Posts Tagged “Ricky Velez”

The King of Staten Island Rocks

PETE DAVIDSON/SCOTT CARLIN WITH HIS BOYS MOISES ARIAS, RICKY VELEZ AND LOU WILSON ON STATEN ISLAND

People who know me know I don’t do “review” reviews. I write about my experience seeing a show, or a film or any type of creative performance. I write about how it made me feel, and what the characters did. And if I don’t like it I don’t write about it at all.

WITH PETE DAVIDSON THE STAR OF KING OF STATEN ISLAND

Fortunately that’s not the case with The King of Staten Island because it would have been very difficult for me to ignore this project. It’s literally packed with comedian friends and people I know for a really long time.

Kudos first of all to director Judd Apatow, for bringing this amazing cast together, and creating cinematic magic. He produced, directed and co-wrote the script with Pete, and former SNL writer Dave Sirus who all did an amazing job telling this poignant story. When I spoke to Dave he said the experience working with Judd was surreal, and opening day was “a very weird day”, … in a good way!

WITH THE KING OF HOLLYWOOD COMEDY JUDD APATOW

Just to name the comedy people first, it’s Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Ricky Velez, Lynn Koplitz, Derek Gaines, Keith Robinson, Pamela Adlon, Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane, Liza Treyger, Mike Vecchione, Carly Aquilino, and Jessica Kirson.

 
I’m particularly happy for Pete Davidson, because I think he had a lot riding on this film personally. So many people including me were waiting excitedly for it to come out, and it would have been devastating if it had not turned out as well as it did. 

Pete gets so much press about so many different things, from all different angles, but he should be very proud of this project, which is loosely based on his own life.

And Judd must have been so proud that his daughter Maude was so great in the film playing Pete’s sister, who loves Pete/Scott in spite of himself.
I called Dave to congratulate him and he said it was a really crazy, “weird” day for him. I can only imagine. 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film where I had a connection to so many people and even to a location in the film. I can’t do any spoilers so I’m going to keep this article limited mostly to the talent and the parts they played.

Pete, who stars in the film as Scott Carlin, and co-wrote it with Judd and Dave, plays a 24 year old Staten Island stoner who doesn’t have much direction, thanks to the confusion caused by his severe A.D.D.

He does have a dream though and that is to someday open a tattoo restaurant, which would be the first of it’s kind. Until that either happened or didn’t happen, he’d be just as comfortable hanging out in his basement with a few friends getting stoned.

He’s torn up about the death of his fireman Dad when he was only 7, but isn’t really in touch with that as the cause of his inner turmoil and emotional pain.

I happen to know Pete since he was about 17. He used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip. He’d come in late at night with Jordan Rock and was really shy and really funny. I had a feeling he was gonna do big things, but nobody could guess at the time where he would go, and the heights he would reach.

PETE DAVIDSON WITH JORDAN ROCK BACK IN 2011
WITH PETE DAVIDSON WHEN HE WAS 17

I shared the excitement with him when Nick Cannon took him under his wing and brought him out on the road, and Pete used to tell me how amazing it was being with Nick and Mariah.

And then some years later we shot some fun video interviews up in Montreal, when he was asked to perform at the Just for Laughs Festival two years in a row. I remember how excited he was about being up there.

Then one night at Gotham Comedy Club, where he performed pretty often, he introduced me to his girlfriend at the time, super funny comedian Carly Aquilino, and told her she could tell me anything because I was someone who could be trusted. That was very cool.

Carly also has a part in the movie as Tara, and I almost didn’t recognize her with her super blonde hair which has been many other colors including pink!

WITH CARLY AQUILINO OUTSIDE OF A COMEDY CLUB IN NYC

The last time I saw Pete was with Bill Burr when he and Bill produced Paul Virzi’s special and I drove up to watch the taping and hang out backstage with those guys.

Bill Burr, who is so great in this part, plays a fireman named Ray with a big caterpiller moustache, who winds up dating Pete’s Mom Margie, in the film played by my old friend, the incredibly talented Marisa Tomei.

WITH ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MARISA TOMEI

In 1995 I was working with the Audrey Hepburn Foundation and went to the first year of the Aspen Comedy Festival representing the foundation, whose goal was to help poor children all over the world. I knew Marisa from the Naked Angels theatre troupe, as she was one of the founding members, and I used to go every week as one of the writers whose work they’d read.

When I got back from Aspen the Hepburn foundation had a big event at Planet Hollywood and I asked Marisa to come and make a special appearance which she did as a favor. She had already won the Oscar for her performance in My Cousin Vinny, so it was a really big thing. And Bill Burr gets to kiss her in this film! #sojealous

BILL BURR WITH HIS BIG MOUSTACHE AND MARISA TOMEI

So many people had fun parts. Ricky Velez who’s one of Pete’s best friends in real life plays a best friend in the film as well, and is absolutely superb. He even gets to wear his favorite clothes, which is usually just jeans and a hoodie. He has a very big and important part in terms of what happens to him and to Pete/Scott during the film.

RICKY VELEZ JUST CHILLIN’ ON STATEN ISLAND

Derek Gaines from The Last O.G. plays a waiter in the Staten Island restaurant where Pete gets a job, and Derek is also a close friend and an old roommate of Pete’s. They actually lived together in real life and when I called him right after I saw the film to congratulate him he told me he was “so glad to work with a cast that knew how to play the line of comedy and drama together. Pete and Judd are a power collaboration that I’m so glad to be a part of.”

He went on to say ” Pete is my friend, we sorta grew up together in comedy. He was my roommate for Christ’s sake … I’m glad we stayed cool and he called me to do the part, .. and in the words of Lil Wayne, … it all worked out! (Tha Carter 5).”  In the film he even gets to show off his pop-and-lock skills!

WITH DEREK GAINES WHEN HE WAS MY GUEST ON SIRIUS XM RADIO

Keith Robinson has a funny scene playing a security guard, and Pamela Adlon who has a big part plays Bill Burr’s ex-wife, and the mother of their two adorable kids. Rich Vos and Bonnie Macfarlane have a cool scene in an Italian restaurant called Denino’s which happens to be owned by my dear friend Joe McBratney’s brother, Jimmy McBratney, and where I’ve actually eaten. Great food by the way!

WITH PAMELA ADLON STAR OF BETTER THINGS AT THE FRIARS CLUB

Lynne Koplitz has a very fun part and gets to let out her “inner Lynn” by playing a wise-cracking nurse and best friend to Marisa Tomei. All these people had a chance to act with Marisa Tomei! Amazing.

WITH LYNNE KOPLITZ BACKSTAGE AT SOME SHOW SOMEWHERE

And when I asked Lynne about working with Marisa she said, “ she was great to work with and needless to say so professional. It was very surreal at first being that it was my first role in a full length movie and there I was at rehearsal with this fantastic Oscar winning beauty, but she was very friendly and the entire environment of the movie was very family like which enabled me to get comfortable quickly.”

LYNNE KOPLITZ AND MARISA TOMEIE

She went on to say, “ I honestly can’t say enough nice things about working on this film. I adore Pete and always have and Ricky and Dave are just so generous, and fun and creative. And Judd, … well he just sets this confident and easy going collaborative tone that’s really great to work with.” Sounds like she liked it!

Liza Treyger plays a waitress in that same Italian restaurant where Pete’s character gets a job, Mike Vecchione doesn’t play a cop for which he’s so well suited, but he plays a fireman also with a moustache, and Jessica Kirson plays the owner of a pharmacy who has a very unusual interaction with Ricky Velez and his boys.

WITH STEVE BUSCEMI AT A FILM EVENT

And Steve Buscemi who has done some comedy parts in the past, like on Jim Gaffigan’s show, (where I accidentally walked onto the set while they were filming to say hello to Jim and ruined the take), plays a senior fireman as well, and adds his great talent to the already amazing cast.

But seeing Ray romance Margie stirred an emotional note with me because of all things, my parents were named Margie and Ray. That can’t even happen. When I told Bill Burr about it he said, “ What are the odds of that?” I was like “Basically zero.” And he also said he was glad I liked the film because he had a lot of fun doing it.

The film was very emotional in several spots, and ran the entire gamut of feelings. Some very funny parts and some very touching parts where Pete and I both had tears welling up in our eyes. Pete really showed that he had quite a range. He’s basically in every scene and it was very special to see him be so good and so believable in his role.

And I must give a special shout out to English actress Bel Powley who played Pete’s childhood friend and occasional hook-up in the film. She was just so good in her part as Kelsey, and she learned the Staten Island accent as if it was her own.

I read one review of the film where the writer used such big words and flowery expressions I couldn’t tell whether she liked it or not. I don’t even know how to write that way. I just write it simply the way I see it.

This is definitely a film you should see and I’m sure it will do great things for everyone who was involved in it. I sure wish I had been! (LOL)

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Film Review, General Information, Jeffrey Gurian News, New Films, Singles Events

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Broadway Comedy Always A Treat

At any given night you will find an amazing line-up of comedians at Broadway Comedy Club, on West 53rd Street, right in the heart of the Times Square area. On a recent Tuesday night when I stopped by, the place was packed as it usually is, and Dan Siegel was MC’ing.

Some of the top performers were Leah Bonnema, who recently performed at the Glascow Comedy Festival, where she was in the America Stands Up Showcase, the Huffington Post voted her one of their 53 favorite comedians to watch, … and I really meant to ask her how they came up with that number, because most news organizations stop at their favorite 51 comics!, (I on the other hand was listed as one of the top 10 comics to keep under surveillance!), and College Candy listed her as one of their top ten female comics in the country! So that’s all good!

Leah Bonnema onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

Ricky Velez went up and killed it as usual. I just find it hard to believe he’s only 23. He comes across as much more mature than that! Not by his material, by his appearance! It’s a great time to start performing when you’re in your 20’s, but then you have to be funny for 60 or 70 years. That’s a long time. I only wanted to have to be funny for 20-25 years tops. That’s why I started so late!

A young but mature looking Ricky Velez making people laugh at Broadway Comedy!

And I was glad to see Ross Bennett on the show because he is always a crowd pleaser! Ross talks about a guy who got killed in a skydiving accident, because his parachute failed to open, and at the funeral they said that at least he died doing what he loved. Ross differs with that. Ross said the guy probably was doing what he loved up until about a minute before he died, unless what he loved was seeing small things become larger very quickly!

He talks about speaking to a young woman who was willing to share with him what men she would “do”, and he came to the conclusion that when a young woman feels comfortable enough with you to share who she would “do”, she will NEVER do YOU! (LOL)

Ross Bennett entertaining the folks at Broadway Comedy Club in NYC!

At the end of his act, he asked the audience if they minded if he did an older joke because it was one of his favorites, and when they agreed he said, ” How about that Watergate thing?”

Every night at Broadway is a great line-up, so be sure to stop by and tell ’em I sent you!

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Multiple Shows at Broadway Comedy

In most clubs you’re glad if they have one show. Broadway Comedy offers at least two and sometimes more! Standing out front I ran into Aaron Haber who produces shows at The World, the sister club which adjoins Broadway Comedy, also owned by Al Martin.

Aaron produces shows featuring new talent at The World, produces the monthly comedy show at the legendary Friars Club in NYC, teaches comedy at Princeton, and is the editor-in-chief of www.evilnewsdaily.com, a blog written by supervillains. So on my way to the main show in the downstairs room of Broadway, I stopped in to The World to see what was going on.

Comic/Producer Aaron Haber standing guard at Broadway Comedy Club!

The room was pretty full for a Wednesday night, and everyone was laughing, because new comics are funny too. They just need stage time, and this is one of the places they get it!

The downstairs show had a great line-up. Ricky Velez was the MC, and he’s always funny. If he has a kid he wants him to have Diabetes, so it’ll be harder for a pedophile to lure him into his van with candy.

Ricky Velez hosting the show in the main room at Broadway Comedy!

Then there was Sam Morrill, who I’ve performed with many times. I like his laid back, easy delivery, and clever punchlines. He discussed manners during sex. He was having an interlude with his girlfriend when he urged her to go faster. Her response was ” Please”! She requested him to say “Faster please.” He was like, ” Now I have to have manners during sex? I’ll tear that ass up, … if I may! With your permission!”

Sam Morrill onstage at Broadway Comedy!

He was taking a girl home from a bar and she asked him, “you’re not gonna kill me are you?” When he said ” No” she agreed to go home with him. He was like, ” That’s your screening process? I’d have to be a terrible killer to admit I was going to kill you just by you asking me!”

Nore Davis took the stage next. Nore is a very funny young comic, and lately has been opening for Tracy Morgan. I like when he tells about getting his own apartment and he gave the landlord his entire savings of $1300. for his first month’s rent. The next month the guy came back and asked for another $1300! Nore was like, ” Do you have any idea how long it took me to save up a thousand dollars? And you want $1300. every month? That’s 32 billion dollars a year!”

A young, but experienced Nore Davis doing what he does, onstage at Broadway Comedy!

Joe DeVito is always funny and a favorite of mine. He has a friend who does nothing but talk about his i-Phone. He told Joe they could even watch a movie together on it. Joe was like, ” What would those circumstances be like? What would we do, watch cheek to cheek on a 4 inch screen?

Funny guy Joe DeVito onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

He also talked about the new condoms that heat up while you’re wearing them. “Who is that for? The guy who likes safe sex, but misses that burning feeling?”

Mike Vecchione is another favorite of mine, and I could watch him perform every night without getting tired of seeing him. When he thought the audience wasn’t paying enough attention, he started telling his jokes at a very fast pace, until they DID start paying attention!

He feels like every person in the world should have to take a standardized citizenship test, and the results would determine what country you had to live in!

“Staten-Island Cop”-looking Mike Vecchione killing it onstage at Broadway Comedy!

He got a Taser instead of a gun and his favorite place to Tase people is the Renaissance Fair. It makes him feel like a wizard from the future!

Harrison Greenbaum closed the show. Harrison is also a big talent. I had him on my Diabetes comedy fundraiser last year, and he killed! He has a one man show called “Harrison Greenbaum – What Just Happened”, which is a mix of his stand-up and magic, that debuted to a sold out crowd at UCB in 2010. He’s also a talented magician. It’s the show he’ll be doing this summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, but next week,April 3-5th, it will be playing on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue at the Dan Sperry Theatre inside of Times Scare. Check it all out at http://www.whatjusthappenedshow.com

Harrison Greenbaum and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

And check out Broadway Comedy on West 53rd Street if you’re in the mood to laugh your ass off, and have fun food and drinks!

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Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club

Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club

I dropped by Broadway Comedy the other night, cause I heard that Ruperto Vanderpool was headlining, and I hadn’t seen him since he performed in one of Anthony Anderson’s fabulous Mixtape Comedy shows. Ruperto and I go back a long ways, and he’s really funny, so I made time to check out the show.

The Broadway Comedy Club entrance on West 53rd Street in Manhattan is like a beacon for comedy and people who need to laugh!

After I got there, and felt the Broadway Comedy energy, I started asking myself why I don’t get over there more!

Then I ran into my old buddy Al Martin who owns the place. Al is a fascinating guy with a long history in comedy.

He’s one of only two comedy club owners I know to own more than one club in NYC at the same time. Besides Broadway on West 53rd Street, which also encompasses “The World” Comedy Club, he also has New York Comedy Club on East 24th Street, which was where I first started to perform when I started doing stand-up.

Al was a stand-up himself, having started performing back in 1988, which gives him a different perspective on comedy than other club owners who don’t perform. Al puts it to good use when he hosts shows, which I’ve seen him do many times. He’s a funny guy.

I remember back when he had New York Comedy on 2nd Avenue around 48th Street, I believe. It was an upstairs club, and I used to drop in pretty often since I lived on 54th and 2nd. I recall meeting Eric Douglas there. Eric was Michael Douglas’s younger half- brother who was a stand-up, and who unfortunately died back in 2004 of a drug overdose.

As a stand-up Al did a lot of TV, including A&E’s Evening at The Improv, Comedy Tonight, and Joan Rivers’ talk show, besides gigs in A.C. and Las Vegas.

New York Comedy opened on East 24th Street in 1994, which I happen to know, ( and don’t ask me how! LOL) had been the exact location of a well known after-hours club!

As of 2001, Al also has a New York Comedy Club in Boca Raton, Florida! And it seats 350. That’s big!

Then in 2005, Al was involved with Boston Comedy Club, down in the Village which left him operating three clubs in NYC at the same time, also a record!
( Somebody call Guinness! LOL )

Anyway this night, I ran into a whole bunch of funny comics I know like Stacey Prussman, Leah Bonnema , Jason Salmon, Ricky Velez, and a new comic to me, who’s opening for Ruperto, named Edgar Rivera.

Headliner Ruperto Vanderpool, Leah Bonnema, and Edgar Rivera at Broadway Comedy Club!

Leah Bonnema had some good lines. She said there are no divorces in her family. There’s lots of murder, but no divorces!

She also dreams of something she never had, … health care! I think she said she was awakened during a dream by her boyfriend, where she was just about to get dental! I thought she should have added the tag, “ but instead I got oral!”

I forgot to tell her, but maybe she’ll read this! (LOL)

Edgar Rivera commented that it was so cold last week that white people stopped jogging! (LOL)

Ruperto Vanderpool killing it onstage at Broadway Comedy Club, with his sleeves rolled up imitating the Jersey Shore guys!

And Ruperto who’s always funny, killed it with his reminiscences about the old days, schoolyard games, playground stuff, and his comparisons between encyclopedias vs. i-Pads. Ruperto and Edgar will be performing together on an upcoming date!

Ruperto, who’s Dominican, and calls himself a “Blacktino”, does fantastic dialects, which always amazes me. He even does Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Audiences love when comics can imitate an accent! Of course it helps when they do it well! (LOL)

When Ruperto talks about Coney Island being the worst amusement park in the world, he gets very physical. He says it’s so old that you have to bring your own tools to tighten up the rides, and he makes his body vibrate as if he was on an out of control ride. It’s very funny!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with headliner Ruperto Vanderpool at Broadway Comedy Club!

When I left I ran into comic/producer Aaron Haber who not only produces shows at Broadway Comedy and The World, but also on Tuesday nights at The Friars Club, where I will probably see him tonight!

Al, who seems to always be planning a new project will soon launch New York Comedy World… a website devoted to everything comedy in New York! Sure hope there’s a place for Comedy Matters TV on there!!! (LOL)

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