Posts Tagged “New York Comedy Festival”

Stand-Up For Heroes at The Beacon Theatre

The NY Comedy Festival had so many star-studded shows, but the one that stuck out for me as being the most meaningful, besides being just entertaining was the Stand-Up For Heroes event, at The Beacon Theater on 75th and Broadway, produced in conjunction with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, honoring our brave servicemen and women who have been injured while serving our country overseas.

NY Comedy Festival poster highlighting all the big stars attending!

The line-up of talent was impressive including on the musical end John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, and Roger Waters, and on the comedic end Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, and Mike Birbiglia. Also on the style end were the two gorgeous style experts Ann Caruso and Mary Alice Stephenson, who you know from TV!

Stand-Up For Heroes Poster for event at The Beacon Theater on November 8, 2012!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV having a grand old time with two gorgeous style experts, Mary Alice Stephenson on the left, and Ann Caruso right in the middle! (LOL)

Covering a red carpet is difficult at times, because the huge TV networks tend to monopolize the stars as they make their way down the red carpet, so that by the time they get down to the independent press people like us, very often they’re out of time to speak, because the event is starting. And it’s difficult for the press people running the event to hurry everyone along.

Luckily I know a lot of the red carpet honorees so they stop off to say “Hi” even briefly. Besides getting to speak to Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais, who asked if I did my hair like that for him, (LOL), I got a very cool interview with Ann Caruso and Mary Alice Stephenson who styled the wives and female soldiers for this great event, and managed to get clothing donated from The Limited and even from Dior.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Ricky Gervais on the red carpet of Stand-Up For Heroes!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Style Experts Mary Alice Stephenson and Ann Caruso on the red carpet of “Stand-Up For Heroes!”

One of the biggest honors I had was getting to speak to some of the “wounded warriors” themselves. In the video accompanying this post you’ll see interviews with Lance Cpl. Michael Martinez, USMC who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan, but walks so well with his prosthetics that you wouldn’t even know. He walks with a limp, but walked the red carpet proudly with his girlfriend Megan Waters.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing hero /Wounded Warrior Lance Cpl. Michael Martinez of the US Marine Corps at Stand-Up For Heroes!

I also got to speak to Capt. Pat Horan, U.S. Army who was there with his wife Patty Horan. Capt. Pat had a bullet explode under his helmet, which within an hour destroyed his ability to walk, the coordination of his body, mouth, and his vestibular system which controls your balance. He lost all sensation on the right side of his body, and the ability to speak, read, and write, but as you’ll see in the video through lots of hard work in rehab has made an incredibly miraculous recovery.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviews Capt. Pat Horan, US Army on the red carpet of “Stand-Up For Heroes” at The Beacon Theater!

It was truly an honor to meet these brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country, and who were escorted down the red carpet by various stars in attendance. You can see the video right here:

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Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane Make A Movie

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
“Bridesmaids”.

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)

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New York Comedy Festival Packed With Stars-11/7-11/11

For the past 9 years Caroline Hirsch, owner and founder of Carolines Comedy Club has put together the NY Comedy Festival, a festival of gigantic talent and impressive proportions. I alternate between calling her “The Queen of NY Comedy” and the “First Lady of NY Comedy”, both titles of which she is deserving, for having Carolines Comedy Club thriving in NYC, and providing A-list entertainment for over 30 years.

The star-studded New York Comedy Festival takes over NYC for 5 days and nights!

The festival is made up of the biggest stars performing in the biggest venues, like Ricky Gervais at Town Hall,Kevin Hart at Madison Square Garden for two shows on Saturday, 11/10, Marlon and Shawn Wayans at Carolines for several shows throughout the festival, Denis Leary at the Paley Center for Media, Artie Lange at Town Hall in a show called ” Too Fat To Die”, Adam Carolla’s “Not Taco Bell Material” at Town Hall, and in a brilliant bit of casting, Jim Gaffigan, the whitest man in comedy, at The Apollo up in Harlem!

These are just some of the shows being offered. There are many more in many other venues, twenty-four altogether. I sat down with Caroline for a fun video interview which should be up very shortly, but we had a chance to reminisce about all of her clubs, which I’ve been going to since she opened in 1981. That club was in a small space on 26th Street and 8th Avenue, where she hired Jay Leno as the first comic to be booked there.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at Carolines on Broadway, with Caroline Hirsch, owner and founder of the NY Comedy Festival!

I don’t remember much of my life, but for some reason I remember very clearly seeing both Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser there, before either of them were known, and being so impressed with them both, that I offered to introduce them to comedy manager David Jonas who at the time was managing Freddie Prinze, and went on to get him ” Chico and the Man!”

I had been introduced years earlier to David by award-winning writer/director/producer Alan Zweibel, when Alan and I first met up at SNL in the early days, although when I first met Alan he wasn’t any of those aforementioned things yet! But it was David that got me started as a comedy writer for great comics like Dick Capri and Freddie Roman.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Alan Zweibel and Jeffrey’s new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock!

Alan was a comedy writer on the show, and was playing handball on the walls of the SNL offices with Neil Levy, a cousin of Lorne Michaels, and Neil was also a producer on the show at the time!

Caroline closed her 26th Street location in 1987, when she opened her magnificent South Street Seaport location, and that’s where Jon Stewart got his start as an opening act. He even did children’s parties on Saturdays, and Caroline thinks she remembers him wearing a cape.

Then after five years at that location, in 1992 Caroline opened in her current location on 50th and Broadway, a beautiful room that probably holds 300 people or more, and is usually packed whenever I go. Now it’s called “Carolines on Broadway!”

And it’s run by old, old friend Louis Faranda, who I go back with to the days when he was a bartender at Catch A Rising Star. Louis and I also got a chance to reminisce about old times, and I got to tell him that he’s in my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” in the Chris Rock story, of how he encouraged a 19 year old Chris to call Eddie Murphy after Eddie had given him his number. Chris was too nervous to call until he ran into Louis who said something to the effect, “Schmuck, if Eddie Murphy gives you his number call him!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in a rare photo with old friend Louis Faranda at Carolines on Broadway, the club he runs so well!

That led to Chris calling Eddie, going out with him and his entourage that night to see Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”, which led to a part in Beverly Hills Cop 2, which led to Chris Rock’s amazing career!

One NY Comedy Festival event in particular that I’m excited about is “Stand Up For Heroes” at The Beacon Theatre, whose red carpet I’ll be covering tonight. It’s a benefit for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to investing in national and community-based programs that connect our troops to the help they need— from individual needs like physical accommodations, job training, financial counseling, to larger social issues like homelessness and suicide prevention; educating the public about the needs of service members returning from war; and collaborating with key federal, state, and local experts to identify and solve issues related to the successful return of service members from combat to civilian life.

On that show and hopefully on the red carpet escorting injured servicemen will be Mike Birbiglia, (who kindly gave me a great blurb for the back cover of my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh”),Ricky Gervais, Patton Oswalt, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, John Mayer and Roger Waters.

Sneak peek of Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Ricky Gervais on the red carpet of Stand Up For Heroes at The Beacon Theatre!

I’m also excited about the prospect of seeing my good friend, style expert Ann Caruso, who worked with her best friend, and style expert Mary Alice Stephenson to style both the wives of the wounded warriors and some of the female warriors who were wounded as well and will be attending the event! It should be a spectacular evening!

For more info on the festival and the schedule of events please go to http://www.nycomedyfestival.com There’s almost 90 shows in 24 different venues!

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