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, The Stand, and more.
James Mattern had a cool experience while hosting at NYCC. Kevin Hart breezed in with four guys who looked like security, although Kev always runs with a posse that looks like security. Usama Siddiquee was supposed to go up, but gladly delayed his spot to watch Kev do 30 minutes. Owner Emilio Savone told me that Kev used to run a mic at the space that is now known as The V Spot Cafe when it was part of the old New York Comedy Club and it’s the first time he’s been back since he’s become a superstar.
James said that Kevin wanted a very low key intro so when he first introduced him all he said was, “ Your next act is very funny. Give it up for Kevin Hart”, and the crowd barely clapped. They thought he was kidding and didn’t believe it. Then Kevin walked up on the stage and as James described it, “the place erupted like it was Wrestlemania 3 and Hulk Hogan just won.” They supposedly heard the screaming next door at The V Spot. After Kevin left, three more comics went on.
At The Stand, I caught the Fat Baby show and got there to find an older man with gray hair on the stage who I hadn’t seen before, but who was getting great laughs. This concerned me because I felt that at his age I should know who he was. Then everyone started whispering to me that it was Giulio Gallarotti’s father, Giulio Gallarotti Sr., who was telling jokes he wrote off of his phone. After the show, I asked Giulio how it came about. He said that his father was always offering him jokes and suggestions of what to do on stage, and thought he was funny, so Giulio dared him to go up on stage. That night he showed up with Giulio’s mom and they put him up. Giulio said he was pissed cause his dad got more laughs than him. We were at the bar with Benny DeMarco, when they told me the story of how they lost their downtown Fat Baby show last week, and how the police were involved.
They started Fat Baby about 5 years ago at the Fat Baby bar downtown. About three years ago, Paul Italia owner of The Stand happened to stumble in, saw the show, liked the energy and invited them to do it at The Stand which they’ve been doing for the last 3 years, every Thursday night. Anyway, last week was Fat Baby member Josh Wesson’s birthday. It seems that after the Fat Baby show ended and Josh’s party began, everyone was out in the street getting wasted on whatever, and word is that the cops came and started arresting people. I hear that two comics in particular were arrested including a girl who wound up in a physical altercation with the cops. The owner of the bar canceled the show indefinitely. The boys told me it’s been canceled before for different things and always came back, so they’re hoping for the best. That’s when Josh Wesson came by and I asked him if he felt guilty about the guys losing the show. His answer was, “Naah, I feel GREAT ni**a!” I always feel compelled to mention that Josh is black when quoting him using the “N” word, because you’d never know from his name.
Sometimes the showroom at The Stand is so dark that I can’t really see who’s there when I walk in. I just have to assume that I actually know the people who shake my hand and greet me, but more than once I’ve kissed people hello, and by people I mean women, without being able to see who they are. This night in question, I came into the room and sat for a full five minutes or more next to a person who finally turned and poked me to say hello and it was Ron Bennington. I had been sitting right next to him laughing at Duncan Trussell on stage, without realizing he was there. We had a good laugh about that as well. Ron was hosting the show and mentioned how much he liked Duncan. After Duncan got off, I went over to chat. He moved here recently from LA and he’s staying in Ari Shaffir’s apartment until his place is ready and the weird thing is that he said that Ari packed a duffel bag with a bunch of T-shirts and underwear, threw his cell phone in a drawer, and took off for Myanmar, formerly Burma. I was like, “There’s comedy clubs in Myanmar?” He was like, “No, he’s on a mystery trip, and no one’s heard from him since he left!”
Duncan is doing his podcast “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour” which replaced the one he did with his ex Natasha Leggero, and in what you will see is a theme in this particular column, he said he’s very happy for her in her marriage to Moshe Kasher. He’s also got a three-month residency at The Bell House in Brooklyn, for a show he will do once a month, … so welcome to New York, Duncan!
Hanging at the bar were Dante Nero and Damien Lemon who told me he’s waiting to hear about the 2nd season of Comedy Knockout. What struck me funny was that these two big guys were having a serious discussion about cooking, their favorite recipes, and what service they liked best for delivering food. So much for comics only talking about sex, drugs and partying!
I popped over to New York Comedy Club where comics like Mike Cannon and Brendon Sagalow brought notes up on stage to work on new material. Brandon told me he loves being the closing act after the Roast Battles are over, when the audience is getting and paying their checks because he gets to do strictly crowd work which he feels keeps him sharp.
I ran into Pete Lee, one of the nicest guys on the planet. I asked him what he had going on besides his truTV gig, a talking head show called Greatest Ever on which he said were a lot of the same production people from Best Week Ever. He told me he had just shot a Comedy Central Snapchat show, down on Hudson Street, which must be the one created by James Davis and the episodes are about a minute to a minute and a half, because of people’s long attention spans these days. He said it was in the same studio where he used to shoot VH1’s Best Week Ever so he felt totally at home. One of the things he shot with comic Giulia Rozzi was something called Worst First about your worst first time doing something. He chose his first Tinder date because he’s newly single after being in a relationship for two years. He spoke highly of his ex, whose name he didn’t want to use out of respect for her, but he said “she’s the best person. She’s absolutely wonderful and I wish her all the best.” He said he was so happy about all he learned from her, and we talked about what it feels like as a man, and as an artist to suffer the pain of a loss, but he said “I’m lucky to go through this pain with someone so wonderful.” And then he said that just by coincidence, Comedy Central paired him up with Giulia Rozzi for this taping, a friend of his for about 15 years. And a whole bunch of Comedy Central execs were there which he thought was great because he was able to pitch a show idea. I asked him what it was about and he said, “It’s kind of like a talk show. Picture the friendliest person in the world doing a talk show.” And I laughed and said, “It sounds like Jimmy Fallon.” Then after we realized we were so engaged in our conversation we were the only two people left in the club, we got into my car and drove over to Paddy Maguire’s, the bar next to The Stand and hung out with all the comics from both clubs. It was so fun and I wound up playing pool with Elon Altman, and losing by one ball! Something about that sounds weird!
AMarie Castillo, who works so hard on her act, taped her first half hour at Broadway Comedy Club this week and she had a great turnout. Lots of comedy friends came to support. Janice Messitte hosted the show, Mike Merkovich opened, and I saw a new comic I liked, a young openly gay comic named James Jarrott, who’s only been performing for a year, but was so comfortable on stage and had so much confidence that it seemed like he was born to perform and had the kind of non-stop energy you don’t see too often.
Wendi Starling told me she had met Ian Bagg performing in a place called Mickey Finns in South Florida about 6 years ago when he walked in while she was on stage. He was headlining at The Improv and he liked what she did and they became friends. So last night, he gave her her first opportunity to perform at Gotham on his headlining set and she was very excited. She went up first and then sat with me to watch Ian. After the show, Ian told me he’s always on tour and has a regular show at Hermosa Beach, the first Tuesday of every month. And then he told me a very cool story. He’s working on developing three different shows, a scripted show, a non-scripted show and an animated show. He had three showrunners in mind and was hoping that just one of them would like his pitch. Turned out all three of them liked his pitch and now he’s developing all three shows. After his show, he greeted his fans, took photos, and handed out personalized postcards to each of them.
Gina Ginsberg is a young comic/actor/doc filmmaker who came here from Seattle about 2 1/2 years ago, and almost immediately met Jon Laster doing comedy at The Five Spot in Brooklyn. They got friendly and about two weeks later Jon lost literally everything he had in a fire. The Red Cross put him into a hotel, and Gina, being fresh out of journalism school was touched by his story. She decided to do a short doc about his terrible experience. She shot him in different locations including on stage at Gotham and Stand-Up New York, on the subway, and spoke to other people affected by the fire, and how it affected him and them. After she was done shooting, Jon decided to take over the project, bought the rights from her and brought in people like Hannibal Buress and Leslie Jones and now it’s going to be a documentary on Netflix. Gina’s original footage will be a big part of it and she’s thrilled for Jon that it’s coming to fruition. Everyone likes Jon Laster!
I spent some time with a very old friend, Michael Ian Black who was headlining Carolines for the weekend. I’ve known Michael since the early 90’s, but I’ve never seen him do his headline act and was fascinated to see what it would be. It was exactly how I would have pictured it. He comes out so low key, with a very unique delivery. He offers the audience a choice of whether they want to do it the easy way or the hard way, and then goes into the presentation of a “theory” which he then goes on to deliver almost in the way a talented, articulate prosecuting attorney would present his case in court.
However in this case, Michael’s theory had to do with Subway sandwiches and he expertly crafted that story, and built upon it for about 15 minutes, with a slow, deliberate presentation, as if to persuade the audience to decide in his favor. He told another story at the end, of how when he was doing the last season of The Jim Gaffigan Show and how it got canceled in the most unusual way, by the star and creator himself, Jim Gaffigan. And then he imitated Gaffigan’s voice to a T, … if that is the expression!
Michael exudes such confidence that at the end of his set, he said goodnight to the audience and took HIMSELF off the stage. No MC. Just him, taking himself off the stage. Afterwards, we sat in the dressing room for a few minutes catching up. He was leaving for LA, the next morning to shoot Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome’s Comedy Central sitcom Another Period in which he plays Peepers the butler. I’m pretty sure that’s why he has the mustache. He’ll be out there for about four weeks, and it just happens to be produced by Inman Young, my buddy who produced Kroll Show.
He’s also developing a project for TBS called Moon Cruise which he described as like “The Love Boat in space.” He said it’s very silly, which we both agreed is our favorite form of comedy. Before we took our photo, I looked in the mirror and remarked that with the state my hair was in, I looked like a maniac. I said “Did you ever look in the mirror and shock yourself as to what you look like?” And he said, “Yes, every time I look in the mirror and see this mustache!”
And just because The Comedian got mixed reviews, I decided to go out and see it for myself because I knew so many people in it. I must not have been to a movie in a while because I didn’t know they went up to $18 and had recliner seats. It was an afternoon showing, so most of the patrons were Robert De Niro’s age or older. Jeffrey Ross was a co-writer and the “Comedy Consultants” were Jessica Kirson and Jim Norton both of whom had the most stage time in the film. As a matter of fact, De Niro used one of Jessica’s techniques to talk to himself, in a self-motivating way while he’s on stage, except that Jessica turns around when she does it, with her back to the audience and De Niro hid behind his hand. But it was pure Jessica Kirson!
There were a few scenes shot in The Comedy Cellar and Steve Fabricant who’s always at the door, was seen a couple of times, along with legendary booker Estee Adoram, Greer Barnes who had a fun thing on stage, … not all thugged out as usual, … Nick Di Paolo who I’ll be seeing later this week for his Unmasked had some good screen time, my girl Aida Rodriguez had a good scene on stage, as did Ryan Hamilton and the aforementioned Hannibal Buress.
Then there were the cool scenes at The Friars Club with Bill Boggs, Stewie Stone, Billy Crystal with a fun elevator scene, and the great Charles Grodin who was acting as the head honcho of The Friars. And there was a dais scene for a roast with Cloris Leachman, Alan Zweibel, Gilbert Gottfried and Richard Belzer. Kudos to Leslie Mann for playing such a great part, and being part of such a heavyweight cast with Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Danny DeVito. De Niro plays a comic who does not tone down his act no matter who is in the audience and it reminded me of several comics I know and knew. Glad I saw it.
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 Michael Ian Black and Pete Lee.