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 hit up Gotham Comedy Club, the Creek and the Cave, New York Comedy Club, The Stand and West Side Comedy Club.
Even after all my years in comedy I still get excited to see certain people, especially when they are kind and gracious enough to come over and give me a warm, genuine welcome. Such was the case with Gad Elmaleh when he surprised me at Gotham’s Comedy Juice show this week. I was in the midst of diving into my grilled chicken sandwich, when I felt a hug and looked up and it was Gad. I hadn’t seen him since his killer sold out show at Town Hall this past November, when we got a chance to really hang out after the show and have some fun. The audience went crazy when he was announced, and of course he was hilarious but for me I like listening to his English because I know he worked so hard to perfect it. He also fools around and speaks with different dialects and accents and his physicality on stage with his “act-outs” is as fun and energetic as Sebastian Maniscalco. I hate to compare people, because each of them are so unique, but when they’re both so good I don’t think people mind. After his set Gad was running down to do a late set at The Comedy Cellar and told me he was leaving for France on Friday, but he always takes the time to greet people and take a few photos. Always very gracious. And his first special in English is up on Netflix and called The American Dream which is definitely what he’s living. Another well-deserved success story.
Nikki Glaser also came by to do a set and after she was done she told me about her new SiriusXM show You Up with Nikki Glaser and said it was the best job she ever had. She also said she’s not going back to TV and not because they won’t have her, … it’s by choice!
Joe List dropped by to run his set that he did on Fallon this past Friday night. He’s also on Season 2 of Netflix’s The Stand-Ups in a 30 minute special which he taped last November in LA at The Globe Theatre along with Rachel Feinstein, Gina Yashere, Aparna Nancherla, Brent Morin, and Kyle Kinane. And as he did his self-deprecating material making fun of himself a woman in the audience joined in, and made fun of him as well, which was weird but he handled it well. We all make fun of ourselves on stage but if someone says it in real life it’s always weird. If WE say it about ourselves it’s okay. If THEY say it, … it’s NOT!!!
Robbie Slowik came in with his Mom who was visiting from Europe and they sat right next to me. He introduced me and it was so great to watch how proud she was while he was killing on stage. I felt great for him that he was comfortable enough to bring his Mom to hear his jokes, not all of which you might tell your Mom if the two of you were alone. I think it’s a lot easier when there’s a couple of hundred other people around, but she laughed at everything, and even filmed it on her phone. It was a wonderful thing to see.
But Donnell Rawlings, who was in town from Hollywood, CA took the prize that night for standing up to some jerk in the audience who chose to be offended by some innocuous line he said. This woman felt compelled in her entitlement to yell out during his act, “That’s not funny!” It was something about the “Me Too” movement and the need for due process, and this moron just yells out her not-asked-for opinion. There was a time when no one would do such a thing, just out of common courtesy or decorum, but today that no longer exists, and people feel entitled or empowered to be jerks, thereby calling attention to themselves. To his credit, Donnell didn’t let her get away with it. He explained to the audience very calmly but in a funny way that some people think they are the joke police, but that comedy is the only art form that speaks the truth, and he went on to say “I refuse to change what I do for one person with a stick up her ass”, and the audience erupted in applause. That shut her up. Afterwards I got to chat with him before he left to do another set, and congratulated him for sticking to his convictions and not buckling under to some PC jerk, and he appreciated the support.
I got to meet some new people this week and that’s always very exciting for me. It happened at West Side Comedy Club, and I got to meet two very funny women. One I had heard of but not the other. Felicia Madison is an absolute whirlwind of comedy projects. She’s a comic but also a producer and decided to do stand-up as she put it, “to prove to my kids I could do something with my life other than ruin theirs. My comedy pokes fun at marriage, motherhood and life in general.” Two year ago she started a company she called Laughing Affairs” which encompasses a few different things. Laughercise- Come Laugh Your Ass Off, which is a daytime comedy show/luncheon for and by women, Comedy for a Cause, which are comedy shows partnered with charities. Funny Business– which are panel discussions to help female comedians navigate the world of comedy, and one is coming up in April at The Friars Club, and the newest module which she calls “F Comedy Club” and I’m assuming the “F” stands for Felicia, but you never know, … which she describes as “an incubator for young talent featuring daytime programs and nighttime shows for both male and female comedians.” At least the guys got in there somehow! Her next all female luncheon will feature Maureen Langan and Cory Kahaney, her first charity event took place last summer in Bridgehampton for Juvenile Diabetes, for which she raised over $25K, and her Friars panel will feature 6 prominent women in comedy like Jodi Lieberman, Kaitlyn Flynn, Luisa Diez, Abby Feldman, Jessica Kirson, and Corinne Fisher. From her F Comedy Club she met the woman I had not heard of before but who I thought was very unique, Olga Namer who came from an Orthodox Jewish background but whose material was very unorthodox, to say the least. Olga has a wealth of experience from her unique background to draw on for her comedy and is very comfortable with her delivery. Great stage presence, and she does a podcast with a comedian named Courtney Davis called “Bitch and The Bride”. I’m not sure which is which yet but I’m looking forward to finding out.
I dropped by The Stand to see my buddy Ron Bennington who tirelessly hosts two stand-up shows, and sometimes even a third early show after doing a day on SiriusXM on his eponymous Bennington Show. Ron is gonna be headlining Fairfield Comedy Club next week. And Aaron Berg came by to do a five minute clean set he’s working on to submit to late night TV. And he stayed clean even when interacting with audience members. Now that he’s a Dad, I guess it’s time for him to try material he’d want his daughter to hear! (JK)
When I got there I ran into Big Jay Oakerson hanging outside with Kevin Bennan, just shooting the breeze and Jay told me he’s got something really big in the works which he described as “a fun announcement” that he’ll be able to make soon. But he took the time to express his pride in Luis J. Gomez, Christine Evans, and Rebecca Trent for what they do for Skankfest, which this year will be held in a huge venue in Brooklyn. It outgrew The Creek. He says he could never do what they do. And congrats to Christine for being named the new Executive Producer of The Bonfire. Awesome and well deserved!
Roast Battle was great this week and I always seem to wind up there on the right day. I had actually gone to congratulate NYCC owner Emilio Savone on the new club he and partner Scott Lindner are adding to their comedy empire, which I promised not to disclose as yet, but which will be very cool and give them a second larger room in the city. And as usual I showed up in time for Roast Battle. Neko White was the always funny M.C., and the judges were Mike Cannon, Shuli Egar and Carly Aquilino who told me she hates to be mean, and shows that by being “the nice judge” who doesn’t make fun of the contestants the way Cannon and Shuli do. I have to say I’m often not a fan of the meanness of some of the jokes but I ALWAYS love the comments by the judges. Cannon told one roaster he looked like the autistic younger brighter of the Winklevoss twins. Chloe McGovern told David Boswell he looks like he roofies girls just to practice his kissing. Cannon told another roaster he either looked like he owned a bump stock or could spend the whole day playing with bubbles. I had seen Mike Cannon earlier in the week when he came to West Side to perform with his cohort and co-host of the Irish Goodbye podcast Mike Feeney. The main battle between Matt Maran and Jay Welch was one of the best I’ve ever seen; both guys are great joke writers. Matt said of Jay, “he may have left the Republican party but he’s still an elephant”, and “You look like Rosie O’Donnell fucked a Civil War general.” And Jay said of Matt, “ You look like a rapist who apologizes for coming too fast.” It seems like whoever closes out Roast Battle after it’s over goes on to become really good and that guy for now is Eagle Witt who had a really strong closing set.
I wound up back in the boiler room in Billysburg, Brooklyn for another underground stand-up show produced by John Hammond and Kevin Venturino, two guys who also do comedy videos under their production name Prozac Ephron. It’s a cracy space but very cool and packed with young people who are ready to laugh. The music before the show was really great and got everybody in a party mood. They give out gifts and prizes and showed a fun video called The Salsa Man in which John had the cojones to walk and bike through New York in ill-fitting shorts, socks and flip-flops wearing a hat with a bowl affixed to it filled with salsa sauce, and a big bag of Tostitos which he would dip into as did random people in the street. They actually ate out of his hat. It was a really fun evening with a very cool vibe.
And again I got to see a funny woman who’s kind of new to New York. Her name is Mara Wiles and she’s originally from Denver who was with a friend who vouched for Mara’s popularity in Denver without me asking for it. Comedy Works in Denver was her home club but she said it was always her dream to live and perform in New York so about a year ago she took the plunge. I never know what to expect when I see someone I had never seen before but she took the stage and owned her space with funny and diverse material. Gianmarco Soresi closed out the show and his acting ability comes across in his stand-up. He’s one of those multi-talented guys who brings it all to the stage with his well-crafted jokes. He also produces the weekly Sunday night stand-up show at The PIT called The Last Laugh with Jay Schmidt and Will Purpura which I plan to check out soon!
And on my way home I stopped by The Creek and the Cave just to see what was happening and it was definitely happening. I got to see my old friend Aminah Imani holding it down in the main room. She was really surprised to see me, and we sat for a minute in the restaurant so she could tell me about the new show she’s hosting at The Mist Theatre in Harlem. It’s every Thursday at 8 and besides performing all over town she’s also doing her podcast Wine Before Nine. She and Big Jay have something in common. They both have big announcements to make coming soon!
Geno Bisconte has an album which he taped at New York Comedy Club called Uncle Geno Is Amazing and he had Kevin Dombrowski open up for him. He taped it for Comedy Records and is waiting breathlessly for it to someday air on SiriusXM.
Sean Lynch is moving to LA and living out a dream. He reconnected with what he describes as “the girl of my dreams”, … (not MY dreams, HIS dreams!) and he’s moving to LA to be with her. They re-connected after 20 years. It’s a great story and he looked thrilled. I know he’ll do great in LA.
Richie Redding is excited about the podcast he does with his girlfriend Dr. Lisa Lippmann called Pets and Punchlines. The tag is “comics with pets talking to vets”. Dr. Lisa is a vet with lots of TV exposure as a regular on Dr. Oz, and Richie says they get about 10-15,000 downloads for every episode which is awesome. Comics come in and talk about their pets be they rabbits, aardvarks or anteaters, very common pets for comics. Better yet, the show just got sponsored by Trupanion, which is a pet health insurance company.
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 Jeffrey Gurian with Donnell Rawlings, Olga Namer and Felicia Madison and Gad Elmaleh.