A Visit to the Compound, Aaron Berg Scores a Major Film Role, Derek Gaines Announces Goodlum, Robby Slowik’s Last Minute Conan, Confrontational Comedy and More

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 Stand Up New York, The Cellar, The Grisly Pear, West Side Comedy Club and more.


I stopped by Stand-Up New York which seems to have renewed energy, and inadvertently walked in on an ongoing live podcast with owner Dani Zoldan, who was in the midst of promoting their new online comedy classes. In my defense, there was no “Recording” light on outside the studio. I just waved to everyone and split, but not before I ran into Aaron Berg who had some great news after I got the word from Jon Borromeo that had stopped by the night before to run her SNL monologue. And they said she was funny. Aaron told me he got a part in a new /Tiffany Haddish movie from New Line called “The Kitchen” that’s NOT a comedy. It’s a drama about the Irish mafia and three mob wives who take over running the mob when their husbands get arrested. It sounds like it COULD be a comedy. Aaron is playing a mobster, and they’re shooting in NY. I wonder if there’s a part for Piper as an Irish mafia baby!

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When I left SUNY I left with Robbie Slowik in my car, who had just made his late night debut on last week, and he said it was as a result of Gary Gulman, who he often opens for, sending in his tape. But that was three years ago and his initial tape was not accepted. They then gave him specific feedback which he followed to the letter, and came back with a brand new five-minute set which they approved but didn’t give him a date. Then they called him on a Monday for that Thursday, flew him out for what he described as “such a nice experience.” He said he was only nervous before but when he was backstage in the wings once the director told him he was on in 15 seconds all his nervousness left. He said he even opened with a new joke, and it went well. He stayed out there for three nights and then flew back. I drove him downtown and we shared fun stories on my way to yet another comedy stop, while trying to write down the facts as I was driving. I actually had to pull over for our safety!

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At Gotham Comedy Club I ran into my long-time buddy owner Chris Mazzilli who told me that this week they’ll be celebrating 22 years since they first opened Gotham. That includes the old space on West 22nd Street, which became The Metropolitan Room that ran for a long time before it closed for renovations last year. Chris has a lot going on, most of which I can’t divulge yet, but what I can tell you is that he’s got an amazing virtual reality show in the works! More on that to come. Major congrats to Gotham Comedy Club for 22 years going strong!

In the showroom, I ran into Kareem Green who’s working on his first special called “Guilty Pleasure” about “all the things we laugh at that we’re not supposed to laugh at!” He said that we laugh at those things in spite of ourselves. He’s taping it in different places because he wants “the raw sound of a comedy club in the background”, and it will be just audio.

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Confrontational Comedy was the name of the show and it was held in the auditorium of the Park Avenue Armory. It was moderated by Warrington Hudlin veteran producer of movies like House Party and Boomerang, TV and online media. The comics were Aparna Nancherla from HBO’s Crashing, Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer” and the new Comedy Central series Corporate, Jordan Carlos from The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and the new Netflix show Black Mirror, Jena Friedman, formerly from with , and from the new show on Adult Swim called “Soft Focus with Jena Friedman, and Jes Tom who is harder for me to explain but was described in the playbill as “a weird queer stand-up comic” who chooses to be identified by the pronouns “they/them”. To further confuse me “their” comedy was also described as “the non-binary queer Asian American radical cyborg perspective that everyone never knew they wanted” and I had no choice but to quote it, as truthfully I have no idea what that means. I do know that “they” identified themselves as “trans”.

There was no one really to “confront” because all the comedy was like-minded so there was only one point of view. It was basically an evening of Trump jokes, and questioning whatever is going on in the country, and after each comic did their set there was a panel discussion moderated by Hudlin with a Q&A. It was a fun night and I was glad I got to see Jes Tom who I had not seen before.

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I went down to The Comedy Cellar and Joe List called me over to tell me about Phil Hanley’s new album with 800 Pound Gorilla called “Please Don’t Chit Chat While I’m Pursuing My Dream”, which is a great thing to say to disorderly audience members. He taped it in his hometown of Vancouver at a place called The Comedy Mix, which was his home club before he moved here 6-7 years ago.

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I was walking down towards The Grisly Pear when I ran into young comic Dan Lamorte hanging out outside, who just found out he’ll be headlining Zanies in Chicago for his first time doing nine shows for an entire week. He said it was particularly meaningful to him as that was the first place he ever featured when he was 19 years old, and had just dropped out of college to pursue comedy. He had to do a 7-minute audition for them and drove 13 hours to do those 7 minutes and then drove 13 hours right back. You can do that when you’re 19. He said that now he flies, even though he said that “flying while fat is expensive.” He’s a big dude!

Nevertheless, he’ll be flying to Michigan in July to perform at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Club, where he first opened for Kathleen Madigan. They thought he did so well they invited him back to headline. And he’s also working on a new hour which he’ll develop on his 25 city tour starting at the Triad Theatre right here on West 72nd Street.  He’s calling it the Dunking Nuggets Tour and when I asked him why he said he once got pulled over by a cop who thought he was drunk because he was swerving all over the road but the real reason he was swerving was that while he was driving he was dunking chicken nuggets into BBQ sauce. And as if that wasn’t enough he’s also doing an MMA themed podcast with lots of well known UFC fighters, many of whom are expected when he performs at The Triad. You can’t ask for better security than that!

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Speaking of security, most big stars have security guarding their dressing rooms so not just anybody can come in. They have to clear you first. One of the biggest and scariest guys who works with comics like Mike Epps, D.L. Hughley, and Tommy Davidson is a huge dude named Karl Shaft and he had his birthday party at The Mist Theatre in Harlem. I first met him when he was guarding Mike Epps and I was struck by his presence and the seriousness of his attitude. He doesn’t like to laugh when he’s on the job, but I made him laugh when I told him if anybody bothers him to let me know! It was a nice party! Happy Birthday Karl!

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Nore Davis previewed his new special at the Roxy Tribeca Cinema in the basement of the Roxy Hotel, and it was a very cool, and very special event to hold it in a real movie theatre. It was like going to the movies to see your friend in a movie. Exactly like that! It was called “You Guys Are Dope” and it was a smooth hour of material. The 115 seat theatre was filled with family, friends and fans. Afterwards he was mobbed by people wanting to congratulate him. Basically, the entire theatre lined up for an impromptu meet and greet, and everyone took photos. I asked him how he felt and this is what he said, “To hear people laugh in the movie theatre louder than the audience in my film was breathtaking for me. Sad that moment has passed but super excited for what’s cooking up for me in the future. Thank you, Jeffrey and all who came out. You Guys Are Dope!”

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I had a hilarious time at The Cellar with Derek Gaines. As I walked in I was greeted loudly by Dean Edwards sitting with Alex Babitt and a bunch of people. Derek is non-stop hilarious even in a restaurant. And he told me he’s planning on taping an hour special in Philly at The Punchline and he’s calling it ”Goodlum.” Like hoodlum with a “G” cause he said he’s a good dude who grew up in a good neighborhood but he was influenced by “mean-ass gangsters.” Hence, … Goodlum! He said the gangster only comes out when he tells jokes, and then added, “ it may ruffle your feathers, but I’m only here to help!” He told me that my good pal Patrice O’Neal was a big influence on him.

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Amy Rutberg dropped by the Comedy Matters TV offices for a really fun video interview. Besides being one of the stars of the new, kind of bizarre in a good way, Chandler Kauffman comedy series “Karl Manhair Postal Inspector” she’s also a regular in the Marvel/Netflix series “Daredevil” where she plays a character named Marci Stahl. This season Marci will have a different kind of relationship with another one of the stars, whose character is named “Foggy Nelson, played by Elden Henson. But she’s also a big improv comedy person who performs at UCB on the regular in a show called “Gravid Water” on the last Monday of every month, in which top improvisers and actors from Broadway, 30 Rock, Conan, and SNL perform in scenes together where the actors know their lines but the improvisers add their own lines with no prior preparation allowed. Sounds like so much fun! I will be there for the next one!

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West Side Comedy Club’s Gina Savage told me that they’re expecting Darrell Hammond in this week for a couple of days, which is always fun and that the JFL auditions were held there as well this past Wednesday. She also told me how well Seth Herzog handled a table full of hecklers who were disturbing the show, and how she had to ask them to leave, but not before they said to her, “ Do you know who we are?” Gina didn’t care and told me they should have something like Yelp reviews on audience members!

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On a whim and a general invite from to stop by whenever I want I dropped by the Cumia Studios, AKA Compound Media to visit the AA Show and I’m so glad I did. Besides new co-host Dave Landau I got to meet the guy who shot Osama Bin Laden. When they first announced that Rob O’Neill was coming in I was racking my brain to think of what kind of comedy he did. Then when I saw him I realized he was the ex-Navy Seal who was the point man on the Seal team that actually shot Osama Bin Laden. Amazing.

Before Rob came in they talked about all kinds of things including movie reviews, Broadway shows, actresses you would no longer recognize, The Karate Kid reboot, and they all knew so many facts. When Rob came in they talked about waterboarding and P.C. culture and how hard it is for comics to perform at colleges anymore. Artie said the last time he did one was about 12-13 years ago with and Nick DiPaolo and they could never do it today. It was a great show and I was truly honored to meet and shake the hand of a true American hero who was also there to talk about his book “The Operator: Firing The Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior.”

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With all the Amy Schumer news and with her hosting SNL this weekend I thought it a good time to go and see her new film “ I Feel Pretty” and besides her love interest played by Rory Scovel, it was packed with other comics like Sasheer Zamata, Nikki Glaser, Dave Attell, Phil Hanley, Kyle Grooms, and Aidy Bryant and I think you can easily include Busy Phillips as a comedic actress from her work on HBO’s Vice Principals, but in this film she has dark hair instead of her usual blonde. I like the film for its message that it’s not about how you look, it’s about having confidence no matter HOW you look, and if you have that other people pick up on it and you can accomplish just about anything you want. She also said something in the movie that’s in my new book on Happiness, that we hold onto the mean things that other kids said to us when we were growing up, and it affects our self-esteem and self-confidence. Those are the things we need to work on to release! Great message Amy!

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 with Nore Davis, Rob O’Neill, Amy Rutberg and Karl Shaft.

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Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer, comedian, author, producer, comedy connoisseur, comedy journalist, and an all around bon vivant. You can find him on red carpets, at comedy events across the country and hosting Comedy Matters TV. He’s the author of the book Make ‘Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock”. You've seen him on Comedy Central's Kroll Show and he's a regular on SiriusXM's Bennington Show and it's predecessor the Ron and Fez Show. He's also A BIG BELIEVER in Happiness and Love.
Jeffrey Gurian
Jeffrey Gurian
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer, comedian, author, producer, comedy connoisseur, comedy journalist, and an all around bon vivant. You can find him on red carpets, at comedy events across the country and hosting Comedy Matters TV. He’s the author of the book Make ‘Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock”. You've seen him on Comedy Central's Kroll Show and he's a regular on SiriusXM's Bennington Show and it's predecessor the Ron and Fez Show. He's also A BIG BELIEVER in Happiness and Love.