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, Town Hall, Gotham Comedy Club, and more…
Lots of cool stuff goes on at The Stand and this week the guys from Just for Laughs were in town to do auditions for this summer’s festival, so after leaving Maribeth Mooney’s monthly comedy show at Otto’s Shrunken Head, I made my way over to The Stand, to check out the action.
Craig Ferguson was taping his special at Town Hall and of course it was a Comedy Dynamics production because they do all the big ones. I actually called Brian Volk-Weiss, head of Comedy Dynamics to ask if he’d be there but he told me he was in D.C. taping Demetri Martin’s new special on the exact same night, and that Cisco Henson was running the show in New York. It was a great set at Town Hall, with a huge New York sign that covered the entire stage, and the show was called Hot and Grumpy. His opener was Josh Robert Thompson, who did the voice of robot skeleton Geoff Peterson on Craig’s Late Late Show which he hosted on CBS for 9 years. Josh does a million other voices and is a GREAT impressionist. He said he got his start by calling into the Howard Stern Show as Arnold Schwarzenegger, and in one call said he was going to blow up the moon, which according to him was actually taken seriously by some news outlets. I guess it was easier to fool people in those days! He even imitated the way Robert DeNiro breathes which I had never heard anyone do before but it was spot on. The place was packed with Craig Ferguson fans and Josh got huge applause.
Craig came out to thunderous applause and accused people in the front of smoking weed. He said the smell was so strong it was challenging his sobriety, which he claimed was 23 years and going strong. He talked a lot about his past history with all kinds of street drugs and promised that by the end of the night each person in the audience would have the opportunity to be offended by something he said. I never knew he had written the movie Saving Grace back in 2000 but I know it now! He’s had quite a history of accomplishments. He tells long, funny stories one of which was like a main part of the show. It was the story of how he almost wrote a movie with Mick Jagger who he idolized since he was a child. The rest of the story you’ll hear when you get the opportunity to watch Hot and Grumpy.
Just for Laughs, in case you’re from a small village in Bulgaria, is the biggest, most famous comedy festival in the world which takes place every year in July, thanks to Bruce Hills, Andy Nulman, Paul Ronca, and their whole crew, and it’s every comic’s dream to perform there. I always like to talk about the people behind the scenes because without them nothing happens, and the two guys who handle the auditions and booking the talent are the power team of Jeff Singer, and Robbie Praw, two guys who know funny when they see it! And Robbie is celebrating some big personal news which I won’t divulge yet until he gives ne permission, but it’s something very cool! Congrats Robbie!
Jeff told me that from New York he was going to the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta looking for new talent, and then to Phoenix at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy, which I hear is an amazing club that I hope to perform in one day! Then he’ll be out in LA in March and April. Jeff changed the face of comedy with his alternative comedy shows at the legendary Luna Lounge on Ludlow Street, back when he lived in New York. It was a home for a lot of the big stars you see today. I recall seeing Todd Barry, Judah Friedlander, Todd Lynn, Patrice O’Neal, Demetri Martin and so many others there and it was always a great hang. Miss those days, and Patrice and Todd as well! Pictured here are Chris Italia, Robbie Praw and Dave Kimowitz. Chris and Dave are owners of The Stand.
Aaron Berg was hosting the 10 P.M. audition show, and he’s just so funny, and quick. All the things that make for a good host. He’s also got a cool look with the vests he’s been rocking lately. I got there a little early just to schmooze cause I had to be at another show at 10:30,and also ran into Harry Terjanian, Adrian Minkowicz, Mike Lawrence, the hard working Gibran Saleem who’s performing at The Laughing Skull Festival at the end of the month, Luis J. Gomez the Puerto Rican Rattlesnake, who surprised me by coming down the VIP staircase from the kitchen, and came up from behind me in a hoodie. I was almost ready to hand over my wallet! (LOL) Owner Chris Italia shared the line-up with me and it was also Robyn Schall, Leah Bonnema, Alex Edelman who used to do my late show at The Comic Strip and spent several months in Edinborough honing his act and getting experience, and Naomi Ekperigin the writer from Broad City, who I recently saw doing Gotham Comedy Live.
I went to Gotham this week to catch Vic Dibitetto who you’ll soon be seeing in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 with Kevin James, because it would have been the only chance I had to see him. I had heard of Vic but never had the pleasure of meeting him before. We were supposed to work together on what looked like an amazing project, and the people had sent me his info and his viral video Bread and Milk a little 30 second video that has already garnered over 13 million views on YouTube. His other videos have gotten over 33 million views in total which he claims is all thanks to Bread and Milk. I asked him about the video and his response was “ 30 seconds of stupidity brought me more recognition than 30 years of stand-up!” He said it’s opened up new worlds for him and now he packs big rooms and gets gigs he only dreamed of before.
When I introduced myself he invited me down to the green room so we could chat. I asked him how he got hooked up with Kevin James. He said that they had known each other vaguely from Richie Minervini’s legendary East Side Comedy Club, where so many people started out. That was back in ’85 or ’86. And as Vic put it so eloquently, “Kevin went on to become The King of Queens, and I went on to drive a garbage truck!” Which he actually did until not too long ago. So Vic said he was performing in Albany and like a lot of us he doesn’t answer his cell phone if he doesn’t know who’s calling. One night his cell goes off with an unlisted number, but he’s bored and answers. The voice on the other end says, “ Vic, it’s Kevin James.” They hadn’t spoken in like 20 years so Vic thought it was a friend playing tricks on him. Turns out it was Kevin, He had been following him on social media especially his Bread and Milk thing and he said he had a small part for him in Mall Cop 2. He plays a guy named Gino Chizetti, probably Italian! Kevin flew him out to Vegas for the shoot, which he said was so much fun. He wound up using a line from his videos. In the script somebody asks him what he paid for his belt and he says, “ I got a guy!” He said to Kevin, that’s a line from my videos, and Kevin said, “ I know, that’s why you’re here. I saw it in the video and thought it was so funny, I wanted you in the movie.” He told Kevin, “I’m not gonna keep thanking you for this opportunity, … but if you ever need a kidney… !” He’s playing Westbury on May 23rd with Fred Rubino opening for him as usual and also with Shuli from the Howard Stern Show on SiriusXM.
Tonight, Monday March 9th, the day this column comes out, I will be producing my big Curtis Sliwa/Ron Kuby Roast with Chris Mazzilli at Gotham Comedy Club, which you will hear all about next week. The great Rich Vos is Roast Master, coming off his successful hosting of the 3rd annual Patrice O’Neal Benefit, and other roasters are Bonnie McFarlane, Kurt Metzger, Aaron Berg, Geno Bisconte, Stone and Stone (Adam and Todd, not Mick and Keith), the aforementioned Aaron Berg, and Chuck Nice! With Curtis and Kuby there’s so much dirt to talk about, not the least of which is Curtis’ current hunt for a 4th wife! It’s gonna be crazy, so if you read this and wanna come tonight, call Gotham Comedy Club at (212) 367-9000. There may still be a few tickets left!
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 Vic Dibitetto