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 was at the People’s Improv Theater, The Stand, and The Cherry Lane Theater.
This week I hit up The PIT’s holiday party. Owner Ali Farahnakian, one of the original founding members of UCB let me know recently that he’s been doing stand-up. He did it five times, had a great time, and thinks he wants to pursue it. I suggested we start a stand-up show at The PIT, because I told him I know the owner, … personally! He said maybe once he gets more experience. All these years in improv and it’s so cool that he’s into trying stand-up. We made plans to go out one night and hit the club together. The party was absolutely packed. Wall to wall, and it was gratifying to see how many improv people gave me props on my Comedy Matters TV interviews. Nice to know people are watching.
From The PIT, I walked down 24th street to get a slice of pizza right across from New York Comedy Club. As I walked by the club I heard someone call my name. It was Sean Donnelly who wanted to tell me that Tracy Morgan dropped by as a surprise and was on stage in case I wanted to see him. How nice was that? And I was so excited because I haven’t seen Tracy in person since the accident. I kept just missing him and I knew it would happen eventually, I just didn’t know when. The room was packed and Tracy owned the stage. He talked about being in a coma and how he saw the light, but he didn’t do anything cause he thought it was the police! He also talked about how he experienced “Florence Nightingale Syndrome” by falling for the nurse that nursed him back to health, and how he used to fantasize about her sexually, until he accidentally yelled her name out in his sleep and his wife almost killed him. The audience was thrilled and when he came off stage a guy was there to help him off. They both went into the private office in the back. As I went into the office behind them “the guy” said “ Hey Jeff” and I realized that it was my buddy Sherrod Small. He and Tracy were hanging out, so we caught up for a few minutes with Tracy giving his thoughts on stand-up today, which will remain confidential, and then he and Sherrod headed downtown to The Cellar. But not before we all took pix! Tracy looked and sounded great, with that big welcoming smile of his.
Then Sean told me that his new album, Manual Labor Face was on Comedy Central Records and is also available on i-Tunes and Spotify. He taped it in Madison Wisconsin at Comedy On State and I asked him why he chose that place. He said he had never performed there, but it had such a great reputation and that Mark Normand had taped his special there, and loved it so he chose to do his special there too. And right after he was done, Todd Barry came in to do his special there too!
And every time I think I’m headed home something tells me to stop into The Stand and I’m always glad I do. It was packed with fun people like Ricky Velez, who’s been doing the closing spots at The Cellar’s late show recently. He was with Monroe Martin, Vladimir Caamano, who was hosting the show, and Aida Rodriguez who I’m ALWAYS so glad to see and she was in from LA.
Aida said she’s been coming in once a month to work the clubs, and after her killer set we sat down together to find out what’s new in her world, and she’s got plenty of things going on. She said I was the first person she was telling that she just found out she’s gonna be on Shaq’s Comedy All Star Show on Super Bowl weekend in San Jose, making her the first Latino person ever to do the show. That’s big! Also on the show will be DeRay Davis, Tommy Davidson, and Bill Bellamy. She said she loves working at The Cellar, and a couple of weeks ago Louis CK came in and had her follow him and stayed to watch her set. She said she was nervous, but that he was so nice and gave her lots of encouragement. She’s also had to follow Hannibal Buress there as well as Ray Romano and said that in those situations you just have to “rise to the occasion.” But that’s not all! I could do a whole column on Aida! She’s also waiting on news about her own show on Cable, which I’m sure she’ll get cause she’s really a one of a kind. She’s the Latina Goddess of Comedy, and she’s got a friend in Norman Lear and you can’t do better than that! For the second time in two years she wrote and hosted the Imagen Awards, which she explained are like the Latin Golden Globes, that Norman Lear founded and produced this year with Kenny Ortega, best known for huge projects like High School Musical, Rocky Horror and Michael Jackson’s last special “This Is It.” On January 8th she’ll be performing in Abu Dhabi, but just in case you don’t have the travel miles to make that show, you can see her this coming weekend at Comix at Mohegan Sun!
HUGE congrats to Lisa Lampanelli on her second Grammy nomination. My girl Lisa was nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for her newest and favorite album Back To The Drawing Board. Shot at the Tarrytown Music Hall, as a Comedy Dynamics project for EPIX, it was all about the truth about her divorce, her weight loss, and her Spiritual journey. And I had the honor of kicking off the premiere the day before on this past June 25th by moderating Lisa’s AOL Build talk right here in Manhattan. Back To The Drawing Board is also available on iTunes and Google Play. Good luck Lisa we’re all pulling for you!
I stopped off at Broadway Comedy to see my old friend Sunda Croonquist who was in town on a bill with another LA comic Kristi McHugh, and Kristi plays a mean harmonica. I thought it was just gonna be a prop, but it’s for real. Sunda is an interesting mix of, … as she puts it, … “Swedish, Black and redneck Jew”. She was raised Catholic, but converted to Judaism even before she met and married her Jewish husband. His parents never really got over it, and there was a whole press thing a while back where his Mom sued Sunda for what she claimed was making fun of her in her act. Sunda is such a classy lady that she dedicated her new book to her husband’s Mom who is no longer with us. She hosts a clean comedy show every Saturday night at LA’s Laugh Factory, and teaches at the LA School of Comedy where she gives a class for kids, teens and adults. She also does a cooking segment on the Hallmark Channel which led to the above-mentioned new book “Kosher Soul Food” and she did a segment with TV host Cristina Ferrare. And on Wed. nights she’s on JLTV, which stands for Jewish Life Television. She was in town to participate in the Women in Media conference, and was going back to LA in a couple of days. So cool that we got to catch up!
In last week’s column I talked about going to see Oh, Hello starring Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in character as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland respectively. I ended by saying that there would be more to come, but that it was a secret. Well the secret is out!
Shortly before I went to see the show I had received an e-mail from the producers that Nick and John wanted me to appear at their press conference to be held at the Cherry Lane Theatre, playing the head of security and the leader of “Gurian Angels” a take off of Curtis Sliwa’s Guardian Angels. They even made me a custom made jacket which was an exact replica of the Guardian Angels jacket except mine says “Gurian Angels.” When we got to the theatre I was secluded backstage so no one could see me. John Mulaney gave me a prepared statement that he wrote for me to read as a way of opening the press conference, and at that point he and Nick decided that I don’t have to wear the beret, in deference to my hair– I could just hold it and say, “This is my beret. I don’t wear it, … for obvious reasons.” I opened the press conference, and layed down the rules to the journalists of what they could do and what they couldn’t do. For example, “No gotcha questions! No questions about the time that George had that vitamin caught in his throat!” That kind of stuff. Then I brought them onto the stage to do their thing. Afterwards we all took photos, and while I was backstage, I realized that the boys had no idea that I was tight with real Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa. We’ve been friends for more than 25 years. I used to be his dentist and used to patch him up when he’d get hurt wrestling with crooks in the street.
I thought it would be funny to bring Curtis to a show, so I invited him to come see the show with me Friday night, and the guys were amazed that I knew him. John said I’m like the Forrest Gump of New York, not because I’m mentally challenged but because he says it seems that I know everybody.
And Fred Armisen was there too that night being pranked, or should I say “prahnked” with a HUGE tuna sandwich, just like what happened to me on Kroll Show! The bit went over great and after the show we made our way backstage with John Mulaney’s parents, which was so cool! Fred Armisen was so glad to meet Curtis. He said he was honored, and respected Curtis so much for what he’s done and for his love of New York. Then Nick and John came out without their make-up which they like to remove as soon as the show is over. By the way, John’s wife Annamarie does their make-up every night so painstakingly, she even applies liver spots to George St. Geegland’s hands.
Nick knows I love to take photos so he suggested we all take photos together. And then they insisted I try on the beret. I haven’t worn a hat since kindergarten, and actually have a phobia about hats, but that’s a whole other story, but I would do anything for these guys so I let Curtis put the beret on me because he had the most experience, and I didn’t even know how to approach the thing. You can see the results below! I still can’t believe I wore a hat! Only for Kroll and Mulaney!
Hopefully they’ll do the show again so more people can see it cause it’s really something special, … and so are they!
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 include Jeffrey with Tracy Morgan, Jeffrey with John Mulaney and Nick Kroll as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, Jeffrey with the real Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa, Curtis with Fred Armisen, Jeffrey with his Angels, and Jeffrey with Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, and Curtis Sliwa; Jeffrey with Aida Rodriguez and Jeffrey with Sean Donnelly.