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, Carolines on Broadway, Gotham and more.
I walked into Comedy Juice this week to find a pleasant surprise. Daniel Tirado was on stage hosting, and it was his first time hosting Juice. Daniel has what I told him was a very “courageous delivery.” Very laid back and sometimes purposely modulated so low that even with the mic you have to strain to hear him, but then he busts out these killer jokes. Someone dropped out and they called him to fill in at the last minute, and he did a great job. Especially considering who was on the show. First, Joe Zimmerman dropped by to run his Fallon set which did last Friday. Then, Jeffrey Ross came in and was sitting right near me before I realized he was there. Nobody makes more fun of Jeffrey than he does himself. He said he looks like Vin Diesel, if he drowned. Afterwards he told me he came to town to do a couple of shows with Dave Attell, and he’s doing the new Disney animated TV show called Tangled, based on the 2010 movie, in which he plays Rapunzel’s bodyguard. He said that Mandy Moore who stars as the voice of Rapunzel is great to work with. I asked him if it was his first animated show and he said he does a lot of animated shows. And the cool thing is, it’s premiering this week.
Then Sasheer Zamata came in, and she looked elegant and amazing. She was excited about her first stand-up special called Pizza Mind coming out this Thursday on Seeso. I asked her where she taped it and she said New Orleans and when I asked her why, she said she thought about where she’s had the most fun and New Orleans is at the top of her list! It was one star after the next, when Roy Wood Jr. came in, left his hat and coat on to hit the stage, which so many comics do these days, and did such an animated, hilarious set, I was wondering how hot he must have been up there. And everybody got a huge laugh when the last comic came up, Kevin Shea, an Asian dude who Daniel said he knew from them having done a show together on NBC. Kevin came up and said that was the worst introduction he ever had because he had never met Daniel before and he must have had him confused with Sheng Wang, another Asian comedian. The audience was roaring, and it gave Kevin a really fun opening on how Asians don’t get respected. he said, that’s why he went on last after three Jews and eight black people. But after he was done the audience got another treat. There was a surprise guest in the form of Judah Friedlander whose crowd work is on a level all its own. There is literally no one like Judah.
I popped into Carolines to visit with Nikki Glaser who was headlining for the weekend. She’s got her first Netflix special coming up in June as part of a six comedian series, which she taped in L.A. at The Cicada, and she told me she hadn’t done this long of a set since before she taped her special. She will be seen in the new Celebrity American Ninja Warrior on NBC airing on May 25th for Red Nose Day, the charity to assist poverty stricken children. For the uninitiated, Ninja Warrior is a really tough obstacle course where if you fail you fall into water. She said she was the worst, and only got to train for about a week before. She spent two days training with Jessie Graff, the only woman to ever have completed Stage 1 of Ninja Warrior and she said they look a lot alike, and it was an amazing experience to have worked with her. While we were chatting in the green room, she was visited by what seemed like scores of ICM agents and casting people who all came to say hello. She said she’s seriously thinking of moving back to NY.
Most of the time the wait staff at most clubs seems totally detached and unaffected by the comedy on stage but during Shawn Wayans headlining gig at Gotham I saw a waitress laugh so hard she nearly dropped an entire tray of glassware. She actually had to catch herself. Shawn did an impression of Katt Williams down on his knees that had them howling, and thinking of a time in the future when a woman today might be a grandmother and reminiscing about rap lyrics she liked when she was young, he sang lyrics that drove the audience into hysterics. It was great to re-connect to Shawn who was surprised to see me and who I hadn’t seen since we did a thing on WPIX Channel 11 together talking about the future of late night TV. But it was just as exciting to see his opener, his niece and my girl Chaunté Wayans, who has been touring with both Shawn and his brother Marlon. Shawn does so much physical stuff during his set, and works up such a sweat that he had to change his shirt when he was done. It was soaked, and the audience showed their appreciation for how hard he worked with thunderous applause. He told me to come downstairs and visit so I did. I had no idea he had gotten his start at The Comic Strip back in the day when he used to live in NY. His first time ever on stage was at The Laugh Factory in L.A. but The Strip was the first club to pass him in NY and he got passed by the legendary Lucien Hold himself.
Chaunté who’s openly gay (and who once got me booked at the Uptown Comedy Corner in Atlanta) has her own tour called Just A Lady With Ballz and because of all her hard work is starting to headline in California. She does a lot on social media and is working on developing her own half hour show.
Dropping in at New York Comedy Club late, I caught Yamaneika Saunders who’ll be taping her first Comedy Central half hour in New Orleans, with about 13 other comics over a period of four days. She said she’s like on the second show on the second night and only gets one shot, so she said “if it looks wack, it’s because I didn’t get a practice run!” She already ran it at UCB East for the monthly Comedy Central retreat, and she said she feels good about it.
At The Stand, I ran into Dante Nero who’s battling a throat infection, but ran out to do a closing set anyway. He told me the story of how he got the part in Pete Holmes’ HBO show Crashing. It was the first episode in which he played a tow truck driver who punches Pete in the face, and tows his car away. He said that many years before when Pete was new, at Boston Comedy Club, people used to try and take advantage of him because he was so nice and Dante used to stand up for him and kind of protect him. Several years went by and Pete went out to L.A. and made it big. He ran into Dante at The Cellar, after not having seen each other for a long time and said, “Hey Dante wanna play a tow truck driver who punches me in the face in my new HBO series?” And that’s how he got the gig!
And this week, the most amazing thing happened. I was walking into the subway station, which was packed with kids getting out of school when I saw two cops patrolling the station. As I walked past them, down the stairs, one of the cops followed me and started yelling out “Sir, … sir”, and immediately my mind went to “What did I do wrong and why am I in trouble!?” But next thing I know the cop says, “by any chance were you on the Kroll Show? Cause I’m a big fan!” And when I admitted that I was the first to be pranked with “Too Much Tuna” he asked if we could take a photo. His partner came over and shook my hand and then used his phone to take our picture. Just as we were taking the photo, my train pulled in, and I was willing to miss it because this felt like a very special moment to me. But the cop said, “we don’t want you to miss your train” and so they held the doors for me, while I thanked them sincerely for the service that they do for New York, and then grabbed my bags, while everyone on the train watched two cops escort me on, probably wondering ” who the f*@k is that guy!?” It was CRAZY!
Juliette is a documentary filmmaker with her own company called “More Better World”, who I met at Gotham, and who was in town from L.A. creating a new series called “Dent” about people who make a dent in the universe and change our world with their positive actions. She said that comedy is a great cure for unhappy moments in our lives, and at times she’s been obsessed with attending comedy shows just to laugh, and get through hard times. She said that if a comedian is good, they take you away into their world, and you forget about what’s bothering you. You see the world thru their lens and hopefully you can take some of their comedy attitude and apply it to your own life. And her fave is Eddie Izzard! I hope she doesn’t do that with Eddie! (LOL)
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 Nikki Glaser, a Kroll Show fan, Shawn Wayans and Jeffrey Ross.