Jeffrey Gurian is a writer, comedian and TV reporter 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 was at Gotham Comedy Club, The Stand and New York Comedy Club.
Mike Cannon taped his hour special at New York Comedy Club –which is his home club– this week. He told me he’s so grateful to have done it there because that’s where he saw his very first comedy show back when he was only 15 years old, and now 17 years later, he’s back on that very same stage shooting his first comedy special. He even recalls that Dean Obeidallah was on stage that night. It’s always interesting to see what details stick out in a person’s mind. For some reason, I myself, recall vividly the first night I saw an unknown Jerry Seinfeld perform back in the early 80’s at Carolines when it was on 28th Street and 7th Avenue. Why I remember that, I have no idea, but it’s clear in my mind. I wish everything else was too!
Sean Donnelly was at Comedy Juice this week and he told me about his podcast Defending Your Movie where comics come on and talk about a movie they liked that was generally hated by most everyone else. He does it every Friday night and so far he’s had comics like Dan Soder, Mark Normand, and Matteo Lane. I asked him what HIS choice would be to defend a film and he said “Con Air.” It was good to see Jon Rudnitsky on the show as I hadn’t seen him in awhile. After his set, he told me he’s got a movie coming out with Reese Witherspoon called Home Again. He’s one of three young guys who move into her guest house. He said that working with Reese was the best and that she sets the tone for what a movie star should be like. He also shot an episode for the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and said that working with Larry was a dream come true. In his words, it was a “#1 bucket list moment!” Nate Bargatze dropped by the show to run his 5 minute Fallon set as he was taping The Tonight Show. He said it was his 6th time, but he was just as excited as he was the first time.
I ran over to see Ron Bennington hosting at The Stand and while we were hanging out in the street between acts, Luis J. Gomez showed up wearing an “Obey Gail” t-shirt, referencing Gail Bennington and we HAD to get a photo of it! Bonnie McFarlane came out trailed by her doppelgänger daughter, and we chatted about the recent roast for her husband Rich Vos who at that very moment was on stage asking Asian people how July 4th was for them business-wise. A fireworks reference! The Asian people loved it!
Bonnie McFarlane will be shooting a short film she wrote called Two Weeks Later starring Nikki Glaser and Josh Segarra from The CW’s Arrow. She said it’s about a woman with an ax to grind, and then said it’s funny and gory all at the same time. It’s going to be a three-day shoot in Queens with a lot of it being shot at The Creek and the Cave, thanks to Rebecca Trent, the owner. Kate Conner, Bonnie’s producing partner will be co-producing for their company Ugly Baby Pictures, and while we were discussing this backstage, one of the waitresses asked her about the film and wound up getting cast for a part. Bonnie said she originally wrote it as a feature and twice it was supposed to get made and fell through both times, so she raised enough money to shoot it as a short. Flexibility is key in anything creative, especially in the film biz!
Haitian born comic Wil Sylvince wrote a movie with comic Bryan Kennedy called I Am Maurice about a Haitian immigrant, something that Wil can speak on with knowledge, who after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, comes to America to live his dream of becoming a boxer. Wil looks at it as a motivational film about stopping at nothing to achieve success in what you love even when you have nothing. He wants to motivate people to chase their dreams. From what I know of Wil, he does just that. He’s in great physical shape now and will star in the movie, but there was a time when he was very heavy which is hard to believe. He lost a ton of weight which in itself should be an inspiration to lots of people. They will be using crowdfunding to finance the film.
I went to catch Brent Morin from NBC’s Undateable. He did such an unusual show. He brought in all of his talents as an actor, singer and comic and mixed them all in during the hour he was on stage. He’s a storyteller and told a great story about Uber, and also a great story about his “best friend” Tone Bell who’s appeared in this column many times. He told the audience that his parents were there. And every time he said something really dirty, he’d say, almost as an aside, “My parents are here!” Which was true. And it was very funny as a call back. After he got off, we caught up and he said he’s working on creating lots of material in hopes of someday doing a one man show and we made plans to meet up in Montreal this coming week at Just for Laughs.
Bill Dawes hosted the show. When he got offstage, he came to sit with me and I noticed he had a new goatee. He’s usually pretty clean shaven, so I asked him about it and he said he had to play a serial rapist for Law & Order SVU, and decided he didn’t like being a serial rapist, but he did like the look. I asked him if he had to actually simulate a rape and he said he didn’t. He just had to look at the photos of women he supposedly raped in the show and commented on them. It was his first time doing SVU! And he had what I would call an amazing accomplishment. He co-wrote and co-produced a feature length film called Before The Sun Explodes. Sounds like it would be sci-fi, but it’s not. It’s about a stand-up comic whose career is at a crossroads. His marriage is falling apart, and he gets caught up with a stalker fan. He wrote it with Zeke Farrow, and you can see it on Amazon and Hulu in August. It was shot in LA and some of it was shot at the Hollywood Laugh Factory. As a matter of fact, Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada was in it along with Dom Irrera, but neither of them made the final cut. Bill said it had absolutely nothing to do with their performance. It was just a matter of editing. It happens all the time. Especially to me!
The very pregnant Christine Meehan-Berg was hanging out at The Stand while hubby Aaron Berg was hosting the Saturday night 10 P.M. show and I went down to see Ron Bennington kill it as usual. Christine is due in September, but that has not affected her ability to get around and perform in any way. As a matter of fact, she’s set to record her first hour special on August 13th, at 8 months and 1 day pregnant which will beat Ali Wong’s record of recording her special at 7 1/2 months pregnant. Before that, it was back in 1967 that Joan Rivers went on TV and performed at 7 months pregnant and people went crazy because women didn’t do that in those days. Christine said she’s “10 years in” in comedy and feels it’s time for her to do a special. She’ll be taping it at New York Comedy Club with Mike Cannon hosting and Corinne Fisher opening for her. And they will also be having a baby roast three days before on August 10th with Yamaneika Saunders producing, and choosing the roasters. Yammie doesn’t need any help in roasting anyone, but I know she’ll pick a great roster of comics and I also know that I will be there to enjoy it!
At New York Comedy Club I caught up with Matt Pavich who was sporting a savage tan. He had just gotten back from two weeks in Croatia with his family which is where he’s from. Which just proves you can be from anywhere in the world, and still be funny. He said that Croatia has perfect weather every day which is why it’s a celebrity draw for vacation. Now he’s just waiting for the premiere of the new show he’s on, … SafeWord on MTV. And Rell Battle was killing it on stage when I came in. I hadn’t seen Rell in months as he’s been out in L.A., and will be here till August. He came in to host the 2nd anniversary of Roast Battle this past Thursday and it was a sold out event. He’s busy promoting the second season of Superior Donuts, a CBS show he’s on with star Jermaine Fowler, which will start shooting in August to premiere in October. I asked him what it was like on the set with so many fun people and he said it was crazy and that they had the best schedule. Most days are four hour days, except for one day a week which is about 12. And he said they have a resident DJ, and they have competition dancing in-between takes and that Katey Sagal really knows how to move. He also said he likes being bi-coastal, and is looking forward to focusing on his stand-up while he’s in New York.
I showed up at The Stand to find Dan Soder, Joe List and Mark Normand hanging out at the table outside in the street. Mark told me he’s heading to Ireland to do the Vodafone Festival which is like our Verizon. He said he had already been to Ireland with Amy Schumer, but this time he’s going with Colin Quinn, Chris Distefano, Sam Morril, and Rachel Feinstein. He and Joe List do the podcast Tuesdays with Stories and Joe told me they don’t have many guests. Usually, it’s just he and Mark telling each other stories, but recently they had Doug Benson on.
Ben Bailey told me that after a five year hiatus, Cash Cab is coming back to Discovery this November, thanks to David Steinberg who is executive producer. There’s more to that story which will be coming soon.
I popped over to the 78th Street NY Stand Up Labs to catch Sherrod Small doing Race Wars without Kurt Metzger who’s out of town writing for some show, and wound up totally unexpectedly being on not one, but two episodes. I was on with Damien Lemon, who said on air that he never heard me talk so much and didn’t know I had that much to say. It’s a really fun show. I asked Sherrod whether I was representing the White race or the Black race and he left it up to me. Sherrod said there will be an episode coming up with Opie, who according to Sherrod is currently examining his many options.
Upa In Space, … (Yes, that’s the name she goes by!) is a comic I met back when I was hosting the late show at The Comic Strip. At first glance, you might think she was some Eastern European model, and she often uses that persona in her act. Nowadays, she’s working as a stand-in for Maggie Geha’s character Poison Ivy on FOX’s Gotham, and she just scored a role in a new Steven Spielberg movie called Nor’easter with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. It’s set in the 70’s and features Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, and Meryl Streep as publisher Kay Graham who battled the federal government for the right to publish The Pentagon Papers, which was a leaked study from the Department of Defense detailing our government’s military involvement in Vietnam.
Lastly, I read in the papers that Ed Sheeran quit Twitter this past week due to nasty tweets about his appearance on Game of Thrones. Trolling on social media is so far out of hand. Some jerk actually tweeted that someone, … not him, … but someone, overheard me saying something nasty about my buddy T.J. Miller and tweeted it to T.J. who asked me about it. I told him it was an out and out lie. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t talk badly about anyone. I never write anything negative in this column, say anything bad about anyone on the radio, or engage in gossip on the street. It’s not what I do. I leave that to others who seem to have no problem doing that. If I see you had a bad set or I don’t like your show, I don’t write about it. I don’t trash people. My goal is to support where deserving and to only put out positive energy to the universe. Interestingly, the guy who tweeted this lie used a character from Game of Thrones as his Twitter avatar. Who has the time to engage in such stupidity? Obviously too many people. I say openly that I think T.J. Miller is amazing, and a unique talent and I’m grateful to have a forum to address this kind of B.S.
I’m off to Montreal this week for Just for Laughs and will be talking to everyone and covering the two big red carpets, one with Kevin Hart for his LOL Network and the other for the JFL Awards honoring Jim Carrey who’ll be getting the “Generation Award”, Kenya Barris for Comedy Writer of the Year, Craig Ferguson getting the first ever Alumni Tribute, Ali Wong for Breakout Comedy Star of the Year, Trevor Noah for Comedy Person of the Year, and Mike Birbiglia for Stand-Up Comedian of the Year! I’ll be filling you all in on that as the week progresses.
Until then, … I’m OUT!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, and watch Comedy Matters TV on Be Terrific. Below, Jeffrey Gurian with Rell Battle, with Mike Cannon, with Damien Lemon, Abby Rosenquist, James Goff, and Sherrod Small and with Brent Morin.