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 Gotham Comedy Club, Carolines on Broadway and New York Comedy Club.
My dear friend Lisa Lampanelli who has lately started describing herself as a “gay man,” got in touch to let me know about the premiere public reading of her play that she’s been working on for the past two years, called Fat Girls, Interrupted. She said “It’s finally happening!” She was inspired to write a play after seeing Carrie Fisher’s one woman Broadway show. That’s when she decided she wanted to be more authentic on stage and really open up to her audience about her deepest issues relating to body image, food, and men. It’s at the Westport Country Playhouse in of all places Westport, CT, the state in which the “lovable Queen of Mean” resides. She said it’s the public’s first chance to see it at a “truly legitimate theatre” before it’s upcoming run in NYC. And it’s not just Lisa. The cast also includes Broadway star Lisa Howard, film star Patricia Kalember, and comedic actress Jessica Luck. It’s taking place this coming Saturday and it’s a charity benefit for CT’s Center for Family Justice a cause dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and violence, which is a cause she believes in very strongly. It’s the first of four plays she’ll be doing on womens issues with the same four women in the cast. The theatre holds a bit under 600 people and there are still a few tix left. Lisa told me herself that she thinks this is the best work she’s ever done. I will be there to shoot a little video with her afterwards! Before we hung up Lisa said “This play will do for weight and food issues what ‘The Vagina Monologues’ did for women’s nether-regions!”
I got to visit my old friend Eddie Pepitone who was headlining Carolines on Broadway. I hadn’t seen him since the premiere of the documentary film about him Bitter Buddha. Eddie is that rare comic’s comic. Not only does the audience love him, but other well known comics do too. It’s been said he’s like a cross between Jackie Gleason, Don Rickles and Eckhart Tolle, but he rants louder than Lewis Black, or Yamaneika Saunders, and comes up with references as obscure as Gilbert Gottfried does.
Eddie’s show was great and I don’t know what it is with people these days who come to comedy clubs to talk loudly during the comic’s performance on stage, but a woman right up front was talking so loud it disrupted the show. Eddie wasn’t having it and showed the woman no mercy, stopping the show to go off on her. But Eddie handled it well. He’s so humble that when I greeted him as he got off stage, and told him the show was great, he seemed surprised. He also said he was very tired, so we only spent a few moments in his dressing room since he had to prepare for the next show. I asked him what he was most excited about and he said his newest special from Comedy Dynamics, In Ruins which he said you can now see on Netflix. When I told him I’d be writing about him and the show he told me to Tweet it to him, and because I was tired too, I had forgotten for a moment that he’s a Twitter superstar, and said “Really, you’re on Twitter?” and he jokingly chastized me and said, “ Glad to see you’re really up on my career!” His web series Puddin is also something you should check out on You Tube!
Chelsea Lately’s Josh Wolf was headlining Gotham Comedy Club this past weekend and I went down to check out the show.
Chloe Hilliard was hosting and told me that now that Meredith Viera’s show is going off the air, Yamaneika Saunders will now have more time to devote to their podcast called Ranting and Raving with Yamaneika and Chloe! They’ve actually gathered so many fans that they’re planning a national tour and are in the process of choosing what states to bring it to. They’re even asking their listeners for advice. She said that “Ranting and Raving” describes what Yammie does, and she just tries to “kill her joy and keep her grounded when she goes over the top!” They do it at Stand-Up Labs and it comes out every Wednesday. Chloe used to be a hip-hop journalist before she went into comedy and she’s writing a series based on that “misogynistic, materialistic world.” She said it’s like Empire meets 30 Rock, and it’s a comedy!
In the middle of Josh’s act he pulled out a guitar and explained that he understands that when most people see a comic pull out a guitar they groan, especially in LA, but he feels the need to do it anyway. He sang some funny songs, and did some crowd work. He also had a very classy move. Just before he finished he announced to the audience that he had no merch to sell because he felt they had already spent enough on him, but that they should take that extra five or ten bucks and add it to the tip for the waitstaff. Very cool thing to do.
When I visited him backstage after the show I had to ask him about the naked thing he did for the Discovery Channel where he walked through Times Square naked in a take-off of the TV show “Naked and Afraid.” It was insane. He said he had no qualms about walking around naked in NY, but what bothered him was being barefoot. He said even a cop said to him, “ You’re not wearing shoes? I don’t even want to tell you what you might be stepping on!” Josh told me that when he first started performing he thought he wanted to be Bill Burr or Joe Rogan, but then realized he had to be himself on stage, which is why he tells stories, often about pranks he’s played on people, and why he plays the guitar. That’s who he is and he does it well! The audience loved him and he stayed for photos with everyone who wanted them.
Caught up with Jason Scoop at The Stand. He told me he’s flying out to LA on March 20th to go before the judges on America’s Got Talent to see whether they think he makes the grade.
Matt Bridgestone is making big moves in Atlantic City. He’s got a show at the Blue Velvet Theatre at The Taj every Saturday night. “Right across from Scores”, was the way he described it! The room holds around 165 people, and it came unexpectedly. He inquired into it about a year before and nothing came of it. He said that he realized there was a need for comedy down there when Comedy Stop at The Trop went out last July after 30 years. All of a sudden several months later he got a call and it was on. So far he’s had talent like Paul Virzi, Joe Matarese, Shuli Egar, and Mike Morse who opens for Lisa Lampanelli. He puts up 7 or 8 comics and is also using it as an opportunity to give new comics a break. He screens them at his Wednesday night show at New York Comedy Club and if he thinks they have what it takes, he puts them on in A.C. It’s called The Comedy Crapshoot which is true on many levels, and when I asked him if the hotel gives him a fancy room he said that he usually just “gets drunk and sleeps in his car”! I’m pretty sure he was serious!
Gibran Saleem told me some exciting news. He was chosen by NBC Universal as one of six out of a thousand submissions to be part of this years Late Night Writer’s Workshop. Most of the people chosen go on to write for tv shows and if they are performers often get to appear on them as well. Kudos to Gibran! #Workinghard
I went to the College Humor 10 Million Subscribers celebration at the You Tube space on 9th Avenue and I think they all showed up! The space was packed with young comedy fans, performers and You Tubers. I ran into two up and comers, who excitedly told me about a new TV show pilot they had just landed, which they will co-star together. They’re shooting the pilot in April. Their managerasked me to please not print it yet because it was premature, so no details yet.
David Wain and Michael Showalter just created a faux movie trailer called The Second Sound Barrier. Michael Showalter wrote it and David Wain directed it and it’s got among others Juliette Lewis, Ken Marino, and Jeremy Sisto playing lead roles. It’s supposedly the tale of the three fastest drivers in the world and their quest to save Lady Billionaire, who is struck with a mysterious illness, and the only way to save her is to break the “second sound barrier”.
Gary Levitt wrote to me from LA where he’s on tour throughout the West coast, hitting San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. He’s coming back by March 25th to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of his show I Don’t Get It at the HiFi Lounge on Avenue A which he produces with comic Matt Schwartzer. It’s mostly stand-up with a little bit of improv thrown in, and the anniversary line-up will include some great names.
Mike Cannon is pitching a show he wrote called #Relationship Goals with Mike Cannon. It’s a half hour show which he’d host. Relationships are something he knows something about since he’s been in one with his fiancee Nicole since they were 10 years old. (I swear, that’s what he said!) He’s pitching it to networks and just to prove he knows what he’s talking about he and his fiance are getting married in September!
Mike Merkovich is taking his hit Melting Pot show, which he does at New York Comedy Club to the Taj in Atlantic City for their one year anniversary. He and his comedy partner Keith Hudson came up with the concept while drunk celebrating their mutual birthday. They were actually ticket sellers for comedy clubs, and always wanted to figure out a way to mix their respective talents of music and comedy. They came up with this idea for Melting Pot. It features stand-up, musical comedy and comedy magicians as well.
Madison Malloy told me that she’s flying out to Columbus, Ohio in May to do her first rock festival along with Big Jay Oakerson, Jay Mohr, and Nate Bargatze. They will be performing in a comedy tent at the Rock on the Range Festival. When I asked her how she got it, she said one of the managers of one of the rock groups had seen her perform. Her breast implant material should go over well at a rock concert, and I laughingly suggested that she flash the crowd! She laughingly said she’d think about it!
Comic Che Holloway from Rochester wrote to me to tell me about his new web series called Dark Justice which is a comedic web series about the first Black cop to work in an all White police department. Che plays the Black cop. It’s shot in Rochester using local comedic talent and all 6 episodes of Season 1, lasting a full 35 minutes are up on Funny or Die. In today’s world the average attention span is maybe three minutes at that. It’s amazing that full length feature films still even exist!
So this is a crazy story. Frank Chindamo, of Fun Little Movies in Los Angeles, who has probably made more short comedy films for more TV networks than anyone in the biz is teaching a course on how to make profitable web series at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. He called me to tell me he produced a web series for The Improv comedy club’s TV Studios called Don’t Be A Derk, starring Pam Anderson and Kato Kaelin of O.J. fame. When I asked him to explain it to me he said that The Improv, known for its comedians also has a traffic safety school and is now also branching out into industrial safety as well, and they hired him to create and produce a comedic series of safety tips.
He said he and the producer immediately thought of Pamela Anderson to star in it because she was the original Tool Time Girl. So in his words, he said “we wrote a hilarious script for Pam, but when she arrived on set, she was NOT wanting to be the comedic star we’d hoped for. Instead, she wanted to be the deeply serious spokesperson for PETA who refused to utter any punchlines. Oops! So we hired the incredible Dave Fennoy, former voice of Hulu and one of the world’s top ten voice-over actors. He’d just been nominated for a BAFTA Award and was perfect for the job. Dave filled in all the “funny” we needed with his hilarious voices-overs, and now the series is about to take off.” Frank added that his hopes were that this series could help prevent some of the 5,000 deaths that happen in the workplace every year in the US and Canada.
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 Eddie Pepitone, Jason Scoop and Josh Wolf.