Jeffrey Gurian is a writer and comedian in New York who loves to Jump Around. Follow his regular column, right here, to find out what’s happening in comedy, and who Jeffrey Gurian ran into this week in and around New York. This week Jeffrey covered the scene at Gotham Comedy Club, the Standing Room, and a new venue at the Ace Hotel.
Besides hanging out on the comedy scene I’m also a nightlife guy and have been for a long time. The Ace Hotel on West 29th Street is a very cool hang, and so when Conan Smith of the Buchwald Agency hipped me to the fact that there was a new comedy show there I made it my business to attend, and I’m so glad I did as it was packed with talent, fun people and comedy vets. I ran into comedy powerhouse manager Rick Dorfman of Converge Media, who’s a mover and shaker on the very highest level. He greets me by laughingly yelling out over the din, “ YOU at a comedy show? I can’t believe it! What would make YOU come to a comedy show?”
Plus I got to meet the producer of the show, Ryan Ling who has created some of the shows I really enjoy on MTV2 like Guy Code, Girl Code and Guy Court, three shows where I’m friends with lots of the people on the shows. This show was down in the basement in a room called Liberty Hall and the show is called Bird Brain Comedy. I asked Ryan about the new show and he felt it was an amazing start to what will be a monthly show. He said, “My goal is to throw a party while featuring a diverse mix of comics”, which is how best to have described the scene. He went on to say, “ this city has such an amazing group of talent that wouldn’t necessarily perform under the same roof, … until now.” He also told me that he got the idea for “Guy Code” from a friend he let stay on his couch for a supposed “short stay”, who just wouldn’t leave, and that he’s developing other “Code-type” shows because he says it’s such a great format to be creative with.
Chris Distefano was hosting, and it was a very cool room, with a wall of speakers lining the back wall, and a busy bar on the other side of the room. Leonard Ouzts the 23 year old wunderkind who’s taking the comedy world by storm was waiting to close out the show and we hung out on the side catching up on all the stuff he’s been doing. Of course I didn’t get to see the whole show because I RARELY ever got to see a whole show on my schedule since there are so many places to jump around to, so I missed Blair Socci, and Kevin Iso, but I did get to see killer sets by Jon Friedman, Christina Galston, and Shakir Standley who was doing double duty. He was on the ones and twos when I arrived playing comics on with mad beats, and then got up and did his own killer set. It was a really fun night. Also working with Ryan and co-producing the shows was Naomi Steinberg formerly of Comedy Central, who I hadn’t seen in years since she used to co-produce an alternative show called “Eating It” back in the day.
I can break the news here straight from the Killer Bunny producers that AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live is changing direction and moving towards bringing in more “actor” talent as hosts rather than just stand-ups, like they did with David Hasselhoff who opened this new season and Pamela Anderson who was such a huge hit on last week’s show. They want to fashion themselves after SNL, thinking of it as “SNL for the millenniums” bringing on actors who are promoting their films or TV series, so it will become as they put it, “ New York’s shinier, funnier version of SNL behind the actors they’re planning on bringing in”, … and wait till you see the list! I promised not to share it yet but trust me it’s AMAZING!
And any of you publicists out there who have big stars you think might be right for hosting Gotham Comedy Live, please reach out to me and I’ll hook you up! Don’t worry if they’re not adept at stand-up, they will write for them and coach them as well!
So many LA comics come in to NY to headline and this week it was Ahmed Ahmed’s turn to host Gotham Comedy Live. You probably know Ahmed from TBS’s Sullivan and Sons where he played a guy with the unusual name of Ahmed. Making their debut on the GCL show was Jim McCue the founder of the Boston Comedy Festival, Stephanie McRae who had done Wendy Williams show a few times, the very funny John Moses, and Cisco Duran who opens for Carlos Mencia and told me he just got booked on one of Kevin Hart’s new shows called Hart of the City for Comedy Central. He taped it last week in Miami at a venue not necessarily known for comedy, a place called The Lightbox.
I attended the killer Jim Norton Unmasked interview that Ron Bennington hosted at The Village Underground and during the interview Jim spoke warmly of the first time he met “Dice” Clay who he toured with for about four years. So a couple of nights later in my weekly call with Dice I asked him about it and he remembered it in detail, as if it happened yesterday even though it was like 15-20 years ago. I don’t want to give away the details of the story as the Unmasked hasn’t aired yet but Dice gave me his rendition of the stories Norton shared.
We also talked about his Showtime show, DICE and he said he had a great time on the set filming. He also agreed with me wholeheartedly when I told him that I have not watched the six episodes that are available on the internet. I wait and watch them on TV which I think is better and more enjoyable. He couldn’t have agreed more. He said it’s definitely a different experience watching it on the tube than on a computer screen, and complimented me for being astute enough to realize that. I asked him who he thought should play him if there were ever to be a movie about his life, which I think there should be. He said either James Franco, who he thinks is amazing, or his son Dillon who he says is very powerful on stage and is very talented, with great presence as you can see when he fronts his band “Still Rebel” with his brother Max. Dice is really so proud of his sons. I can hear him “glowing” over the phone when he talks about them.
Michele Balan let me know that she’s beyond excited that she’ll be performing with her idol, and my good friend Elayne Boosler in Philly this week at the Prince Hotel, in the RRazz Room in a show called Double The Fun. They’ll be taping the show and Michele said she’s admired Elayne since the beginning of her own career in comedy. Elayne was the first woman to ever have a one hour cable TV special, and I’ll always be grateful to her for doing my Diabetes benefit a few years ago at The Comic Strip in honor of my Dad. Elayne does a lot for different charities, especially when it involves animals. Michele said she and Elayne are both big Met fans which she said she probably shouldn’t admit when they’re playing in Philadelphia! I know nothing about sports, but I guess they have a team too!
I felt like it was necessary for me to see Fuck, Marry, Kill in person to really grasp what the show was about, so I went out to The Standing Room to check it out. I had heard of the game before but had no idea how it would play out with an audience. The brainchild of comic Walker Hays— who brought in Luchana Gatica as her co-host– it’s a fun audience interactive game where the audience writes down the names of famous people and the names get put into a bucket. The comic goes up, and the audience yells out either Fuck, Marry, or Kill and then the comic draws a celeb name out of the bucket and has to improv a routine about either fucking, marrying or killing the celeb who’s name was drawn. Once you do the first one, let’s say you do get “Fuck” you have to do Marry and Kill choosing people from the audience to do your jokes on.
L.A.’s Aida Rodriguez was on stage finishing up a bit about fucking Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend, and in honor of 4/20 instead of “Kill” the rules were changed to who you would choose to “smoke” with. Aida shouted me out from the stage and chose me to smoke with cause she said it would probably be fun and if we wound up having sex she thought it might improve her credit score! It was a really fun show, and the audience loved the participation opportunity. Believe it or not it did not encourage heckling, which you might expect from a show like that, with so much audience involvement. Also on the show was my old buddy L.A. based Eliott Chang who said he didn’t even know the concept of the show until he got there, but luckily for him he had enough stage experience to be able to improv his way through.
It was a short week with the Passover holiday and all and I just want to take a moment to wish all of our Jewish friends a very happy Passover, and hope you enjoyed the holiday with people you care about!
And with that and a piece of delicious egg matzoh, … I’m OUT!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, Comedy Matters TV. Photo below Jeffrey Gurian with Stephanie McCrae and Jim McCue.