Posts Tagged “The Marriage Ref”

Come to Papa at The Village Underground

Making a purposeful effort to make a home for myself at The Comedy Cellar, the legendary club owned by Noam Dworman and frequented by every major comedy star who hits New York, I went down on a Tuesday to catch their weekly podcast, “Live From The Table”, which this week featured the always hysterical Kurt Metzger and Dan Naturman. I was a guest a few weeks ago and had a blast!

The welcoming sign of “The Comedy Cellar” on MacDougal Street in NYC!

The logo from “Live From The Table” the weekly Comedy Cellar podcast!

Sitting at the bar chatting with Marina Franklin, we were soon joined by Tom (The Marriage Ref) Papa who invited me to stop by his monthly Sirius XM radio show which started right after the podcast at the Comedy Cellar’s other space, The Village Underground, conveniently located literally right around the corner.

“Come to Papa” poster at The Village Underground for Tom’s Sirius XM radio show!

Sexy fairy Marina Franklin onstage at The Village Underground for Tom Papa’s “Come to Papa” on Sirius XM radio!

What a beautiful space! A really nicely appointed room with lots of tables, dim lighting, big screen TV’s to be able to see well from all over the room, and for the last month or so, comedy as well. Tom hosts a show appropriately called “Come To Papa” which is kind of a throwback to something I had never really seen but only heard of, “scripted radio.” Before TV was invented in this country and even afterwards when people started to buy them thanks to Mr. Television himself, the legendary Milton Berle, most people listened to scripted radio shows for entertainment.

Tom Papa on one of the big screen viewers at The Village Underground, making it easy for everyone to see the show!

It’s hard to believe there was actually a time before TV, but when Milton Berle had his Texaco Star Theatre, people would gather in the streets to watch TV through the store windows of appliance stores selling TV’s, and thanks to the popularity of his show, so many TV’s were sold that that’s how he got the nick-name “Mr. Television.”

I had the honor of being sponsored in The Friars Club by Milton Berle who I also had the honor of writing jokes for, and who I considered a friend.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in LA, with his friend and sponsor in The Friars Club, the legendary Milton Berle, circa 1984!

Before TV, in the 1930’s and 40’s, families would huddle around the radio to hear their favorite shows, and their favorite comedians like Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn.

They also got to hear shows like Abbott and Costello, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, and Our Miss Brooks, which I know went on to become a TV show in the 1950’s.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comedy icon George Burns, Catskill Mountains, circa 1983!

Radio comedy ran the gamut from small town humor like that of Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the weekly “gag shows” like Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One and Can You Top This?, panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes.

So Tom Papa had a rich history to compete with and from what I saw he’s doing it well. He was joined by comics Cynthia Koury, who doubled as the MC, Dan Soder, the same Kurt Metzger from the “Live at the Table” podcast, Rick Crom who used his deep resonant voice as the announcer, and I stayed long enough to see a mix of stand-up, and written sketches where the comics read from scripts, before I had to run and cover my next event.

Comic Cynthia Koury holding it down on the stage of The Village Underground on “Come to Papa!”

(L-R) Kurt Metzger, Dan Soder, Rick Crom, and Tom Papa onstage at The Village Underground!

The event was produced by Aaron Hodges from Sirius XM radio who was kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my performance on Kroll Show in Too Much Tuna with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV playing himself on the set of Kroll Show with Nick Kroll, and John Mulaney as the “Oh, Hello” boys. After shooting the sketch “Too Much Tuna!”

The reaction of the audience and the strength of the performances I saw makes me want to attend regularly, and I can’t wait for the next one when I can stay for the entire show! Even better, Noam himself invited me back!



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Tom Papa Headlines Gotham Comedy Club

Tom Papa onstage, making people laugh at Gotham Comedy Club!

It was no surprise that Tom Papa sold out all of his shows at Gotham Comedy Club. People love Tom Papa. His comedy is very audience friendly, and it comes across that he’s a nice guy. I had seen him fairly recently when he did a killer spot on the third anniversary of Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Comedy Show, which is the third Sunday of every month at Gotham, and we did a cool little video interview for Comedy Matters TV. Check that out here!

This night, Tom was headlining and Jim Mendrinos was the host. Jimmy is a fantastic host and really knows how to keep an audience’s energy level high. He won’t accept anything less and knows how to whip them into shape if he has to. I produced a fundraiser for Diabetes last year and Jimmy was my MC as well. He and I both lost our Dads to Diabetes.

Mark Normand, a young comic was excited about opening for Tom. He had lots of funny lines but the one that stuck out for me was, “I moved in with a girl. We had sex in every room of the apartment. Unfortunately it was a studio.” It sounded like something I would write when I wrote for Rodney Dangerfield, which made me like it even more! (LOL)

Comic Mark Normand, who opened for Tom Papa at Gotham Comedy Club!

Sue Costello came up next. Sue is so pretty, you’d never know she had a lazy eye as a kid and a stupid bowl cut hairdo, which is how she describes herself growing up. She certainly grew out of it, cause she looks great on stage, and the crowd loved her!

The beautiful, sexy, fair skinned, and funny Sue Costello onstage at Gotham! You’d never know she once had a lazy eye!

Tom had a lot of material I hadn’t heard before, and it was great. He says, “Reading about the economy is like drinking Jagermeister. Two pages in I’m unconscious on the floor, and I wake up with no pants on.”

On the fact that no one really feels like they fit in, he describes it feeling like “Life is like a pair of skinny jeans, and you’re a big, fat ass.”

He also does a lot of very physical humor, and moves around a lot on stage, which adds to the energy of what he’s saying.

I like when he talks about how boring adults are, and imitates the lame things some guys say. e.g ” How are you?” “Still a million bucks short of being a millionaire!” And he uses such an obnoxious voice. It’s perfect!

He has two daughters, 6 and 9 and even when he takes a simple concept like putting a little girl’s hair into a bun before they go to dancing school, he works the audience into hysterics.

I can see why Jerry Seinfeld takes him on the road as his opening act, and chose him to host The Marriage Ref on NBC!

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Third Anniversary of Anthony Anderson’s Comedy Mixtape Show

Third Anniversary of Anthony Anderson’s Comedy Mixtape Show

Anthony Anderson’s third anniversary of his Mixtape Comedy Show was as good as I expected it to be. I just couldn’t believe it’s been 3 years already since he and his partner in crime Royale Watkins have been bringing the funny to Gotham Comedy Club, the third Sunday of each and every month.

Royale Watkins and Anthony Anderson bantering with each other onstage at the Mixtape Comedy Show at Gotham in NYC!

The show mixes comedy and hip-hop, most of the time with a great DJ, DJ Diamond, who really gets the crowd pumped up! Then there’s a freestyle rap battle which still amazes me how these street MC’s can spit beats on the spot like that. It’s such an incredible talent. Even the ones who lose are admirable just for being able to do it at all. I was glad to see that Royale is just as amazed by it as I am, which he says in the video below.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Tracy Morgan at a previous Mixtape Comedy Show!

You never know in advance who’s gonna be on the show, but it doesn’t matter cause I haven’t seen a weak show yet! The idea is that if you’re coming to see Mixtape Comedy, it doesn’t matter who’s advertised, because you’re coming for the brand. And the brand is hot!!! Plus you never know who’s gonna stop by to do a surprise guest spot. Tracy Morgan is a big fan of the show, and I’ve seen him perform, but this night he just came to watch!

It’s produced by Kristen J. Eddy and Byron Ward and the show is U-Streamed to people all over the United States, and internationally too! They don’t allow profanity which is a nice change. Some of the comics are taken by surprise by that rule. Kurt Metzger told me he was a little nervous that something inappropriate might slip out since he’s not used to working squeaky clean. Fortunately it didn’t and he killed it as he always does.

Because I knew it would be a special show, I came prepared to shoot a little video for Comedy Matters TV. Harris Stanton was the first comic to perform. Harris was also a good friend of Patrice Oneal, who we unfortunately lost very recently, at only 41 years old, due to an untimely stroke.

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Patrice Oneal at the taping of Patrice’s last special for Comedy Central at The Skirball Center in NYC!

Harris is very funny and talks about having been a security guard, with nothing to protect himself but a piece of paper. Then he goes into what I would call “papercut” material, which I thought was very funny, and very true. You can get a nasty cut from a piece of paper, but if a guy had a knife, I wouldn’t want to have to defend myself with a piece of paper!

Harris Stanton doing his thing onstage at Mixtape Comedy Show at Gotham!

He does a really funny bit about a homeless guy who is missing the center part of his nose. The piece of skin that separates your two nostrils. He says in all seriousness, ” You’re never not supposed to have that part of your nose.”

In between acts, Anthony takes the stage to do some comedy, and often gets on Royale for not having things to his liking. They have a little “faux-argument”, and then he apologizes to the white people in the audience for having to witness something like that at a comedy show! (LOL)

Mark Viera was next on the bill and this man is a riot! I love seeing Mark perform, and was very glad to hear that he just signed a deal with Fox to develop his own show, cause he really deserves it! George Lopez is the Exec. Producer of the show, and you can hear the details in the video below. Of course I asked him if I could be on his show, and he of course agreed, … since we’re both from The Bronx and us Bronx boys have to stick together! (LOL)

Mark Viera showing the Mixtape audience why he deserves his own show on Fox!

Sherri Shepherd from “The View” was next and left the audience weak from laughing so hard.

Rising star Kurt Metzger onstage at Gotham for the 3rd anniversary of the Mixtape Comedy Show!

Then Kurt Metzger, who I think is hysterical talked about how every young Black person shot accidentally by stray bullets, is usually on their way to greatness before they were prematurely cut down. His advice is ” If you’re Black and have a scholarship of some kind, my advice is to buy a bulletproof vest. Gangs always shoot at other gangs and miss, killing some Black nerd who was on his way to a life of success.” Sad but true! You read it every day!

Tom Papa, host of The Marriage Ref on NBC, onstage for the Mixtape Comedy Show 3rd anniversary!

And then Tom Papa took the stage with his own particular brand of humor that is so relatable, and on the money, every word out of his mouth brought huge laughs from the audience. His comedy speaks to everyone, like when he marvels at children, ” Your hands are so little”, and wonders why they need pockets in their clothing. “What are you gonna put in there, … your marble??? Check out Tom in the video below as well.

We wish Anthony and Royale, ( and Kristen, and Byron of course!), many more years of success with Mixtape Comedy Show!

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TWT Multi-City Comedy Benefit For Haiti

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!!!

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Steven Wright, Tom Papa, Judah Friedlander Star In Laugh For Sight at Gotham Comedy Club

Chris Mazzilli is a special kind of guy and a very charitable man. I don’t think it’s any accident that there are so many charitable events at Gotham Comedy Club. Laugh for Sight is a national charity which raises awareness and funding for Retinal Degenerative Eye Disease Research benefitting the Scheie Institute at the University of Pennyslyvania.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Gotham owner Chris Mazzilli at Laugh for Sight!

It was a very eclectic mix of performers at this packed event, with the always funny Dan Naturman as MC. Dan has a unique style and delivery all his own, which is the key to successful comedy. No one else should be able to take your jokes, if they are crafted towards your own comedy personna.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters Tv with MC Dan Naturman, at Gotham Comedy Club!

Dan says people on the internet lie about their age. He received a photo from one woman that had the Berlin wall in the background, … and it was under construction!

I also love his take-off on the TV commercial encouraging patients to ask their doctors about Previcid. In response to Dan’s Dr. telling him he has a condition that nothing can be done for, Dan asks, ” What about Previcid?” and then ponders, ” Shouldn’t HE know about Previcid? How is that MY job? “

First up was sight-impaired comic Brian Fischler and Nash, his canine companion, and Brian was very funny. Next was Jessica Kirson, a real crowd-pleaser, who is so animated, and takes impromptu breaks onstage in the middle of her act, to talk to herself, offering herself little bits of advice and encouragement like, ” You just have to realize that wheat bread is still bread!”

Jessica Kirson with Tom Papa who looks like he’s going into a swoon, waiting to perform at Gotham Comedy Club, at the benefit for “Laugh For Sight”!

Jess was followed by Tom Papa, TV and film star, and currently the host of Jerry Seinfeld’s NBC hit, The Marriage Ref. Tom says that men don’t care that much about getting married. That’s why there’s no Groom Magazine! Men don’t even wear their own clothes to get married in. They rent them.

And he opines on Wall Street guys who kill themselves after losing all their money. “They’d rather die than live like us!”

He talked about hating cliches, the way I do when during the summer, people who think they have a sense of humor ask ” Is it hot enough for you?” Those same creative geniuses can’t wait till Winter to switch to, ” Is it cold enough for you?” Those two “Bon-mots” can keep a guy with absolutely no personality going conversation-wise throughout the year!

Tom Papa killing it onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in a benefit for “Laugh For Sight!”

Tom’s example of an obnoxious cliche was, in answer to the simple question ” How are you?” ” Still about a million dollars away from being a millionnaire!”

Then Eddie Brill took the stage. Eddie is the consummate showman, and will be making his 10th appearance on Letterman very soon. Eddie also books the talent on Letterman which must have been very difficult for him trying to convince himself to put himself on! I heard he auditioned for himself several times before he agreed to let himself appear! (LOL)

A very thin Eddie Brill performing onstage at Gotham in a benefit for “Laugh For Sight!”

Actually Eddie can’t book himself. He’s too humble a guy to do that. I hear that Letterman himself is the one that requests that Eddie appears.

Judah Friedlander, star of NBC’s 30 Rock, is one of the funniest guys to come along in a long time. His “World Champion” hook is one that most comics only dream of. It’s a never-ending source of material for him. What’s cool about Judah though is that as famous and popular as he has become, he’s still totally approachable to his fans. He honors every request for photos and chats with fans after every show.

Judah Friedlander onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in a benefit for “Fight For Sight!” Judah’s look is his brand!

As World Champion of everything, Judah claims he’s been on Twitter since 1985, is an extra-dark Black belt in Karate, and weighlifts weighlifters while they’re lifting weights to keep in shape. He doesn’t even wait till they put the weights down, which he could conceivably do without anyone doubting his masculinity. But instead, he actually lifts them while they’re holding the weights which makes it much more difficult! Then again, he IS the World Champion!

Judah was standing behind where I was sitting when Steven Wright took the stage, and it was great to hear him laughing out loud at Steven’s rare and obscure observations like, ” It’s a good thing that other people speak foreign languages, otherwise those people would have no one to talk to.”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Judah Friedlander after his set at Gotham Comedy Club at a benefit for “Laugh For Sight”!

“In her spare time, she liked to waste time!” ” He majored in Calcium Anthropology – the study of milk men!” ” I have two pair of reading glasses, one for fiction and one for non-fiction!” ” The Earth is bi-polar!” ” Do you know what time it is?” “No, I’m not from around here!” ” A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn’t First Place!”

I think that Steven was probably an inspiration for comics like Mitch Hedberg, and maybe even Judah. I know he was an inspiration to me, and that Chris Mazzilli, who often leaves at the end of his long day, actually stuck around to see him!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with one of his most important comedy influences Steven Wright, at Gotham Comedy Club!

Judah Friedlander at Gotham Comedy Club with Steven Wright, after Judah and everyone else enjoyed Steven’s masterful performance!

Robert Klein brilliantly closed the show and followed Steven because he was probably the only one who could!

Robert Klein closed the “Laugh for Sight” benefit at Gotham Comedy Club!

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