Posts Tagged Tracy Morgan

STAR STUDDED GARDEN OF LAUGHS RAISES 2 MILLION BUCKS FOR KIDS

I had been waiting for weeks to cover the biennial “Garden of Laughs” at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. It’s a star studded event that raises money for underprivileged kids and kids with disabilities. It’s produced by Rory Rosegarten of The Conversation Company and his team, and features some of the biggest comedy stars in the biz as well as many top actors. We were expecting Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Burr, Jon Stewart, John Mulaney, Michael Che, John Oliver, Iliza Shlesinger, Tiffany Haddish, Brian Regan, and actors Debra Messing, Lucas Hedges, Ansel Elgort, Michael K. Williams, Toby Leonard Moore, Gaten Matarazzo, and all hosted by 3 time host Steve Schirripa of Sopranos fame.

WITH RORY ROSEGARTEN PRODUCER OF GARDEN OF LAUGHS

A lot of people don’t know that Steve booked some of the biggest comedy acts when he used to book talent in Las Vegas, and he’s very funny in his own right. Not every star decides to do the red carpet so we’re never really sure who’s going to come out. It was slated to start at 6:30, so I made sure to get there at 5:30 to have time to set up because there’s no real schedule with a red carpet. It’s very stressful. Sometimes several stars come out at once and while you’re talking to one, another one you would have liked to talk to walks by. It’s also all improv. Some journalists come with stock questions that they ask each person. Not me! All my stuff is improv’ed on the spot.

I specifically had my videographer show up at 4 to pack the camera bag and make 100% sure we had all of our equipment.  We went over it together.  So imagine my surprise at 6:10 when he suggested that we do a mic check and the shock ran through my body when we realized we hadn’t packed the microphone.  I can’t describe the horror, and the icy cold feeling that ran through my body. Weeks of planning, and I’m on the red carpet with no mic.

The one thing you need to do interviews besides the camera and we didn’t bring it. I decided I’d have to run home and get it. But I live on the other side of town and it was rush hour. Perfect! I told my assistant to try and shoot some B-roll, and I ran out like a maniac, flashing my red carpet badge to security as I ran through one door after another. As I was running I tried to figure out which would be the fastest way to get home. Should I run back to 8th avenue to take the train, call an Uber, or just jump into a taxi.

I chose the closest taxi and just like in the movies I told the guy to step on it. I said I had to get across town and back in 20 minutes which was impossible. I turned on my WAZE and we got to my house at 6:26. I told him to wait in the downtown direction, jumped out of the cab, ran past my doormen, got the mic and ran back downstairs so fast that both of my shoes opened and I didn’t stop to re-tie them.

Just past 6:30 my assistant texted me that no one had come out yet. As we got closer to the Garden he texted me that John Mulaney was on the red carpet! Shoot! I was hoping he’d come out late but he came out first. Luckily my videographer had the sense to tell John he was working with me, and that I had to run home to get my mic, so John left me this hilarious message, which made it a little bit better!

Of course as we got near the Garden we got stuck in traffic, and every block seemed to take a year. Finally we pulled up in front, I gave the driver a big tip just like in the movies and ran back in, not expecting to have to go through airport-like security again. But I was wrong. Very wrong.  I flashed my badge but it did no good. I told the guy I had forgotten my mic and had to run home to get it and I was missing the whole red carpet but he wouldn’t hear of it. He said he had to do his job. The only man in Manhattan who had to do his job. And of course because I was so nervous I kept leaving something metal in one pocket or another and literally had to go through the metal detector about 10 times while the people behind me waited patiently.

Finally he let me through and then I first had to re-fill my pockets. By the time I got upstairs I had missed Mulaney and Tobey Leonard Moore from Billions who I would have loved to talk to, so I finally bent down to re-tie my shoes, and then Michael K. Williams came along. I loved Michael’s characters “Omar” on “The Wire” and  “Chalkie” White on Boardwalk Empire so I was excited to talk to him. He told me that working with Martin Scorcese was a dream come true for him and that he also works with kids from Garden of Dreams which is the charity itself that Garden of Laughs raises money for.

WITH MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS ON THE RED CARPET AT MSG

To tell you the truth I had never noticed that he had a scar that ran from his forehead right near his eye and down onto his cheek. Obviously I didn’t bring it up, he did. He said he was working with a young boy of 14 who also has scars on his face from an assault, and that he was able to give him some reassurance that he’d be okay. Michael told me he had been assaulted by a gang on his 25th birthday. Man’s inhumanity to man.

Rory Rosegarten came out and told me had been looking for me because he knows I always come early to these things. When I told him the mic story he said the exact same thing that John Mulaney said without having heard him say it. You can hear it for yourself in the video below. He was there with his family.  I was able to congratulate him on another successful show, and it was great to see him looking so healthy again.

Michael Imperioli who played cousin Christopher Moltisante on The Sopranos came out next, and we hadn’t seen each other in years so it was so nice to re-connect. He’s got a movie coming out with Nick Cage, and an NBC TV series based on the movie The Bone Collector, and when we inquired about each other’s health and I told him I had survived a heart attack he said he was sorry, and it sounded like he said he was sorry I survived. Funny!!!

WITH MICHAEL IMPERIOLI ON THE RED CARPET AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

Bill Burr is always a great time on the red carpet and as soon as he sees me he starts yelling out things like “Oh no”, and “This is gonna be good.”  I told him I was thinking of texting him to let him know I was going to be there so he could think up some insults for me, but he said he didn’t need any advance notice because they just came naturally. He started out by asking me about my sport jacket and if I had gotten it at Woodstock, which was actually very funny.

LAUGHING WITH BILL BURR AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

 

I asked him if he knew of the You Tube video called “Bill Burr Roasting People” which has over 5.4 million views and opens with he and I on the red carpet where he says he hopes I go bald so that one day we’re two old bald guys on the red carpet.” He said that not only does he know about it he hates that people think he doesn’t like me because he LOVES me, … and that made me feel really good.

I had sent him a recording that the late great Patrice O’Neal had left for me on my phone one night at 4:05 A.M. It was the first night we had done the Black Phillip Show together and Patrice was so happy with it he couldn’t wait to call me and so humbly suggested that we do a show together just the two of us. He said he didn’t want to assume anything, as if I might have said “No”, but unfortunately we never got to do it. I still get messages and e-mails from guys who track me down to give me props on my work on Black Phillip.  R.I.P Patrice. Btw Bill said he listened to it, and I hope he did cause it’s one of my greatest possessions, along with the phone message that Richard Lewis left me saying that some jokes I had written for him were “hilarious” and if he was ever going to use anyone else’s jokes it would be mine!

Bill’s interview went on so long that at one point he asked me if it was still an interview or just two guys talking on the corner! Then he offered me a $700. class he was giving on how to end an interview. He’s hilarious and the very best! And he’s off on a tour from Iceland to Israel!

Just when I thought it was over, I left the red carpet but luckily didn’t pack up yet when I saw Tracy Morgan talking to Bill Burr and went over to catch up with Tracy. His new season if his TBS show “The Last O.G.” was premiering that night and we had a few laughs on camera. He always says something so nice to me and this time he said, “You ARE comedy!”

WITH TRACY MORGAN AT GARDEN OF LAUGHS

Last on the red carpet was John Oliver who was going to be the very first presenter that night. I asked him if his kids were old enough to know that he’s playing Zazu the bird in the new remake of The Lion King directed by John Favreau due out this July.  He said his son is only three and he took him to a movie in which he did the voice of a porcupine named Steve.  He told him that was his Dad and his son said ” No it isn’t”, just like my Too Much Tuna sketch with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Anyway this little video is a recap of my adventurous day on the red carpet of Garden of Laughs.

Please feel free to “Like”, Comment and Subscribe and please share it with a friend.  On Twitter and IG I’m @jeffreygurian

 

 

 

 

 

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Tracy Morgan On Road To Recovery

Anyone who knows my posts knows I only like to write about positive things.  I’ve been holding off on writing about the horrible accident that injured Tracy Morgan, and his fellow-comic passengers Ardie Fuqua, Harris Stanton, and Jimmy Mack who unfortunately did not survive.   I didn’t know Jimmy personally but from mutual friends I  heard he was a great guy and that Tracy considered him his mentor.

It’s a very different thing writing about someone you know.  Especially when it’s something terrible.  Most journalists write very dispassionately never having met the people they’re writing about.  Writing about a friend is much more difficult in many ways, because you never want to feel that you’re trying to draw attention to yourself, through their misfortune.

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

I saw Tracy as recently as April 15th when he came up to Sirius XM studios to do a special ” Unmasked” interview with Ron Bennington, the “Ron” from the legendary Ron and Fez Show.  Everyone was excited and Tracy did a very moving and intimate interview, really opening up about his life, and the things that are important to him, and moving both himself and the audience to tears!   I was in the green room watching, and after the interview there were big hugs all around!

The shocking news came through on Saturday, June 7th that Tracy was in critical condition after a tractor trailer slammed into his SUV limo bringing him and his entourage back from performing at a casino in Delaware.

The limo Tracy was in turned over, and Tracy was said to have sustained several injuries including a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs.  He already underwent surgery for the broken femur , and was said to be recovering, at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.

Fortunately Harris Stanton got away with relatively minor injuries if you can call any injury “minor”,  and was well enough to be released.

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice O'Neal at the taping of Patrice's last special "Elephant In The Room!"

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice O’Neal at the taping of Patrice’s last special “Elephant In The Room!”

Ardie who has been opening for Tracy for a while now, is still listed in critical condition, and to my knowledge no one has said anything  specific about his injuries.  I last heard from him the Wednesday before the accident, when he texted me all excited that Chris Rock himself had brought him on to the BET Awards.

Ardie is a super guy, loved by all who know him, who’s still recovering from the loss of his beloved son Ardley Jamaal Fuqua in May of 2012 in a freak accident, but he still manages to go out and make other people laugh despite his own personal pain.   He teased me for weeks about the fact that when I went out to Brooklyn a few months back to see him open for Tracy , I brought Tracy a copy of my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” as a gift, and signed it for him on the spot.  Tracy had known about the book, and I promised him a copy but for some reason Ardie thought it was hysterical that I would think to give Tracy a signed copy of my book!  I’m still not sure why he thought it was strange, but he did!  And he told that to everyone he saw when I was around! (LOL)

Ardie Fuqua and Jeffrey Gurian in an Ardie-taken selfie at Carolines!  His arms are REALLY long so they come out good!

Ardie Fuqua and Jeffrey Gurian in an Ardie-taken selfie at Carolines! His arms are REALLY long so they come out good!

Also seriously injured were Tracy’s assistant Jeffrey Millea, and there were supposedly two other people in the limo that were not injured.  Thank G-d Tracy’s wife Megan, and 11 month old baby daughter  Maven were not in the SUV as they usually travel with Tracy, and are there at every recent show of Tracy’s that I’ve attended.

Everyone, especially his friends in the comedy community are all praying for their swift and complete recovery!

 

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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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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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Next Generation of Stars At The Comic Strip

Well, after four years of hard work the final manuscript on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, that I wrote with owner/founder Richie Tienken was handed in, and should be coming out in October of this year from Skyhorse Publishing. Chris Rock is writing the introduction.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip.

Since The Strip is like a family, I broke down the chapters into things like “The Parents”, which were Richie and Bob Wachs, “The Older Kids” who were like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and Ray Romano, “The Younger Kids” who were like Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Gaffigan, and Judah Friedlander, and a chapter called “The Next Generation”, kind of like the grand-children, the up and comers, who will be the next stars of tomorrow coming out of The Strip.

These are names you may or may not know, but all have impressive credits and are on their way. There’s Marina Franklin, who was chosen as one of Jay Leno’s comedy correspondents, has been on Craig Ferguson,and Last Comic Standing; Ted Alexandro who’s been on Letterman, Conan, and Louis CK’s show “Louie”; Jon Fisch who’s been on Letterman, Last Comic Standing, and Celebrity Apprentice; Brian Scott McFadden who’s been on Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and in the Ice Age films with Ray Romano, and “Robots” with Robin Williams; Mike Vecchione, who had his own ( as opposed to someone elses? LOL) half hour Comedy Central special, and was seen on Leno, as a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing, and on Russell Simmons special “Stand-Up at the El Rey.

Jeffrey Gurian with Marina Franklin whose “home” is at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian and Ted Alexandro in Jeffrey’s “Dancing With Comedians” Series!

Jeffrey Gurian and Mike Vecchione hanging out casually backstage at The Strip! (LOL)

Then there’s a group of really young comics who work out regularly at The Strip, like Pete Davidson who’s 18, lost his firefighter Dad Scott on 9/11, and has been taken under the wing of Nick Cannon, who he now tours with and opens for; Nore Davis, also a “young ‘un” who’s been taken under the wing of Tracy Morgan, (not only birds have wings, “angels” have wings too!), and has appeared on Russell Simmons “The Ruckus” with J.B. Smoove; and Jordan Rock, just turned 21, who hosts late shows at The Strip on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and is the latest in line in the Rock comedy dynasty along with his brothers Tony and Chris.

Pete Davidson and Jordan Rock chillin’ backstage while waiting to go on at The Strip!

Then there’s two young guys who are already on TV, and happen to be on the very same show. Colin Jost is a senior writer on SNL, but as a stand-up has been seen on Jimmy Fallon and was featured at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and Jay Pharoah, who drops by The Strip very often to work out new material is a regular cast member on SNL. He’s an incredible impressionist, and will soon be seen in the upcoming films “Lola Versus” with indie favorite Greta Gerwig, and CBS Films’ “Get A Job”.

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Jost from SNL, a regular at The Strip!

Richie Tienken, Jay Pharoah from SNL, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip!

With this kind of talent calling The Strip “home” you can be sure it will be around for many, many more years!

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Tracy Morgan Gives Young Comic Nore Davis A Shot

Tracy Morgan Gives Young Comic Nore Davis A Shot

Nore Davis is a funny young dude. We perform a lot together at The Comic Strip. I even did a cool interview with him in the Comic Strip 35th Annual Holiday Party film which you can see right here in this previous blog post!

http://wp.me/p1pHIm-Em

So when Nore told me that Tracy Morgan himself, one of the funniest dudes on the planet, asked him to be his “middle” at Carolines, I knew I had to stop by and check it out! I’ve seen Carolines crowded before, but not like this. If they could have stacked tables like bunk beds, they could have filled the place twice. (Bunk tables? I wonder if that would even work? LOL)

Nore Davis facing a packed house and then some for Tracy Morgan’s show at Carolines!

I got there in time to see Nore hit the stage, and he hit it really hard! Huge laughs and the audience absolutely loved him. For a young comic, he has great stage presence. I recently also saw him perform at Russell Simmons’ new stand-up TV show, “Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus”, which will be airing in February, with J.B. Smoove as the host, and he killed there too! It’s really something exciting to watch, when a big star gives a young comic a shot, and they do well!

Tracy Morgan doing what he does best, … making people laugh, … onstage at Carolines!

Needless to say, ( so if it’s needless to say, then why am I saying it??? LOL) Tracy gave everyone what they were looking for. An hour of hilarity of the kind that only Tracy can bring! Not necessarily the show you’d want to bring your parents to, but a show you’d definitely want to bring your friend or significant other to! They laughed from beginning to end!

Great to see Tracy back in good health again, and engaged to be married to Megan Wallover. We wish them all the best, and a lifetime of Happiness!

He’s definitely a family kind of guy and loves to talk about his kids. I think the first time I met him was back in 2002 up in Montreal at the Just For Laughs Festival.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with a moustachioed Tracy Morgan back in 2002 at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal!

I once went to visit him on the set of 30 Rock, during an episode where he was co-starring with a horse (LOL) and we had a great talk about the importance of family and kids!

Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock, back in ’07, with a guest-starring horse!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Tracy Morgan in his dressing room on the set of 30 Rock!

I was with him at the Writers Guild Awards one year –

Tracy Morgan, with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Writers Guild Awards!

And then again more recently, after he had his kidney surgery, at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape show at Gotham, where Tracy was a surprise performer!

Tracy Morgan and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Comedy Show at Gotham!

Last year I wanted to get him for the Diabetes comedy fund raiser I produced with a killer line-up at The Comic Strip. For whatever reason it didn’t work out, but there’s always this year! Are you listening Tracy!!!

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Tracy Morgan In A Serious Role – The Son Of No One

Most people in entertainment acknowledge that it’s harder to do comedy than drama. But when you’re used to being funny, sometimes it’s hard to be serious, or to be taken seriously. Richard Belzer crossed over successfully in his work on TV as Det. John Munch, a role he first brought to life on Tom Fontana’s “Homicide: Life On The Street”, and then carried over to Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, where he recently did his 300th episode.

Tracy Morgan does it in this Dito Montiel film, “The Son Of No One”, an exciting police drama with an all-star cast including Al Pacino, Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, and Juliette Binoche, that opened this past Friday, November 4th.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock!

Channing Tatum plays a cop named Jon White, with a secret in his past that’s threatening to ruin his life. As a young kid of maybe 10 or 12 years old, he accidentally killed two low-life drug dealers in separate incidents. One incident was to save his own life, and the other looked to be just an accident in trying to save the life of his dog Charlie. But someone knew and waited all these years to expose him.

Now he gets transferred to a precinct in Staten Island to re-open this long closed “double murder” case, basically investigating his own crime. Someone is writing letters to a newspaper threatening to expose the killer. The columnist of the local paper who’s printing the letters is played by French actress Juliet Binoche.

Jon suspects his emotionally and mentally challenged childhood friend from the projects in which he lived, Vincent Carter, played as an adult by Tracy Morgan. Vincent had made a solemn promise never to tell what he had seen. The dynamic between the two old friends is very powerful, as is what transpires, leading to the ending of the film.

I obviously do not think like a critic since this movie was not reviewed well by Lou Lumenick of the NY Post. I don’t claim to be a critic, but I can say I thought the movie was riveting, and one that I enjoyed, if you can call being “nervous” for 90 minutes, enjoyable. I empathized with the lead character for having had such a rough childhood, and then having to face this ordeal. But that’s what a movie like this is meant to do. It’s meant to make you feel something, and I did. It’s also meant to be entertaining, and it is.

I often wonder if most critics have ever set foot on a stage or tried to entertain anyone. As a writer and entertainer myself, I give HUGE props to anyone who has the courage to create a piece of work, or put their “lives” on the line by stepping on to a stage to perform. (Especially with stand-up comedy which I consider to be the hardest thing to do in the world of entertainment, and which Tracy Morgan has mastered!)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his buddy Tracy Morgan at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show at Gotham Comedy Club!

That being said, it doesn’t mean that I think that every performance is good, or entertaining. I’ve seen performances where I had to walk out because I just couldn’t take it anymore. But the way some critics pick apart a film, makes me wonder what credentials you have to have to be a critic??? It’s very easy to find fault with everything, and everyone, but I think you have to look at the overall effect of the project! I really enjoyed this film, and Tracy’s work in it, and I can’t wait to see him so I can tell him.
(He even got one of the few positive comments from Lou Lumenick in the NY Post!)

So go and see this film and decide for yourself! I think you’ll like it!

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Reel Works 10th Anniversary with Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Fisher Stevens, Reggie Watts, Hannibal Buress

Comedy Central invited me to cover a very special event where several of the celebs just happened to be friends of mine, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still always tense and exciting wondering what will go down on the red carpet, knowing you have to keep it flowing and keep it funny and interesting!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Steve Buscemi star of HBO's hit Boardwalk Empire and co-host of Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration!

Reel Works is a youth-oriented filmmaking initiative that provides high school students with the mentoring, training, and support to finish high school and then go on to college, and find job training careers in NYC’s film and television industry.

The event was at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and I was there with my assistant and DP Tristan Griffin. Reel Works is the only youth filmmaking program that matches each student one-on-one with a professional filmmaker mentor. I wish they had something like that when I went to school!

The event was MC’ed by the hilarious Hannibal Buress who was voted one of Variety’s 10 Top Comics To Watch in Montreal last year, 2010, at the Just For Laughs Festival, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world. Hannibal has also written for NBC’s 30 Rock and SNL!

Reggie Watts and Hannibal Buress at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary Celebration!

The co-hosts were Steve Buscemi, star of HBO’s hit show Boardwalk Empire and his filmmaker wife Jo Andres!

Steve Buscemi and his wife and co-host Jo Andres, for the event honoring the 10th anniversary of Reel Works, a youth filmmaking initiative!

The honoree was Fisher Stevens who won an Academy Award for his film “The Cove”,and is currently directing John Leguizamo in his latest hit Broadway show, Ghetto Clown, which Fisher told me is about to begin a world tour! Fisher was being presented with the award by John Leguizamo, who for whatever reason was not available to do any press that night, which is unusual for John because he always makes himself available, and is ALWAYS very gracious with his time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Leguizamo at a press event for his film "The Babysitters."

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens, the honoree at the Reel Works 10th anniversary celebration!

Plus there was a very special musical/comedy performance by an incredibly talented guy and another friend of mine, Reggie Watts, who is the opening act for Conan O’Brien’s ” The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award. I had just seen Reggie in Montreal at THIS year’s Just For Laughs Festival where he performed in a show with Bo Burnham!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Reggie Watts who was performing at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration honoring Fisher Stevens! ( He makes my hair look normal! Actually he makes me look totally bald! )

These are just some stills from the event. Wait till you see the videos coming soon!

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Preview Video of Red Carpet of Comedy Central First Annual Comedy Awards Airing Tonight


I got to cover the red carpet for one of Comedy Central’s most exciting nights, the first annual Comedy Awards at The Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street in Manhattan.

The beautiful Comedy Central Awards stage at Hammerstein Ballroom.

This is the first ever multi-network, multi-platform event dedicated to honoring and celebrating the world of comedy, and it’s not a moment too soon!  People are being funny at an ever increasing rate.  Soon the entire planet will be absolutely hysterical, …  except for certain unnamed countries where laughing is still considered a crime!

The event airs Sunday, April 10th at 9 P.M.  simultaneouly across MTV Networks, Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1, and Nick at Nite.  In other words you have to try hard to miss this show.  If you miss this show, it is obvious that you are determined not to have a good time in your life.

The show will honor not only stand-ups but also writers, directors, sit-coms and just about everything and anyone who ever made you smile!  The talent was amazing.  Bruce Willis presented an award, and for some reason grabbed himself during the presentation!

Bruce Willis looking all over for his wallet, while presenting an award!

As I got set up on the red carpet, with my assistant Sean Mannion manning my new Sony VG Hi-Def camera and my Sennheiser mic with the Comedy Matters flag, and the wireless set-up, (LOL) I noticed that Christian Finnegan was hosting the red carpet.  When I went over to congratulate him, he played it off very humbly, but I convinced him it was a great honor.

Jeffrey Gurian holding his brand new Sennheiser mic with Comedy Matters flag, while talking to Dylan Gadino, CEO of Punchline Magazine on the red carpet.

Aileen Budow ran the red carpet very efficiently as she always does with the help of Eve Kenny.

I got to interview Jon Stewart who I had not seen in a long time, and who acknowledged that fact on camera, Will Ferrell, Olivia Munn, The Gregory Brothers, Mark DuPlass who wrote, produced and directed Cyrus, and who was there with his beautiful actress wife Katie Aselton, Craig Robinson, and Louis CK who I got to congratulate for being honored this coming summer in Montreal as Comedy Person of the Year.  Many of them did a little promo for Comedy Matters. Check it out here!

 

Jeffrey Gurian and Craig Robinson hanging out after the award show.

 

Louis CK either giving me the finger, or telling the cops it was me who did it, on the red carpet of the Comedy Central Comedy Awards.

This night, he was up for “Breakthrough Performer” against Aziz Ansari, Ty Burrell, Whitney Cummings, Danny McBride, Emma Stone, Daniel Tosh, and Kristen Wiig, and if you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll confide in you that he won!  Do you promise?  If not, I won’t tell you!

I also got to see one of my favorites Kristen Schaal who recently hosted the Writers Guild Awards, and who for whatever reason, didn’t answer an e-mail I sent her telling her I was coming to see her.
She said that Nick Kroll had mentioned to her that I said “Kristen didn’t answer me”, and she was so sweet, and apologized, and I told her next time I’m sending her two e-mails at a time to make sure she sees it! 

Kristen Wiig’s handler got so upset that I didn’t recognize Kristen that she didn’t bring her over to talk to me.  For some reason Kristen looked different to me that day, but I was surprised her PR person would react that way. Maybe she was a little stressed?

The Roots came over to chat, mainly because they told me they dug my hair! Those are guys who are not afraid to express themselves through their hairstyles, especially Questlove!

Jeffrey Gurian with Questlove and The Roots complimenting each other on their respective hairstyles!

I explained to them my theory that most men wear their hair like they’re embarrassed for having any.  Almost like an apology.  Sorry I have hair.  I’ll try and wear it in a way you don’t notice.  Let’s see, is this short enough, and non-descript enough for you???

Jimmy Fallon was out of town, but they were “representing” as the house band for the show.

I had been waiting patiently on the red carpet hoping to see Tracy Morgan who was there to present Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Icon Award.

Tracy Morgan presenting Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Icon award, which Eddie said was an "old man" award!

Tracy told me he would try to make an appearance at my Diabetes Comedy Fundraiser, “Laugh at Diabetes” on April 14th at The Comic Strip but when I called him to confirm, his number had changed, and I couldn’t get the new one.

I stood on the red carpet freezing my butt off cause I took off my coat so everyone could see my nice tux ( it was Black Tie!), and just as I walked away to get my coat to warm up for a minute Tracy breezed right on by.  Sean tried to alert me, but it was too late, and I never got to find Tracy in the madness that ensued afterwards.  Very frustrating!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tracy Morgan at Anthony Anderson's Mixtape Show at Gotham!

So if any of you know how to reach Tracy, please ask him to contact me about this coming Thursday, April 14th at 8 P.M. at The Comic Strip at 1568 Second Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street.  Tracy himself is battling Diabetes which is why I was hoping he’d make an appearance.

Also there was Bill Murray, who presented an award to David Letterman who was actually there to accept it, TIna Fey, Ricky Gervais, Jon Cryer, who was crying about what happened with Charlie Sheen, Stephen Colbert who threw everyone else from The Daily Show off the stage so he could “faux rant” about Jon Stewart, Alec Baldwin, who received an award from Kick-Ass’s Chloe Moretz… I mean nobody but Comedy Central gets all these people to show up!

Bill Murray making a point at the Comedy Awards!

Jon Cryer lamenting the fate of Two and a Half Men while presenting!

Chloe Moretz of Kick Ass presenting an award to Alec Baldwin!

One of the coolest things happened when I ran into my old buddy James Dixon of Dixon Talent.  I know James from his days as an agent at William Morris when he used to pal around with another agent named Mike August.  James has become a powerhouse in entertainment and opened Dixon Talent where he manages some of the biggest names in comedy like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert to name just two.

After the show, James and I were catching up when Jon Stewart came by, and James said to Jon, ” You know Jeffrey Gurian right?”  And Jon said, ” Sure I do.”  And then James himself was kind enough to snap a photo of Jon and I, since my assistant Sean had to leave early to celebrate his wife Jessica’s birthday!  Besides being an amazing manager, James takes a good photo, don’t you think???

Jeffrey Gurian with Jon Stewart after the Comedy Awards. Photo taken by Jon's manager James Dixon.

I’ll be writing more about this exciting event in the days that follow but this will give you a little preview of what to expect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Judah Friedlander Comes To The Comic Strip For Interview

On June 1, 1976 Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs opened the legendary comedy club called The Comic Strip.  It was at 1568 Second Avenue in Manhattan, between 81st and 82nd streets.  It’s still there and thriving.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip for Jerry's interview for the book!

On June 17th, 1976, barely two weeks after it opened, a young, unknown comic named Jerry Seinfeld came in to audition.  His sign-up sheet still hangs in the club.  It says ” Good.  Definitely put on Monday 6/21.”

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano and Jeffrey Gurian below Ray's old photo on the wall at The Comic Strip!

Not only did Seinfeld get his start there, but so did Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and many other huge stars who called that club their home.

Jeffrey Gurian, Susie Essman, and Richie Tienken after Susie's interview for the book!

Jim Gaffigan and Jeffrey after Jim's interview at The Strip. Richie must have been hiding!

Richie and Bob went on to manage Eddie Murphy for 11 years, from his SNL career through Beverly Hills Cop 2.  Richie also managed Adam Sandler, Tony Rock, and Colin Quinn.

Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, and Richie Tienken after Tony's interview at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian, Judah Friedlander, and Richie Tienken under the photo taken BEFORE Judah was World Champion! ( over his left shoulder!)

I have been chosen by Richie, to write the book on the history of the club, and so far have interviewed about 26 of the biggest names that have come out of the club, including Seinfeld, Larry Miller, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Colin Quinn, Ray Romano, and Chris Rock.

Recently Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock fame, and The World Champion, came to the club to sit down with Richie and I to reminisce about his beginnings, and his memories of the club in the early days of his career.  This is a little video excerpt of the interview.

Jeffrey Gurian Interviews Judah Friedlander at The Comic Strip

I hope you’ll like it enough to send it around to your friends!!!

 

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