liked me. Why is he putting me on first?” Turns out he did me the biggest favor in the world because I had no time to get nervous, I went right up and if I have to say so myself, I killed!
Kevin Nealon on stage at The Laugh Factory hosting his weekly show!
Fortunately I was not alone in that assessment! Kevin said so, and so did owner Jamie Masada who was there and saw the set. Jamie said I could perform there anytime I was in town. Not only that, he told me to call the club the next day and tell the booker that Jamie said to put me on Tom Arnold’s show the next night.
I was so psyched, because Tom is a friend and I had e-mailed him a few days before telling him I was going to be in LA to see if he had time to hang out. He wrote me back saying he was doing a lot of filming including a thing on “Sons of Anarchy” and probably wouldn’t have time for us to get together.
Jeffrey Gurian with Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, AFTER Jeffrey's set in front of the Laugh Factory logo!
So when Jamie told me I’d be on Tom’s show I was thrilled, cause I knew he’d be surprised to see me there, and I’d kill the proverbial two birds with one stone. Who by the way, was ever killing birds with a stone? Where did that expression start? And not only one bird but two birds with the same stone? They must have been very slow moving birds. Who does that anyway? Killing birds with a stone. Very bizarre! So I’m psyched to do Tom’s show, and impress him with my comedic talent (LOL), and at the last minute Tom has to cancel because he’s stuck on the set of ” Sons of Anarchy.” It just goes to show that you can not micro-manipulate The Universe. Things only happen when they’re supposed to.
Kevin by the way sent me this really nice e-mail in response to my thank you e-mail to him, saying : “Great seeing you again, too. You always crack me up. Hope to see you again down the road.” How nice is that that Kevin Nealon says I always crack him up?
Jamie happens to be a very kind man. I remember being out in LA one Christmas and Jamie does this thing where he feeds people all Christmas day from the club. Non-stop! Homeless people, and comics both, … and sometimes they’re the same thing! (LOL) The way most comics dress, they ALL look homeless! (LOL)
So I didn’t get to perform for Tom Arnold, but but I DID get the Friday night show at The Improv thanks to booker Emilie Laford, who put me on the 10 P.M. show with Ralph Figueroa as the host. It was also a very successful show and Ralph sent me a really nice e-mail telling me that I did an “awesome” set and that he hoped to work with me again! Thanks Ralph, the feeling is mutual!
Jeffrey Gurian with show host/comic Ralph Figueroa at The Improv in Hollywood!
Plus, I got to go on stage right before my good friend Helen Hong, who I know from New York and who can definitely do the Chinese accent! Maybe if I ask nicely she’ll teach me! Helen is always so funny! Prease Heren, would you teach me???
Jeffrey Gurian with Helen Hong at The Improv in L.A.!
Anyway, back to Russell Peters! ( I feel like I’m all over the place with this post! )
Russell invited me to his house and I expected something special but it was even better. I got to meet his wife Monica, who he married in August of 2010, and his new little daughter Crystianna, who was so cute I tried to take her with me when I left, but he caught me and made me give her back! He was like, ” What’s that lump under your jacket?” And I was like, ” OK, you caught me. I’m sorry. Here. You can have your baby back!” She was really that cute!
Jeffrey Gurian reclining in Russell Peters' screening room with wall to wall TV!
Russell has a screening room, with reclining chairs where you can just lay back and chill, and watch this huge screen TV that covers the entire wall.
Then there’s the entertainment room with the pinball games.
But my favorite toy of his was his new Rolls Royce, which I’m pretty sure he called a Phantom Drophead Coupe, or Dropdead Coupe, or something like that. ( There’s supposed to be an accent mark over the last “e” in Coupe, but my computer only speaks English so I don’t have an “accent egout” which is what I think they called it in French class when I wasn’t paying attention! LOL)
They only started making this model in 2007, and Russell was too humble to tell me it’s the most expensive Rolls Royce they make. It’s got like a stainless steel hood, what Russell referred to as “suicide doors” that open backwards towards the back of the car, and which you can open and close remotely, and believe it or not the exterior is available in more than 44,000 color combinations. I didn’t even know there WERE more than 44,000 color combinations. My crayon box has about 108 colors and I thought that about maxed it out.
Jeffrey Gurian and Russell Peters in his new Drophead Dropdead Rolls, with the stainless steel hood, just in case you want to cook lunch on the top of your car!
So Russell and I were chillin’ in the Rolls and I felt I had to remind him that you were supposed to get these things like a gorgeous home and Rolls Royce BEFORE you’re married not after! We had a good laugh about that! And I think that was when he discovered I had his baby! (LOL)
Who wouldn't be smiling driving a car like this???
And before I left his house, with his “man-servant”, or assistant who he referred to as “Homeless Matt”, I happened to tell him that I was going to interview Billy Crystal the next day. That’s when he told me that he and Billy were doing a movie together and that I should send Billy his best, cause Billy was his boy!
Billy was as nice as could be. We met at his offices in Beverly HIlls, thanks to Bob Wachs, the co-founder of The Comic Strip in NYC, and Billy’s lawyer in the early days, and Billy graciously gave me about an hour of his time. We reminisced about how we first met through Jack Rollins who is currently 96 years old, G-d Bless him,( I’m becoming my own grandmother! ) and how Jack had wanted Billy to play me in a proposed sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show business. He even remembered calling me “the funny dentist” and how Alan King referred to me the same way.
Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, referencing the rumour that Jeffrey Gurian used to be a dentist!
And he shared with me a little gem that Jack Rollins had told him after seeing his early stand-up. He said, ” You did great, and your act was fine, but ” you didn’t leave a tip!” You didn’t leave the audience with anything to remember you by! ” And that message stuck with Billy all these years and changed the way he performed on stage from that day forth! He always remembered to share a little bit extra of himself with his audience, and always left them a tip!
I did remember to send Billy Russell’s regards, and Billy echoed what Chris Rock said about Russell, who ranked #9 on Forbes list of highest earning comedians, ” Russell Peters, … he’s the most famous comedian that no one ever heard of.” I have a feeling that all that will change very soon! ( My words, not Billy’s!)
In summary, … anytime you have an opportunity to see Russell perform, make sure you go, because it’s really a treat! So check out the little video interview I did with Russell. There will be a longer version coming up soon, but I’m getting ready to go and see him perform in Montreal next week at the Just for Laughs Festival where he will be hosting his own show, with his own hand-picked comedians like Dom Irrera, and Jeremy Hotz, and it was all I could do to get this short version ready for the public before I left.
I wasn’t able to attend the wake for Mike DeStefano so I got up extra early and made my way to St. Benedict’s Church in the Bronx, to pay my respects at his funeral.
There’s always something a little surreal about being at the funeral of someone you knew, especially when that person was relatively young, and left suddenly, in an untimely manner. It’s hard to picture them laying there lifeless in a box, and that you’ll never see them again.
And Clergymen of all religions speak of the day when we will all be reunited in Heaven, as his Priest did when he said that Mike was now reunited with his Dad and his wife, but although those thoughts give us a modicum of comfort, there’s still the reality to be dealt with that that person is gone from this plane, and we won’t be seeing them again. It’s very strange.
It reminded me of the passing of my good friend Phil Hartman, who was killed in his sleep. I was out in LA at the time and had just spoken to Phil a couple of days before his murder. He invited me to come and visit with him and his wife Brynne that very weekend in Malibu. I recall asking him the best way to drive to his house, and trying my best to write down the directions. There was no GPS in those days, at least not on the rental car that I had.
For whatever reason I wasn’t able to go, but I had already told my Mom that I was going to visit Phil over the weekend. Then when the terrible news came out, I found out from my mother, who woke me up early in the morning with the question, “Oh my G-d, are you alright?”
I was used to her being over-protective, but when I asked her why she sounded so upset, she told me what had happened to Phil, and said the initial reports were that two men were killed at Phil Hartman’s house during what looked like a robbery, and she was afraid I was one of those men.
Phil Hartman and Jeffrey Gurian at Jeffrey's piano circa 1992
After assuring her I was still alive, I did my best to process this tragedy. As the day unfurled and the facts came out, it hit me really hard that I could no longer call my buddy Phil, and I actually called his phone several times to hear his voice. It took a few days until they turned it off. I couldn’t comprehend what had happened to him and that I’d never speak to him again.
Then the crazy thought hit me that he didn’t know he was dead. And I don’t mean this in any way as a joke. I would never do that. I’m very serious. He went to bed fully expecting to wake up the next day as always, but he never woke up. I was haunted by the thought of what his mind might be thinking. That somewhere in his consciousness, he was still expecting to wake up, because he had no idea he was dead.
Internet sensation Lauren Francesca, who plays Lady Gaga in the super-successful Key of Awesome parodies,( 27 million hits and rising)
filmed a parody of Lady Gaga in all of the Oscar nominated films, True Grit, The Fighter, 127 Hours, Black Swan, and The King’s Speech. Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters is in The King’s Speech playing the Lionel Logue character.