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 Gilbert Gottfried’s benefit for school kids.
It was a week of big comedy events in New York, and Gilbert Gottfried exemplified that with his huge annual benefit for P.S. 11 the school where his children attend. I always mean to ask Gilbert if he’s allowed by the school! The event was at Gotham Comedy Club and the place was so packed they had to insert people into the room, like on a coin slot in a washing machine. You’d lay down on your back near the door and Samantha Black of The Blacklist would insert you into the room! That’s how crowded it was. I wound up hanging out in the little alleyway at the back of the room, with Lisa Lampanelli‘s ex Jimmy Cannizzaro, where the production team from Gotham Comedy Live sets up their equipment. Lynne Koplitz was the MC for the event and she did just a great job. It’s so hard to warm up the crowd and then keep things moving along especially when you have so many stars performing.
Seth Herzog wowed the crowd with kind of a lip sync version of Midnight Train to Georgia that I can still hear without trying too hard. Some things just stay lodged in your memory. Donnell Rawlings slayed the crowd, and Colin Quinn did one of his usual brilliant takes on expressions people use all the time during small talk. No one does that kind of material better than Colin! I asked him afterwards about his new series Cop Show but he said he had so many things going on that as much as he’s excited about Cop Show he couldn’t even think about it, so we talked about our mutual friendship with film producer Morris Levy from Mega Films. Jim Gaffigan took the stage to huge applause. Jim has so many children he could start his own school. He has five kids who you will all get to meet on his new TV Land series The Gaffigan Show which he originally wrote as a pilot for CBS.
Lynne led the auction which raised several thousand dollars with items like an NBA Allstar event with Kevin Hart and LeBron James, and a bunch of supermodels, tickets and a party for Celebrity Apprentice, a dinner for 15 people at a very cool trendy place, the Meredith Viera show with dinner at The Friars Club, and dinner for two and a night at The Gramercy Tavern and Hotel.
Nikki Carr from Last Comic Standing identified herself as a Lesbian which then gave Gilbert Gottfried the inspiration for his performance, where he came out and identified himself as a big, Black Lesbian, … with a yeast infection. Ted Alexandro kept it going and destroyed the room by saying he was a little thrown off because Gilbert had covered most of what he had planned to say. Ted was a music teacher before going into comedy, and he does a hysterical bit about teaching kids how to play the recorder which he is doing in the photo below. He came back to visit me in my little alleyway and I asked him if there was any news on his popular webseries Teacher’s Lounge. He said he was in the process of creating a pilot based on the show that he hoped would be picked up by IFC.
Headliner John Oliver came out to roars from the crowd, dressed casually in just a plaid shirt. He’s another one who’s so well loved that the audience greeted him with a huge ovation. And he made it very clear that just because he’s British that doesn’t make him better than us, although that might have been different 300 years ago. When he came offstage to even more applause than when he came out, he was so surprised to see me, cause it’s been a while. I was glad I got to congratulate him personally on the 2nd season of his hit HBO show Last Week Tonight, and we made plans to do something soon.
As I left I ran into my old friend Paul Shaffer who I actually know since the early 70’s, and I asked him if he had any plans for when Letterman retires. He laughed and said, “nothing definite but I’m sure I’ll be able to find someone to let me play the piano!” He’ll be at the big 40th anniversary SNL celebration which will have happened by the time you read this, as he was the pianist for the first five years of the show, and I used to see him up there all the time. I was up there a lot in those days!
It was like old home week for me, (whatever that’s supposed to be!), because I also got to re-connect with Tom Arnold, who I also hadn’t seen in a while. I was supposed to do a stand-up show he was hosting a couple of years ago out in LA when at the last minute he got called in to film some scenes in Sons of Anarchy in which he played porno guy George Caruso. Tom was in town this week to host AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, then was leaving to do some out of town spots and then
return for the big SNL celebration. He has hosted SNL three times. He jokingly said, “Lorne never learns!” Tom looks great and is so thin, and healthy looking after his hundred pound weight loss. He says he did it for his two year old son,named Jax like the Charlie Hunnam character in Sons of Anarchy. After his set, we sat backstage together for a bit catching up and shot a very cool little video which you will see very shortly on my Comedy Matters TV channel!
Also on the show were Mike Somerville another comic I hadn’t seen for a while. Mike wrote a sit-com that Brad Garrett will Executive-Produce, and they’re looking for a home for it. As of this moment it’s being called The Untitled Mike Somerville Project, because as Mike said, any producer who takes it will want to name it as well, and it seems to be based on his past personna as Jake, when he wrote the dating column Jake: A Man’s Opinion for Glamour Magazine, about a guy who’s good at giving dating advice but not so good at taking his own advice in his personal life. Also very funny was Elon Altman and Yamaneika Saunders who brought down the house with her set. They always make an announcement that it’s an uncensored show and not to be offended by anything you may hear, but Yamaneika is one of the few comics who actually took that as a challenge! She totally went for it and it was a real hit with her XXX set! She and I had a bunch of laughs at the after party!
But the one I was excited to meet was someone I hadn’t met yet but felt like I knew anyway. Chris Monty was featured prominently in a documentary film I was in and also co-produced with Executive Producers Gary Licker and Scott Sobel of Scott Entertainment, called The Business of Comedy. It also featured Robert Klein, Susie Essman, Tom Dreesen, Budd Friedman, and Sasheer Zamata. And Chris had seen my face so many times in that film he thought he knew me too! He’s got a show called Shut Up, Sit Down and Eat, which will be at The Snapple Theatre on West 50th Street, and I’ve heard great things about it, so I’m looking forward to attending. You’ll also see him in the upcoming Mall Cop 2 with Kevin James, in which he plays a Segway rental guy named Marty who gets into a tussle with Kevin’s character when he tries to make off with one of Marty’s Segways! It’s set in Vegas, and Chris told me that Kevin had seen him performing at a Roast for Richie Minervini, the owner of East Side Comedy Club on Long Island where Kevin had actually started doing stand-up back in 1989. Chris says, “I guess he thought I did well because about a month later I got a call asking me to be in Mall Cop 2!” And that’s why every single performance you do is important, because you never know who’s in the audience!
Speaking of being in the audience, I ran over to UCB at 11 P.M. one night to catch Kevin Nealon and Jerry Springer who were appearing in Scott Rogowsky’s stage/talk/variety show called Running Late, produced by young talented comedy producer Alex Brizel. Kevin was in town for SNL’s 40th and Jerry Springer was here for something else, and Scott got them on the same show which was amazing. It was at UCB Chelsea, and the place was packed when I got there. I ran out of the Patrice O’Neal Benefit after-party at The Stand to get there in time. Scott brought Kevin out first and he did some stand-up including that bit where he tells a story but conveniently forgets every few words, and hesitates until someone in the audience yells out a suggestion, which Kevin promptly adds into the story, making the story take some wild twists and turns. I love that bit as much as Mr. Subliminal. Then Scott brought out Jerry Springer who good-naturedly took part in a crazy sketch done by UCB members, that was at times out of control, but Jerry went along with it, kind of like a “Yes, and” thing.
Afterwards I went backstage to say “Hi” and we reminisced about the time I was out in LA doing his show at The Laugh Factory, where after you do your set, Kevin interviews you on stage. I was supposed to go on 4th or 5th, but when he was reading the line-up to the audience and got to my name he asked if I was there yet. When I said I was he said, “Well let’s bring Jeffrey right up”, and I had no chance at all to prepare myself. I also didn’t have a chance to get nervous, so it worked out well.
That’s it for this week! Be back on Monday with more. In the meantime I’ll be jumping around New York.
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey and Tom Arnold, Jeffrey and Mike Somerville, Jeffrey and Jerry Springer, Jeffrey and Kevin Nealon, and Jeffrey and Yamaneika Saunders.