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, UCB Chelsea, the theater at FIT and more!
I went to the press conference and red carpet for the 17th annual Del Close Marathon, which was featuring the original four founders of UCB, Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, plus Ellie Kemper who I absolutely LOVE on the Netflix hit The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Thomas Middleditch and Zach Woods who I also love on Silicon Valley, Ben Schwartz from House of Lies, Jason Mantzoukas from Kroll Show, and The Dictator, Adam Pally from The Mindy Project, Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live, and Mike Birbiglia fresh off his Thank G-d For Jokes tour, as well as many others, including Horatio Sanz also considered a founding member of UCB.
The press conference took place at UCB Chelsea which was so packed that everyone had to hold their breath for an hour in order for everyone to squeeze in. Luckily we got seats right up front, and the fun started right away. But only Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts came out on stage, and went right into an improv type scene. I was wondering where Amy Poehler was when about three minutes into it she popped out from behind the stage and the audience erupted in a screaming ovation. People went wild. She’s no longer blonde but a nice shade of red.
They talked about the premiere of the documentary they made which played yesterday, called Thank You Del Close the improv instructor who was the mentor to all of them, and responsible for the careers of not only UCB but so many of the stars we enjoy today on TV and in film. Amy also talked a little bit about shooting Parks and Recreation, which she said was done documentary style where the camera was always on, and after doing a scene the way it was written anywhere from 10-15 times, they would do what she called a “fun run” where people would get a chance to improv and do anything they wanted. She said a bunch of interesting stuff like “there was no inkling that either Tina or I would ever be any good” and she said it’s ok to be bad and suck when you’re starting out. You just have to be able to handle it. And being knocked down and doing it again is just part of the whole thing.
The evening was moderated by Janeane Garofalo who Amy said was the first famous person who was nice to her and was instrumental in getting an audience for UCB. She told the audience that your 20’s are the time to work really hard, cause you don’t know what you’re good at yet. And she talked about how she got involved with the Broad City girls, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. They were UCB girls who were putting out a lot of videos. Like around 100. And one day they asked her to be in one of them and she agreed after checking them out and decided to give them a shot.
The four founders took questions from the audience and also asked questions OF the audience particularly of the press that had traveled from very far away. Matt Besser kept hamming it up for the press as if he wanted to get his photo taken and it was very funny, and he kept making photo snapping motions with his hands, as if to tell the photographers to shoot him.
Afterwards we went over to 31st and 10th to a very cool space for the red carpet and cocktail party. And that’s where things got insane. As I was setting up my camera and mic for the interviews my mic dropped and rendered itself broken and unusable. It was totally insane. How could that even happen? Right at the moment I needed it. Amy was the first to come in and I told her my tale of woe, and she was trying to help me figure out what to do. She said, “can you borrow a mic from someone?” And I would have but no one had an extra wireless set up. I was going crazy and almost left out of frustration, but then I had a moment of clarity and decided to make the best of the situation, and find a quiet place to do interviews where I could use the mic from the camera. So I wound up dragging people into this little stupid kitchen to shoot my interviews, starting with Jason Mantzoukas, who decided that we should improv about the broken mic and that it was very gangsta of me to interview people with a broken mic. He went as far as to say, if he saw me again with a mic that was working he would break it, because he thought that was a good way for me to work. Such a funny dude! And his character Eagle Wing from Gigolo House on Kroll Show was one of the best ever!
I also dragged Matt Walsh and Mike Birbiglia into the kitchen to do a two on one interview, and got to ask Matt about working on Veep which he loves and got to ask Mike about his new one man show called Thank G-d For Jokes. Mike’s very humble and tried to deflect the attention on him by telling me he just saw Colin Quinn’s new show The New York Story, and loved it. He told me he had just done an 80 city tour of Thank G-d For Jokes, and the three of us had a lot of laughs in the kitchen at my expense about my broken mic. I also got Aidy Bryant and Zach Woods to come in the kitchen with me. Zach told me that originally he and Martin Starr had all read for “Ehrlich”. And I got to chat with Ellie Kemper very briefly as she had to run out and do a show. And Ben Schwartz was also running out. We had just enough time to say “Hi”, and as he was running he yelled back to me, “Sarah Silverman loves you!” I only hope that’s true because I think Sarah is so incredible! One of the funniest people on the planet!
Nick Kroll was in town to do his annual Del Close Marathon show, Nick Kroll and Friends, at FIT’s Haft Auditorium, and as I was checking in at the desk I heard a woman say from somewhere behind me, “Don’t let him in. He always causes trouble”, and it was Nick’s Mom. We had a good laugh and I saved her a seat when we got inside but she sat off to the side with her husband and some friends because she said she didn’t like to sit in Nick’s sight line. I’m sure it’s hard to perform while your mother is kvelling! ( Auto-correct tried to make that word “keeling” which to my knowledge is not even a word! I always suspected my computer wasn’t Jewish! Nick Kroll took a girl out of the audience, who was celebrating her birthday, and used her and her unsuspecting boyfriend from down South for the entire show by improvising a sketch that she was the subject on a TV show called “This Is Your Life”, and when Ellie Kemper came out as the first person from her life, the girl responded so naturally I actually thought she was an improviser, like a “plant”, but she wasn’t. After the show when I went back to say “Hi” to Nick he told me they just came up with the idea that morning, which was hard to believe because it was executed so well. And playing the people in her life were Jason Mantzoukas who had his own show afterwards at UCB Chelsea, Adam Pally from The Mindy Project who told me he’d be in NY for a while just working, Owen Burke, and Aidy Bryant from SNL. Nick told me he just finished shooting the film My Blind Brother in Cleveland, with Jenny Slate and Adam Scott. It’s about two brothers who fall for the same girl, (Jenny) and Adam is the older brother and besdies being very athletic and a ladies man, he’s also blind! What a great cast! Definitely gotta see that when it comes out!
I stopped by The Stand, and who’s coming towards me in the street but my buddy Rick Glassman from NBC’s Undateable! I asked him what he had going on and went to write it down when I discovered I had lost my pen! I usually carry two or three. This time none! So I asked him to walk me to my car to look for a pen, when who comes along but Dustin Ybarra, he of the wild hair, who not more than 4 hours before I had congratulated on Facebook for scoring a role in the second season of FOX’s Gotham which returns on Sept. 21st. Now we’re all screaming and hugging each other, cause he and Rick know each other too!
And Dustin and his friend were about to get into a cab. So they told the cab to leave and now I wanna write about him too and still have no pen. So we start taking photos of each other, and they come back to my car with me to still find no pen. So I run into The Stand and borrow a pen and I start writing down what Dustin is doing, until Rick laughingly reminded me that I saw him first, so why was I writing about Dustin before him. Rick said he’s in town because of his girlfriend who he carefully called “famed actress Torry Devitto”, who’s shooting a movie in upstate New York. He came to visit her and told me to Google her which I did. She’s not only a well known actress but a former fashion model! He’s definitely not undateable. Rick recently did the Undateable Tour and then featured for Brent Morin. He also told me that now that they decided to do the whole of Season 3 live they have to literally run between the multiple stages and wear more than one costume on top of another because they only have like two minutes during the commercials to change. He said it’s like doing SNL every week, and that if you ever notice any of the actors looking sweaty and out of breath it’s because they just ran from one stage to the next! We tried doing another Vine video together cause we did one together in Montreal.
And comic/writer/filmmaker Mark Malkoff recently finished his new video on Manspreading, the phenomenon of men taking up too much room on the subway by sitting with their legs spread wide apart. The results are all over the place on Mashable, College Humor, Laughing Squid and Huffington Post among others. I’m even in it for a cameo. Check out Mark’s video and see what Manspreading is all about!
So much of my comedy week this week led up to me moderating a talk with Lisa Lampanelli at AOL Build in advance of the premiere of her new special Back To The Drawing Board, It was her fifth special which aired this past Friday night on EPIX, and was produced by the company that does so many of the huge one hour comedy specials lately, Comedy Dynamics. How it came about was particularly synchronistic, if there is such a word! Lisa said I was her first choice and when she ran it by her publicist Yvette Shearer of Shearer PR from LA, it just so happened that Yvette also reps D.L. Hughley and had liked an interview I did with DL a while back. So they both decided to honor me with this gig! It was particularly exciting for me because when Lisa and I get together for talk on the radio as we have several times, we always talk about Spiritual things, which is the path she’s on now, and we talk about inspirational things because she is an inspiration to anyone who wants to make changes in their lives. In the past year alone she has undergone a 107 pound weight loss, what I call a “Spiritual divorce” for the way she handled it, and the loss of her beloved Dad, which spurred her Spiritual transformation. She has basically re-invented herself, and is still an “insult” comic but earns her title as “the Lovable Queen of Mean” because all of her so-called insults come from a place of love, not hate and that’s why people love her and why she exemplifies the Healing power of comedy. I purposely capitalize the word “Healing” because it’s so powerful and deserves to be capitalized!
The AOL Build thing couldn’t have gone smoother. There was zero preparation as Lisa said she trusted me and we should just wing it! And we did and she was amazing. And afterwards shot a very cool video, even though my mic broke just before we did it. You can see it here.
Anyway, that’s it for me this week! I’m OUT!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler, Ellie Kemper; Mike Birbiglia, Jason Mantzoukas, Ben Schwartz and Aidy Bryant; Nick Kroll; Dustin Ybarra and Rick Glassman; Lisa Lampanelli; and Zach Woods.