Cipha Sounds Signs With Jay Z, Catching Up with John Witherspoon, and Big Jay Heads to LA


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 reports from The Stand, Gotham Comedy Live and Carolines on Broadway!


Mark Normand Writing for Comedy Central Roast

Mark Normand is writing for the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. We sat down together and had a bite to eat at Carolines the other night, with Louis Faranda who runs the club. I asked him how the Bieber thing came about and he said that Hannibal Buress caught his set at Roast Battle during the NY Comedy Festival and suggested him, he sent in a packet to Comedy Central and got chosen. Mark just got back from the Middle East where he toured with two comics he hadn’t known before. One was Tom Allen, a British openly gay comic who took a lot of heat from the locals for his sexual persuasion, and the other was Dana Alexander, a Black girl from Alberta, Canada. A very interesting mix to say the least. They were over there entertaining the troops, and Mark said he was so lonely he considered joining Al Queda just for the company. He said he stayed in his room most of the time because it was so weird. He was in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and some place called Doha, Qatar, which I think he made up, cause there’s no “U” after the “Q”, and everyone knows that can’t even be possible!!

Jessica Kirson came by to join us and do a set, and she’s excited about being in Amy Schumer’s movie Trainwreck coming out in July. She also told me she’s excited about the funny videos she’s been making that she posts on her FB page. I looked and they are funny and she’s got over 19,000 likes on her page so other people obviously agree with me!

Keith Alberstadt closed the show, which was hosted by Scott Rogowsky, and Keith told me he’s off to Wisconsin, then Ft. Meyers and Sarasota, Florida, and he’s got something REALLY big, TV-wise coming up in April, but I promised him I wouldn’t say anything until closer to the date! Trust me, I know what it is, and I’ll tell you soon!

John Witherspoon Has Two Series

I popped in to Gotham to catch John Witherspoon from the Wayans Bros. and the Friday movies host AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and the place was jam packed! (Jam packed or jelly packed? Does it make a difference?) John does a lot of dancing and moving around during his set. He’s very physical in his onstage presence, despite the fact that one of his feet was bothering him. He also uses unusual words, like referring to a billy club as a “billy stick”, which I never heard. John wears happy shirts. I like that. He also acts out a lot of his jokes.

I went back the next night and he wore another happy shirt. After the show we went and sat in the green room together for a few minutes, and he told me about the two TV shows he’s on that are both coming back to be filmed at the same time in April. It’s the 2nd season of Black Jesus on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim channel, and he’s also in a syndicated show that was on BET Centrix called First Family where he plays the father of The President of the United States. That’s gotta be funny. He’s worried about having to learn all those lines for two shows at the same time! In the middle of telling me this his phone went off, but the ring tone was like very loud church bells. Like something you might associate with Westminster Abbey. He looked at me and said, “Is that YOUR phone?” I was like, “No, it’s gotta be YOUR phone. What are you carrying Big Ben around with you?” John is a very gracious guy and was getting ready for his second show of the evening so I didn’t stay too long but he told me he’s constantly on the road. He said he doesn’t particulalry enjoy traveling but he enjoys getting paid! He has just come from Washington D.C. where he performed at Constitution Hall for 3400 people, and then in St. Louis for about 1800 people, and he said he talks to the Wayans brothers all the time.

Jason Salmon is Teaching a Class on Commercials for Comics

I ran into comic Jason Salmon at Eastville, who used to be on my late night show at The Comic Strip and he told me he’s teaching a class on how to get into commercials as part of Jeff Lawrence’s Laughing Buddha comedy school. He’s been in national commercials for Geico, and Verizon and is doing workshops for comics to teach them how to get into that lucrative arena. Jeff Lawrence probably runs the most open mics in the city. Like 31 a week at places like The Stand, Eastville, The Village Lantern and Klimat Lounge. It started as a comedy school, and wound up being a huge thing, but he swears he can’t remember how he came up with the name Laughing Buddha. He does remember thinking that Laughing Jesus wouldn’t work!

Big Jay Oakerson Heading to LA in Talks About WYFD!

The Stand is always such a fun hang. I jumped over there one night and ran into Judah Friedlander, who told me he’s psyched about being in Wet Hot American Summer that’s coming out as a series on Netflix, and that he’s got a book coming out on October 20th which doesn’t have a title as yet. It’s almost harder to find the right title sometimes than it is to write the book! (I said that, not HIM!)

Big Jay Oakerson told me he’s off to Austin Texas soon, and will be doing Gilda’s LaughFest in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Then he’s off to LA for meetings in hopes of getting a deal for What’s Your F-ing’ Deal the show that’s all crowd work. Crowd work is Big Jay’s specialty and he just does it effortlessly. He can riff endlessly with the crowd, and make it funny. So hard to do. He brings on other comics to also do crowd work and so far has had people like Todd Glass, Colin Quinn, Jeffrey Ross, Kurt Metzger, and Dave Attell. In New York he does it at The Village Underground. He’s another one who doesn’t like traveling but really enjoys performing comedy for people in different places, and he usually travels alone. Maybe I could hook him up with John Witherspoon and they can travel together?

Mike Lawrence told me at The Stand that he was excited to be opening for Chris Hardwick next week in Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre, and I asked him if they had ever worked together before. He said he had performed with him at Carolines. More and more comics came in to join the group and it was Monroe Martin, Aaron Berg, and Ricky Velez, who I hope to be seeing on Monday when I go to visit the set of The Nightly Show with Larry Willmore where he’s on the show. Everyone was just chillin’ and swapping stories.

Sherrod Small Talks About Rachel Profiling, and Will NY’s The Stand Be Heading for LA?

My buddy Sherrod Small came in and told me he’s a writer/producer on Rachel Feinstein’s pilot Rachel Profiling that Amy Schumer is Executive Producing. I’m so happy to see Rachel get a show. She’s really so talented and so funny and does such great characters. Sherrod said they just finished shooting the pilot, and Dan Soder and Yannis Pappas who was also there at The Stand are writing on the show. Sherrod said that Rachel gets to be herself, but also gets to do her characters. I didn’t know that he and Rachel had been roommates for 7 years! That had to be a trip for both of them! You can read more about Rachel’s pilot here, in a recent interview she did with The IBang.

I had an informative chat with Paul Italia, co-owner of The Stand as well as co-owner of Cringe Humor Entertainment who manages cool comics like Monroe Martin, Derek Gaines, Yannis Pappas, Adrienne Iapalucci, Crystian Ramirez and a bunch more and he’s heading out to LA at the end of the month. One of his goals is to have a sister club in LA, which of course will be known as The Stand, L.A., and he’s out there taking meetings on behalf of his clients.

Cipha Sounds Signs to Be Jay Z’s Resident Comic

Great and exciting news from Cipha Sounds who left his position on the Hot 97 team after 17 years. He literally just signed on with Jay Z’s Roc Nation management as their first comedian! How cool is that? (Rhetorical question!) He told me he actually knows Jay for years and DJ’ed for him back in the day. He’s now also producing the Friday night midnight show at The Stand called Double Stuff and last night was the first night and it was a killer show. Ciph once told me he doesn’t consider himself a stand-up comedian but he really is now. He hosts the show, and really gets the crowd going.

That’s it 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. Below, photos, Jeffrey with John Witherspoon, Sherrod Small, Cipha Sounds, Mark Normand and Jessica Kirson.

with john witherspoon

with sherrod small with cipha sounds jeffrey and mark normand jeffrey and jessica kirson at the stand

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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.