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, New York Comedy Club, The Stand, and new venue, The Comedy Loft.
This week aside from hitting the clubs, I wound up checking out some alternative venues plus a comedy radio station out in Brooklyn.
I was so happy to see Carlos Mencia headlining at Gotham Comedy Club. I hadn’t seen him for quite a while. He does some amazing show. He was supposed to do an hour and at the 90 minute mark he told the audience that, but they didn’t want to let him go. It was non-stop hilarity. No hesitation. No asking, what do you guys wanna talk about. Just 90 minutes of straight material. That’s really pretty amazing. But I think he said he’s performing for about 26 years so I guess you compile a lot of stuff in that time. I stood in the back watching him with his two openers, Kevin Dombrowski who described himself as Carlos’ “regional opener” and Francisco Duran who travels with Carlos all the time, nationally and internationally. They both couldn’t say enough nice things about Carlos. Evidently he’s a great guy to work for. Kevin said he’s been like a mentor to him. Carlos taught him how to work a large room with thousands of people because he had only worked clubs before with a couple of hundred people, and it’s a very different thing. He said Carlos taught him to include the audience in the material, by the way you phrase things. He said that when Carlos performs he “levels” rooms, and he’s never seen anyone else do what Carlos does. He even taught Kevin better mic technique because he was holding the mic in a way that the audience couldn’t see the expression on his face. So when they did the Tropicana Theatre in Atlantic City that holds about 2,000 people, he tried what Carlos taught him and it worked great. He said that Carlos is very technical and that he has a really good heart. Francisco said he lives in Florida but that he’s literally never home because he’s on the road with Carlos 51 weeks a year, living out of a suitcase in fine hotels.
When Carlos ended his set he did a very brave thing. He thanked the audience and surprisingly brought up the joke stealing stuff from the past. That took a lot of courage. He asked people if they had a good time to write something on the internet, because he said when some people get accused of stealing jokes it goes away pretty quickly but not with him.
Then he went outside to greet his fans and sell merch, among them T-shirts with the slogan “I Got A Question” which is a great bit he does on stupid people.
I saw Ted Alexandro at The Stand, and he told me that he’ll be touring the country with Jim Gaffigan again this summer in a tour called Fully Dressed. Ted was also on The Gaffigan Show playing himself in a scene with Chris Rock, and Adam Goldberg. He also opened for Jim at Madison Square Garden, which he said was one of the highlights of his career, and just one of the reasons why he’s so grateful to Jim. I asked him how far they go back, and he laughed remembering that in the early days he was driving a postal jeep used for delivering mail which he painted black and which had the steering wheel on the right side. I guess easier to deliver mail. He used to drive Jim to their gigs out on Long Island, and he said that Jim loved that car so much he asks him about it to this day.
Sean Lynch is doing a show in The Comedy Loft, a new venue for comedy on West 31st Street, and once again it proved to me that comics will perform anywhere. This was upstairs above a bar called The Triple Crown, which just changed hands this past December. The owner is a friend of Sean’s and Sean bet him a bottle of Jameson’s that with no money down, he could turn the Upstairs into a hip comedy lounge. The owner agreed, and three months and 12 Stand-Up shows, 8 improv shows, 10 open mics and 4 sketch shows later they’re still standing, and going strong . I forgot to ask Sean if he collected his bottle of Jameson. Sean said he’s had so many great acts and comics from MTV, Comedy Central, Vh1 (like John Fugelsang, Don Jamieson, and Mike Cannon) and he was nice enough to add me to that list.
Comedy Juice was poppin’ this week as usual. I don’t usually like to run into people in the Men’s Room. It’s awkward. The whole shaking hands thing. You feel like you’re shaking hands with the guy’s dick, even if he just washed his hands. But at Juice, in the Men’s Room I ran into Mike Finoia who was also on the show, and instead of the usual small talk, somehow we got into a serious conversation about mean spirited comedy. Then when Jon Rudnitsky got off the stage after his killer set somehow we also got to talking about mean spirited comedy and turns out he hates it too! Maybe he was also bullied in high school. We also talked about the need for men to support each other more. Jon was excited about doing Moontower this year coming up at the end of April It’s his first time and he told me that after SNL ends for the season he’ll be touring the country.
When I got to The Stand, Big Jay was hanging out with his homie Luis J. Gomez, and Christine Marie Evans. I got to have a serious chat with Jay, carrying on the theme of mean-spirited humor. Anyone who knows Jay knows he has a heart of gold. So how does he say the things he says to people on stage? He admitted to me that every time, just before he says one of the outrageous things he says to people, especially to girls in the audience, in his mind he cringes a little bit wondering how they’ll take it. He worries about it but he does it anyway. And he gets away with it. It amazes me. I know for sure that if I said things like that, … which I don’t even think I could do, … people would be offended. They don’t expect it from me. We decided that maybe it’s his smile. He said Mike Vecchione wanted to know his secret because he tried doing material like that on a very mild level, nothing like what Jay says, and the audience didn’t buy it. But with Jay they love it. Jay said he just has “the X factor!”
Jonas Barnes is co-producing an all female show coming up on April 30th starring Gina Yashere, at the Cornelia Street Cafe. Gina will soon be kicking off a new headline series showcasing the best female comics from NYC and around the country. Jonas told me he’s helping produce this show, because in his words, “Honestly, I’m sick of seeing women in comedy get treated like lesser comics. Every time I hear someone say women aren’t funny, I want to scream.” The co-producer Margaux With An X came to him with the idea and the venue and he booked Kaytlin Bailey, Lauryn Petrie, Maria Heinegg, and Jaqi Furback to round out the show. He went on to say “ We’re ready to show the people of NYC (and more) that women are damn funny and we’re putting them on a historic stage to showcase their talents properly.” I sent him an e-mail asking him what was behind his sentiment and what made him step up and when he answers me I’ll let you know!
Everybody likes lingerie so when Ron Herron told me he created the Lingerie Comedy Tour and it was kicking off at Broadway Comedy Club I knew I had to check it out. It was hosted by AMarie Castillo, with Madison Malloy who came in a pink teddy, Chablis Quarterman who came in a little blue frilly thing and performed while covering her crotch and trying to cover her boobs at the same time, cause they kept trying to escape, and Carolina Hidalgo who both fooled and disappointed all the guys by showing up in a onesie and looking adorable, but still sexy. She told me she didn’t feel comfortable being almost naked on stage so she wore what she wears to sleep! The tour is already booked in Vermont, Connecticut, Boston and Long Island.
Dropped by New York Comedy Club. I stood in the back with SNL writer Dave Cyrus watching in awe as Andrew Schulz did such an amazing set, followed by Nore Davis who did a bit where he spoke in the voice of a vagina. It was HILARIOUS! And afterwards Nore told me he just got hired as a contributor to the Hearst digital platform as both an actor and a writer. It’s gonna be for six months to start and the channel is called Seriously.TV. I asked him how it came about as I’m always fascinated by the little synchronicities that make things happen and he told me they saw him perform at The Comic Strip and also like the sketches on his YouTube channel, for his special Home Game.
And Luis J. Gomez laid some big news on me. He said that he, Rebecca Trent from The Creek and the Cave, and Christine Marie Evans are putting on Stank Fest this summer– a two day comedy festival at The Creek with stand-up, podcasts, sketches, music and “plenty of surprises.” I asked him to tell me just one and he said they’ll be combining The Naked Show with Roast Battle and having a naked roast. All the roasters will be totally naked including Zac Amico, Luis’ co-host on the Real Ass podcast. I wonder if Zac knows this yet! Luis was hosting and as he ran to get someone off the stage he yelled back at me, “There’s gonna be three stages, and you better be there cause it’s gonna be INSANE!”
On a special night this week I did three sets in three different venues for the first time. The last one was at The Comic Strip at Mackenson Louis’ clean comedy show. It was a Thursday night and the place was PACKED! Lots of people seem to want to hear clean comedy these days. I wound up sitting in the office with owner Richie Tienken who told me that The Strip is the only club that still has Late Night for developing young comics. All the young comics that used to do my late night show at The Strip are making big waves, like Sam Morril, Joe Machi. Anthony Devito, Neko White, Subhah Agarwal, Pete Lee, and a bunch more! Richie still does auditions himself on Tuesday nights after the last show ends. He says he only does 4 at a time and has over 240 who have signed up. He’s starting up again on April 12 cause he needed a couple of weeks off. Probably to recover from all the bathroom jokes that many young comics seem to feel is a necessary part of their repertoire! He also created a Facebook page so the comics can stay in touch and he can notify them of any changes.
And that’s it for me for 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, Comedy Matters TV. Photos below include Jeffrey with Carlos Mencia, Nore Davis and Ellen Karis.