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 Cellar, Gotham Comedy, Carolines and The Stairs.
This week I went to surprise Jeff Garlin at Carolines on Broadway. Jeff is a great story-teller and always tells his audience not to expect a lot of jokes. Towards the end of his act, a woman in the audience who must have been drunk challenged Jeff for looking at his phone, thinking he was texting someone. And he went off on her by explaining that he tapes his act on his phone and was just checking it to make sure it was working. He said, “Do you really think I would text someone while I was on stage during my act?” And then he called her “Sarcastic Johnson” because she accused him in a very sarcastic tone. And then he surprised everyone else by bringing out Louis C.K. for a guest spot. The audience went crazy! And Louis said he wasn’t going to do too much time, and he didn’t. He talked about his “mild racism” from growing up in the ’70’s, and about how the world has changed since the 70’s everywhere but the Middle East. When Louis came offstage to thunderous applause, I thought the show was ending so I walked over to the back wall near the dressing rooms to say “hi” to Jeff when he came offstage. I found Louis leaning against the wall and watching the end of Jeff’s show, because Jeff went back up on stage to finish. I wanted to talk to Louis but I could see he was intent on watching Jeff so we just greeted each other, and it was fun hearing Louis laugh loudly at Jeff’s stories. Especially the one about Jeff losing his virginity at 20 to a 33 year old heckler, who was a lawyer.
Jeff explained to the audience that he’s been in the business for 32 years, so when something happens like Louis C.K. performing in the middle of your act, you just kind of roll with it. Louis told a very believable story and then at the end admitted that he made up the whole thing. That inspired Jeff to admit that a very funny story that he told as a true one about standing in line at the airport with an old Black man who told him the difference between a cream and a lotion, was also a made up story. (You can watch the set here). He said he’d been telling that story, which was hilarious by the way, for the last five years and never admitted it was made up before until he heard Louis come clean. And then while the checks came out he did a Q&A with the audience and said he had just gone to see Larry David in Fish In The Dark and they discussed the possibility of doing more episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. They agreed they would never just wrap the show to wrap it, but only if they had something funny to say. Jeff said doing Curb was the most fun he ever had and that he and Larry spent the whole day laughing. He also said his contract on The Goldbergs would allow him to do Curb if they decided to do more. He said he loved Curb cause it was all improv and with The Goldbergs he has to learn his lines, which is hard. When he came off stage he was really surprised to see me, and we had a brief chat.
The show was hosted by Anthony Devito who used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip, so it’s nice to see how he’s progressed, and featuring was Liza Treyger, who told me that she and Sabrina Jalees –who will be doing a whole big thing at Just for Laughs this year — are also doing a show at UCBeast on May 19th called Down to Find Out. It’s gonna be a live show for Comedy Central. And there’s more– Liza is gonna be shooting a digital pilot for Comedy Central in the next two weeks and she said she hasn’t eaten in five days to get in shape for the cameras!
This week walking around downtown I saw Dave Attell was sitting on the steps of the building where The Cellar does it’s podcasts. He was being filmed by what looked like a TV crew. I couldn’t tell what was going on exactly but I was on my way home, and I couldn’t really interrupt them to ask. TV crews hate that!
Michael Yo, who besides being a stand-up comic is also an entertainment reporter, was on Comedy Juice at Gotham this week and told a story about how he once went to interview Justin Timberlake who kept him waiting for over two hours. Justin apologized by giving him two tickets to his upcoming show, and Michael didn’t know what to expect. He said he found himself surrounded by 12 year old girls and was wondering what he was doing there, … until Justin came out, and created so much excitement that he found himself screaming like a 12 year old girl. While Michael and I were out in the hall chatting, the very funny Carmen Lynch dropped by to check out the show, so I got them together for a photo!
A San Diego based comic I had never seen before named Daryl Wright was at Gotham Comedy Club this week for Comedy Juice with agent Roger Paul. Roger suggested that I check Daryl out, and I’m glad I did. Daryl is a frequent guest on Jay Mohr’s radio show and this coming week he will be portrayed as a cartoon character on Fox Sports 1. He’s playing an animated version of himself on a show called Favorite Fight Stories telling one of his own favorite fight stories with MMA/UFC champ Urijah Faber.
Kaytlin Bailey and Alison Klemp were doing their monthly show at The Stairs– a place that bills itself as a gay bar. They do the show every second Saturday of the month, and it’s called I’m Fine, … Probably. When I asked her how long it took them to come up with that name she said she didn’t know because they were both very high when they came up with it. Kaytlin’s doing a Week at The Creek coming up in June to workshop her one woman show debuting July 10th at The Tank which will be part of Pride Fest. I noticed a theme here, so I felt comfortable asking her if she was gay and she said she wasn’t, so it just shows you can have a show in a gay bar, and be in a gay festival and not be gay. That’s how inclusive and welcoming the gay community is!
Her show is as yet untitled but she assured me it will be titled by the time she does her Week at The Creek. Btw, her one woman show will address her past as a sex worker. She’s very open about saying she was a high end escort. Kaytlin and Alison know each other so well, they do interesting and funny riffs with each other that are completely ad-libbed. You can do that with a close friend, and they talk about lots of personal stuff. They have a great dynamic and a lot of it is about sex, and sexual freedom. Also on the show was Miguel Dalmau who was very funny and sent me a very nice message on FB, a funny girl named Maria Heinegg with a very wild hairdo, and Harrison Greenbaum who always has a great set. It’s a very cool room with benches like church pews, and couches along the walls. And on one of those couches I found a leader of women’s sexual freedom, Corinne Fisher, of the duo Sorry About Last Night that she does with HER good friend Krystyna Hutchinson. She too told me they were getting great feedback on the appearance I made on her podcast Guys We Fucked, so it was a great night all around.
At The Cellar I ran into Derek Gaines standing outside, very excited to be doing his first paid spot at The Cellar. I almost hate running into people in the street cause I don’t use a recorder, and I have to try and write while I’m standing there. And it’s not easy. Ever since I had to transcribe every single interview by hand that I did for my book I shy away from having to transcribe stuff from a recorder. It’s grueling work! Anyway, I balanced my pad as best I could, and wrote down Derek’s feelings about performing at The Cellar. He said it was a “milestone” in his career. and that ever since he moved here six years ago from South Jersey it had always been his dream to perform at The Cellar. He said that passing that audition made him feel like he’s “solidifed as a working New York comedian.” He also said that at his audition, Estee the legendary booker for the club just stood there watching him with her arms crossed, not laughing or smiling, and he was concerned, but she smiled afterwards when she told him he passed. More on Estee later in the column.
Inside at “the table” was a great group, and as I walked in looking around I was followed in by Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane who had just come from seeing The Book of Mormon. They weren’t performing, they just came to hang out. They told me they haven’t been able to do the radio version of their podcast, My Wife Hates Me, because of the construction going on at the SiriusXM studios, but hope to be back on real soon.
The place was packed with comics. Gregg Rogell was sitting with Gary Gulman, Keith Robinson, Sherrod Small, Keith Alberstadt, and my old friend Greer Barnes who for some reason I didn’t recognize right away. Maybe because he wasn’t wearing his usual knit cap or dressed like he was auditioning for The Bloods or The Crips! (LOL) So I asked my server, “Is that Greer Barnes?” and when she confirmed my suspicions I ran over and we both had a good laugh about me not recognizing him.
We hugged it out.
Gregg Rogell has been on tour with Russell Peters. I was surprised to find out they had only known each other since 2013. I had seen them a few months ago at Madison Square Garden when Russell sold out 20,000 seats which for him is “old hat” already! (There I go again with the ancient expressions! Some day I have to look up where the expression “old hat” even came from! I’m sure it’s a fun story from a time when all men wore hats!) But what a great opportunity for a funny guy like Gregg to be able to perform all over the world with Russell, one of the very few true international comedy stars and a guy I can truly call a friend. Russell first saw Gregg on a TV show in Canada, and then they met at The Cellar and Russell invited him to open for him at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Then he took him on his European tour. I can only imagine how Gregg felt cause I got excited just hearing this story! Since then they’ve been to India, Africa, Australia, and Hong Kong, and probably more but I was writing as fast as I could! Gregg was just hanging out waiting to perform on the late show.
And then my man Cipha Sounds came in and stopped off at my table where I was eating to say “hi.” Cipha too had a great Cellar story. He said he’s recently been hosting the late shows at The Cellar about six nights a week, and felt so honored. The show starts at 11:30. I reminded him that it wasn’t so long ago at one of his shows at Carolines where he told me he didn’t consider himself a real comedian, but now he does. In those days he considered himself a radio guy who was doing comedy cause he had been on New York Radio Station Hot97 for so many years. I had first started seeing him down at The Laugh Lounge on Essex Street hosting shows, and always thought he was very funny. He said his Cellar gig all came about through Chris Rock. Cipha recently left Hot97 after 17 years, but a few months before he left, Chris had come on his show as a guest with Questlove to promote his film Top Five. He didn’t even know that Cipha did comedy. Chris said he’d tell Estee at The Cellar to give him an audition, and asked his assistant Brandon to hook it up. Months went by and Cipha didn’t hear anything. He thought it was over! Then he left Hot97 on a Thursday and he gets a call from Brandon out of nowhere asking him to come to the Cellar the next Friday night. He says the room was packed and he killed it. And I know Cipha to be a humble guy so if he says he killed it he did. And Estee told him he was very funny, and that he should send in his avails. Now he’s hosting! Crazy! And because it happened so close to leaving Hot97 he took it as a sign that all would be okay! He was leaving for Florida in the morning to D.J. a big music festival cause he’s also a talented D.J. and I told him I was planning to attend his Friday night hip hop/comedy show at UCB, but he told me someone else was covering for him. I’ll just have to go next week!
And when I left I ran into Wyatt Cenac just standing in the street and while he told me about his upcoming appearance at Just for Laughs for the first time this coming July. He’s doing six shows, and really looking forward to it. He also hosts a show every Monday out in Brooklyn called Night Train at a place called Littlefields. It’s coming up on it’s third year and his guests have included Marc Maron, Morgan Murphy, and Al Madrigal. And while we were standing together Greer Barnes came out and Wyatt invited him to come on the show too!
I stopped by Gotham to see Paul Virzi on his All In Tour with Joe Bartnick. He was off to Pittsburgh and then Chicago and told me that Bill Burr might join them if he has time. Paul also told me that the episode we did of his podcast The Virzi Effect was getting great reviews from people and lots of positive Tweets! Very cool!
Anyway, that’s it for me 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 Kaytlin Bailey and Alison Kemp.