Posts Tagged Robin Williams

Robert Klein at The Friars Club for the Documentary "The Business of Comedy"

I get involved in so many interesting projects. Sometimes things just seem to come out of nowhere because life is magical like that. So I find myself as an Associate Producer on a wonderful documentary film slated for PBS called “The Business of Comedy” working with two great Exec. Producers Gary Licker and Scott Sobel.

(L-R) Scott Sobel, and Gary Licker with trusty camera in Jeffrey Gurian’s writing room, after his interview for “The Business of Comedy!”

They made a name for themselves with a successful documentary called “Selling Cars in America”, about the history of the American car dealership and a look at the players who set the tone in the modern day, 21st century showroom. Scott produced it and Gary Licker directed.

“The Business of Comedy” examines just what it says, the business of comedy. So they’re not only interviewing comedians, but they’re speaking to club owners, managers, agents and anybody who makes the comedy world tick. That’s where I came in. First they interviewed me in my home, in what I call my “comedy museum” packed with photos and nostalgia going back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, when I was writing for Rodney Dangerfield and many Friars Club Roasts at the behest of Friars producer Bob Saks, and my original sponsor in The Friars Club, Milton Berle.

We had so much fun on that interview and we all got along so well that we decided to progress together with me being an Associate Producer. Now as a co-producer I brought the project to Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip where we not only interviewed Richie on his vast experience as the owner and founder of The Strip, but also interviewed a bunch of comics both established and new who shared their feelings on the business of comedy.

Then we spoke to Chris Mazzilli at the Gotham Comedy Club, who offered his unique perspective and who I refer to as “the classiest man in comedy”, and Gabe Waldman owner of Stand-Up New York, who we also filmed performing on stage. Very soon we will be speaking on camera with my old friend comedy legend/icon Rick Newman who opened the legendary Catch A Rising Star at the end of 1972, which was the admitted inspiration for The Comic Strip.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chris Mazzilli owner of Gotham Comedy Club at a Laugh For Sight charity event in 2011!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comedy icon Rick Newman founder of Catch A Rising Star and current co-owner of Stage 72 in NYC!

But this week was something special for all of us. We got to interview Robert Klein at The Friars Club. Both Gary and Scott made no secret of the fact that they were both incredibly excited at the opportunity to speak to Robert who is himself an icon of comedy, and one of the enduring bright stars of his generation. Not only has he established himself onstage but he’s appeared in over 40 feature films.

I think it was Gary who said that he’s interviewed many celebs but that the excitement of knowing he was going to interview Robert Klein kept him up the night before the interview! We had intended to do the interview in the beautifully appointed Milton Berle Room but as were were setting up we ran into Peter Rosegarten, Robert’s manager from The Conversation Company who facilitated us moving to the gorgeous dining room to do our interview. It’s actually Peter’s brother Rory who works directly with Robert and has done so for the past maybe 30 years ever since Robert left Rollins and Joffe.

Exec. Producer Gary Licker adjusting the microphone for Robert Klein before his interview at The Friars Club!

That story is in my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” in a great interview that Rory gave me. Rory and I go back many years and he represented me when I was writing for Joan Rivers.

Gary and Scott started out by playing a little audio recording of Budd Friedman founder of The Improv, which he opened in 1963, saying some very complimentary things about Robert Klein who was a regular there. Robert was very gracious and humbled by Budd’s statement, and said that as years go on, the more those kind of things mean to him. That kind of set the tone for what turned out to be a fantastic interview.

Exec. Producers Scott Sobel and Gary Licker interviewing Robert Klein at The Friars Club for their project “The Business of Comedy” on which I am Associate Producer!

Robert was so generous with his sharing of stories and his energy. I loved how he easily remembered the date of his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I believe he said it was Jan. 9th, 1968. He remembered Johnny also as being “generous” with his laughter and support.

In 1970 Robert had his own summer replacement comedy/variety show called “Comedy Tonight”, which he hosted along with frequent guests Peter Boyle and Madeline Kahn. He has since done nine HBO comedy specials, and is still very active performing around the country at different venues.

Exec. Producer Scott Sobel with his notes asking questions of Robert Klein for the doc film for PBS, “The Business of Comedy”!

His original manager Jack Rollins who helped me greatly in my own career and who originally introduced me to his other clients at the time Billy Crystal and Robin Williams figured greatly in Robert’s early career. I was still a Cosmetic Dentist in those early days and Jack thought that Billy Crystal would be perfect to play me in a sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show biz. That’s why when I interviewed Billy for my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” in one of the photos we took he was pointing to his teeth!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in Billy’s office in LA. Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s background as a Cosmetic Dentist!

Robert was inspired by Jonathan Winters, and Lenny Bruce who was persecuted, blacklisted and ultimately ruined for performing material that was considered obscene in those days, but would be considered tame by today’s standards, where literally anything goes. Robert spoke of comedy as a “craft” that used to have a certain “dignity”. I saw it that way as well.

I was also very glad to hear that Robert and I share the same sensitivity as to what is commonly referred to as “bathroom humor” and I can’t really grasp the fascination that many young comics seem to have with bodily functions that to me have no place in a show where men are taking women out for an evening of entertainment.

Neither Robert nor I are prudes in any sense of the word. I wrote filthy jokes for Friars Roasts for many years, but that wasn’t the material I chose to do when I went on stage, and neither did he. We just share the same dislike for unnecessary grossness which is all too common these days.

Robert literally gave us “gold” for the documentary with his honest evaluation of the comedy scene then and now, and he kept me on my toes by throwing questions at me, when certain names in comedy history didn’t quite come to him right away, like Dane Cook and Rosie O’Donnell! He also remembered many years ago when I approached him about writing some material for him. It’s amazing what sticks out in people’s minds that you would think they would never remember!

I was so happy I was able to give him a copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” because it’s about everyone he knows!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Robert Klein at The Friars Club, holding Jeffrey’s book ” Make’Em Laugh!”

His spirit was youthful and engaging and I hope to see him again soon and maybe even work with him on something fun and meaningful.

Btw, in case you’re interested this is the very cool trailer for the documentary “The Business of Comedy!”

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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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Red Carpet Video of Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards 2012 Plus Winners

I was covering the red carpet of the 2nd annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards Show 2012, and it was a star-studded event, with comedy legends like Robin Williams and Don Rickles, plus acting legends like Robert DeNiro, who presented Don Rickles with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence.

From Julie Klausner who hosted the red carpet to Colin Quinn, John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, Randall from The Honeybadger film that got 43 million hits, The Gregory Brothers, (including Sarah, the hottest of the Gregory Brothers), Jessica Williams, the new “hot cutie”,and youngest correspondent on The Daily Show, Jim O’Heir from Parks and Recreation, Hannibal Buress, and so many more, plus private scenes from the press room, it’s all here in the following video!

So check it out right here:

Louis CK was the evening’s big winner with 4 trophies, including the awards for Best Sketch/Alternative Series,Best Stand-Up Tour and Best Comedy Special of the Year. Robin Williams was presented with the Stand-Up Icon Award by Patton Oswalt, and Don Rickles received the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence from Robert DeNiro.

The complete list of winners is here:
Comedy Special Of The Year: Louis C.K., Louis C.K.: Live At The Beacon Theater
Stand-Up Tour: Louis C.K.
Sketch/Alternative Comedy Series: Louie
Comedy Directing, TV: Louie
Comedy Series: Parks and Recreation
Comedy Film: Bridesmaids
Animated Comedy Series: Archer
Late-Night Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Comedy Writing, TV: 30 Rock
Comedy Actor, TV: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Comedy Actress, TV: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Comedy Actress, Film: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Comedy Director, Film: Paul Feig, Bridesmaids
Comedy Screenplay: Bridesmaids
Club Comic: Hannibal Buress
Viral Original: Songify This, “Winning- A Song By Charlie Sheen”
Stand-Up Icon: Robin Williams
The Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence: Don Rickles

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Robin Williams Receives Stand-Up Icon Award at Comedy Awards 2012-Tonight at 9/8c

I hadn’t seen Robin Williams in so many years. We met back in the days when Columbus Cafe was a popular hangout. I was reminiscing recently with Danny Aiello about that place and he told me a story of a night when Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, Mike Tyson and more were all there together!

It was that kind of place, and Robin used to come by as well!

Robin Williams accepting the Stand-Up Icon Award at the Comedy Awards 2012!

But I first met Robin the same way I met Billy Crystal, through Jack Rollins, the legendary manager who managed Billy, Robin, and Woody Allen in those days! We met up in Jack’s office cause Jack thought I was funny and wanted to help me.

Years later I wrote a joke that Robin used at the Friars Roast of Richard Pryor. The joke was “The first time I met Richard Pryor was in the steam room of The Friars Club, and he was standing naked in front of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and I thought he was Jabbar’s c**k! ( Huge laugh!)

“And then he said “Hello” to me and I thought to myself, I always knew Black guys had huge schlongs, but I never knew they could speak!” And the HUGE laugh got even HUGER!(If there even is such a word!)

At the Comedy Awards, Robin was given the Stand-Up Icon Award by comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, who called Robin an “explosion” and “a machine-gun”, which are both appropriate descriptions of Robin’s delivery.

He hits the stage like an explosion, and shoots lines out like a machine gun. I’ve seen some early rare footage of him at The Comic Strip from back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and he was the same back then!

Here’s the clip of him receiving the award and him saying he’s ” one of the luckiest f**ks in the business!”

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Red Carpet of 2nd Annual Comedy Awards Packed With Stars

I knew the 2nd Annual Comedy Awards from Comedy Central would be exciting, from the experience I had last year at the first annual awards, but it surpassed my expectations.

The beautifully designed Comedy Awards 2012 red carpet!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV ready to do battle on the red carpet of the Comedy Awards 2012!

Exec Produced by legendary producer Don Mischer, directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller, and with a 32 member Board of Directors that included Brad Grey, Adam McKay, James Dixon, Jon Stewart, Sandy Wernick, Steve Levine, and Rory Rosegarten, you had to know it would be a star-studded event.

The red carpet was staged before the event, at The Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th and 8th, and thanks to Aileen Budow, Eve Kenny and their team it worked spectacularly smoothly.

Everyone went out of their way to be helpful, and steer the talent towards the waiting microphones except some of the talent didn’t make it all the way down the line!

The lovely and talented Julie Klausner, who was the host of the red carpet for the Comedy Awards 2012!

Multi-faceted actress/author/podcaster/comedywriter-performer Julie Klausner was the host of the red carpet, and she was superb! She just lights up in front of the camera! Her first book, “I Don’t Care About Your Band”, was released in February 2010 by Gotham/Penguin Books, and by July 2010, it was announced that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Production Company, Gary Sanchez Productions, optioned the book for HBO.

Actress Lizzy Caplan who I met at a Gen Art Festival a couple of years back is attached to star and co-produce.

In October 2011, The Hollywood Reporter reported that NBC had picked up a pilot about a woman’s father that dates her high-school nemesis. It was based on Sue Margolis’s novel, Apocolipstick, and Julie is supposed to write and executive produce the series. I hope she has a part in it for ME!!! (LOL)

Julie Klausner interviewing Maya Rudolph on the red carpet of the Comedy Awards 2012!

She’s also written for Best Week Ever and The Awl. And she came over to say “Hi” and did such a fun interview with me! When we were done the camera crew suggested we talk about our hair, so we did another little thing together. I will be posting that soon as well! ( Really, … I will! LOL)

Even event photographer Larry Fink came over just to take a photo of my hair! I was wondering why he was shooting so close to me, and then he told me he had taken a shot of my hair!

Julie’s podcast, “How Was Your Week” was featured on Rolling Stone’s 10 Best Comedy Podcasts of the Moment, so maybe I could be on that too! (LOL)

I got to talk to several of the presenters and nominees for the awards, several of whom won, and even Doug Herzog the Pres. of MTV Networks.

A very trim-looking Doug Herzog making his opening remarks at the Comedy Awards, 2012!

I also unexpectedly ran into my old friend Noel Casler who was the Talent Logistics Coordinator for the event, sometimes known as the “talent wrangler” whose job it is to make sure all the creative elements are in place and that the talent like Robert DeNiro, Chevy Chase, and Jon Stewart all get where they need to be, and get everything they need to have.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with “talent wrangler” Noel Casler at the Comedy Awards 2012!

I started the interviews with my buddy Colin Quinn,and we agreed that if he lost, we’d drown our sorrows across the street in Dunkin’ Donuts, but we didn’t wind up going, cause neither of us wanted to gain the weight. Nobody really loses at these things anyway, because it’s an honor just to be nominated, and Colin knows that everyone loves him, and his Jerry Seinfeld directed show “Long Story Short”. Colin is one of the few comics to actually star on Broadway, not once but twice!

I also got to speak to John Oliver, and Kristen Schaal who were representing The Daily Show, and I kidded John by asking him why Jon Stewart was leaving The Daily Show! He got a big kick out of that! (LOL)

(L-R) John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, and Jeffrey Gurian sharing a laugh on the red carpet of the Comedy Awards 2012!

I also spoke with Reggie Watts who was so comfortable wearing whatever he was wearing on his head that he didn’t even respond when I asked him what it was. He answered about something else as if he didn’t notice he was wearing an elegant looking “Kafiyeh” of some kind draped across his head!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Reggie Watts and his elaborate headscarf on the red carpet of the Comedy Awards 2012!

Then Hannibal Buress stopped by to chat and he wound up winning for Best Club Comic, being up against heavy hitters like Ted Alexandro, Pete Holmes, Anthony Jeselnik, John Mulaney, Kumail Nanjiani, Chelsea Peretti who I just ran into in LA when I was out there appearing in sketches for Nick Kroll’s new show, Amy Schumer, Moshe Kasher, and Rory Scovel.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chelsea Peretti in LA at The Comedy Store!

Randall “The “Honeybadger Guy”, as he’s known, was there, and to be honest, I hadn’t hear about his film before I met him. That didn’t stop him from hugging me like we were old friends, and he’s really genuine and very sweet. He hugs everyone he meets and he means it. I liked that about him. He seemed very sincere as you’ll see when I edit the video I keep claiming to have! (LOL)

His video about the Honeybadger has over 43 million hits so far, and when you watch it, you might be tempted to think to yourself, ” I could do that.” The difference is that he DID do it! He said he knew he was onto something when he got 1 million hits the first week it was up.

I also spoke to The Gregory Brothers who won for their viral original “Songify This,”Winning-A Song By Charlie Sheen”!

Louis CK won so many awards, that by the 4th one, he was embarrassed to get up and accept them. He even won for Best Sketch Series which he said his show wasn’t! (LOL) Louis happens to be very humble despite all of his well-deserved success!

Louis CK accepting one of his four awards at the Comedy Awards 2012!

A lot of the cast of the Judd Apatow produced hit “Bridesmaids” was there including Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, who unfortunately did not do the red carpet, (or at least the piece I was on! LOL), Wendi McLendon-Covey, and director Paul Feig, and they won for Best Comedy Film!

Best Animated Series went to Archer and a lot of that cast was there including Chris Parnell, and the funny and gorgeous Aisha Tyler who I met at The Friars Club event honoring Brett Ratner. We were supposed to do a video interview but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. At least I got to see her in the Press Room!

Best Comedy Writing went to 30 Rock, and Best Comedy Series went to Parks and Recreation, which was represented by creator Mike Schur, Amy Poehler, Jim O’Heir, Retta, and a few others I wasn’t able to identify!

The cast of Parks and Rec with Amy Poehler second from the left!

This is a little Comedy Central clip of them accepting their award!

The Daily Show, which won for Best Late-Night Comedy Series, was well represented and besides John Oliver and Kristen Schaal, I got to speak to Jessica Williams the newest and youngest correspondent who’s still in college and is really so energetic and soooo cute! She was really excited to be there!

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show onstage during his appearance at the Comedy Awards 2012!

Robin Williams came by briefly and shook hands with me. He was presented with the Stand-Up Icon Award, and seemed genuinely grateful to be in the room with all the young talent. He specifically said he was a big fan of Patton Oswalt and would love to work with him.

I was surrounded by friends on the red carpet. On one side of me was Clayton Fletcher and Ben Rosenfeld working as a team, and on the other side was radio guru, and Exec. Producer Jake Ray from Emmis Communications who works with Hot 97, 98.7 Kiss, and Loud Digital Network among others!

And after the red carpet we went to the Press Room where we had food and drinks and got to watch the show on a huge screen TV. Then when the winners were announced a lot of them made their way down to the Press Room for further questions. That was a great new innovation, but unfortunately while we were interviewing the winners, they had to turn down the volume on the TV, so we were missing the show. With all of our technology there’s still no way to do both! (LOL)

One of the highlights for me was running into Ed Helms as we were leaving. Ed is such a great guy and a big talent. I had recently seen him in LA while on the Nick Kroll set, since he was shooting sketches with Nick as well, so we had a chance to talk, and when he saw me this night he asked his companion to take a shot of us. (Not “AT” us, “OF” us! LOL) Then that gave me the opportunity to whip out my own camera and ask her to take a shot of us too!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with renowned actor Ed Helms of Hangover fame!

All I’ll tell you about the show is that Chris Rock was the first presenter for Best Comedy Special of the Year, and when he read the names of the nominees, he prefaced it by saying that three were funny, one used to be funny, and one was NEVER funny and then said that he wasn’t kidding! The nominees were Louis CK, Norm MacDonald, Patton Oswalt, Colin Quinn, and Daniel Tosh, and then Chris noted they were all White and said, ” I guess Kevin Hart didn’t do anything this year, huh?”

First presenter Chris Rock giving the award for Best Comedy Special of the Year!

The show’s climax was the presentation by Robert DeNiro, of the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence, which went to Don Rickles, and they showed a fantastic compilation of his TV and film appearances with Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin among others.

The legendary Don Rickles was presented with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence!

When the video is edited I’ll write more. Just be ready to watch it on May 6th, at 9 P.M. on Comedy Central and you’ll see all these fabulously talented people for yourself!

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Billy Crystal Replaces Eddie Murphy To Host Academy Awards

A lot of people were excited that Brett Ratner was producing the 2012 Academy Award ceremony. And then Brett added to the excitement by asking Eddie Murphy to host. It would have been a challenge for Eddie, cause you gotta be amazingly funny hosting The Oscars, but I understand he had already called in teams of writers to help him prepare. Then Brett went on Howard Stern, and it all ended. I wonder how many people have gone on Howard’s show and said something they later regretted.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

Howard has a way of tapping into everyone’s need to be “cool”, and with guys it can be devastating. To me, it all goes back to high school. Most people, especially those who are rich and famous now, did not feel cool, or like they really “fit in” in high school.

You hear it all the time when people write about their lives, how high school was an endless pit of depression and desperation. I always say, if high school was the best time of your life you should probably kill yourself!

Anyway, Brett was on Howard, and wound up saying things like he “banged” Olivia Munn a few times, and then forgot who she was when she came to audition for him. That sounds like the kind of statement high school guys make when they’re trying to impress each other with their supposed conquests of the fairer sex! There’s no other reason to say something like that.

But I’m sure Brett only said it because Howard said something that made Brett feel like he had to embellish upon who he was. All his success, respect in the business, power, and money did not feel like it was enough to make him feel secure, and keep that stuff to himself. Howard, who says he always felt like a geek, especially in high school, revels in getting people to say things that could potentially ruin their lives, or their careers.

Most people want to protect their friends from saying anything publically that might hurt them, or come back to haunt them in some way. On Howard, that seems to be the point of going on. To get people to say or admit something they never had any intention of sharing with the millions of people who listen. And once it’s said, there’s no taking it back. It’s great for Howard’s ratings but not so great for the person’s life who uttered the remark.

So when he asked Brett about rehearsing and Brett said something like “Rehearsals are for fags,” it was taken as a gay slur. In my wildest imagination, I could never believe that Brett, with his position in Hollywood, could have a homophobic bone in his body! He was probably just trying to be cool. He’s already cool, but must have forgotten that in the heat of the moment. I’m sure he knows lots of people who are gay, and probably socializes with people who are gay, and looked at his appearance on Howard as if he was on some kind of Roast or something. But in this day and age, you have to watch every word you say. Instead of bringing us together and being more inclusive, it’s separating us and creating more divisiveness.

Sometimes when non-comedians are trying their best to be funny, and time is of the essence like when you’re on the radio, they come out with something stupid that they wish they hadn’t said. Especially if the host says something provocative, and you want to respond in a funny way that people remember, plus come across as being “cool”, Professional comedians do it too, but not as much!

Anyway, as a result of those remarks, and others, Brett stepped down, and Eddie Murphy quickly followed. I wonder if Brett is sorry he went on Howard’s show. It would have been interesting to see how he produced The Oscars. Now we’ll never know!

The good news is that 9 time Oscar host Billy Crystal has agreed to step up and host for the 10th time, for first time Oscar producer, and Academy Award winner Brian Grazer, who will be co-producing with longtime pro Don Mischer. The 84th Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 26th, 2012 at the Kodak Theatre in L.A. and televised on ABC.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in LA in his office at Face Productions!

No one is worried about how Billy will do because he always kills! He’s the consummate showman. When I interviewed him recently for the book I’m doing on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip, he shared some great stories with me. One of the most memorable was on the best advice he ever got in his life. It was from Jack Rollins who was managing him in the early days, along with Woody Allen and Robin Williams. It was Jack who first introduced me to Billy so many years ago. I was a dentist at the time, and Jack thought Billy would be perfect to play me in a sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show biz!

Anyway, this was Billy’s best advice story. It was early in Billy’s career and Jack had come to see him perform. Billy killed it. The audience was roaring with laughter, but when Jack came back to see him after the show, this is what he said: “ I enjoyed tonight, but I don’t think you’re doing yourself any good with the kind of material your doing.”

Billy said, “So now I’m trying to butter my toast, and at the same time not stab him.” And I say , “ Whaddaya mean?” And he goes, “ It was all funny, and you can do very well with this stuff and you will, but you never once told me how you felt about something. I never heard “I” in it. Toys and games was what I heard. The audience really liked it, so take this if you want. But here’s the thing. You didn’t leave a tip! Always leave the audience something of yourself to remember! Always leave a tip!”

According to Billy that changed his entire way of performing. From the next night on he started talking about himself, and after a few weeks of awkwardness had written a whole new much more personalized act. He said it was the best advice he had ever been given!

And as far as his reason for hosting the Oscars again he said: “I am doing this so that the young woman in my pharmacy will finally stop asking me my name when I pick up my prescriptions.”

Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, because when he first met Jeffrey many years before, Jeffrey was a dentist, who Billy referred to as “the funny dentist!”

Tune in on Feb 26th for the 84th Academy Awards!

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JIMMY FALLON EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW – PART 2

Jimmy Fallon made a rare stand-up comedy appearance in NYC, at the Gotham Comedy Club on West 23rd Street. Jimmy sat down backstage with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV in an even rarer video interview, with some great and funny stories from his past and his present. Check it out!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV does EXCLUSIVE Video interview with Jimmy Fallon!

This is Part 2!

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JIMMY FALLON EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW- PART1

NBC’s host of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon, who’s show is up for 3 Emmy Awards, made a rare stand-up comedy appearance in NYC, at the Gotham Comedy Club on West 23rd Street. Jimmy sat down backstage with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV in an even rarer video interview, with some great and funny stories from his past and his present. Check it out!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV does EXCLUSIVE Video interview with Jimmy Fallon!

This is Part 1!
Jimmy Fallon In Exclusive Video Interview with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV

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Jimmy Fallon In Rare Stand-Up Appearance at Gotham Comedy Club

The sold-out crowd at Gotham got themselves a real treat, … 2 headliners for the price of one! Bobby Slayton, known as “the pitbull of comedy”, (for good reason), packs them in on his own, but combined with Jimmy Fallon opening the show, it was a guaranteed sell-out!

I had just seen Bobby in Montreal the week before at the Just For Laughs Festival, where he also performed. It’s the biggest comedy festival in the world, and needless to say a very prestigious place to perform.
(So if it’s needless to say, then why did I say it??? LOL )

Bobby Slayton, the "pitbull of comedy", on stage at Gotham Comedy Club!

Even he was excited about performing with Jimmy, and he was the one who told me they’d be on the same bill. Turns out Jimmy was excited to perform with Bobby as well, plus crowd pleaser Buddy Fitzpatrick was the MC, so it was really a guaranteed success.

As soon as I got back to New York, I called Chris Mazzilli the owner of Gotham, and told him to please save me my usual table. Chris advised that I get there early because everyone knew it would be packed.

It’s been 2 1/2 years since Jimmy took over Late Night from Conan O’Brien, and the show is up for 3 Emmy’s. Jimmy is ecstatic, but one of the most humble guys you could ever meet. As well as one of the most talented. He not only does stand-up, and plays the guitar and harmonica, but his characters are amazing, as are his impressions. It’s no wonder that he got SNL when he did. He’s one of those rare “triple-threat plus” guys, ( more like quintuple plus! ) but he cautioned me that he doesn’t dance. I’m pretty sure he could if he tried!

He does singing impressions of Neil Young and Bob Dylan that are so good you really think it was them. And then he did an impression of every comic who ever performed at Gotham starting with Jerry Seinfeld, who he once had to follow as a young comedian.

I went to both the Friday night and Saturday night shows. That wasn’t the original plan. I was originally supposed to interview him after his Friday night set, but he had to leave immediately after the show, so we decided to do it on Saturday night instead. I got the unexpected benefit of being able to see him twice! And Robin Williams showed up at the Saturday show, came down to visit Jimmy, and then saw Jimmy do an impression of him.

At the last minute my DP Sean Mannion wasn’t able to show up, so I was left to my own devices in terms of filming. Everyone I called was busy, so I wound up at the show myself with my camera equipment, wondering how it would all work out.

Jeffrey Gurian and Jimmy Fallon backstage after Jimmy's killer set at Gotham Comedy Club on West 23rd Street, in NYC.

After Jimmy’s set he invited me down to the Green Room backstage, where he introduced me to his lovely wife Nancy, who just happens to be a TV producer. Problem solved! Nancy was kind enough to film our interview.

Jimmy was so gracious. I only expected to do about 5 minutes and he gave me 22. Foolishly I was using a tape that only had 23 minutes left on it, so The Universe was watching over me, because when we finished, the camera was blinking on 0:01 minutes.

He shared some great stories with me which you’ll see in the upcoming video, and they included how he auditioned for Lorne Michaels for SNL, and was told by everyone there from the make-up person to the director, not to worry because Lorne never laughs. But when Jimmy did his Adam Sandler impression, Lorne laughed and put his head in his hands. I told Jimmy, he was probably trying to hide the fact that he was laughing or it would spoil his reputation! Then Jimmy and I laughed! (LOL)

Stay tuned for the video coming shortly!

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