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 visited the Cherry Lane Theater, Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club and The Comedy Cellar.
And when I do my year end round up of the my greatest comedy events of the year, at the top will have to be seeing Oh Hello, the Nick Kroll and John Mulaney masterpiece at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Tickets have been sold out for months. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me asking if I knew how they could score tickets, so I felt especially privileged to attend. The show is being produced by Mike Berkowitz, partner and head of Comedy at APA, along with Mike Lavoie, Carlee Briglia and Kristen Buckels. As we got to the theatre the line was already formed with rabid Kroll and Mulaney fans, and as we walked past a group someone actually yelled out, “ It’s HIM!” meaning me, because they recognized me from my Too Much Tuna sketch which went viral.
Then while we were waiting outside, I realized that Colin Quinn had just finished his show New York Story (two great shows in the same day at the same theater!) so I asked one of the PA’s to let him know we were there. Colin sent a message down to come up to the dressing room. We went up and it was so great to see him. As we were talking and catching up, Nick Kroll came out as Gil Faizon and yelled to somebody, “Jeffrey’s here but he’s talking to Colin Quinn and I don’t want to disturb them.” The “somebody” was John Mulaney dressed as George St. Geegland. Colin laughed and went into another room as Nick, John and I all exchanged hugs, and then Nick said the magic words. He said, “ Jeffrey if you wanna take pictures you better take them now because after the show we won’t be in make-up” so we all took turns taking selfies on everyone’s phones and my camera, and as we went to our seats Colin told me he’d be sitting right behind me, with one of the other producers Kristen Buckels.
The show is impossible for me to describe, except to say that it’s perfect Kroll and Mulaney craziness, reaching new heights of insanity and hilarity. In the middle of the show when they do their Too Much Tuna thing they bring up a special guest and who did it turn out to be but Colin Quinn, who came up on stage and did a hilarious turn as the “schmuck” to be pranked with the huge tuna sandwich. It’s so fun watching Nick and John work off each other as it’s so obvious how much fun they’re having, and every so often John will do something that just makes Nick bust out laughing, but he somehow manages to regain control. The show feels so real like it’s being improv’ed, and I can’t imagine how they can memorize the script if there even is one! Afterwards we went backstage to congratulate them, and as I was leaving I passed Julie Klausner on her way up to say “Hi” to the boys. It was a magical evening with more to come. But that’s a secret that I can not share until next week!
Earlier in the week, I got to attend the Giants’ football team charity show at Gotham. The goal was to raise $57,500. to underwrite sports mentorship programs in 23 high schools. Rashad Jennings was the face of the team, and the show was co-hosted by NBC4 Sportscaster Bruce Beck and “Stuttering” John Melendez, who doesn’t seem to stutter anymore. Confidence and success can definitely do that for you. It was a star-studded show and even had beauty queens there with Miss New York and Miss New Jersey making appearances, laughing heartily at the jokes and taking selfies! Also on the show was Jim Norton, Mike Bochetti, Artie Lange, Earthquake, Godfrey and Pete Davidson. Norton was great as always in a cool, good fitting suit, ( a rare sight in the comedy world!) and talked about things he never thought he’d say, like “For the first time in my life, I’m glad I’m not Charlie Sheen” and Godfrey closed the show with his amazing Denzel impression!
I was so happy to see Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show so I could congratulate him on the extension of his show Homecoming King also at the Cherry Lane Theatre. He had a great run in October and is coming back to the Cherry Lane in January. That very day, totally by coincidence, I had made arrangements to attend opening night. We reminisced about the time I had seen the premise for the show in one of his stand-up performances and told him after he got offstage that it was such a great, and inspirationally touching story, and that’s when he told me he was making that story into the theme of a one man show!
He said his guests at the show has been as varied as Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri, who is also Indian, and Mike Birbiglia who is not Indian but who Hasan claims was his inspiration, and was so thrilled that he came to see the show. Hasan said of his own show, “it’s my most personal work to date and something I’m so proud to share.” Go see it if you can score tix. The Cherry Lane is currently running Colin Quinn’s New York Story and Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s “Oh Hello” through December 20th. Colin and Hasan’s shows will be the last comedy shows at Cherry Lane for quite a while as a new production will be moving in as of January 30th. I almost missed part of the show hanging out with Hasan and Mike Bochetti down in the green room. We were having so much fun I didn’t know it had started! Mike told Hasan the time I put him in one of his first films, which was part of The “Men Who” Series, called “Men Who Swim To Work.” He was originally supposed to be in “ Men Who Never Get To The Office, Because They Don’t Know Where They Work”, and was supposed to stop people on the street and say, “ Pardon me, do you know where I work?” After about an hour where he couldn’t get the line right I switched him to “ Men Who Swim To Work” because it had no lines. He just had to swim down the street wearing a children’s swimming tube!
Ron Herron produced a comedy contest at Broadway Comedy Club. I was a judge and got to announce the winner, which was a young comic named Gary Garcia. After I left Ron produced a second show and just before it ended Andrew Dice Clay walked in, right off a plane and did a surprise set of about 20 minutes, and then hung out with Ron for an hour or so! Dice is good like that!
It was the 100th episode of AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and both producers Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea of Killer Bunny Entertainment were there as well as 300 excited audience members! I purposely got there early, with comedy producer/talent agent Ron Herron because I knew how crazy it was gonna get, and it gave me an opportunity to go down to the green room and say hi to Orlando Jones, who was hanging out with his old buddy Artie Lange, and Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, who will probably correct me on the spelling of his name, (Inside joke!). Ron’s a powerhouse and has been producing a bunch of shows and just signed a deal to bring his talent into performing arts centers and cruises!
The show usually has a celebrity host and four up and coming comics, but for this special show it was 5 headliners, with Orlando Jones, Artie Lange, Jackie Martling, Mario Cantone, and Gilbert Gottfried! Mario wasn’t there yet. He had come early to rehearse as he was in another show that didn’t end until 9, which was perfect cause the GCL show didn’t start until 10. Artie told me that he and Orlando were on Mad TV together from ’95 through ’97, and were actually roommates, so they had lots of history to catch up on. They were genuinely excited to see each other and they asked me to take a photo of them together.
Orlando went up first to big applause, and afterwards told me about his new Machinima series called High School 51. It’s a show centered around Dream Lake High School in the heart of Area 51, populated by a wholly alien student body — until the arrival of 16-year-old Alex Valencia, the first and only human ever to attend Dream Lake, who not only faces the challenge of fitting in, but also of saving the human race. He’s producing it with screenwriter/producer Bob Orci of Transformers and Star Trek fame, and their company Legion of Creatives which they refer to as “the United Artists for the digital media generation” has the goal of empowering writers and creators by giving them an ownership stake in the content they create.” Sounds good to me! They just won the world’s first virtual reality Emmy for their show “Sleepy Hollow.”
Jackie Martling is looking for a new home for his show, The Jackie Martling Show, recently done at Broadway Comedy Club, and he told me he still Tweets out a joke every day at 4:20 which he explained is International Marijuana Time, and that he still has his (516) 922-WINE jokeline going strong after 40 years. Jackie’s the only one I know besides Gilbert who tells real jokes on stage. The kind that no one knows where they came from! They are both compendiums of jokes, and can go non-stop! Gilbert brought Artie Lange out on stage by saying “ It’s absolutely amazing that a guy in the final stages of AIDS can still be so fat!”, and Artie came back with, “Give it up for John Stamos! You know you’re not in good shape when Gilbert Gottfried makes fun of your appearance!” Artie said he gets mistaken for Khloe Kardashian a lot!
This week at Comedy Juice Yannis Pappas was on stage crushing his set. Yannis is working the clubs, but has something big on the horizon. Brian Scolaro who played Doug on Sullivan and Son and Stuart on FOX’s Stacked was on the show and told he appeared on FOX’s Bones recently with Sal Vulcano from Impractical Jokers. Brian had just recently met Sal through Big Jay Oakerson and couple of weeks later they wind up on the same show. Small world! Brian said he played an angry fat guy as opposed to the shleppy fat guy roles he usually gets offered. He said it was empowering to play a fat guy who didn’t take shit from people, and who actually stood up for himself. Sam Morril was on the show and told me he is heading out to LA next week to do some sets in the clubs and Wil Sylvince who was hosting just had the LA version of his NBC Short Film Fest and my girl Loni Love was the host!
I popped into the Comedy Cellar to see what was going on this week and as usual it was packed with fun people. Michelle Wolf from Late Night with Seth Meyers was there holding down “the table” with Keith Alberstadt, Wil Sylvince, and Leonard Ouzts who was off to Hawaii to perform mid December. When I mentioned the Giants’ comedy show at Gotham, Leonard told me he had played high school football as a center for Oscar Smith out of Chesapeake, Virginia, and recently taped what he called a 15 minute EP, which he explained stood for “Early project” to be played on SiriusXM, and iTunes. He taped it in Denver at The Comedy Works, and he’s also working on a project he called D1 Prospect which has something to do with his football background. All sports references are totally lost on me. You may as well be speaking to me in Chinese! Suffice it to say I would not like to be tackled by Leonard, … or anyone else for that matter! Safe travels Leonard! And Geno Bisconte came over and reminded me that we have a joint birthday coming up on Dec. 29th.
I dropped by The Comic Strip to surprise Ricky Velez later in the week. When I got there he was already on stage so I took a seat near the front. He sees me and I don’t know what he was talking about before, but he yells out, “Hey Jeffrey, are you afraid of ISIS?” And I was like “Yeah, F*** those guys!” And he looked worried like he was performing for a crowd of ISIS sympathizers! Ricky is just so funny and wears his pants lower than anyone else I’ve ever seen. Catch him on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show!
This week instead of going to synagogue, I went to Church a monthly show at Stand Up New York produced by JC Knows Best, who used to be a preacher and now just wears the outfit to comedy shows. JC joins the list of Black and Latino comics with one word interesting names like Talent, Earthquake and Imagine. The other comics on the show probably didn’t get the message because JC was about the only one who did religion jokes while I was there, but JC took it well! Also on the show for as long as I was able to stay, was Ayanna Dookie, and Paul Virzi who was psyched about his upcoming headlining gig at Levity Live for the first time.
And make sure to tune into the live version of this column on The Bennington Show, Raw Dog Channel 99, on Wednesday Anyway that’s it for me, 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 include Jeffrey with John Mulaney and Nick Kroll in character, Jeffrey with Colin Quinn, Mike Bocchetti, Paul Virzi and Ricky Velez.