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 New York Comedy Club, Gotham, the Stand, UCBEast and UCB.
This was a very different week for me. I went to a lot of places I don’t often get to. And somehow I lost the pad I put my notes in to write this column and I’m freaking out because I retraced all my steps and it’s nowhere to be found! So on a couple of days I’m writing from memory which is not good, and I’m sure I’m leaving out some cool stories I had written down, but I don’t even remember from who!
This week, Gotham Comedy Club held the season premiere of Gotham Comedy Live hosted by Paul Rodriguez, They switched around a lot of things this season. For all the previous seasons, the show was live on Tuesdays at 10 P.M. Now they’re being taped. Dave Goldberg, one of the producers from Killer Bunny Entertainment told me that AXS TV, which is Mark Cuban and Ryan Seacrest, wanted to start taping the shows so they can have more time to promote them. Ayanna Dookie was one of the comics, and during her set she addressed the fact that she’s battling Lupus and to her credit she’s doing great and keeps herself in great shape. Shane Torres, who’s half Mexican, was also on the show and we were talking afterwards. I told him how excited I was when I did the show with Jon Lovitz, this past June, which by the way the producers told me was the top rated show of last season. Shane told me that he was excited to do the show with Paul because of their shared Mexican heritage and that not only was his dad a huge fan of Paul’s, but that Paul’s album was the first comedy album he was exposed to when he was about 5. Next week on Gotham Comedy Live, the host will be William Shatner. Other hosts coming up are Sherri Shepherd and Pete Davidson.
The Friars Club was happening this week with a show produced by Dean Meierfeld. He called to invite me to stop by and I brought comedian Malorie Bryant with me, who had never been to The Friars Club before. It’s always exciting to see someone’s reaction when they see it for the first time because it’s so beautiful. Eddie Brill was the host, along with Karen Bergreen, Chloe Hilliard and my buddy Kevin Meaney who is the kind of talented guy who takes pride in his appearance, and dressed for the occasion. He’s also such a multi-talented performer that not only did he do stand-up, but also sang and did a great duet with Frank Sinatra courtesy of a special tape he had brought with him where he sang one line and Frank sang the next. He got huge applause and the show was a hit. Kevin did like a showy, over-the-top Vegas type of performance which you don’t see in the clubs for sure. And no one had a beard! (LOL) And they were all still funny!
Mondays have a reputation for being kind of quiet, unless you know what to look for. I decided to go back to see Pat Dixon’s New York City Crime Report on the Cumia Network, and boy was I glad I did. It’s such a crazy, fun show. I got there a little bit late and one of the production people showed me to a seat in the audience area which is packed with comics from Dixon’s own “whack-pack” kind of like on Howard Stern. And on the main panel was Anthony Cumia himself, participating in the wild crime stories along with Pat’s wife and co-host Mandy Stadtmiller, and comic Marvin Bell. I sat next to a guy who brought in live waterbugs and actually held them in his hands trying to make them hiss for the camera. I think he even put one in his mouth, but I turned away and couldn’t tell whether he really did it or not. Luckily, I had my Purell with me, which always hangs on my waist. Anyway this Pat Dixon show is a non-stop hour of hilarity with people running in and out in costumes doing interviews on green screen, some of them as if they were witnesses to the crime stories Pat was reviewing. People in the gallery, some of whom are armed with mics, yell out remarks throughout the whole thing. It’s a very wild scene and I must remember to start my week there in the future. There are ALWAYS tons of weird crime stories and Pat covers them all. And Clayton Fletcher was there on one of the mics. Clayton’s a great comic, but what a lot of people don’t know is he’s also a professional poker player, and recently came in like #96 out of 6,000 players at the World Series of Poker. He won 60K which he said felt great, but disappointing in light of the potential $8 million for the top winner.
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I popped over to UCB to catch a little bit of the stand-up show Whiplash, usually hosted by Aparna Nancherla, but not this night, and stayed long enough to notice how different the stand-up there is from the clubs. I can’t really put my finger on what was so different but it is. Maybe it’s the sketch background of the UCB performers. One guy I saw, came out so quiet and shy, I’m hoping he was doing a character, and not himself. I’ll have to go back again when I have more time to analyze it, but it’s very interesting to anyone who loves and understands comedy. The audience was packed and they were on board with every utterance from the comics’ mouths
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I caught the end of Frantic! at The Stand. Aaron Berg had been at Gotham as the warm-up for the audience and afterwards walked across town on 23rd Street to get back to The Stand for his spot. He usually hosts Frantic!, but this night it was Petey DeAbreu filling in for him, and Petey did a great job. He did a bit about celebrating Shabbos in the hood, and threw in a bunch of Yiddish/Hebrew. I almost fell out of my seat! Afterwards we hung out and he told me about his shows at The Creek and The Cave, every second Friday called Petey’s World and every Sunday at The Standing Room, he hosts a show called White Chocolate Sundaes with Christi Chiello who I just saw do Roast Battle in Montreal, and yes, that’s her real voice!
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I did another late night run at The Stand during the week and as I pulled up all the comics were hanging out outside. It’s so fun when that happens. It was the end of a release party for Noah Gardenswartz’s debut album Blunt on Comedy Central Records, which was timed with his episode of Comedy Central’s Half Hour. Noah gave me a card that would allow me to download his album online. Very cool! First person I saw was Yamaneika Saunders, all dressed up, looking fly, and hanging out with Seaton Smith and Rosebud Baker. Yami apologized for being sick the last time I saw her, which was not necessary, but she had been too sick to talk. Not this time. She told me she recently did Black and White with Sherrod Small which will air in a couple of weeks, and was also waiting for her most recent episode of Comedy Knockout to air, where I recently saw Noah Gardenswartz win his episode. Yami’s been on about four times already and won some and lost some, and was on with people like Big Jay, Luis J. Gomez, Sherrod Small and Jim Norton.
Seaton Smith told me he’s got a deal with Comedy Central and now they’re in the process of looking for all the right players to make it happen the right way, and bring it all together. I asked Rosebud where she got the name Unicorn Tits for the show she does with Kate Wolff at New York Comedy Club and she said it was “gifted to them by The Universe.” It’s a show that uses Tarot and astrology to peer into the souls of the comics who perform on the show. They just did their 5th show and it’s coming along great. I think I went into a trance cause I forgot to ask her which one of them does Tarot and which does does the astrology. So far, they’ve had Leah Bonnema, Emma Willmann, and other people with double letters in their name like Tim Dillon.
Alex Carabano is a comic who also owns restaurants, namely the V-Spot restaurants that serve vegan food and now he’s doing comedy at the one on St. Mark’s Place. I didn’t know what to expect when I showed up there and didn’t even know what to order off the menu cause I’m not familiar with that type of food. When girls tell me they’re vegan, I don’t even know where to take them, … but I do now! It’s a beautiful space and really big with a showroom in the back that still has tables so you can eat while you laugh. Good place for a Heimlich Maneuver specialist to open shop. It was a cool line-up with Alex hosting along with David Foster, Reg Thomas, John Moses and a girl I hadn’t seen before with a very interesting stage persona Carolyn Busa, who came out looking like a very prudish schoolteacher in a plain flowered dress and heels and did an act that was not prudish at all. I was glad to be a part of it, and it should be weekly on Thursdays. So far they’ve had people like Myq Kaplan, Imagine, Charles McBee, and Wil Sylvince who’s hosting the new open mic called Comedy Cellar Presents Fresh Jokes Mondays at the Fat Black Pussycat right next to The Village Underground.
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I wanted to catch Bill Bellamy headlining at Gotham. He was pleasantly surprised to see me and thanked me sincerely for coming out, and told me he was excited about his film coming out in December called The Bounce Back in which he co-stars with Shemar Moore who raised a lot of the money on Indiegogo to help fund this film in which he also stars and executive produced. Shemar plays an author of a relationship book who hasn’t gotten over his own break-up yet, and Bill plays his best friend and manager. They got together again for this project after appearing on Arsenio Hall’s show together and while catching up on old times, Shemar offered Bill the part. He read the script and knew it was right for him. After the show, he was swarmed by fans wanting photos and he stood there for at least half an hour accommodating everyone who wanted one. Bill also has great style and came up on stage looking like a rock star, but a rock star who is very kind to his fans.
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I had what could be considered the honor of being the very last comic to hit the stage at Jordan Rock and Reg Thomas’s show Productively Stoned at Karma Lounge before they take it to LA and other parts. I got to see Noah Gardenswartz, Von Decarlo, and Kyle Grooms among others while I waited to go on, while people smoked who knows what through hookahs. It’s always great to see Reg and Jordan who’s been spending a lot of time in LA lately, and they thanked me for being a supporter of the show from the beginning. I wish them lots of luck and continued success.
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And then I finished my week with a late night stop at The Stand. As I approached, I saw what looked like Aaron Berg, bent over from the waist with his butt sticking out. I couldn’t resist as I came up behind him. He didn’t even flinch, or turn around to see who it was! He got a renter for his beautiful studio apartment in Astoria in one day, which he has to give up cause he’s getting married in September and his fiancee Christine understandably wanted a bigger place. He rented it to another comic which is very cool. Aaron happened to be bent over because he was showing a rough cut of his documentary on his phone to another comic. It’s about the night he did 25 shows in one night. He says I made the final cut. We’ll see!
Bonnie McFarlane was there and told me that she and Rich Vos will be co-hosting a show at the New York Comedy Festival called Would You Bang ‘Em? where four female judges will rate male comics on their performance based on whether they’d bang them or not. I was sitting downstairs in the showroom watching Sherrod Small do his thing. After the show, I went outside to see Sherrod and his girl Marissa sitting at that one lone table in front and Sherrod told me they’re waiting to hear on a second season of Black and White. Annie Lederman was hanging with Emily Tarver, who is in the midst of shooting the fifth season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, which shoots from June through January at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, and was there to see Pete Lee close the show. Annie told me she’s toying with the idea of moving back to New York cause the stand-up comedy scene here is amazing. I had to agree with her!
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I went someplace I hadn’t been in too long, UCBEast, to catch Cipha Sounds Friday night hip hop/comedy/improv show, and got to catch up with Ciph and Casey Jost after the show. Ciph is so used to doing big things lately that when I asked him what he had coming up, he had to think for a minute and then said, “ Oh yeah, I’m opening for Chappelle in London next week.” That’s a long way from The Bronx mofo! It’s his first time opening for Dave and he’ll also be DJing which is still his first love. And Casey Jost, who is Colin’s brother does this show every Friday night and told me he’s putting a lot of time into the short films he makes for his YouTube Channel. He also said his brother had a lot of nice things to say about me, and that was good to hear. Then I showed him my new book “ Man Robs Bank With His Chin” which has a blurb from Colin right on the cover. It says, “Ever since I met Jeffrey Gurian good things started happening to me. Coincidence? Yes!” HILARIOUS!!!
And with that, … 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 Jeffrey Gurian with Cipha Sounds, Reg Thomas and Jordan Rock, and Casey Jost.