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, and more.
I stopped by The Stand and ran into Ari Shaffir hanging outside. We talked about his story telling show This Is Not Happening going into its third season on Comedy Central. It’s the 5th season overall, but the first two seasons were on YouTube. He said that Comedy Central became aware of his show that he had been doing live, and decided to produce it as a YouTube show first. That became so popular that they decided to do it on TV.
It’s between Ari and Comedy Central as to who gets on the show, but Ari says he likes to give time to newcomers as well as known names. He purposely looks for women and minorities to give them a break. And now that I wrote this he’ll probably be besieged by both groups! This past season he said he got 400 submissions to review for the show. For YouTube, there’s no time limit on the stories, and as an example he told me that both Kurt Metzger and Jim Breuer had 19 minute stories which had to be cut down for the Comedy Central version, which he said was very hard to do, and still keep to the integrity of the story. Third season starts October 13th. I will be tuning in!
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I’ve seen comics get ovations coming to the stage, as well as leaving the stage, but never when coming up from the green room after the show to greet their fans. But that’s what I saw with Joey “Coco” Diaz. He’s been on many TV shows and several films and he’s garnered a very faithful group of fans who were extremely vocal in their excitement when Joey headlined Gotham Comedy Club this past weekend. The night I went, it was so crowded they had to put strangers at my table. Luckily, it was two young stand-up comedians, who I had never seen before and who just happened to be familiar with this column. They said so when they sat down. That always feels good, but not as good as it felt when Joey first saw me that night, and said, “Hey Jeffrey, I really like your column.” He told me he got turned onto it by Sarah Tollemache when she was written up in it recently. He and Sarah are friends from the days when she lived in LA and then Houston. Anyway, Joey came out to thunderous applause.
After the show, Joey and I went down to the green room to hang out for a few minutes before he went to greet his family, friends and fans. He’s gearing up to shoot a special in October at the Zanies in Rosemont, Illinois. And it’s for Seeso, NBC’s digital arm. I asked him why there and he said he’s performed there many times, and it’s a real blue collar crowd that really gets him. The working title as of now is “Socially Unacceptable” but it could also be “Things That Keep Me Up At Night.” He’s really busy and on the road two weeks out of every month, but he tries to take it easy as much as possible to spend more time with his little 3 year old daughter.
And his other main project is his podcast called The Church of What’s Happening Now which he does with his co-host Lee Syatt, for some reason known as “ The Flying Jew”. The first time Joey said it, I thought he said he was known as “The Fine Jew”, but the amazing thing is that Lee got the gig by randomly contacting Joey through a Facebook message, and telling him he’d like to work for a comedian. That was four years ago and they’ve been together ever since. Lee says it’s a dream come true.
I asked Joey about the nickname “CoCo” and how that came about. He said his dad gave him that nickname before he passed away when Joey was only 3, because he said his legs were so white they looked like the inside of a coconut. He said that not too long ago he was considering getting rid of the “CoCo”, but there was already another Joey Diaz in the union, so the “CoCo” stayed. As we came upstairs from the green room, his fans were actually lined up on both walls of the club patiently waiting for him and when they saw him they broke out into loud applause. He greeted each one and stayed for photos with all of them. Really great guy.
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Kroll and Mulaney opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre for previews of their hot show Oh, Hello starring Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland. I’m going this week, so I’ll let you know what happens. And Nick was featured on The Today Show yesterday and they showed a clip of them introducing me in the first “Too Much Tuna” sketch that aired.
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I ran into Carly Aquilino at Comedy Juice this week and she’s gone through the gamut of hair colors and seems to have settled on blonde. It looks great on her and she jokingly told me that comics feel inspired to do more projects so when they see me, they have something to tell me for the column!
And Angelo Lozada told me that his web series Get Some won the official Latino Short Film Festival held in Harlem recently for one of its episodes, or webisodes called “Sheck It Out” starring the guy who made the phrase famous, Angel Salazar. Angelo was happy to announce that Angel will be playing his dad in a pilot he’s working on based on the web series. We were laughing at Angel’s antics on stage, during which he usually sheds his clothing, and Angelo said he may be wild but “ironically, I don’t know anyone more meticulous or professional than Angel when it comes to work!” And that was a quote!
Michael Che dropped by to do a guest spot, and then a funny thing happened when Gibran Saleem brought Judah Friedlander to the stage. Judah must have been in the midst of something and maybe didn’t hear his intro, and was delayed for a few seconds in getting to the stage. He turned that into comedy gold blaming Gibran for introducing him too early, before he was even ready, and told him to be back at the club at 8:30 A.M. to rehearse passing off the mic and introducing people for several hours. Judah had an assistant filming him, and I have a feeling he may be working on some sort of documentary project, as he often has people filming. I hope he does, because it would be amazing!
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I stopped by the RoastMasters battle at The Stand, and it was so packed I had to go down the back stairway through the kitchen in order to see anything. They had a whole group of judges including Rich Vos, Dan Soder, Yamaneika, Mike Lawrence, Annie Lederman, and Nick Yussuf. That’s a lot of opinions. Afterwards I hung out with Patrick Milligan who told me that they’re having a RoastMasters Tournament starting with 16 comedians in October. It will be whittled down to 8 comedians and then to the final 4 comics on November 1st. And he showed me a picture of the championship belt that they’re having made up that the winner will receive. Save me a seat guys!
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Del Harrison may have moved to LA, but she’s back in NYC every other month to do her show at 49 Grove, a very hot “hotspot” in downtown nightlife, at 49 Grove Street. She’s been doing the show for five years and I went to check it out and it was really great. Packed room of very cool people. Upscale crowd, ready to laugh, and had some great comics on the show. I got to see a couple of new names to me, which I’m always glad about, including Purnell Holloway who was really VERY funny. Talk about funny, Del herself is truly one of the funniest out there and a great host. And I don’t mean one of the funniest “female” comics, I mean one of the funniest comics. She’s also got a bi-monthly show out in LA at The Improv called Stand-Up, Storytelling and Sangin. I accidentally wrote “Singin’” but she schooled me on the fact that according to her, Black people don’t “sing” they “sang!” Hilarious! I guess that’s why she had her hair “did!” And most important to me, I got to thank the very mixed crowd for laughing at my “racial” humor, explaining that in order for comedy to be the “healing force” that it is, it’s important that we learn to see the humor in ourselves and be able to laugh at it together.
And she did something I thought was very special. She has no trouble schooling her audience if they got out of line, or a bit too noisy. But she also drops knowledge on people, and in the middle of this hilarious show, she talked about how the BLM movement was important to her, but what was also important to her was the need for people in the Black community to stop killing each other. She hammered that fact home and got big applause from a very mixed audience.
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Jackie Martling will be performing in a charity fundraising event for the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center this coming Wednesday starting at 6 P.M. until 9 P.M. in a spectacular event at The Cutting Room on East 32nd Street right here in Manhattan. It’s being produced by a group called Angel Compass Network. The pediatric center provides comprehensive health care, rehab, and special ed services to the 137 residents of the center, offering holistic care to the medically compromised children. And since Jackie is featured in my new book “Laughing Legends”, they invited me to come and do a book signing with part of the proceeds being donated to the charity. Should be a fun night and I hope you will join us. For ticket info for this worthwhile charity event go to angelcompass.com.
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My last stop of the weekend was going to say goodbye to Matt Richards who is moving to LA for a few months. He was hosting the late show at New York Comedy Club, and is leaving for LA tomorrow until at least the end of January, because he was chosen to participate in the CBS Diversity Showcase and they need him to be out there to prepare. He just found out a few days ago. It’s a huge thing. Out of thousands of applicants they only choose around 15-20 performers. Anyway I got there about an hour too early to catch him, cause he had to run out and do a set at The Creek and the Cave, but I did run into Sarah Tollemache who thought it was amazing that Joey read my column thanks to her. Sarah is one of the founders of the sketch troupe Bullshit Women who perform at UCB, and they’re working hard to prepare for a show they’re doing at UCBEast in October. Sarah is also engaged to Joe List who she said was headlining in Peoria this weekend, and will be doing some shows on the last leg of Louis CK’s US tour.
So when Matt arrived he had to run right up on stage to open the show and I waited for him till he got off in the private office, which is like the clown car where hundreds of clowns get out of a little tiny car. Wall to wall comedians hanging out to schmooze. I often wonder just how many it can hold. Rosebud Baker was even taking a nap, she was so tired.
Matt and I went out to the bar to speak because I wanted to know more about this CBS Diversity Showcase and how it worked. He said the chosen few work with writers to create sketches and to prepare the performers for pilot season, where hopefully they’ll wind up on a sitcom. They do a 1 1/2 hour showcase at the end of January, which is how long Matt has to stay out there. I asked him where he was staying and he said he was couch-surfing with friends at least for the beginning, until he gets settled and sees what’s available. Then I asked him how this whole thing came about because I’m always fascinated by stories like that.
He auditioned for the head of casting at CBS right here in New York and she told him she loved him, but that her partner in LA had to see him too. I asked him if he had done stand-up for her, but he said he did mostly characters, which is a real strength of his, as well as foreign accents, which automatically wins people over. People tend to love anyone who can imitate an accent, … except maybe for the politically correct crowd which now considers that some kind of insult.
So he flew out there and since he’s handled by both Levity for management and CAA for his agency, they were able to set him up with lots of auditions and meetings while he was out there. They all thought he should move out there, but he truly loves New York. Rehearsals started this past Friday, so as soon as he finishes headlining at the Hoboken Comedy Festival, he’s heading to the airport for a plane to LA. I think Matt is destined to be a big star, and will wind up with a show of his own!
Remember that I said that! 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 Matt Richards, Del Harrison and Joey CoCo Diaz.