Sherrod Small’s Growing Media Enterprise, Joe Machi’s Podcast Plus News From Aida Rodriguez, Jon Laster and More


is a writer, comedian and TV reporter in New York who loves to Jump Around. Follow his regular column right here, to find out what’s happening in comedy, and who ran into this week in and around New York. This week, Jeffrey visited the Village Underground, Gotham Comedy Club, The Stand and more.


I was sitting at the lone table outside of The Stand talking to Sherrod Small when I heard someone yell out “Gurian, is that you?” As if it could be anyone else! (LOL) It was Derek Gaines who I hadn’t seen in much too long. Derek told me he shot a pilot out in LA that didn’t get picked up, but he came back to NY and picked up 7 episodes of the new project on TBS called The Last O.G.. It’s a single camera scripted show and they’re already shooting it out in Brooklyn. On the stand-up side, Derek said he’s working hard to “be one of the most superlatively skilled comics in Manhattan.” And then he added.” Joke-work always prevails!” He is very serious about his stand-up and making it very visual so that his act-outs are as impressive as his jokes. Derek is just a very unusual dude, with a great energy and a very unique way of expressing himself.

There was a whole group of comics hanging outside including Aida Rodriguez, who told me every time she sees me, something good happens for her, which is such a nice thing to say, and Laurie Kilmartin. Sherrod Small told me his company Small World Comedy is producing live shows with the comics from Opie Radio on SiriusXM, on which he is a co-host, namely comics like , , , and Keith Robinson. He suggested I come down to the show one day to check it out, and I will definitely do that. Sherrod is doing lots of cool stuff including headlining at Helium in Philly coming up in about a week, and doing a show with celebrity chef/restaurant consultant Carl Ruiz, who won Guy Fieri’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” in which 16 of the best chefs competed against each other. He came on Opie’s show as a guest with celeb-chef Alex Guarnaschelli, and he and Sherrod hit it off and are now planning a food and comedy tour ending at Ralph’s Italian Restaurant right here in NYC. He said that he and Carl are also developing shows through Small World Comedy for different networks. Ladies and gentlemen, … Sherrod Small, … media mogul!

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I sat with Giulio Gallarotti who is one of the Fat Baby crew, but also an amazing rapper who raps under the name Lil Young Big, but you have to really see this dude rap to appreciate it. He’s shirtless, with a nose ring, art work on his face, a gold grill on his teeth, sometimes upper, sometimes lower, and his hair is in little pigtails. But his talent is so real. He raps like Desiigner, like a Southern hip-hop rapper, which is why he was able to do karaoke to Timmy Turner when no one else could even understand the words. He’s recording some new songs this week at End of Era studios on West 54th Street which he was turned onto by comic Molly Austin who also does music. And he said the walls are covered with platinum albums like the one they did for Diddy.

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I feel like I was wandering all over this week, enjoying the nice weather, and just dropping in late at clubs at random. Ran into Neko White at New York Comedy Club who told me he’s now working with a production company to develop a project for TV. Neko has a great work ethic and is on the grind on a daily basis. He’s been working hard since I met him when he was around 18 and used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip. Now he’s probably around 23. He’s headlining Zanies in Chicago for the first time at the end of July, and has Smith from Buchwald behind him, so how can he go wrong?

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Mike Merkovich does his Melting Pot show at New York Comedy Club and was outside just chilling when I arrived. I stayed to watch his set which focused on his new sobriety, and it was great! He looked great and had renewed energy and I give him lots of credit for making important changes in his life. He’s going on a road tour very soon out to Ohio and parts thereof.

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I decided to head down to The Cellar one night and ran into Ryan Hamilton racing through the street, on his way to do a set at The Underground. He stopped long enough to tell me he just shot his first special at the Kaye Playhouse with Jon Laster as his opening act. It’s for Netflix and it happened May 13th which just happened to be his birthday. Nice present! And when the audience found out, they spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday” to him. He too is developing something for TV. ( Besides this new special!) Then I let him run so he wouldn’t be late for his spot!

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P.J. Landers who ran Boston Comedy Club for three years after Barry Katz left, had a cast on his arm, but was still outside The Grisly Pear where he does his regular, longtime Friday night show. I had to ask about it and of course it was an unusual story. It happened in Bogota, Colombia of all places. where he was shooting a project about the rise and fall of the Irish mob in the 60’s and 70’s in Boston. The production company just happens to have offices in Bogota. He plays a mob boss named Kenny Killeen and hurt his shoulder in a fight scene with a guy he said was his size. His size happens to be 6’4”, or as he said “6’5” in heels!” On the very last night of shooting, after several takes of what he described as feeling like a real fight, he felt something go in his shoulder and wound up in this cast. It doesn’t stop him from doing anything, but to my surprise he never mentioned it on stage! Did his whole set and never made reference to it even once! I guess he had enough to say. He’s another guy who’s always working on new material and trying to take his craft to a higher level.

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I slipped into the comics booth at The Village Underground while the show was going on, and found myself next to my pal Joe Machi, who is on the road a lot. As a matter of fact he’s getting ready to head out to China and Singapore for two weeks to perform for ex-pats. Here on the mainland, he’s got a new podcast with his buddies Sam Morril, Phil Hanley, and Liz Furiati who works at The Cellar. Sam and Joe tease each other mercilessly, and have since I first met them both when they also used to do my late night show at The Strip, so I can only imagine what goes on during the podcast. I ran into Liz on the street a couple of nights later in front of The Cellar and she humbly downplayed her role on the show. She said she just kind of hangs out and lets the guys do their thing. They have had quite a stellar group of guests so far including , , , , and Rachel Feinstein who I also ran into in the street and who looked so serious I wasn’t sure it was her. She was searching for a cab to get to her next spot, so we just had time to yell out greetings to each other. I asked Joe if there was a theme to his podcast and he said that he HATES to do podcasts so the theme is the other people trying to keep him doing it. I love Joe’s delivery and the simple way he sets up his jokes which is really very complicated, and hard to do. The audience loves him too.

Sitting with us at different times was Ardie Fuqua who came over each time he got offstage from hosting, Paul Mercurio, George Buchalter who co-owns The Underground, Ray Ellin, and Ricky Velez who rolled in to close the late show with the afore-mentioned Giulio Gallarotti.

Ray Ellin has an unusual show he’s been doing in Aruba for the past four years, and how it came about is another interesting story. A fan of his invited him to come down to Aruba. A female fan! He declined for a year until he realized she was just a nice person and he took her up on her offer. Platonically of course! He had such a good time, he said he fell in love with the island, (not the girl!), and he started going back every month and then decided to try and find another reason to go back. He finally found a space inside of the Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, which is the largest in Aruba, and he does around 100 shows a year. He usually does three comics doing 30 minutes each for a 90 minute show, and the next one is coming up this month, and lasts for an entire month. He features people like Tony Woods, Gregg Rogell and Chuck Nice. It’s so great to create a special niche for yourself like that.

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Ardie Fuqua has to be one of the best hosts around. He’s almost like a band leader, or an orchestra conductor with the way he moves his arms bringing the audience to a fever pitch, and getting them to welcome each comic with huge applause. Paul Mercurio went up with a long set list he wanted to work on and wound up doing only two jokes. Ardie was kibitzing with him from the audience and brought up on the stage an audience member who was very attractive who said she was Brazilian and Chinese. Her fiance, who wasn’t there, was a Venezuelan aerospace engineer, so Paul went off on that and her for most of his set, and then brought up a tall, good looking Asian guy who he said really looked like he would be an aerospace engineer, who turned out to be nothing of the kind. Paul and the audience had so much fun that he never got to do his jokes until he got the red light. Then he threw in two quick ones, and then ran off to do another set at The Cellar where I assume he eventually worked on his set list.

As the show ended I heard someone call my name and it was Ardie from the stage. He asked me to come up to take a selfie with him, and then stayed there and took photos with all of his fans from the audience. He greets everyone as a friend and makes them feel glad they came. Great host!

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I kept running into Aida Rodriguez without having time to sit down and chat. I finally got to sit with her after a killer set she did at The Stand. She’s been in town for a week and came here to do a panel for the National Girlfriends Network, and it’s not what it sounds like. It’s an annual event which was held in the Wall Street area to connect women all over the world, in a world-wide networking event. It’s an interactive event and Aida was the only stand-up comic on the panel. She said it was a great experience and several of the women came to see her perform that night at The Stand.

She was also excited about being the first Latina to appear on Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam coming July 21-22nd to the Rio Hotel in Vegas. Aida is on the second night, along with Bill Bellamy, Bruce Bruce, K-Dubb who I met when I was in Atlanta and performed at the Uptown Comedy Corner where he was hosting, and a comic I don’t know, who has the great name of Huggy Lowdown.  She said her outfit was very important to her on Shaq’s show, so she bought these shoes that were so beautiful, but they hurt so bad that her feet were literally bleeding during her 25 minute set. And Aida moves around a lot when she’s on stage, so she said it was crazy trying to perform in such painful shoes. But she said they looked beautiful and that’s what counts. She did six sets the night I saw her and was on her way back to L.A. the next day.

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Yannis Pappas told me he’s doing a new web series with Chris Distefano and it’s called Bay Ridge Boys, which is where they both live and hang out every day. Yannis said they play exaggerated versions of themselves, and I asked him if he became Italian for this web series to blend with Chris, but he said there are plenty of Greeks in Bay Ridge and he stuck to his heritage. He described it as like “Broad City with native New Yorkers” and he says they’re having a blast doing it, cause it’s so much fun. They already shot the first one, with Sean Donnelly and Sergio Chacon playing cops, and Graham Kay who recently moved back from L.A., and Giulio Gallarotti both playing hipsters. I wonder if Sean lent them his beard. It was produced by Cringe Humor, the guys who own The Stand, and it’s in the process of being edited as we speak. Yannis and Chris write it together, and it will be posted online in the next couple of weeks.

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I finished my week with a late night run to The Cellar where I ran into Jon Laster saying good night to who had just dropped by to do a 40 minute set, on the show that Jon hosted. Kevin ran out on his phone and got into a huge black customized bus, which is the only way I can describe it. It was much bigger than an SUV, but smaller than a city bus. I heard he had made the rounds at a few places that night. Jon told me he’s very excited to be writing with Leslie Jones for the first time for her appearance at the BET Awards coming up on June 25th in L.A. and he’ll be out there with her.

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And finally, in last week’s column I wrote about Barry Katz’s groundbreaking movie I Killed JFK in which he proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that JFK was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was a patsy for the C.I.A., but was definitely killed by a guy named James Files in a conspiracy with the C.I.A., and the Chicago mob, along with references to an involvement by LBJ and a couple of other gangsters and government officials. I got to see the film. Barry opens the film with him onscreen telling people why he made this film and how important it is to him and to the people of America to finally know the truth after 54 years. After the film, which runs about an hour, he moderates a panel with 5 of the Kennedy assassination experts and the testimony is riveting. None of these people, especially James Files who was just released from prison after 50 years for a different crime, has anything to gain from being in this film or telling the truth. One interesting bit of info was that as Files was leaving the grassy knoll after shooting Kennedy in the head, he took the empty cartridge and bit into it leaving teeth marks in the soft metal. He said he liked the taste of gunpowder, but afterwards thought it was stupid of him to do that. Years later, the empty casing was found with indentations in it which a dentist identified as teeth marks. No one else could have known about that, except the man who did the shooting. I wish Barry lots of luck with the success of this film.

And that’s it for me. So until next week please try and remember that Comedy Matters! And with that, … I’m OUT!!!


Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, and watch Comedy Matters TV on Be Terrific.  Photos below Jeffrey with Aida Rodriguez, Ardie Fuqua and Sherrod Small.

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