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 Stand, New York Comedy Club, the Irish Exit and more!
I stopped by The Irish Exit bar this week to catch Mark Normand and Gary Vider’s show Hot Soup, because I hadn’t been there in too long and it was exactly the same. Packed! Absolutely packed with people standing in the back. Lots of comics too. Bonnie McFarlane came by to do a set and then as a big surprise to everyone, T.J. Miller popped in to do a guest set and he was his amazing self. When T.J. is on stage I can see how an improv background can help with stand-up when you know how to use it. T.J. works with everything in his purview, (which is a word he might like), and his immediate surroundings. He references what’s going on around him as well as things he’s just said and goes from a whisper to a Sam Kinison-like pitch. It’s pure artwork, creating material in the style as if Salvador Dali was a comic!
Dave Smith went up and he has such an unusual approach to politics in his humor. He talks about things like Donald Trump’s administration where he gives both sides of the equation and lets you come to your own conclusion. Very clever stuff. His special Libertas drops today. Check it out!
I went to see Bobby Collins headline Gotham, and I’d like to preface my remarks by saying that I hope that what I write is not misconstrued to come across as anything negative, because Bobby puts on the kind of show you don’t really see anymore. It reminded me of an Alan King show and I mean that with the greatest respect. Bobby looks young and dresses young but his style of performing is reminiscent of the greats that I was privileged to know and work with from what they call “The Golden Age of Comedy”, and in this day and age it’s very rare to see that. In his act Bobby would compare the generations. The kids of today compared to what the world used to be like. I remember as a kid the comics of the day coming out and making fun of rock and roll and the lyrics and the tight pants and the long hair. And Bobby asked the audience, “What happened to us?” Which is definitely appreciated by people who remember what “us” was like. And every once in a while he’d grab his face and utter a high pitched scream. He also kept banging his head into the mic. Not hitting the mic into his head, but banging his head into the mic. It was great “shtick” and something that unfortunately you don’t see too often anymore. He also mentioned that he just got back from doing a cruise with Tom Jones, where he said “the average age was deceased.” Let me say that the audience absolutely loved him, and because I’m out watching comedy every night, I really enjoyed the experience. At the end he did something wonderful and mentioned very seriously that he has a child with severe disabilities who goes to a camp called Zeno Mountain Farm, and he brought books and DVD’s to sell with ALL of the proceeds going to help the kids. Bobby Collins is a class act!
Mike Finoia hosted the show, and for his first time he’ll be headlining the Comedy Works in Denver. He had performed there before but never headlined. He’s also got an album coming out called “Live in Burlington” which he recorded at the Vermont Comedy Club. I asked him why and he said because he liked the club and they never recorded an album there, so he thought it would be a good place to do it. It holds 300 people and he taped it this past Veteran’s Day.
Stopped by The Stand to catch Ron Bennington host cause that’s always fun and as I sat there in the audience who sat down next to me but T.J. Miller who again dropped by to do a surprise guest spot. The audience went nuts. T.J. definitely has his own style of dressing and he was wearing kind of like a peddler’s cap which made it look like he had cut off his long hair. When I saw him earlier in the week at Hot Soup his hair looked long, but I didn’t have the chance to ask him cause he was about to go up on stage. Maybe it was tucked up into the hat. Anyway he was as funny as he always is and just goes off on anything that seems to catch his fancy while he’s up there.
Out in the street I caught up with Keren Margolis from Race Wars who told me she’s got a podcast of her own that she does with a guy named Tommy O’Malley. I asked if he was a comic and she said no he’s just gay and has a funny point of view. She said it’s like Race Wars but instead of being a black guy and a white guy it’s a gay guy and a slim white woman. It’s called “Unhireable” and you can hear it on iTunes and Sound Cloud. While we were talking we were joined by Abby Rosenquist who told me that she and Keren would be battling each other in a Roast Battle at The Stand later this month and she thought it was good that they were friends.
Backstage at New York Comedy Club I ran into Andrew Schulz who had just finished explaining to the audience why trans women are the future. Andrew takes the most unusual, and what may sound like controversial topics, and really lays them out for the audience. He’s got a very interesting take on things. He’s also got a new”special” dropping next week called 4:4:1, kind of reminiscent of Jay Z’s 4:44. I asked him what it stood for and he explained, “four clubs, 4 sets, one night” and it’s just under 17 minutes. He had himself filmed at The Cellar, New York Comedy Club, Stand Up New York, and The Comic Strip. He said he originally shot it as an hour and shopped it around to the networks but nobody made a move on it, and he was tired of waiting on them to make a decision, so he decided to take back the power and do it himself. Online. And it’s free. He said he just wants it to be as accessible as possible the way rappers do a mixtape. He just wants eyes on it. You’ll be able to see it on his You Tube channel and on his website!
I stopped in to see Rip Micheals hosting the All Def Comedy showcase at Gotham. Rip is in the middle of the Wild n’ Out tour which he produces with Nick Cannon and we made plans to go check out Rob Stapleton’s show up in The Bronx which I hear draws like 800 people on a weekly basis. I asked Rip what ever happened to the “Off The Rip” sketch show that we taped about a year and a half ago. Brandon T. Jackson produced and I was in several sketches and he said that it looks an awful lot like the new 50 Central sketch show on BET, and he has no idea how that happened.
AMarie Castillo had a fun birthday party and tons of comics were there. It was Elon Altman, Ryan Dacalos, Jason Scoop, Madison Malloy, Mike Merkovich and many more. Mike told me he’s been spending lots of time at the Atlantic City Comedy Club working on all new material dealing with his sobriety, and things that most people can relate to if they’re honest, like loneliness and depression. He said it’s been great having longer sets and just working on carrying a message, and dropping knowledge on people. And he looks great!
AMarie often hosts down there and they opened a second room at The Tropicana open only two days as of now, Wednesday and Friday. It’s a lounge show. And Mike said what’s really cool is that the club is run solely by comics. They promote, greet people, seat people, and even do the DJ’ing which these days is just part of the evening. I give Russell Peters credit for making that happen. He usually comes out on stage with two hip hop DJ’s as he was a DJ himself and knows the value of getting the audience poppin’! Matt Bridgestone runs the club and the new club is called Bridgestone’s Comedy at The Trop.
Jason Scoop will be opening for Tommy Davidson in November at the Hartford Funny Bone, and next month he’ll be touring Ohio and PA. AMarie’s sports roast “2 Minute Warning” will be a regular weekly show at NYCC every Sunday at 5 and Madison Malloy said she’d be happy if she could just sell out her monthly show Comedy Persuasion in the lounge at Gotham. How could you not go to see Madison Malloy. She said she was thinking of offering a special gift to those who come. I’ll tell you what she really said when I see you!
I stopped by Dangerfields to check up on Bob Dibuono who just finished a 15 city cross-country tour with YG and Kendrick Lamar playing Donald Trump . He said that surprisingly it was a very diverse crowd with lots of college kids. I asked him if he got anything out of it. Midweek he flew out to LA to do the Day and Night Festival with those same guys. It’s a 3 day music fest with Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott and YG. He said that during the 15 city tour he spent three weeks on a bus with two strippers and a bunch of homies from Compton, who he said seemed to be all Bloods. Surprisingly they were not quiet and he didn’t get much sleep in the beds that were built into the side of the bus. One time on stage he said that someone threw a bottle of water at him. They missed but he said he was glad it wasn’t a bullet. Three days of hip hop! Perfect for Bob Dibuono with his red MAGA baseball cap! I hope at least he wore it backwards!
While I was there at Dangerfields I met a comic I hadn’t met before who’s also doing great as an actor. Ethan Herschenfeld is his name, and for a guy who’s only four years in he’s killing it in the game. He told me he first tried stand-up back in the 90’s but then got busy with his singing career, and didn’t go back until 2013. He had an opera career if that’s how you even say it, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera as well as operatic companies in Venice and Madrid. He’s appeared at Gotham, The Comic Strip, Flappers and The Ice House in LA, and has gigs coming up at Zanies in Chicago, and the El Cortez in Vegas where they had the Crapshoot Festival back in March. But his recent TV credits include HBO’s Girls, High Maintenance, Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods and more and has upcoming roles on The Blacklist on NBC, Deception on ABC, and Happy on syfy. I asked him how he booked so many gigs and he said it’s because he has a flexible ethnic look and a good ear for accents so he’s played Albanian, Ukrainian, Pakistani, Russian, Azerbaijani, and a fictitious Eastern European Country of Origin, among others, and usually gets cast as a thug! I was impressed, but when he gets cast as a Black guy I’ll REALLY be impressed!
Joanna Briley who had me open the second night of her Martin Luther King Comedy Fest for her out in Bed Stuy Brooklyn was one of the producers of the Cinder Block Comedy Festival that ended yesterday with the Icons of Comedy Show. A show in which the comics paid homage to legends in comedy that influenced them. They not only told a few of their jokes but also told the audience what kind of influence they had on their work. So Joanna paid homage to Moms Mabley, who was hilarious, and was the first Black woman to perform at Carnegie Hall. She would also perform with no teeth. Bill Larkin paid homage to Tom Lehrer, Katie Barbaro to Tig Notaro, Yogi Paliwal to Zach Galifianakis, and Arish Singh to Reggie Watts. This was Joanna’s third production of Icons of Comedy. Next she’d like to pay homage to Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and George Carlin. Now all she has to do is find comedians who feel they were influenced by those legendary names! I have a feeling it won’t be too hard!
I stopped by The Comic Strip to see their late night show and was surprised to see Paul Mercurio up on stage trying out some new material. He told me afterwards when you need a stage, any stage with an audience is good. He told me he’s working on a new late night set.
Lastly I attended the memorial for Joe Rocha at The Comic Strip which was organized by Peaches Rodriguez, Joe Dixon and Todd Montesi and I have to tell you I was really touched by the outpouring of affection for Joe. A room full of comics attended and many got up to tell Joe Rocha stories and how he wound up crashing with almost all of them at one time or another. Andy Richter and CJ McGuinness were in charge of creating a memorial video and I was asked to submit a small remembrance which I did. In that remembrance I told Joe that I hoped he could see from where he was, how much he was loved by his fellow comedians, and I hope he knew it while he was alive because it’s important to let people know while they’re still here that they’re loved. It’s why I welcome all the hugs and handshakes I’m blessed to get every time I’m in the company of my fellow comedians. You don’t necessarily get that in the outside world!
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. Pictured, Jeffrey Gurian with Madison Malloy and Amarie Castillo, and Bob DiBuono.