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 hit up Gotham, West Side Comedy Club, The Barclay and New York Comedy Club.
I don’t usually name the nights I go places but last Monday night was crazy for me cause it was two parties and a show. It was the Gotham Comedy Club holiday party which everyone waits for all year, the Stand Up New York party which for whatever reason is the same night and was last year too, and then The Impractical Jokers in their guise as The Tenderloins were at Carolines working on material for their next tour.
It was very tricky to work it all out. I started at Gotham to make sure there was still plenty of food but I needn’t have worried cause owners Chris Mazilli and Steve Mazzilli who were both there make sure that there’s always more than you need. I started running into people right away. It was Chris Roach who plays Mott on Kevin Can Wait, and when I asked him what he was up to he said he wanted to get back to playing hockey again. Chris Roach is 6’7”. You can’t bang into him without getting hurt, except maybe if you’re Owen Benjamin who is also 6’7”. Or Bronston Jones who was also at the party and is about 6’7”. I guess that seems to be a popular height for many comedians these days. Some of the other comics were Jordan Ferber, Chris DiStefano who came in with Mike Cannon wearing a bright orange wool hat, Mark DeMayo, Mike Feeney, Ryan Hamilton and Brian Fischler with his trusty seeing eye dog Nash. Brian does his annual star-studded Laugh for Sight fundraiser at Gotham every year.
In between sliders I got to talk to Pat Brown who just got back from doing The Improv in San Antonio and was heading off to a cruise very soon, Robyn Schall was hanging out with Regina DeCicco, who was really excited about her upcoming gig featuring for Jessica Kirson down in Florida in a big theatre. Then it was Carole Montgomery, Larry Beyah, and Kenny Garcia my AXS TV brother, cause we did the Gotham Comedy Live show together with Jon Lovitz! Yamaneika Saunders had the best blue/purple wig I had seen in a long time and totally owned the power of it, Jackie Martling came by and we chatted about our respective books, Vanessa Hollingshead was there, and Alex Pavone, and then Rich Vos came in with Bonnie McFarlane who told me that their ten year old daughter Reyna, who’s basically too hip for any room, had a New Year’s resolution. She said she was going to try and be nicer to people at The Stand! (She can be brutal! LOL)
And it was Jodi Lieberman, Joe DeVito, Brendan Sagalow, Aaron Berg and his wife Christine Meehan-Berg without my girl Piper, Chloe Hilliard, Madison Malloy and Walker Hays. There were lots more but those are the only names I had time to jot down.
After a couple of hours schmoozing and letting the girl I was with talk me into doing those crazy photo booth photos where I held up a sign that said “OMG”, while she held one that said “MUAH”, (cause I don’t do funny hats), we ran uptown to catch Sal Vulcano and The Tenderloins, (sounds like a doo wop group from the 50’s) doing their thing at Carolines. Patrick, Chris and Carolyn Gitomer made sure we were comfortable and had what we needed, and the guys told crazy stories from their past, and judged by the crowd’s reaction whether they should include them in their next tour. It’s a live show that helps them create the material for their tour. Like they admitted to paying off a massage therapist to lick Murr’s ear while he was getting a massage, a fact he never knew till that very moment. He thought it was because she liked him! And just to prove some people shouldn’t drink, a woman right in front kept interrupting with things she thought were important enough to say. Sal reminded her they were doing a show but she insisted that because it was her birthday and that she “paid their salaries” she had the right to continue yelling out. Security disagreed with her, but before they could toss her out Sal intervened on her behalf and they let her stay.
From there we ran, or literally drove real fast up to Stand Up New York to catch that party before it ended and there were still plenty of snacks and bartender Greg Judge and events manager Rob Borromeo made us feel very welcome. It was the usual fun scene with two female comics really getting into each other right out in the open, and we ran into Christina Galston, PR guru Lauren Magura from Cinematcher, and Keren Margolis with tons of comics hanging by the bar. Once again I let Christina Galston convince me to take more photo booth photos because I’m weak and tend to do what girls tell me to do. And then I went back to Gotham to catch the very end of the party and ran into Kareem Green who was psyched about doing All Def Comedy with Tony Rock as the host. He taped it in LA and it aired in December.
I was back at Caroline’s again the very next night for Bob Dibuono’s Trump Show where he comes out as Trump, and mixes that up with stand-up comedy. I wound up doing a guest spot and catching up with old buddies like Brad Trackman and John Fugelsang who is in at least two photos every single day in the NY Post, as the host of Page 6 TV. Brad is co-writing Anthony Cumia’s life story in a memoir that’s due out on Father’s Day in June. He couldn’t tell me the title yet but I know it’s a book I’m gonna wanna read. Brad’s West Coast agent put them together and it was a match. He said they want to try and time it to come out at the same time that Artie Lange’s book is due out.
And John Fugelsang had a lot to say. So much in fact that I gave up trying to write it on my trusty pad and took out my digital recorder to get it all. He first checked where I would be putting this out because in his words, he said he says “a lot of deeply offensive, vulgar, negative things in the average conversation” and he wanted to make sure he was safe. To which I laughed and told him he was about as offensive as Pete Lee on Fallon. (Big ups to Pete by the way!) I’ve never heard John say anything offensive, except maybe to Church-going people since he comes from that parental background. Both parents were in the clergy! Regarding Page Six TV, he said they did a test run last summer for three weeks and the ratings were good, so they’re now running in 90% of TV markets, they set an 11 year rating record for a syndicated show with their premiere, and the ratings have gone up really steadily ever since. Their guests so far have included Craig Robinson, Joy Behar, Dr. Oz, Viveca Fox, and Terry Crews and what’s really strange about it he said that it’s incredibly mainstream. Then he said something shocking. He rides on a bike through Times Square at 6:30 every morning at sunrise to do the show. He just wrapped his “Sexy Liberal” tour that he’s been doing for the last six years, and had a sold out show in San Francisco that he just closed down, but will be doing that again later in the year as well as possibly launching another maybe two tours, both political, later in the year.
When I asked him about how people get chosen as guests on the show he said that so far it’s only been major celebs but he’s been lobbying for having guest comedians come on the show in one particular segment. They’ve already had Sherrod Small join them, and Mario Cantone did the original three-week test run but there’s plenty of comics waiting in the wings, is what he told me!
When Bob came out as Trump he had a guy that looked like a Secret Service guy case the room first and escort him to the stage. While he was doing his thing, Dave Juskow came out as a character from the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and when it didn’t get the response he expected he said to the audience, “Well what do you expect when you do a bit from a 40 year old movie, that’s what you get!” And THAT got a big laugh. Ethan Herschenfeld the comic who gets a lot of acting gigs was there and he”s on Happy on the Syfy channel, Gotham on Fox and Deception on ABC playing a falafel guy. He’s a Jewish guy who always gets to play Arab terrorists and Middle Eastern bad guys cause he has that look.
I love hosting at West Side Comedy Club cause not only is it a cool place to hang and perform, but the food is awesome. I got there early and sat with Ophira Eisenberg who has a podcast with Carrie Karavas called Chit Chat Comedy and they recently moved it to The Comic Strip. They interview comics and some of their guests have been Judy Gold, Dave Attell, and Julia Scotti from America’s Got Talent. JC Best came by to support and he’s producing a new monthly show at West Side called “Coffee’s For Closers” geared to what he called “successful bosses” and he expects a very upscale crowd.
Roast Battle at New York Comedy Club was crazy as usual this week and when I got there owner Emilio Savone presented me with an official New York Comedy Club jacket which was very cool! The opening battle was between Jessica Fleischer vs. Sean Finnerty who had a great Irish brogue. They went at each other hard with him calling her Natalie Part-Man which actually made me laugh out loud. Very clever! As usual the judges were the funniest with their comments, and Neko White was his hilarious self as the permanent host of the show. It was regular judge Mike Cannon, who is usually in very “good spirits” before the show, Mike Feeney his podcast co-host, and Shuli Egar. Mike told Jessica she looks like she does art with her own period blood. That was okay but when Sean made a joke about Jessica’s boobs some girl in the back near me yelled out really loud, “I hate sexist men!” That’s the “offended” mentality these days. Next up was Julie Kottakis vs. Ian Fidance. She referred to him as Queer Al Yankovic and he corrected her to call him Queer Al Yankadick! Mike Cannon told Ian he looked like an off duty clown. On the last round Ian thought it was over at three jokes but when they told him he had to do more he made up a line on the spot and told Julie she looks like she comes yarn, which brought down the house and queries of whether he really just made that up. He swore he did.
I hung out in the street with Ian for a while having one of our usual in-depth convos about all kinds of stuff and I asked him if the very personal, painful things Julie joked about bothered him. And he said that doing these roast battles has actually helped him to deal with his sensitivity about certain things in his past and he feels that it’s helped him get past it by joking about them. He said there was a time he wouldn’t have been able to handle it, but now it’s okay.
The last battle was between Ali Kolbert and James Pontillo from Comedy Fight Club. Also brutal which is de rigeur for these things. The more horrible and cruel the subject matter the more the audience seems to like it, as long as you don’t talk about the size of someone’s boobs. Ali is a small girl, so when James made a joke about what outwardly appeared to be her small boobs she took off her sweatshirt to present what she called her “double D’s” to the surprise of everyone in the room.
I made the trek out to the Barclay Center in a pouring rainstorm, which I would only do for something special but this was something special My man D.L. Hughley was performing for the first time at Barclay with The Comedy Get Down crew.. He had told me about it the last time he was in headlining at Carolines but he didn’t tell me it would be pouring rain. I wore old shoes but the girl I was with wore expensive suede shoes and I hope they recover so I don’t have to buy her new ones! The capacity is 19,000 and it looked pretty full. It must be an amazing feeling to perform for that size crowd. But the Get Down guys are all seasoned performers with two of them being the original Kings of Comedy, D.L. and Cedric The Entertainer. When we got our tickets they came with a yellow wrist band that was to allow us to go backstage afterwards.
George Lopez was the MC and of course, the 8 P.M. show didn’t start till almost 9 which George made a joke about by explaining why hurricanes never have black names. Because they’d show up later than when people expected them. George opened up the show by screaming obscenities about the President. That’s literally how he opened the show. SCREAMING F-You to The President and then had the audience chant along with him. The immigration thing was a big topic for him, and he made reference to “the 8 white people who came out to the show.” Being one of them felt a little strange! One cool thing he did was to tell the audience to disregard security’s rules about cell phones, and asked everyone to take out their phones and shine their flashlights in the darkness. It was an awesome sight as you can see in the photo.
Eddie Griffin came out in an amazing red outfit that no white man could ever get away with wearing but it looked great on Eddie. Eddie is hilarious and stopped saying the “N” word only long enough to say it again. It was every other word and he made it sound like such a term of endearment. The audience went crazy for him and for each of these guys. D.L. came out in his usual smooth manner wearing a tux top, and stylishly short pants , and in the band of his ever-present hat, but always a different one, he sported a pack of matches , like cub reporter Jimmy Olsen might have worn, and a single wooden match sticking up in a different part of the hat band. And he did his thing and people were fallling out of their seats. He sips his drink the way Dean Martin used to do if you’ll excuse the possibly dated reference, but he does it in such a cool way. He totally crushed the room and the laughs came in waves. And then Cedric the Entertainer came out and showed why he earned the name “The Entertainer” cause he came out dancing to the music that played him on, and he sang and did his jokes and showed how versatile a performer he is.
After the show we were told if we had yellow wristbands to go to Section 7 where we were led backstage, but they let in a whole group and suddenly stopped and said we had to text whoever put us on the list to escort us in.I knew I couldn’t text D.L. right after a show but luckily one of D.L.’s trusted staff came out and vouched for us and took us back. I’m always so blown away by D.L.’s talent and we have a genuine affection for each other. I can sit and talk to him for hours and we have done that till the moment he’s called to the stage. That’s how relaxed he always is. We embraced and I got to tell him how good he was. Each of the performers had their own dressing area with their own guests and D.L.’s was packed.
The food was great and I ran into a bunch of friends like comedy manager Cheryl Abbott, the unique and beautiful Krystal Lavenne (look her up, you’ll be glad you did!), D.L.’s radio co-host the amazing Jasmine Sanders who gave me the good news that I cured her lifetime of headaches by diagnosing her problem, and comic/actress Mo Brown who goes by the name Mo Brown Suga. Mo’s got a new internet pilot with 8 episodes in the can called “ Mo Brown’s Bodega.” The story line is that she wants to be in showbiz but her parents buy her a bodega as a graduation gift and she’s forced to run it. The series follows all the crazy stuff that happens to her in the bodega. Two other comics are in it, Charlie Wilson and Barry Ribs.
We all hung out till we couldn’t hang out no more, and then we made our way back to Manhattan!
And with that, I’m OUT!!! And Happy MLK Day to all!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, Comedy Matters TV. Pictured, Jeffrey Gurian with D.L. Hughley, Yamaneika Saunders, John Fugelsang and again D.L. Hughley.