Posts Tagged “Wali Collins”

Andy Engel Offers Free Comedy Workshops at Gotham

Every so often Andy Engel, the Director of New Talent at Gotham Comedy Club and the founder of Manhattan Comedy School holds a free comedy workshop, and gets industry people and well known comics to come out and address the crowd of potential comics and comedy writers. It’s always a very informative day.

A rare photo of Andy Engel onstage addressing the crowd at Gotham Comedy Club, for his complimentary comedy workshop!.

This one was on a Sunday afternoon at 12:30 and Ben Rosen from Gawker, was the host. He was very funny.

Wali Collins was up first. Wali is great, and always reliably funny, and it was kind of like family day at Gotham because several comics brought family members with them. I had the pleasure of meeting Wali’s beautiful wife Iralma, who was really sweet. It’s nice when people can share things like that together.

He introduced me to her by telling her how I supported him with an article about his clothing line Ya Nevano, when it first came out. It’s also nice when people remember things like that!

Wali had some great advice for the aspiring comics in the crowd. One thing that stuck with me was that an old rule said that your closing joke should be a strong joke. Wali made the point that every one of your jokes should be able to be a closing joke, and to try and think of them that way. When you don’t, you’re not doing justice to your other jokes. Very interesting point of view.

Ha also advised not to engage hecklers! Especially new comics who don’t have the stage time or experience to know how to handle that! Ignoring them is always the best way to go, otherwise you can lose control of your show. Just point them out so the rest of the audience can hate them, and go on doing what you do!

Jimmy Faiila tried out a new prop during his set, his 3 year old son Lincoln, named after the 16th President I’m sure, because Jimmy is very patriotic, and would definitely do something like that! (LOL)

It was funny because Jimmy couldn’t get a babysitter so he brought his son with him, and when they introduced Jimmy and brought him to the stage, he left his son with one of the women to hold, and Lincoln started crying so loud that Jimmy came and took him on stage with him, and did his act with Lincoln holding on to him. It was very cute, but I don’t think he’d want to do that on a regular basis.

Although I thought I heard him say maybe he should have another child so he could see how it felt doing his act holding a newborn infant! (JK!)

Jimmy Failla onstage holding his new prop, 3 year old son Lincoln, making his stage debut at Gotham! It was hysterical, and may set a new precedent!

What was funny, (besides Jimmy’s jokes! LOL) was that he didn’t alter any of the language in his act because he was holding his young son, so if Lincoln grows up saying words he shouldn’t be saying, we all know where he got it from! That fateful day on stage at Gotham!

The comics performed first, and then addressed the audience and shared some nuggets of wisdom. Jimmy said something interesting that I never really thought about before. He said that many times the MC’s of shows are less experienced, because they are needed to stay for the entire show, which means they don’t have other spots scheduled anywhere else.

I always thought the other way, that MC’s had to be very experienced, since I think it’s hard to keep a show going, and you have to have more material than the average comic who just comes up and does his regular length set. I found that interesting.

Another rare photo of Karen Bergreen, Harrison Greenbaum, and Ben Rosen at Andy Engel’s comedy workshop at Gotham! Look closely! You may never see these three people together again!

The last two performers were also very good, Harrison Greenbaum, and Karen Bergreen who often hosts shows at Gotham, and Harrison geared his remarks to jokewriting. All in all it was a very informative day, and I bet that Andy got some new students for his classes!

I also got to meet a new young comic named Wednesday Suarez, and I’m hoping she’s funny because it’s one of the best stage names for comedy I ever heard! How could you not like a girl named Wednesday Suarez???

You can see an earlier post on Andy Engel’s industry comedy workshops at http://wp.me/p1pHIm-IQ

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Tom Segura at Gotham Comedy

I had only seen Tom Segura perform once, cause he’s an LA guy, so I went down to catch him headlining at Gotham, and I was glad I did. He’s really funny, which is a big plus when you’re in comedy! I can’t emphasize it enough, how important that is! (LOL)

Tom Segura onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

I was very glad to see Marion Grodin MC’ing the show. She’s really great and a consummate pro!

Marion Grodin making a point while MC’ing the Tom Segura show at Gotham!

Marion used to produce shows all over town, sometimes with Danny Cohen down at The Duplex, on 7th Avenue, and always invited me to perform, except in those days I wasn’t as experienced as I am now, and was often reluctant to go up on big shows.

Marion Grodin and Jeffrey Gurian down at The Duplex in 2001!

I remember one in particular with Adam Ferrara at the old Gotham. I agonized over whether to do it or not, and wound up not going up. I wish she was producing shows now, cause now I’m ready for anything! (LOL)

Marion Grodin with her Dad, the legendary Charles Grodin!

Marion was followed by Wali Collins, which as I’m writing it sounds very weird. He followed her on stage, not like on the street, like a stalker or something. What I meant to say was that he was the next act. Wali is always enjoyable and a real crowd pleaser.

Tom Segura has a very interesting delivery. Very relaxed and very laid-back, yet very matter-of-fact!

He started out by saying he recently did the fattest thing he ever did, and then corrected himself because he said the fattest thing he could ever do would be to eat another fat person!

He talked about unusual inventions like a toilet that makes turkey sandwiches, and a shoe that’s also a plane. It reminded me of my own inventions, like the 24 hour stapler, where when most staplers stop working at midnight, my stapler works 24/7, … and the battery operated beard, which took the beard-wearing world by storm!

Another view of Tom Segura saying very funny things onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

He said sex is the only thing he’s been doing so long that he’s not better at. He generally ends every session by saying “I’m sorry!”

And he talked about his cousin who’s so dumb, that they went out to eat and he ordered a jerk chicken and his cousin said, ” Oh man, I wanted to order that!” in a very disappointed tone. So Tom explained, ” Well go ahead. You still can. We’re in a restaurant. I didn’t order the last one!

Funny dude!

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Thank G-d For Lisa Lampanelli! (Explanation to Follow!)

Lest my title sound a tad dramatic, let me explain! In a day when the NY Post, ( Monday March 26th, 2012, p. 5) runs a story about political correctness running wild in our city schools, which have banned mentioning references to seemingly harmless words like “wealth” “dinosaurs”, “birthdays”, and even “Halloween”, on city-issued tests, you have to be grateful that there’s someone like Lisa Lampanelli who has the courage to challenge this type of B.S.

Lisa Lampanelli entertaining the folks at Gotham Comedy Club!

You can’t even mention “swimming pools” or “computers” because kids who can’t afford those things might feel bad. Did they ever think that it might also encourage them to work hard so that someday that CAN afford those things?

They refer to it as “economic sensitivities.” This kind of so-called “correctness” sounded like a joke when they first started, and can be great fodder for comedians, but it affects our lives greatly. And NOT in a positive way!

Soon everyone will be absolutely silent. No one will be able to speak at all for fear of offending someone in some way, or possibly bringing some uncomfortable thought to mind! As long as you don’t dare offend criminals or terrorists. That is a high priority, because most criminals and terrorists are very sensitive people, and could be easily hurt by the wrong word or phrase!

One of the beautiful things about comedy is that it has the power to bring people together. People laughing at themselves first, allows them to be able to laugh at each other. It’s all in good fun. Lisa has made even the “C” word acceptable, and I’ve heard her use it to refer to her own mother, … while her mother was present! Lisa not only talks the talk she walks the walk!

Lisa Lampanelli with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV after her killer performance at Gotham Comedy Club!

Political correctness is killing us. It divides us and makes us hyper-sensitive to almost anything people say. There’s a great saying I once read somewhere, (and I wish I remembered where! LOL) that states, “Your ego always wants you to be offended. It actually demands that you’re offended. And when you live your life that way, you’re at the mercy of every stranger that crosses your path!”

You give every person the power over you to make you feel insulted or uncomfortable. That’s too much power to give away. People can tell when something is meant as a joke or comes from hate. All you have to do is see Lisa to know that she comes from a good place. She makes fun of herself as much as she makes fun of anyone else. So when she calls an Asian guy “Ching-Ping”, or every Spanish guy “Hector”, or makes fun of the gays, who she raises money for constantly, and who love her, the audience howls with laughter because she does it with love. She comes from a good place.

We need more like her, not necessarily that everyone has to use the “C” word, but she makes people laugh at themselves and not take things so seriously. No one of us chose our race, or ethnicity, any more than we chose our genetics. It was given to us. You get what you get, and that’s it! With so much hatred in the world, we need to break down the barriers, not create more of them.

Go to any of Russell Peters’ shows and see how multi-cultural his audience is. I call him “The Messiah of Comedy” because he makes every ethnic group laugh at each other and he does it by imitating them perfectly.

When did it become an insult, or racist to imitate an accent? Accents are real. People have them. We hear them. Do we have to make believe that we don’t? Therefore, talented people who can imitate them do. I wish I could. I talk about accents in my act. Especially the Chinese accent, which to me has to be one of the most unusual and non-sexy accents in the world.

You will never hear a woman say, ” When he speaks to me in that Chinese accent, I can’t control myself!” You could live to be a thousand, and you will NEVER hear that!

Anyway, when I heard that Lisa would be making a guest appearance at Gotham Comedy Club in a fundraiser for a Manhattan school P.S. 11, I knew I had to show up. P.S. 11, also known as The William T. Harris School, is a public elementary school located in the heart of Chelsea at 320 West 21st Street, known for it’s diversity. They should probably come to Lisa to make up the test questions! (LOL)

Barry Weintraub was the MC which was a great choice since Barry is one of the best. Wali Collins killed it especially when he went into how Black people name their children. He himself once dated a girl named La-ah, which he was shocked to find out she pronounced Ladasha!

Wali Collins onstage for the benefit for P.S. 11 in Chelsea!

Aside from making appearances all over the country, Lisa is also currently being seen on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, where she always tells it like it is, no matter who gets in her face. She claims to have gained 2o pounds on the show, and said she’s a five o’clock shadow away from looking like Chaz Bono! Although I can tell you that Lisa looks more elegant than ever, and I know her a long time! Success does wonders for people!

She kids her husband Jimmy Cannizzaro a lot, but he has a great sense of humor and takes it like a man! She said she flew in for this gig, but couldn’t sit next to Jimmy cause she flies first class! Everyone should fly with Jimmy. You’d definitely feel safe! The man is his own private plane! (LOL)

Lisa is loved on the show as was evidenced by the fact that sitting with her and her husband Jimmy, were Donald Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa.

Vanessa trump, Don Trump Jr., Lisa Lampanelli and her husband Jimmy!

If there was a magazine called “Perfect Gorgeous Couples” they would be on the cover. The two of them absolutely shine, in a very humble unassuming way. I was so glad to see them cause I hadn’t seen them in a while. I first met them when they were engaged, and Vanessa told me they just had their third child 5 months ago. You’d never know it to look at her. Don looked trim and tan, which I guess works well since he’s on TV every week as one of the advisors and boardroom judges on Celebrity Apprentice along with his Dad, and sister Ivanka. Brother Eric also takes part from time to time as a task advisor or boardroom judge.

Vanessa Trump, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, and Don Trump Jr. at Gotham Comedy Club!

Don also writes a very detailed Blog post on what went on on Celebrity Apprentice called ” In The Boardroom” on the NBC.com website. I’ve been telling him for years he should get into comedy, when I wanted to write his material for the Friars Roast of his Dad, back in 2004, which preceded the Comedy Central Roast. So when I saw him with Lisa I said, ” You see, I told you you’d eventually be involved in the comedy world, … in one way or another!” And we all had a big laugh!

I had met Don Jr. and Vanessa originally when they were Ambassadors for Operation Smile, a fantastic charity that brings plastic surgery for cleft palates and cleft lips to poor children all over the world. Don has been on the Board since 2007. I was a guest at an event they were at, we struck up an acquaintance, and have stayed in touch. I’m happy to say that he reads Comedy Matters and I’m planning to do a video interview with him and Vanessa sometime in the near future.

Comics like to follow a comic who does well, but not too well! How anyone can follow Lisa Lampanelli onstage is a miracle, because Lisa destroyed the audience, but Mike Vecchione managed to do it. He is just so funny and really one of my favorites. I often have to follow him onstage at The Comic Strip, and I say to him, ” Did you have to be THAT funny? Was it really necessary to be THAT funny? How am I supposed to follow that???”

Mike Vecchione making people laugh as usual at Gotham Comedy Club!

Mike, who says he looks like a nasty Staten Island, racial-profiling kind of cop, ( and he does) talks about his inability to work as an undercover cop. ” Well, if I LOOK like a cop, then chances are I won’t be that effective as an undercover cop.” On being tased : A taser is a weird weapon. Kind of like a mixture of a weapon and an energy drink. When you first get tased, you think you’re gonna get a lot done today, but then it hurts a lot!( Sorry Mike for the para-phrasing! LOL)

Mike’s soft low-key delivery, combined with his fantastic writing is what really makes him special. He will definitely be very big in the business!

In line with Lisa’s type of material he asked the Asian people in the crowd, “Who do you like better, Jeremy Lin, or General Tso? Both are number 17!” That is hysterical! I think it’s funny that his own people can’t say his name. They call him Jelemy Rin!

Most comics try to end on a strong joke. Every time I thought Mike was ready to end, he topped that strong joke with an even stronger joke. He’s really such a great performer, and the nicest guy!

It was an AMAZING show, which raised a lot of money for the school. I had hoped to shoot a little video with Lisa afterwards, but she had to run, so we will definitely do that soon. Jimmy said he’ll be in it too! She also has a one woman show coming up that we have to talk about as well! ( Lisa, Tweet the shit out of this Blog post! LOLOLOL )

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Christian Finnegan Packs ‘Em In At Gotham

Christian Finnegan spends a lot of time on the road, so when I heard he was headlining at Gotham I made sure to check out his show. Vic Henley was the host/MC and he does that so easily he could probably do it in his sleep, … which a very unusual phrase, that is supposed to mean that something is very simple for a person to do! I would think even the easiest thing would be hard to do in your sleep, but that’s just me!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Christian Finnegan at his sold-out show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jesse Joyce was also on the show and he’s always good. I ran into Jesse down in San Antonio Texas last year, when I stopped by to cover the San Antonio comedy scene, and he happened to be headlining the club I walked into. He describes himself as looking like a version of Hugh Laurie who plays Dr. House, … and he does! It’s funny that several comics, ( including me!) have lines telling the audience who they look like, and the audience loves it!

Jesse Joyce onstage at Gotham, and he DOES look a lot like Hugh Laurie!

Jesse was also very close to Greg Giraldo, and wrote material for him for his iconic Roast appearances!

Wali Collins was up next, and he told a story of being a kid and asking his Dad if he could drive their new car. His Dad said, ” You can! All you have to do is take the “F” out of “Way”. And Wali said, ” There’s no “F” in “Way”! And his father said, ” Exactly!” Great joke!

Wali, (not Wally) Collins onstage at Gotham making the people laugh!

Before I knew his name was Wali, I thought it was Wally, like short for Walter. Come to think of it, I don’t think Walter is a popular name in the Black community! I like Wali better!

He also talked about being responsible for his actions in his wife’s dreams. One morning he woke up and his wife was angry at him for not helping her when that “pig monkey” was chasing her! (LOL)

Then Christian took the stage, and the room was packed for him. He comments right away on the fact that people think he looks gay. I knew him from years ago, when he was a lot heavier, but since he lost so much weight he has a very chiseled look. He’s like, ” I’m married. Sorry fellas! I know I give off a certain high school drama teacher vibe!”

Christian Finnegan onstage at his sold out show at Gotham Comedy Club!

He wore a cardigan sweater with a tie as did Wali Collins so he commented that they looked like photographic negatives, and then faux-complained that it was supposed to be a one cardigan show!

Among many other topics he commented on how hard it is to get your first drug dealer to score weed from, when you’re 38 years old. It’s awkward asking young people who they use. Maybe it’s because I still refer to them as “drug dealers”, and not just simply ask ” who’s your guy “, he opined! Very funny show!

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