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, Gotham, West Side Comedy Club and more!
I dropped by the New Joke show at the Fat Black Pussycat part of the Comedy Cellar family and ran into Seaton Smith who was hosting the show. He was psyched to be doing the Robin Thede Show that very night on BET, which is produced by Chris Rock. It’s his first time doing the show, and he’ll be doing a sketch. He’s also in a Netflix movie with Paul Giamatti called Private Life– a drama about fertility and he plays the husband of another couple who went through the fertility process.
Judah Friedlander arrived with his ever-present video camera, to shoot his set. Judah’s new special is supposedly incredible according to Ron Bennington who saw it and is doing an Unmasked with Judah. And when I told Judah what I had heard he was so humble and thanked me for saying that, and for always supporting him. I got to tell him that he was truly one of my faves for his originality. Like Gilbert, there’s no one like him. No one else could do Judah’s material so he doesn’t ever have to worry about joke thieves!
Dan LaMorte was hanging at the comics table waiting to go on which gave us a chance to chat. He’s headlining Carolines for the first time late December, and not on a Breakout Artist early show, but on a 9:30 show right after Dave Attell. He’s got about 35,000 followers on Twitter already and he’s still only 22 years old. He’s working on a new hour and going on the road “a whole lot in 2018”. He says he’ll be 23 in mid-January and never felt like more of an old man. He had two car accidents last year within 3 months, and according to him, one of them knocked the sadness out of him. He said he had been plagued with depression since he was a kid, but now is happier than ever. He said that “maybe more people should get hit by cars!”
The Village is literally crawling with comics and as I left I ran right into Blair Socci and Rosebud Baker who both had interesting news for me. Blair is moving to L.A. in a few weeks. And when I asked if it was for a special project she said she was making a life change and it was to be closer to her family. She’s originally from Orange County and has been here 5 1/2 years already. So I asked her what about Nacho Bitches the show she does with Corinne Fisher, and she told me she was planning on flying in to do the show periodically. Rosebud is doing the Breakout Artist show at Carolines in December. It’s her first time at Carolines, and she’s also doing a Roast Battle at The Stand as part of the New York Comedy Festival. While we were there we were joined by a comic known as “Pockets”, and I always forget to ask him why. He’s producing shows at The Village Lantern at midnight on Thursdays and it’s called The Dirty Show. And every other Wednesday he produces shows at The Standing Room where he had Roy Wood Jr. come through recently.
A little further down the block, I ran into Greg Kritikos, who took out his phone to show me the latest episode of his cartoon that he created and produced called The Witless Protection Program. Jim Mendrinos is doing some writing on the show and it’s almost semi-auto-biographical about a Greek guy who’s forced into hiding in Idaho, and it’s based on people that Greg has known in his past. It’s currently in production and Mike Rockwitz is doing some of the drawing and VO work. Greg just did a movie with Burt Young, Tony Darrow, and Joey Donofrio, called American Brawler and some of the scenes were shot in his native Astoria. Greg was helpful in arranging for some of the locations. He plays a gangster in Joey Donofrio’s crew. He’s also opening a comedy room in Astoria in 2018 and is still doing his show Bagels and Baklava with Janice Messitte who represents the bagel portion of the show!
Wendi Starling was on stage at New York Comedy Club and flirting with a young guy in the audience while talking about some 22-year-old guy she’s doing. She happened to ask the young dude in the audience how old he was and when he said “15” she almost hit the deck. He was there with his parents but that didn’t stop Wendi from telling him, “ I’m still gonna Weinstein the fuck out of you!” I guess that’s a new term now! In the green room I ran into Blair Socci and Rosebud Baker again. Blair told me that she and Corinne were taping their half hour submission tapes for Comedy Central later that night at Nacho Bitches. And when Wendi got off stage she told me that she and Krystyna Hutchinson were taping THEIR half hours the very next night at her Glamorpuss show at Zinc Bar down in the Village. Wendi and Krystyna do character every show called Nina and Simone, a couple of hookers, and Wil Watkins opens the show every time in the guise of being the owner of the venue. He tells the crowd that the girls are late due to one thing or another, does his set and then the girls come out in character and do their thing. They come back later again to do their stand-up.
So I had to admit I was not familiar with who Rojo Perez was. Well a few minutes later I feel a tap on my back and it’s my buddy Tone Bell who I had met down in Atlanta. He went up on stage and afterward we went and sat down to chat and catch up. As usual, he’s in a million things. He plays Carter the security guard in Netflix’s Disjointed. Season 2 is coming on in January and they shoot it in LA. He’s also got a recurring role in the CBS sit-com 9JKL, created by and based on the life of Mark Feuerstein, known as Dr. Henry “ Hank” Lawson of USA’s Royal Pains. Tone plays a guy named Luke who’s the upstairs neighbor, AND he’s got an upcoming TV special, but can’t announce the network as of yet. Details to follow. He came to NY to shoot Comedy Knockout for truTV which is now being shot in a studio at the New Yorker Hotel. So when we’re done he asks his friend to take the photo for us and he does and when I ask him for his name he says Rojo Perez, so now I know who Rojo Perez is. He told me he’s been opening for Tone for the past two years, did Conan recently and also taped Comedy Knockout for the upcoming season. Today he’s flying to LA to do a benefit for Puerto Rico along with Aida Rodriguez, Russell Peters, and Faison Love.
Dropped by Comedy Juice and hung with Giulio Gallarotti of the Fat Baby crew who told me he’s going to Africa. Great story. He was reading a foreign policy magazine, as most comics do, … and he read about a stand-up comedy group in Rwanda. Fascinated by that he decided to track them down and contacted them on their Facebook page. It’s a comedy troupe called The Comedy Knights, made up of guys and girls that do stand-up. They represent many African nations including The Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Guinea and he got placed and is now representing the United States. He will probably be the only white dude, and certainly the only non-African. And he’s flying there in two weeks to do the Kigali International Festival. He’s also bringing a film crew with him to shoot what will no doubt be an amazing documentary. One of them is James Manzello who’s a stand-up who also shoots video. Keith Robinson came by to do a set and talked a lot about his stroke and his speech therapist who did an incredible job with Keith because he speaks perfectly. Keith told about the night he had the stroke and was alone and didn’t know what to do. so he got in his car and drove home. He advises that’s not a good thing to do. Right in the middle of his stroke material a couple right in front started making out and he chastised them for being so sick they would make out during stroke material. He asked them if stroke jokes got them excited!
Harris Stanton was hanging outside the club when Wali Collins came along and joined us. Harris’ special Naive Innocence that he shot at Gotham is dropping next month. I asked him about the title. He said that when he first came up from South Carolina he was all naive and innocent, but New York has changed his perspective on life and corrupted him. Now he drinks and smokes and carouses with women. Yes, … he used the word “ carouses!” Wali’s Comedy Cup show is celebrating it’s 1-year anniversary mid-November also at Gotham, with a special show starring Dustin Chafin, Marshall Brandon, Michell Buteau and Ophira Eisenberg.
AMarie Castillo took over the old Bunga’s Den shows on 14th street with fellow comic Steve Sylvester, and now the place is called Offside Tavern. Not knowing or caring a thing about sports, and especially baseball I had no idea it was Game 7 of the whatever. And the Yankees had the chance to do something special involving The World Series. Well, when I got to this bar, I parked out front and heard such screaming I thought someone was being killed in there. I was almost hesitant to walk in. However, I did because I was asked to headline. And as I made my way through the sea of backward baseball caps, and screaming lunatics, I made my way to the back where the show was behind a glass door that let in a roar every time it was opened. AMarie stood by that door the whole show trying to close it as fast as possible while people were on stage. To her credit, she managed to get a good size crowd despite it being Game 7 of whatever. She’s doing her sports roast every other Sunday at 5 at New York Comedy Club and if it hadn’t been so noisy I would have asked her, … Game 7 of what?
I ended my comedy week at the new West Side Comedy Club and ran into my pal Jason Andors who also just organized a benefit for Puerto Rico. He called his friend Violeta Galagarza who has a dance company called for some reason KRT3Ts, and I’d be very curious to find out why. She is very well known in the Latin community and together they produced a sold-out show of about 160 people at a place in Spanish Harlem. The car place Major World was a sponsor and kicked in 10 G’s and all the comics donated their time. A bunch of them were comics I knew like Mark Viera, Peaches Rodriguez, Marc Theobald, Imagine, and Sara Contreras, among others. They also had La Bruja from Def Poetry Jam who just starred in the off-Broadway show I Like it Like That and J.W. Cortes, a marine combat veteran who turned actor, singer and philanthropist and is on the FOX show, Gotham. Jason wanted me to make sure to mention that it was a group effort so that everyone felt like they got credit for doing it. They raised about 13 K for Puerto Rico and he wants to start approaching colleges to see if he could start producing a series of comedy shows for Puerto Rico. I asked him what his connection was to PR and he said he has lots of friends there, he loves Latin culture and that P.R. is in his heart! Good dude.
Owner Nina Ashe told me that sometime in November they are expecting Bill Burr to come through. And when I left I walked over to Stand Up New York and ran into Monroe Martin who told me that he and Derek Gaines will be going back to the Fat Black Pussycat bar to do No Need for Apologies 2, a show in which according to Monroe they do their “deepest and darkest comedy about shit they truly feel.” Is nothing left sacred?
I dropped by the Artie and Anthony Show to check out some facts before I do the show later today and boy am I glad I did. First of all, it’s such a fun, happy place with a great staff and all cool people hanging out every time I’m there. Matt Iseman was the special guest, and as you probably know he’s the host of American Ninja Warrior, the very first winner of this year’s New Celebrity Apprentice, and he’s also a stand-up comic. He works very clean due to his Hallmark Show called Home and Family, which is a morning show, … very positive, with no news. Therefore he keeps his material family friendly. Not easy to do on the A&A show up at Compound Media. After the show, he hung out so we could chat a bit and I was fascinated to ask him about his medical career. He actually graduated from med school, and got his M.D. degree, and did an Internal Medicine residency. But then he told me he realized it wasn’t for him and he went to L.A. and got into showbiz. Now he’s also got a brand new show called Ninja vs Ninja on the USA Network, which they start taping this week. But what’s so cool is that he’s also a true comedy fan. He confided in me how exciting it was for him to be sitting between two legends like Artie Lange and Anthony Cumia. Very humble dude, who feels that even though he works clean that comics should be able to say whatever they want. What really endeared him to me was when he said he was a real fan of this column and The Interrobang! Doesn’t get better than that!
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 Tone Bell, and Matt Iseman.