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. After missing two weeks to make some room for year end specials, this week, Jeffrey found out what’s new with Janeane Garofalo, what Artie Lange has planned for his first podcast, the story behind Greer Barnes’ new CD and a full report from the Metropolitan Club’s 60 hour world record breaking show marathon.
Happy New Year everyone! After two weeks without a new column I have so much to report!
So I planned a trip down to Comedy Juice to see Nick DiPaolo, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Morrison and Eliot Chang. When I got there the lines were out the door. There must have been 400 people vying for the 300 seats. Fortunately my table was safe; the club always looks out for me. And thanks to Ed Callahan, and the powers that be for that kindness. I go to my table and the first comic I see is Ben Morrison, who’s in from LA and has a lot of things going on. He’s on the upcoming season of Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen, and he’s in a new comedy series for YouTube with Ben Gleib called Cinedopes, and he’s also in a feature film coming out in the Spring. It’s a zombie movie called From The Dead. Then he went on stage with a glass of whatever he was drinking, and totally killed it! I was glad to see he did some very funny racial humor and everyone laughed, because it’s getting very sticky with political correctness these days.
Janeane Garofalo did something you don’t see too often at a comedy show. She apologized to the audience for what she called her lack of jokes, although she kept them laughing the entire time she was on stage. She said she was sorry they had to pay a cover charge and drink minimum when she didn’t write enough jokes, because she’s not too strong as a joke writer. When she came offstage I was waiting for her cause I hadn’t seen her in quite a while. She looked good and we stepped outside the showroom so she could fill me in on what she had going on. She’s shooting a series for Netflix called Wet Hot American Summer with the original cast from the movie including Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Ken Marino, Chris Meloni, and Michael Ian Black and she apologized to me and to anyone whose name she might have left out. She’s really so sweet. They start shooting in January in Calabasas, CA and she plays Beth the camp director. The original film was about the last day of summer. This film will be about the first day of summer. And she’s also on a scripted series on Bravo called The Girlfriends Guide to Divorce with Lisa Edelstein, where she plays a divorce attorney named Lyla. And it’s spelled that way too! Before she left, I asked her what she thought 2015 was gonna be like, and she said probably very similar to last year but one year removed. Oh, and before I left she told me she really liked me in Too Much Tuna.
The audience was really excited to see Nick DiPaolo too. Nick is another one of those guys whose humor is so caustic but the audience relates to his anger and loves him. He was in such a hurry to leave and get home that he almost left without getting paid. Luckily one of the staff reminded him to go and get his money and as he was running out, he stopped long enough to tell me about his new DVD special which he taped in Minneapolis. It’s called Another Senseless Killing and you can get it by going to Nickdip.com. I had just enough time to wish him a Happy New Year before he literally ran out the door.
Down at The Cellar this week I was greeted by Steve Fabricant, who runs the room. He thanked me for thanking him in my column. He said he never gets thanked and in my humble opinion he’s definitely a guy who deserves to be thanked. He’s always kind and welcoming, and when I went to take his cell number I realized it was already in my phone. Steve laughed and said, “You don’t realize how long we know each other!”
The place was packed with comics and we headed to “the table” where the acts hang out. There’s really no other place in the city where you get so much talent hanging out in one spot. Not only comics performing but also comics who just want to hang at The Cellar. Artie Lange was there looking clean shaven and very healthy, and while I was talking to him, Judah Friedlander came in and commented to Artie on just how good he looked. Artie said he dropped about 15 pounds and was feeling really good. At the table was Artie, with Todd Barry sitting to his left, then Seaton Smith from Fox’s Mulaney, Jeffrey Ross, Carmen Lynch, Greer Barnes who came up from the showroom for a few minutes, Russ Meneve, Jena Friedman, the field producer and comic from The Daily Show and Godfrey.
Funny thing happened with Todd Barry. Artie was telling me about his new podcast that he was starting on Jan. 5th, the day this column will come out. He bought all the equipment and will be doing it from his place. It’s called Artie Quitter and you can subscribe to it by going to ArtieQuitter.com which is a thing you should do, … immediately! When I asked him who his first guest was going to be he looked over at Todd Barry and said “Todd Barry” which was news to Todd Barry! Todd said he’d be in town and they each wrote it into their calendars on the spot, and I felt good that in doing my interview thing I inadvertantly got Todd Barry the honor of being the first guest on Artie Quitter. Artie also invited me to be on and I’m excited about that cause Artie is great to talk to. Todd will be touring later in January and told me he’d be in Little Rock on Jan. 20th and then Dallas and Houston. When I asked him who was opening for him, he said different people in each city. A lot of comics like to use local talent while they’re touring.
Greer Barnes told me a cool story about his new CD called See What I’m Saying which was taped at The Cellar. When I asked him for some details he looked at his producer Matt Lipton, who was sitting with him at the bar and who’s also a comic.They looked at each other and decided to tell me how it all went down, so this is written with their permission! Everyone’s been wanting a CD by Greer and he’s been wanting to do one but needed to do it in an economical way. Matt wanted to produce it but they only had one camera. I guess they didn’t think of calling me! (LOL) Anyway, Greer solved the problem by suggesting that they use the pile of DVD’s they already had of some of Greer’s best performances at The Cellar, so over a period of four months they painstakingly stitched together this masterpiece of Greer’s best work and since it’s a CD and not a DVD, you can’t tell it was done on different nights. They even included his ad libs and audience interaction, especially in one piece entitled And That’s Why I Went To Twomba which is a place in Australia. While Greer was on stage someone in the audience asked him if he had ever been to Australia and he had performed at the Melbourne Comedy festival, and said he had been to Twomba, which I’m guessing is a city in Australia. The girl asked him why he would go to Twomba, and his answer was so entertaining it became part of this CD. You can get it on Amazon or iTunes and it’s through super content creators New Wave Entertainment which is owned by Comedy Dynamics, who just very kindly sent me a few of their new DVD’s as a holiday present. Shout out to New Dynamics!
I’m always excited to see old friends performing especially if I don’t get to see them too often because they spend most of their time in LA or on the road as is the case with Tammy Pescatelli, so even though it was raining hard I made it my business
to get over to Gotham to see her headlining. As I walked into the club I was greeted by her husband, LA comic Luca Palanca. Luca and I go back to the late 80’s and he reminded me that I put him in his first film, a short film I wrote for Playboy TV starring Richard Belzer and Phoebe Legere, called The Bar Channel. Luca did a guest spot which he told me is unusual, because he and Tammy don’t usually perform together. It went so well they asked him to stay and do a second guest spot on Tammy’s second show.
I made plans with Luca and Tammy to sit together for a few minutes after the show. Tammy told me she spends a lot of time on the road, probably 10-14 days a month. She also told me that her Netflix special called Finding The Funny was one of the top 100 downloaded comedy specials on iTunes, and finally that she’s developing a sitcom, but hasn’t settled on a name for it yet. For now it’s just the Pescatelli Project which she says is a lot like Everybody Loves Raymond, because her family is really like that family, except that in HER family they all hate her because she “pleased none of them.” She said she’s so all over the place she’s inept in every aspect of her life! She’s developing the project with a couple of friends one of whom has been a show runner for a long time. I wished her luck and we promised to stay in touch.
To me an important part of covering the comedy scene is also checking out the smaller shows where the stars of tomorrow are coming out of. So I went over to Otto’s Shrunken Head to see Maribeth Mooney’s show called Moons Over My Hammy. Maribeth is also an ordained minister who hugs each of her acts when she brings them up and when they’re done with their set. She considers it a work-out room where comics can bring notes on stage to try out new stuff. I thought it was very cool and I’m looking forward to seeing her other show Rev. Mooney’s Comedy Confessional which she’s been doing monthly at New World Stages, and where she hears confessions and offers absolution. Comics who have appeared are Chris Williams, Emma Willmann, and Adrienne Iapalucci. This night at Otto’s I got to see a funny guy named Will Carey who’s in the process of learning Turkish for a show he booked four months from now in Istanbul! Good thing it wasn’t in China. Good luck learning Chinese in four months!
I decided to stop by the new New York Comedy Club cause I had heard that my friend Emilio Savone had taken it over from the previous owner. Emilio’s partner in the club is Scott Lindner and the club went through what I can only describe as a magical transformation. I’m pretty sure that’s the first club I ever performed at although it could have been the old Surf Reality. Emilio got rid of so much clutter and created a really bright, cool space to hang out in front, plus a little curtained off green room area in the back of the showroom itself, where you can hang out while waiting to go on, and still watch the show. The showroom is set up to hold around 80-90 people. When I came in it was packed, and from what I hear it’s been like that.
Emilio was there working the front. This is a guy who knows how to run a comedy club. He told me he’d rather have less shows that are sold out than a ton of shows with not enough audience. He’s instituted things like drink specials and if the customers decide to stay for the late show at 12:30 which many did, there’s no cover or drink minimum. Emilio was kind enough to not only show me around but offered me a guest spot which I jumped on and went right up after Aaron Berg. TJ Delreno was hosting, and told me something very interesting. When I went to write down his name I started to write T.J. and he stopped me and said just write TJ, with no periods because it doesn’t stand for anything. He said he doesn’t have a real first name due to something in his childhood. Zainab Johnson was there. She was heading back to LA in a couple of days. Also Mike Cannon from MTV’s Guy Code, and Jordan Rock, and his comedy partner Reginald Thomas who together do the comedy show known as Productively Stoned at Karma Lounge downtown, the 4th Saturday of every month. And one of the things he likes about the place is that they still allow smoking, probably because it’s also a hookah bar. When I asked him how he got together with Reggie to do the show he told me they bonded over three things: weed, sneakers, and light skinned girls with curly hair! Sounds like a match made in heaven!
Emilio also told me that Saturdays at 5:30 are reserved for comics who want to rehearse a set for something important, because he wants to accommodate comics who need the time. So far Mark Normand, Rachel Feinstein, and Chris Distefano among others have taken him up on it. I plan to hang out there a lot! Now I can swing, ( or jump!) between The Stand and New York Comedy which are pretty close to each other.
I made another visit to The Cellar this week, to finish off this week’s column cause I know there’s always gonna be some fun people there, and I was right. The table was packed. All the comics were surrounding Estee Adoram, the legendary booker of The Cellar. It was Lynne Koplitz, Jeffrey Ross, Dov Davidoff, and Seaton Smith. Dov told me he’s spending most of his time in New York now and prefers it over LA for the peace of mind it gives him to be here. Dov wrote a book with the working title Road Dog and told me he’s working on putting together a new hour tentatively titled Unacknowledged Sadness which could pertain to any number of comics. He’s hoping to shoot it within the next four or five months and it will either be for Comedy Central or Showtime.
Seaton Smith who plays Motif on FOX’s Mulaney told me a cool story about being on the set with Martin Short. He said that Martin is always fooling around despite the fact that he’s the hardest worker on the show. He said that Martin would just walk up to him and ask him a question like “Who do you think would win in a fight between us,” and just walk away. Seaton said that when his agents sent him to audition for Mulaney, John recalled seeing him perform back in 2011, and he thinks that may have helped him in being chosen for the part. That and the fact that he nailed the audition! He’s headlining Carolines on Jan. 7th and I will be there to support!
Bernie Furshpan owns The Metropolitan Room, one of the very few hip cabaret/comedy rooms around. It’s the old Gotham Comedy Club on West 22nd Street. Bernie decided to do the longest variety/comedy show on record, 60 hours long to be entered into the Guinness Book of Records. Now the old record for a comedy/variety show was only 12 hours, so just by doing 24 hours he would have doubled it. When I asked him why he chose 60 hours he said he didn’t want anyone else to beat him within his lifetime. It started with a champagne ceremony and Mariachi band on Jan. 1 and ended Jan. 4th at 7 A.M. Joe Franklin who’s been on TV and radio for over 60 years, was the Grand Marshall. Joe told me he’s still on Bloomberg Radio, 1130 AM on the dial and when I asked him what time, he said “all day and all night!” I’m not even sure what that means, but I didn’t want to question him any further. If Joe says all day and all night it’s all day and all night!
I did a spot on the first night of the event, and was honored to be asked to be one of the hosts the next day for a 90 minute stretch. I got there in time to see my old pal Tony Danza from Who’s The Boss and Taxi doing his 10 minutes on stage. Tony is very funny, and always does jokes and then he sings. When he got offstage he was mobbed by people wanting to take a photo, or just to talk to him. Tony is currently starring in Honeymoon in Vegas, The Musical, at The Nederlander Theatre and has been in previews since November, but will be officially opening on Jan. 15th. I was walking him out to the street, as he was telling me he’s in two shows, and he was rushing to get to the theatre, and people were literally grabbing on to him.
Bill Boggs came in to host. Bill is a great guy and we sat up front reminiscing about his TV shows, and his 6 year run at Rick Newman’s Triad Theatre with his show Talk Show Confidential. Bill’s been working on creating his You Tube channel and told me has literally tons of cartons of old VHS tapes that he wants to digitize to put on his channel. A lot of people don’t know that Bill co-exec produced and hosted TV’s first syndicated stand up comedy series, Comedy Tonight back in the late 80’s. There were so many comics on the show but some of the ones I saw were Adam and Todd Stone, Lori Sommer, Eddie Brill, Ari Teman, Theresa DeGaetano, Nicky Sunshine from Wendy Williams, and Harrison Greenbaum, who was the host before me and had to bring me onto the stage. I didn’t stay the entire 60 hours of course. I had other jumping around to do, and I had to get some sleep. But I woke up purposely in time to see the finale of The Metropolitan Room at 7 A.M. on livamp.com where the show was streamed all over the world thanks to Andrew Kotliar the co-founder of the company! Then I went back to bed!
That’s it for this week! I had more but I couldn’t squeeze it all in! I’ll be back next week with much more!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, Jeffrey with Tony Danza, Jeffrey with Greer Barnes, and Jeffrey with Tammy Pescatelli and Luca Palanca.