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 New York Comedy Club, Gotham, the Lynn Redgrave Theater and more.
Observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur put a bit of a dent in my comedy adventures this week, but I want to take a moment to wish a Happy and Healthy New Year to all who observe and to the rest of the people who share the joy of holidays whether it’s your particular holiday or not.
It was a week of openings. Following up on the spectacular Broadway opening of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s Oh, Hello, (read more on that here) three days later Chris Gethard opened his new one man show Career Suicide at the Lynn Redgrave Theater on Bleecker Street.
The theater was packed, and two of the first people I ran into were Judd Apatow and Colin Quinn. Colin was wearing a surgical boot due to an Achilles heel problem he had, but it didn’t stop him from attending or getting around to greet his fans. The show ran about 80 minutes long with no intermission and was very insightful with Chris openly discussing his battles with depression, suicidal ideation, and a host of other things he managed to overcome to get him where he is now. Chris’s mom was in the audience and at one point, he asked if everyone else could feel the awkwardness he felt as he got through the masturbation part of the show with his mother right there, and the collective sigh of relief as it was over. At the end, Chris got tremendous applause, and everyone went down to celebrate at the after-party. Everyone except me, because I had to get over to Gotham which was just starting to tape Gotham Comedy Live with John Fugelsang as the host.
Chris, by the way, was at the Oh, Hello opening with his wife and gave me a little insight into what the show was about. Interestingly enough, Chris shares two of the producers with Oh, Hello’s previous run at The Cherry Lane Theatre. Mike Lavoie is running up a serious resume of comedy shows he’s produced, including Colin Quinn’s The New York Story and Unconstitutional, Mike Birbiglia’s Thank G-d for Jokes, Sleepwalk With Me, and My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King which is currently on tour. And Carlee Briglia, who was also a producer on Oh, Hello at Cherry Lane, plus Colin’s The New York Story and Unconstitutional, but Chris Gethard gets to add the name of Judd Apatow as a producer and presenter of this show, plus the ever-present Mike Berkowitz (the head of comedy at APA) and Brian Stern from AGI Entertainment Media and Management. It just shows that when you find a good group to work with, you stick with them.
Count John Fugelsang as one more who succumbed to the “beard flu” which was a total surprise to me, but he told me he grew it while dealing with the recent loss of his beloved mother, who passed after a drawn out battle with a rare illness. John was leaving on a 6am flight to LA, but told me how excited he was that his documentary Dream On, about the “perilous state of The American Dream” won for Best Doc at the NY Independent Film Festival. John took a road trip retracing the 1831 journey of the Frenchman Alexis De Tocqueville, to see if the American dream was still alive. John said he’s also waiting to hear the fate of Page 6 TV for the FOX Network, for which they shot three test shows back in July, with Mario Cantone as the second comic on the panel. John said he LOVES doing his show Tell Me Everything on SiriusXM because it allows him to touch on all the subjects he likes to talk about, with interesting people who have opinions.
Chris Roach, who plays Mott on Kevin James’ new CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait dropped by to shoot a little video with me and fill me in on what it’s like for him on the show. Naturally I asked him how it all came about. He told me a story that had a surprise ending. He’s a Long Island guy and he was performing in one of the Long Island clubs one night and just as they were announcing him to take the stage he saw Kevin James walk in. He said he never got to meet Kevin that night. A few months went by and he happened to see a casting notice for Kevin Can Wait and in one of the notices they asked for a “giant.” Well Chris stands around 6’6” and considered himself to fall into that category. He asked his manager to submit him, got the audition and nailed it. Kevin had recalled seeing him earlier at the club plus Kevin’s rep saw the audition and told Kevin he had to hire this guy cause he was perfect for the role. They film the show on Long Island two or three weeks on and a week or so off in between, and he said he’s having the best time of his life. He said that working with Kevin James is a dream come true for him.
I did take the time to run up to Yonkers on two separate nights to check out Frank Pellegrino and Rich DeLayo’s second annual Yonkers Comedy Festival, through their NoMa Comedy Productions, which this year was extended from four to five nights at several cool venues in Yonkers. Johnny Watson was there and he told me that producer Mark Lipsky who used to work with Eddie Murphy back in the day will be producing a screenplay he wrote called Fly Guys about two losers obsessed with a boy band. The two losers become flight attendants just so they can follow the band around. Johnny himself will be playing a security guard and hopes that Jack Black will be playing one of the leads. If nothing else, it’s a very unique and unusual storyline.
Jon Laster was hosting the Andrew Schulz headlining weekend at Gotham, and was told that George Wallace and Jerry Seinfeld would be dropping by to each do a respective set and work out some new material. Jon had always admired George and had only met Jerry once, very briefly, so it was a great thrill for him to bring them on stage and introduce them to the audience. George went up first, and did about 15 minutes and then when he introduced Jerry, it almost seemed like the audience didn’t believe it, until Jerry took off his baseball cap and they recognized him. He said then the roar was deafening. He said his own level of excitement was “over the top” because no matter how high you rise in the business, there’s no passing that level of respect you have for those two guys. Besides being a comic, Jon also packages TV shows and he’s waiting to hear on a couple of different pilots he executive produced for two different networks. One is an all female talk show and the other is a sketch show, both in development right now.
Andrew Schulz opened his set by recounting to the audience how excited he was that Seinfeld and George Wallace dropped by to do sets on his show. He said that Seinfeld came up and “grabbed the audience by the pussy, … which you can only do if you’re a billionaire!” He had a packed house and Andrew was in rare form, with three shows in a row that night. That is hard to do and keep your energy up, and afterwards he hung out and greeted all the fans as they left.
I made a late night stop at New York Comedy Club and caught Matt Pavich who was hosting the late show. Matt was chosen as one of 12 people and only one of two stand-up comedians to be part of the ABC diversity showcase. The other ten people were straight actors and on November 9th, they have to do scenes for ABC casting people for potential roles on TV shows. I asked Matt which diverse group he was representing and he wasn’t sure, except that he explained that his dad is Croatian and his mom is Italian and Haitian.
Next week’s column should be a lot of fun because Tom Rhodes is coming to town. He gets here tonight and will be staying with me, so we will be attending all of his shows at The Comedy Cellar and his Unmasked interview at SiriusXM with the great Ron Bennington, and I can only imagine what else will happen while he’s here!
And on that note, … 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 John Fugelsang, Judd Apatow and Colin Quinn, and Chris Roach.