Converge Management Makes a Major Move, Christi Chiello Breaks Her Roast Losing Streak Plus News From Chris Distefano, Rich Vos, Pete Correale and More


jeffrey gurian column

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 Stand, Dangerfield’s, and more.


The guys at Killer Bunny are kicking butt.  They are the ones who produce Gotham Comedy Live for AXS TV and by last weekend they still weren’t sure who was going to host this week’s two shows. After a flurry of phone calls, one of them to Rick Dorfman formerly of Converge, but now of Authentic Management, they were able to get Fran Drescher, and one day later followed that up with Cedric The Entertainer. Two superstars in two days.

The night Fran performed, I had to get to Dangerfield’s to judge a comedy competition, so I went to the GCL rehearsal instead. Fran was amazing and was there with her writer Frank Lombardi. She ran her whole opening which was very funny, as well as some bits she did in between the comics. She’s a natural. She looked great, but talked about wanting to lose 10 pounds, except that she didn’t have time because the show came at such short notice.

Producer Dave Goldberg introduced me to Frank as a comedy writer who had written for Rodney Dangerfield and Frank said that that’s where he started out, …  as a waiter at Dangerfield’s back in the 70’s, and wound up being an executive producer on Fran’s show The Nanny as well as several other TV shows she starred in. Fran told me she was excited about her upcoming fundraiser entitled Fran Drescher’s Health Summit in support of Cancer Schmancer which will be held in L.A. on October 26th. Fran will be hosting this second annual  event at The Skirball Cultural Center, and it will feature experts in the fields of traditional and alternative medicine. Mariel Hemingway will speak on mental illness and Marilu Henner will speak on how they beat her husband’s cancer without chemo or radiation.

Mike Cannon, Dan Harumi, Larry Beyah, and Rich Aronovitch were the comics on the show and Mike told me, he was heading out to L.A. to shoot a pilot for MTV2.  No details were allowed to be discussed as yet.

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After a quick run across town, I ran back to catch the after party where I got a chance to catch up with Rick Dorfman about the big news surrounding his former company Converge Media Group which just merged with Jon Rubinstein’s Authentic Talent and Literary.  He said that he and Jon have been talking about doing this for about 12 years and that it finally came to fruition.  In Rick’s words, “Jon has done an amazing job building Authentic into one of the premier management companies in the industry. They currently represent some incredible actors such as Michael C Hall, Brie Larson, Vera Farmiga, Brooklyn Decker, Gabourey Sidibe, Parker Posey, and Taye Diggs  just to name a few.”  And with Rick, Steve Wettenstein and James Cristinano they will have a group of 24 managers with lots of experience.

They are dissolving the Converge name and will all be under the banner of Authentic Talent and Literary, and he went on to explain that “our methods of management are rooted in the same ethical core however very different in approach.  The majority of the Authentic managers come from an acting perspective so the majority of their day is focused on casting. We come from the comedy side of the business so we have a very entrepreneurial, proactive approach to management that’s focused on creating opportunity for our clients.”

They are headquartered in Brooklyn and Rick said it’s only been a couple of weeks, but so far he’s thrilled. His people were welcomed with open arms and he ended it by saying “they are incredibly enthusiastic about our entrepreneurial approach and expertise in developing and selling content. Conversely, we are thrilled to have their guidance in helping create more casting opportunities for our clients in film, television and theater. It’s a perfect marriage”  He said that what he also loved about Authentic is that their overall concept is to make a difference in the world. As for me, I can’t wait to see what comes out of this exciting merger.

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As I walked up to Comedy Juice, I saw a gang of people outside that turned out to be , , , lit agent , , , and . Chris is totally psyched about his new TV pilot for CBS currently being referred to as The Untitled Chris Distefano Project. He created it with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas who created How I Met Your Mother and it’s his third pilot. The first two were for Comedy Central, but didn’t go forward. This one will. It’s a scripted show about his life being married to a Puerto Rican woman and their baby daughter, who I jokingly asked him if he had her just to fill out the concept for the show. They will probably start filming in December in New York.

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I stopped by The Stand to catch the first night of the Roast Masters Tournament and ran into Molly Austin with Mike Cannon.  Molly’s a regular on truTV’s Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack which she described as a 30 minute mash-up of different kinds of short form comedy, like documentary, animation and music videos. It features original offerings from some of comedy’s biggest creators. Molly is on with her partner Shamikah Martinez and they will be debuting a new song in November.

The Roast Masters tournament was crazy, hosted by Luis J. Gomez, with five judges including Big with half a head of very blonde hair. The others who all had different kinds of hair were Mike Lawrence, Rich Vos who wore his hat so I couldn’t see his hair at all, Ari Shaffir, whose mohawk is long grown out, and Mark Normand, who has wonderful hair. At one point, the judges were arguing over the rules, and by judges I mean Ari Shaffir who thought that some of the comics were telling double jokes by doing a rebuttal and then adding another joke. Luis J. assured them all, especially Ari,  that everything was on the up and up.

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Some of the battles were downright mean like the one with Evan Williams vs. Erik Bergstrom who’s battle with cancer was a go-to topic for Evan. There seem to be no holds barred in these battles. went at it with Nick Mullen who described Mike as being Italian and retarded, and then either said “That’s like being retarded and retarded”, or “ That’s like being Italian and Italian.” Either way it killed! Pete Lee went up against Christi Chiello, who Jeff Ross told me he loves as a roaster, and who Mark Normand said looked like Honey Boo Boo! In the middle of the roast, Christi opened up to the audience and said, “I really need this!” and she won, finally breaking her losing streak.

Zac Amico scored a big one against Kerryn Feehan by telling her she stays so thin because she knows that no Black man can resist ribs! And the judges weighed in on the contestants as well, with Rich Vos telling one contestant he looked like he should be in a tower, ringing a bell! Eli Sairs may have been the unlucky recipient of that joke. The second round comes up in two weeks.

After the show Rich Vos came over to tell me about his fifth CD, creatively named Rich Vos Five, which he said is much more personal than any of the others, and which he taped at The Funny Bone in Albany. He said he took out the crowd work and that he grows and gets more personal with every CD. He said there’s also a lot about recovery on this one too. He’s involved in every step of the editing and tells the editor what to do. And just before he left me, he told me he usually charges ten bucks apiece but he’s giving me mine for free.

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The next night, I was back to see Cedric The Entertainer and he sure is! He totally brought it and the crowd ate it up. I was sitting on the side with Leonard Ouzts and when Cedric came in he came right over to Leonard and gave him a warm embrace as they’re working on a project together which once again, I’m sworn not to divulge. I know what it is, but I’m not allowed to say and it’s very cool, and you will all know soon. Lots of secrets in the comedy community.

Cedric did his thing and brought out some really funny comics like Noah Gardenswartz, who is so tall I wanted to call him Noah Syndergaardenswartz. He opened the show and took the chance of improv’ing a line that killed saying he was happy to see so many black people in the audience, but if he had known he would have ironed his pants, cause Black people aren’t tryin’ to hear what you’re sayin’ in wrinkled pants.” He told me afterwards that he came up in Atlanta and got his chops at Uptown Comedy Corner, so he was used to performing to predominantly black audiences. Noah is working on developing a TV pilot and is busy promoting his album called Blunt. He was followed by Subhah Agarwal, Dave Temple and Butch Bradley.

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After the show, Cedric and I bonded over some mutual friendships and he told me that BET is making his Comedy Get Down tour into a show, which will be like Curb meets Real Husbands of Hollywood, with the comics telling stories of things that happened to them. It’s for the second quarter of 2017. He told me he was off to places like Cleveland, Rochester, and Memphis and that he’s having a blast on the tour. He was very gracious, and stayed around to take photos with his many fans.

Dave Temple told me he’s also gonna be seen in season 2 of Netflix’s  The Get Down, and I’m pretty sure he said he’s playing Afrika Bambaataa. He came here from Philly and is part of the Six Foot Nothing Crew along with Derek Gaines, Monroe Martin, Chris Cotton and Reggie Conquest. He said he came because those guys came and got good and he was afraid he’d get left behind so he figured he better get to New York.

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I was back at Gotham to see Pete Correale headline. He spends a lot of his day writing for ‘ new show Kevin Can Wait. He said often from 10 A.M. until midnight. He said he loves working with Kevin. Especially the day when was on the set. He also told me how funny Chris Roach is who plays Mott on Kevin Can Wait. Then we went inside to see Pete do his thing. Afterwards, I was with him and so many of the people in the audience came up and told him they were fans of the podcast he does with Sebastian Maniscalco called, … what else?  The Pete and Sebastian Show!!!

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I made a late night stop at New York Comedy Club to see a bunch of comics huddled at the bar watching Mike Recine’s Comedy Central Half Hour debut. In the group, was Brandon Sagalow, , and Amy E. Hawthorne, and as I went over to join them, I noticed that one of the guys was Mike Recine himself. After it was over, I asked him what he thought about seeing himself on the small screen. He said he had expected to hate it, but surprisingly he liked it.

And then I went into the showroom and saw Tyler Fischer hosting at NYCC for his very first time. Tyler used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip and I was always drawn to his imaginative approach to comedy, and his willingness to try anything whether it worked or not. Sometimes, he’d start performing on his way to the stage, and speaking in a weird accent. He also does prank videos which are great, and just this week he did one posing as a news reporter breaking the news to people on the street that Hillary Clinton suddenly decided to drop out of the race.

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 Cedric the Entertainer.

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