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 The Stand, New York Comedy Club, and more.
I have yet to see a bad Unmasked interview by Ron Bennington but the one with Nick Di Paolo this week at The Stand was literally one of the funniest yet. Ron has been doing a lot of stand up for the last couple of months, getting back to his roots when he owned a comedy club and performed all the time, and it really showed as he and Nick bounced off each other with one hilarious comeback after another.
Nick was very self-deprecating and played off his reputation for being angry and having a very specific point of view. Afterwards, when he, Ron and I were hanging out at the bar he admitted he didn’t know about Ron’s stand up background, and said he was surprised at how funny Ron was. He said he knew he was funny from the radio show and that Colin Quinn had told him about how funny Ron was, but he wasn’t prepared for what went down. It was a very special evening, so make sure to listen on SiriusXM.
This past week Mike Bocchetti was admitted to NYU Langone hospital as an emergency with chest pains. He was leaving the Anthony Cumia studios where he had just done The Creepy Show and felt a tremendous burning in his chest. He said he was afraid to tell anyone because he didn’t want them to think he was homeless so he just dialed 911. He said he laid down on one of those huge concrete planters, while waiting for the ambulance which probably made him definitely look homeless. The ambulance came and took him to NYU Langone where he was diagnosed as having a heart attack. They took him right into surgery and put in a stent which saved his life.
Welcome to the stent club Mike. I spoke to him on the phone and he’s in great spirits. He said the whole heart attack thing came as a great shock because he felt he was “in great shape” after working out with his trainer comic Irene Bremis who was one of the roasters at Mike’s recent roast at NYCC. He said he had lost weight and was feeling really good, but genetics took its toll. He plans to continue eating healthy and working out on his own. I hope it wasn’t the jokes we told that gave him the heart attack!
Jeff Singer was in town watching auditions for this summer’s JFL New Faces. I caught up with him at New York Comedy Club where one of the stand-outs was Jordan Temple. Alexis Guerreros also did himself proud and was there with his manager from Authentic. Always good to do well when your manager is there. Next night, Jeff was heading out to The Creek and The Cave, then The Stand, and then Stand Up New York.
Mike Merkovich celebrated the 2 year anniversary of his hit show The Melting Pot at New York Comedy Club with a cool line-up including Melissa Diaz, Carmen Lynch, P.J Landers, Keith Hudson, and Corinne Fisher. Corinne just got back from her first trip to London performing with her comedy partner Krystyna Hutchinson at two sold out shows at The Soho Theatre. She said she’s never had tea so good as in London and the day before she woke up and made scones for herself by hand. Knowing nothing about scones, I don’t know how else you would make them, but I didn’t ask. She said besides her sold-out shows the most exciting part of the trip for her was visiting The Oakley Court hotel where they filmed the opening scene of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a place where she’s been wanting to visit ever since she was 12 in the 6th grade. She said it was on her bucket list, but she could never afford to go before, and now thanks to comedy she can check it off.
Big ups to Jermaine Fowler the new co-star of CBS’ Superior Donuts along with Judd Hirsch. Jermaine had told me about the show when we spoke at this past summer’s JFL, but it didn’t kick in till I actually saw him on the small screen. I had to call and congratulate him right away on his stellar performance. I’ve know Jermaine basically since he started in his earliest days at The Comic Strip, and there was never a doubt that he had something special. He’s thrilled with the show, said he’s having a blast, and we made plans to get together when he comes back to NY.
During the show a familiar looking character came on the screen as a dancing donut named “Sweatpants” and it looked a lot like Rell Battle, one of the co-founders of Roast Battle. The fact that his real name is “Battle” never ceases to amaze me. I called him too and sure enough it was him. I asked him if Jermaine had anything to do with him getting the part and he said it was strictly coincidental. He said he had “auditioned for pretty much every black role on the show.” They brought him in as “Sweatpants” originally only as a guest star, but because the audience responded so well to his character, CBS decided to cast him as a full time regular on the show. He hopes to be back in New York some time in April, and we’re planning to shoot a little video.
Later in the week I was visiting with Joe Matarese who was headlining Gotham Comedy Club. When Joe hit the stage, he laughingly questioned who had booked the show since the two previous comics had a similar background to his of being married with kids, which was a topic of jokes for all of them. Joe opens his life on stage for all to see and talks a lot about his ADD and his need for Adderall, and as if proving that point forgot where he was a couple of times and told the audience he was taking out his set list, which he did. It was a big bunch of papers from his back pocket and he turned his back and found his place. One time towards the end of his act, he actually read his entire set list to the crowd, just to make sure he didn’t forget anything. And then in deference to his self-described O.C.D. he checked the time to make sure that everything was proceeding right on time.
At the end of his well-received performance, he did something really special He acted out a scene from Rocky, his favorite movie in which he imitated both Stallone as Rocky and Burgess Meredith as his trainer Mickey and it was masterful. He went from one to the other flawlessly despite his ADD and OCD. And after the show, we sat for a moment to chat. He’s got a one hour special on Seeso that he taped at The Village Underground and it’s called Medicated in reference to the drugs he takes that changed his life.
Besides the Adderall, for the last 7 years he’s been taking anti-depressants because he said he had gotten fired from so many comedy clubs due to his anger. They said he was just too angry and he often took it out on the audience. He thought he would actually use the anger as his hook until he had Bill Burr on his podcast Fixing Joe as his first guest and Bill talked him out of it. Bill explained to him that the danger was if it was successful his audience would ALWAYS expect him to be angry, and that is a tough position to stay in. Bill likened it to getting a part on a successful sitcom where you’d have to stay in character, and told him he’d be miserable if he made that choice so instead he took the anti-depressants and now he’s always happy!
People who know my column know I try and stay positive. My goal is to put positive energy out to the Universe. Because I respect everyone who has the courage to get out on a stage, if I see a bad set I don’t write about it. So when I wrote about the unusual nature of Jerrod Carmichael’s recent HBO taping, I had no idea that my friend Inman Young was involved as a producer. Inman used to be a producer on Kroll Show which is how we first met. As I wrote in last week’s column, he’s now a producer on Another Period. One of the truly nice guys! He goes out of his way to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that everyone is comfortable. When he read that column, he sent me a nice note telling me about his involvement with the Jerrod Carmichael taping, and thanked me for my review. He oversaw the production, but wasn’t there that night. He was in Romania working on another show. I was very glad to hear that he said they got some great stuff, a lot of it from the early show, and that he feels the special is really good. He said he hoped I’d be watching and I definitely will! I already saw the trailer and it looks good. What’s interesting to me, in general, is that anything negative gets a lot more attention than anything positive. Not sure what to make of that!
Dan Fogler’s Wiki page describes him as a stand-up comedian, actor, voice-over artist, filmmaker, playwright, novelist and musician. He won a Tony Award, a Theatre World Award, an Outer Circle Award, and a Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Mr. Barfée in Broadway’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, and he’s been in many movies including Kung Fu Panda, Balls of Fire and the new Harry Potter movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. So imagine my excitement when I got invited to the set of a shoot for his newest project, a comedy pilot which he hopes will be for Comedy Central called Wormhole.
It’s set in outer space, and I went to watch YouTube star Lauren Francesca shoot her scenes which were easy for her since she’s used to playing a character called “Space Girl” also in the Key of Awesome comedy/sci-fi videos directed by genius director Tom Small, in which she usually has blue hair and small bits of very revealing clothing. I found myself being cast as some sort of “guardian angel” with not one, but two sets of wings and super cool goggles, which were great because they didn’t have to mess with my hair. I had the time of my life. Dan knew what he wanted and laughed throughout his direction. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized the significance of the role of “Guardian Angel” and the “Gurian Angels” jacket made for me by Mssrs. Kroll and Mulaney.
Speaking of Lauren Francesca, every so often she comes to NY to shoot more videos for her channel. That was the case this past week, and I called on Fat Baby boys Giulio Gallarotti who just today is on his way to LA for pilot season, and Benny DeMarco, along with comic/host Janice Messitte to shoot a new Bésame Mucho sketch. I had the honor of writing her very first YouTube video in which I created the character for her of “Bésame Mucho, the best kisser in the world.” This one will involve the U.N. and we also shot scenes outside and inside the hot nightclub “Beautique” thanks to owner and comedy fan Jon Bakhshi. Can’t give away any more than that, but more on that to come.
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 with Dan Fogler as a winged angel, with Giulio Gallarotti, Lauren Francesca, Janice Messitte and Ben DeMarco, and with Lauren Francesca.