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, The Mailroom, Friars Club, West Side Comedy Club, and The Stand.
The most exciting part of my comedy week was getting to attend the secret Netflix shoot with Adam Sandler at The Comic Strip. It was so secret that even owner Richie Tienken didn’t know about it. His wife Jeannie who runs the club during the day with booker Tom-E Latsch made the arrangements after getting a call from the William Morris office. They said that Adam wants to do a night in New York, and there might be a camera involved. Then it turned into two cameras, and then Netflix came into the picture with its whole team. All Richie’s wife told him was to “dress up nicely and wear your hair like you used to back in the day, because something special is happening at the club tonight.”
When I got there you could tell by the line up of big black Escalades out front that something big was going on. Adam had gotten there at 5:30 for a sound check, and the first thing he did was ask for Richie, who not only owns the club but who was Adam’s first manager. But Richie was told to arrive at 7:30. Meanwhile the line of potential audience members went around the block. A lot of the same Netflix crew that had shot Jerry Seinfeld was there as well when I went inside.
Adam was particularly excited to see Jeannie as he hadn’t stepped foot back in the club for 35 years and the last time he saw her she had been a waitress at the club, and was also close friends with Adam’s mother from back in those early days of Adam’s career. Adam was always grateful to Richie who was managing Adam early on with another guy. And when Adam got offered to be with a very high powered management agency that handled most of the SNL stars Richie was amenable to letting Adam go but his partner wasn’t. Richie said he realized that Adam was going to be very big and that he couldn’t stand in his way. (That story is in the book I wrote with Richie, “Laughing Legends”).
Adam was on SNL from 1990-1995 which was when I first met him. through my friendship with Phil Hartman who I wrote for and Jon Lovitz and Kevin Nealon, and I was up at the SNL offices pretty often in those days. I used to see Adam a lot when we hung out at a place called The China Club which was huge in those days. Anyway I hadn’t seen him either in all those years and it was great to re-connect. In the bar area was Joseph Vecsey who opened for Adam this night and has been working with him for about three years already. And he was there with Scott Sandler, Adam’s brother, a lawyer, and a really nice guy who sometimes represents Adam when he needs him and who traveled down to be with him this night. In our conversation, I could tell that Scott has a great sense of humor as well.
Another important member of Adam’s entourage came over to say hi and that was Paul Sado who I also hadn’t seen in a long time. Paul is a comedy writer/producer who works with Adam on material and is also credited as a writer on The Cobbler and writer/co-producer on Sandy Wexler, and as a co-producer on The Do Over. He’s based in LA and has been working with Adam for about four years. Starting in April they’ll be touring all over the country and have 8 dates set so far, He said they’ve been taping and compiling material for the last two years for a big Adam Sandler Comedy Special.
Some people do two tapings of an hour apiece. When Adam hit the stage he told the audience to get ready for a two hour show. One show, one taping, two hours. And it was two hours of non-stop laughs with Adam being accompanied by a keyboardist who he jokingly claimed to have just met, and went from one crazy song to the next mixing that with stand-up material. And of course he sang in all different voices from what sounded like Opera Man to raspy voices and voices with accents. Songs with unusual premises, like a man on a suit riding a bike to work, men with cauliflower “UFC ears”, and “my kids only got one line in the play but we gotta stay anyway.” When he sang a song called “Bar Mitzvah Boy” he asked the audience to join him in the chorus, which was just ‘my Bar Mitzvah Boy.” It was hilarious and a rare opportunity to see Adam work in such a relaxed setting.
Afterwards he was very approachable and very kind to the fans who crowded him for photos. I got a cool one of him and Richie and Richie looked at me and said, “ My boys did pretty good huh?” Referencing the fact that Jerry Seinfeld had recently taped his Netflix special there, and now Adam. Richie looked really happy and said “All my babies come home!”
Adam actually said when he walked in and saw the place it felt like he came home, after all those years. He left in one of those big black escalades and Paul and his entourage rode with him.
It seems that whenever I go out to check on a project I wind up being in it. This week I went out to check on a new web series being done by a Nigerian born comic who goes by the name of Dekunle, which you can only do if that is actually your name. There aren’t many one named comics so now there’s another one. The series is called Dekunle Wants To Die, and it’s kind of a wild, sci-fi-fi kind of thing where Dekunle plays an out of work writer forced to work at a Honeybun Stand to pay the bills, and for some reason I had to dress up like a cowboy with a rifle and force an actor dressed in a karate uniform to get on the floor and expose his man-breasts while mooing like a cow. Should be interesting to see the final product and that same John Hammond is responsible for being the Producer and DP on the project.
Judy Gold shared the stage of the Schimmel Theatre with magician/illusionist Elliot Zimet who brings a very hip element to his magic. Hot background music combined with a hip rock/leather look, and a sexy assistant. Elliott opens the show with amazing illusions making birds appear out of nowhere including a huge, brightly colored Toucan like bird that looked like it was straight out of the Amazon. It flew around the room and then flew backstage like it was trained to do so. He was a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent, and has been featured on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us, Ryan Seacrest’s AXS TV-AXS Live, and CBS’ The Early Show. He did the whole first half of the show and then brought out Judy and did a trick with her as well.
Judy went on to do a great set talking about all kinds of cool things including how she hates P.C. culture and about raising her two sons, Ben and Henry who are two straight, heterosexual men with a Lesbian mother. Afterwards Judy and I talked and she told me she’s planning to produce her own album within the next year, because she’s been blocked from doing a TV special by several of the big networks due to her age. And she said that specials are not so special anymore. Everyone gets to do a special these days. But when she was growing up that’s how she heard stand-up, on the albums of the greats of the day, like Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers. Of Joan she said, “I had her album memorized. And when I saw those people perform I wanted to hear those bits.” And then we discussed that comics feel they can’t repeat material when some audience members have favorite bits they would love to hear again, just like singers get requests for old songs they did.
She said when she gets down she uses Joan Rivers memory to keep her going. She says of Joan, “ She was definitely the funniest. And her work ethic was so incredible. When you’re told you’re too this and too that, you’re too tall, you’re too Jewish, you’re too old, on my difficult days i use her to give me strength. She was never more relevant than when she died at 82, and she was and still is an inspiration to me.” She said a lot of cool things about comedy like, “It’s a thinking person’s art form.” And then she said something so interesting. She said there’s a reason that a comedy club has a brick wall, … so that there’s no distractions and you just sit and listen to what the performer is saying. And then she added, “That all being said if someone said to me I’m giving you an hour special on HBO I’d be like “ I love you! But that’s not happening!” She wants to do it in a club or maybe several clubs with different bits in different places.
There are magicians, there are illusionists and then there is Oz Pearlman, in a class by himself. He mixes comedy with illusion and it’s a show not to be believed called “Truth Be Told.” They say “seeing is believing” but in this case even though you see it, you still can’t believe it, because what he does there are no words for. You can only try and describe it. In the photo below showing a board with the number 59,026,960 he asked a stranger in the audience to pick a large number in the millions then asked him to choose anyone else in the audience to whisper a large number to him that they could multiply that by, and the number came out to be 59,026,960. Earlier in the show he had asked a man to take a 20 dollar bill out of his own pocket and sit on it for the rest of the show. At the end, he asked the man to stand up and read the serial number on the bill and it exactly matched the number on the board on the pad, 59026960. That can’t even happen.
He involved me in one of his last illusions. He set up four chairs on stage for a musical chairs illusion. The chairs were all covered in black cloth. Four girls and I walked around the chairs. The first time the music stopped I got a chair. The second time I didn’t. I was asked to stand at the end of all the chairs. One of the girls was about 6 years old. Each girl was asked to think of a color red, blue, green or yellow, and then asked to choose a number from 1-5. Each of the girls chose a number and the only one left that wasn’t chosen was #1. That was the envelope given to me. I was asked to open my envelope first and inside, believe it or not, was a photo of me. In order for that to have happened he had to have known I would miss getting a seat, and that none of the girls would choose #1. Then each girl opened her envelope and the black cloth was removed from each seat. Each girl’s envelope held the color they chose which matched the color of the seat they were sitting in. Truly uncanny. You must go and see this. Look it up on the website. It’s a family friendly show and I want to go back with my kids. It’s at the I-Pic Theatre at the South Street Seaport. Don’t miss it! He will know!
I run into my comedy peeps everywhere I go. I was invited out to Kaufman-Astoria Studios for a special event sponsored by Joule Entertainment which is a groundbreaking film and TV production company, that develops and produces original feature films and episodic TV shows as well as commericals and doc films. And it’s groundbreaking in the fact that it’s a solely Latino run company. Co-Founder and Chairman Ed Martin showed me around and was proud to tell me that they are in the former offices of Carsey-Werner Productions where over $400 million dollars of comedy content was created. So of course who do I run into but my dear friend Ruperto Vanderpool, Dominican comedy wild man who’s doing a feature film with Joule called Poundcake. I asked Oscar Pena the head of development to explain it to me and he said that all he could tell me was that “it’s about a failed music producer who finally finds success in a very unexpected way.” Luis Guzman is on the Board as an Executive Producer, as is V.P. of Operations, and HUGE comedy fan Marc Calixte. Looking forward to seeing what these guys create in the comedy world! They have an incredible facility and went all out to make the party really special.
I went to a birthday party at the new VNYL club downtown and run into SiriusXM’s Andy Fiori comic and radio producer who’s producing Nick DiPaolo’s show, and who told me that Nick is taking him on tour as his opening act. The tour is called the Nick Is Right Tour, playing on his anger and his politics, so they’ll be on the radio from Monday to Thursday and on the road on the weekends. Andy says it will be the first time that Nick is doing theatres, and smaller venues throughout the North East leg of the tour.
I ran up to Nyack in that horrible storm we had this week. A bomb cyclone they called it. I risked my life to do a set at Levity Live. It makes no sense but that’s what we do. And they had a great crowd. Dave Saitzyk produced and hosted and he does a great Al Pacino impression along with Christopher Walken and several others. Tracey Carnaazzo who does the Neurotica podcast with Justin Silver told me they just joined up with Stand Up New York Labs, and her new podcast called Teen Mom Trash Talk which recaps MTV’s Teen Mom just hit #29 on iTunes in the film and TV category.
Stopped by NYCC and ran into Brendan Sagalow hanging out with the Paid or Pain crew who told me he’s got a Break Out Artist night in May at Carolines with Rosebud Baker hosting and Mike Feeney and Mike Cannon from the Irish Goodbye Podcast featuring for him. He said “It’ll be 12 minutes of material and 36 minutes of me working out new material in front of my Mom. Mostly fat jokes and nothing personal!”
And Mike Cannon and his sister who is an actress named Jessica Cannon are pitching a new web series called “Siblings” which he describes as his sister and he being so narcissistic that their significant others fall in love with each other, and actually marry each other forcing he and his sister to move back in with each other and they regress to childhood antics. They shot the first episode with Chris Distefano and Yamaneika Saunders who plays Mike’s wife. He says they already have “a few bites, … from networks!”
Lastly Eric Neumann will be recording his first album at The Comic Strip later this month with two tapings featuring Francis Ellis, Emma Willmann whom I’m sure he likes not just cause she’s funny but because she too has two “n’s” in her last name, his comedy wife Marc Gerber and Erica Spera. It’s timed for his 10th anniversary in comedy, and he says it feels like the right time. Nervous Lover is the name!
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 Oz, Ruperto, and Judy.