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 covered the scene at Gotham Comedy Club, the Cutting Room and the New Stages Theater.
This weekend I got to see Bobby Lee absolutely crush and destroy the room in his headline show at Gotham Comedy Club. I was glad to see that he was as happy to see me as I was happy to see him. As I was eating, and facing the other way, I felt someone come and give me a hug and it was Bobby. Just seeing him makes me smile! He totally brings the light.
And he starts performing before he even gets to the stage. Before host Angelo Lozada could even get out his intro Bobby was already wandering through the audience, and yelling out shit to Angelo making him crack up. But Angelo, OG that he is, powered on and got out the intro. And it was non-stop hilarity from moment one. Bobby Lee is a unique talent, and a power of example in many ways. I will explain. People often talk about the power of “acceptance”. Accepting ourselves for the way we are. Bobby does that. In every show he strips down, and does a lap dance, not for a girl, but for a guy he enlists from the audience who has to promise to go along with everything Bobby does. But at the time the guy agrees he has no idea what Bobby has in store for him, which on this night included putting the guy’s hand below his waist, and doing a hand-stand with his junk in the guy’s face!
Bobby even licked the mic stand. Actually licked the mic stand and told the audience he would do anything for a laugh. After his set he sat down with me to chat, and told me some of the cool things he has going on. He’s in Judd Apatow’s Netflix series Love, for the first season and now also the second season, playing a guy named Truman. I foolishly asked him if the guy was Asian, not realizing that if Bobby was playing him he HAD to be Asian. But Bobby told me the part was not originally written for an Asian guy. He made it an Asian guy when he took the role. He also shot a HUGE commercial campaign with Jane Lynch and Key and Peele for Booking.com, and when I mentioned that our mutual friend Chelsea Peretti just married Jordan Peele, bringing together two of the funniest people on the planet, he said she was in the commercial too in a wedding scene with Jordan.
And he just did a Zach Galafianakis movie called Keeping Up With The Joneses that will be coming out this summer, playing a guy named Ricky who owns a restaurant. That was all he was at liberty to divulge. He said he’s always on tour and goes out twice a month all over the country.
But what was most important and meaningful to me was what he shared next, and I taped it to make sure I got it right. First of all he’s very proud of his sobriety which he’s enjoyed for the last 14 years. And when I asked him how long he’s been comfortable getting almost naked on stage he said for the last ten and it was definitely a gift of his sobriety to be that comfortable with himself that he could do that. It takes tremendous confidence, and for me, a guy who wears a sport jacket on the beach, it’s basically unfathomable.
This is what he told me: “In my 20’s I never got girls. And by exposing myself and by me showing people what sexuality could be, I started getting girls, and for the past 14 years or so I’ve gotten all beautiful girls. My girlfriend now who I want to be with forever is absolutely beautiful. I love her, and she’s the one I want to be with for the rest of my life. She thinks I’m sexy because I think I’m sexy. Growing up I always had the belief that I was ugly, and if you think of yourself as ugly, everyone’s gonna see you as ugly. Obviously not everyone is right for everyone, but there is somebody out there for everybody, and I love that.” And I love Bobby Lee!
I went to The Cutting Room this week to catch Liz Miele preview her show Mind Over Melee that she’ll be doing in Edinburgh this year at the Fringe Festival. She jokingly said she was tired of bombing in New Jersey and wanted to try bombing in other more interesting places. And when she hit the sexual stuff she commented that she felt it made the audience uncomfortable so she’d have to try it out again for an audience that didn’t have sadness in their hearts. All I know is that the audience I saw seemed to love her! Good luck in Scotland Liz!
Brad Garrett hosted Gotham Comedy Live this week in their ongoing effort to have big name comedy actors hosting instead of just stand-up comedians, but with Brad they got both wrapped into one. I have to say it was the funniest GCL rehearsal I had ever seen. I usually get there early to watch the rehearsal and in most cases it’s just a dry run through with blocking and all but in Brad’s case he made it into a show.
I guess it comes from him having his own comedy club in Vegas at the MGM Grand called Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club. I have to admit that I had never seen his stand-up until that night and he’s really great! He was “shpritzing” the audience even during the rehearsal and was warm, gracious and friendly to everyone in the room. Particularly to Andy Pitz who had played his club a couple of times, who you could tell he really liked, and with whom he did kind of like a Rodney Dangerfield dueling-banjos kind of thing where they each did Rodney jokes in Rodney’s voice. Andy in particular does a GREAT Rodney impression. Rodney will always be remembered, and for me in particular as one who had the honor of writing for Rodney.
At the end of the show when all the comics take a bow together Brad even came up with an idea that they could all hide behind him because he’s so tall and come out as if they suddenly appeared from nowhere. Before the show they shot a little comedy video of the comics supposedly playing Strip Poker, and instead of Esther Ku having to take off her shirt, to the disappointment of all who were watching, it wound up with Drew Thomas taking off HIS shirt.
The green room was popping with comedy people like comedy manager Jason Steinberg, Tommy Gooch, Regina DeCicco, and Jon Fisch. And I was so happy to see my girl Calise Hawkins who’s got a new podcast that she does from The Creek and the Cave called The Love Child podcast in honor of her daughter Asha who helps her open every episode. Her first guest was Roy Wood Jr. It’s not released yet so remember that you heard about it here! Brad’s opening was even funnier than I expected. He even poked fun at Ray Romano, doing a funny impression of Ray walking funny because his wallet was so heavy.
And every so often a stand-up takes their material and weaves it into a one person show. Such is the case with Dena Blizzard’s One Funny Mother at the New Stages Theatre. I had been enjoying Dena for years as a stand-up and this show is all about her trials and tribulations of being a Mom to three kids plus her husband who sometimes seems like more work than the kids! She mixes her stand-up with short funny videos that she makes herself, and in between acts plays them for the audience. Some of them are brief interviews with other moms talking about things like whether they think they’re sexy, and they’re all funny. Dena is a former Miss New Jersey who has kept her beauty pageant looks and shape, and serves as the preliminary host of the Miss America pageant. She told me afterwards that she had originally written this show 8 years ago, but then was doing warm-up for Nate Berkus and Anderson Cooper for about three years and it got put to the side. She’s also got a web series called One Funny Mother. She told me the show is open-ended which is incredible, and means that it will run as long as people want to see it. It’s something fun and meaningful for everyone who’s ever had a Mom, is a Mom, or wants to be a Mom to enjoy! Go see it, and don’t forget to tell Dena I sent you!
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 Bobby Lee, Calise Hawkins, and Dena Blizzard.