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, New York Comedy Club, the Hard Rock Cafe and Yonkers!
It was another exciting week in comedy.
I ran to catch Mark Normand’s Comedy Central taping for his first hour special at the Angel Orensanz Center down on Norfolk Street. I can’t give anything away except to tell you that I got there for the second taping and the place was so packed that people were standing in every available space. Samantha Black and her Black List people did the seating as she does for all major Comedy Central tapings, and she made everyone clear a space at the back of the large room for what was to be a very surprise ending to the show. It had to do with Mark’s exit and that’s all I can say, except for the fact that the show was produced by Amy Schumer who made a surprise appearance, brought Mark to the stage, and at the end came out with notes and guided him through some pick-ups she wanted to make. She got huge applause each time she came out, as did each of the lines that Mark did in the pick-ups. Mark jokingly asked the audience not to applaud each time for fear it wouldn’t look real to get so many applause breaks, but they kept it up anyway, because they were genuine, and felt the lines deserved it. And Mark and Amy chose Sean Donnelly to warm up the crowd. You’ll have to watch it to see the details.
This week, the Bennington Family Thanksgiving party was an event I’m very grateful to be part of. It gets more fun every year! I was a contestant in their edition of the Match Game along with radio legend Earl Douglas, and we were up against a celebrity dais that included comics Big Jay Oakerson, Sal Vulcano, Liza Treyger, Amy Miller, Greg Stone and SiriusXM’s Michele (with one L!). Ron Bennington and Gail Bennington were the hosts. It was a really fun evening and I got a chance to see what it’s like to be roasted, and it’s quite an experience. Since it hasn’t aired yet I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say there was a running gag with Greg Stone that had something to do with me not remembering that I have met Greg before.
Von Decarlo dropped by New York Comedy Club late on Sunday night and asked me to hang out to shoot something fun after Jamie Roberts’ weekly show Sunday Night Live ended. Turns out she was filming a mannequin challenge and the entire audience stayed to participate. And believe me, it’s not easy to get an audience that’s been drinking all night to sit perfectly still for the few minutes it took to shoot the thing, but it came out great. She started out at the bar, including staff like Oz and Reg, and comics like Barry Ribs, Phil from Chico, Eagle Witt, and Phill Hunt, and made her way towards the show room. I got to play the comedian on deck waiting to go out on stage. They put a sign in the window where Matt Richards who’s out in LA, kept his fish tank that said “Matt Richards was here.” For music, Von put Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles to the video and it’s great! You can see it here on Instagram.
MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE!!! The Comedy Grind" concept by Von Decarlo aka #SpikeV lol 😂 Every night of the week, comics grind it out all over New York City, performing at clubs & sometimes just hanging, as captured in this super fun #MannequinChallege, shot at @nycomedyclub Director: Von Decarlo Camera: Von Decarlo & Kenan Weaver @kenankilledit FEATURING: Bar: @phillhunt2 @heresjohnnymac @eaglewitt @Barry_Ribs @philfromchico @mrbabbitt335 Rachel (Bartendar) Oz (Podium) Reg (Door) Stage: @justjatty (first comic up) @comedianjamie (host) Stage Floor: @jeffreygurian (comic on deck) + our wonderful audience! Booth: @KenanKilledit Green room: @vondecarlo Special Thanks to Jamie Roberts, host and producer of #SundayNightLive, for helping me to pull this off. Extra special thanks to Emilio Savone and the entire New York Comedy Club staff for letting me shoot and perform at one of my favorite clubs in the city! PS: #ShoutOut @MattWasFunny who is still in LA, but I drew you and your fish 🐟 in. Kinda sorta… #CoachVon #Comedy #FunnyTrap Thank you all for participating!!! Music: Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd
I seem to have special radar for Roast Battle at New York Comedy Club because I always show up when it’s on. The place was jam packed to see the headline battle between Geno Bisconte and everyone’s favorite Mike Bocchetti, so I made my way into the private office to find Andy Fiori hanging out. He told me he’ll be entertaining our troops in the Middle East over Christmas and New Year’s. I asked him if I knew anyone else who was going with him and he said it’s his girlfriend of 8 months, comic Alli Breen, whose relationship I kept secret until he gave me the okay to announce it. They’ll be performing in Egypt, Turkey and Jordan, and I think she’s under the impression that he’s just taking her on an exotic vacation! Wait till she finds out they’ll be staying on army bases and not five-star hotels!
Akash Singh was the host and the judges were Pat Dixon, Shuli, and Mike Cannon who described Bocchetti as looking like a person made out of one piece of clay. Pat said that Mike’s act was confusing because his set up and punchlines were the same. Bocchetti did a great job and had actually memorized most of his jokes. Backstage he told me he had recently done Robert Kelly’s podcast You Know What Dude? and was happy to say that nobody bullied him on the air. Mike also told me he recently shot a feature film at New York’s Comic Con in which he plays a “geeky comic book collector-type named Rod.” Everyone roots for Mike Bocchetti, and at the end Ricky Velez who had been in the audience grabbed a mic and berated Geno for roasting Mike, repeatedly calling him a POS. Geno countered by saying that Mike was the one who challenged him. I honestly couldn’t tell if it was done in jest, but it sounded serious, and I could see Ricky standing up for someone cause he’s a stand-up guy.
And because I don’t run around enough, I took a ride up to Yonkers to check out the new comedy club Ha that I’ve been hearing so much about, and I was so glad I did. It’s up on the Thruway near Stew Leonard’s if you know where that is, and it’s a beautiful place. I really had no idea what to expect since I was actually supposed to perform there when it opened last June, but the opening got delayed and I never got to see the place. It’s in a gorgeous shopping mall called Ridge Hill, and as I walked into the large space I was happy to see my buddy Rich DeLayo working behind the bar. It wasn’t until he offered me a drink that I found out he was one of the owners of the place. He and Jeffrey Pichardo own and run the place.
When they showed me the showroom which was packed on a Friday night, one of the hardest working guys I know, who produces shows in Brooklyn and Queens, Aldo Marachlian was on stage headlining, and host Tara Cannistraci filled me in on some details. Tara is a regular there and recently opened for Nick DiPaolo, and Goumba Johnny, and as a result of having Jackie Martling see her hosting skills, she’s now opening for him too. They’ll be at Parx Casino in PA next month. Tara is one of the believers that comedy comes from pain and she uses her dad as a foil very often in her act. She said he’s been sober for ten years, but she talks about the days when he wasn’t, with him in the audience and she says he’s her biggest fan. She also said her parents have been divorced her whole life, but are best friends and actually come to her shows together. She said it’s very comfortable except for the time she faked an orgasm with her parents sitting in the front row. They no longer think she’s a virgin! In the middle of this story, owner Jeffrey Pichardo came up and said that Tara can be considered “an owner favorite”, and Rich DeLayo agreed.
I ran up to the Barnes & Noble on East 86th Street to catch Leslie Bennett’s book signing for her new Little-Brown book on Joan Rivers entitled Last Girl Before Freeway. The title was based on a joke from her early career in which her mother was so desperate to marry her off that she placed a sign in her yard that read, “Last Girl Before Freeway.” I had met Leslie through our mutual friend Bill Boggs at the renaming of the Friars Club monastery in honor of Jerry Lewis and when she found out I had written for Joan, and always had a secret crush on her, she asked to interview me for the book, so I’m in it. Like they say about a movie, don’t blink while you’re reading it or you’ll miss me, but I’m in there. It’s an amazing tale of how hard Joan worked to overcome the early years when no one thought she was funny, to becoming an internationally known icon of comedy. It’s a comprehensive book on her life, including the time she had a falling out with Johnny Carson and couldn’t get booked on TV, to when she lost her TV show and her husband Edgar, who had been producing it, committed suicide, after which she found herself $37 million dollars in debt and went on to create a super-successful company that sold over a billion dollars of her self-designed clothing and jewelry on QVC.
I caught a show on the West side called Bomb Shelter Comedy, which is a weekly showcase at The Gaf West produced by three local comics, Jeff Cerulli, Matt Azark and Erik Bransteen. I like to cover the alternative scene because with so many comics competing for stage time, not everyone can get a spot in a regular club and the alternative clubs are where people get their experience, so I kind of go out of my way to know what’s going on in these venues. These guys started it in April of this year in a very cool basement setting, and have had some great names like Annie Lederman, Keith Alberstadt, Joe DeVito and Emma Willmann. The night I went, they had a very appreciative and diverse crowd. They even had a contingent of people from Iceland. I asked them if they needed security. Matt told me they only had two disgruntled guests so far who when asked to leave for being noisy said the show was “a scam”. He figured they must have been foreign and used the wrong word because it’s a free show with $3 beers and free pizza, … but I forgot to look for the pizza and left hungry.
L.A. based YouTube star Lauren Francesca came to New York to visit and shoot some new videos and came to visit me to plan a new video we’re going to shoot where she plays the character I created for her in her very first YouTube video, a hot Latina named Besame Mucho, who was voted by three major men’s magazines as “the best kisser in the world.” This time she will be voted by the U.N. as the hottest girl in the world. I happened to be at the U.N. this week and shot some video on my iPhone that I hope we’ll be able to use cause it’s hard to get access to shoot in the U.N. but once I was in there I went for it. Lauren has over a million subscribers, and the videos she’s starred in have over 2 billion views. Pretty amazing stuff!
I ended my comedy week going to see John Heffron destroy at Gotham where he was headlining on Saturday night. The room was so packed that they needed my usual table and asked if I’d sit on the side with the comics which is always fine for me. I was soon joined by John and his manager for the last 13 years, my old friend Peter Rosegarten. John is one of those rare acts that works super-clean which is why he gets so much corporate work. He’s a real family act. Peter still takes notes on John’s act and shares them with him after the performance because they not only have a client/manager relationship but they’re also good friends. John got his start at the University of Michigan campus’ Main Street Comedy Showcase and went on to win the second season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. John is one of the few to have done two separate Comedy Central specials and has one running right now on Netflix called Middle Class Funny. He and Peter just finished funding and taping his second hour special called Notes From a Blender based on the way his wife communicates with him. She leaves him notes in the kitchen near the blender. I asked him if he was going to be doing any of that material this night and he said no, because he never repeats material once he’s done it. They are presently shopping it to networks.
And Peter himself had some big news to share with me. He’s moved from the Island of Long into Manhattan and opened his own office on the West side called PARosegarten Media Group. He said it’s amazing not having to commute in on the LIE anymore, since he lives in the city and all of his clients moved along with him, including Adam Ferrara, Ryan Hamilton, Joe Starr, Maryellen Hooper and Marc Theobald to name a few. And now besides comedians, he’s also repping production companies, writers, producers, directors, hosts, filmmakers, TV execs, and he’s even gotten into tech space, working with companies as a member of their board of directors or as an adviser. He’s building a media company that will rep talent both here in the U.S. and overseas as well. Recently, he’s also produced Hidden Heroes on CBS, Project Dad on the Discovery Networks and he just exec-produced his 17th annual New York City Village Halloween Parade. If I had known that, I would have hit him up for a good spot to watch it from instead of standing on the sidewalk like a schmuck!
And before I go I just want to wish all of my Interrobang readers a very Happy Thanksgiving, and I sincerely hope you all have a very long gratitude list of wonderful things to be grateful for.
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, Comedy Matters TV. Photos below Jeffrey Gurian with Lauren Francesca, Mike Bocchetti, John Heffron and Peter Rosegarten, and Von Decarlo.