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 visited Gotham, The Cellar, The Creek and the Cave and the 92nd Street Y.
I ran into Jeffrey Ross at The Comedy Cellar this week. I was sitting and watching Rich Vos on stage when someone with a shaved head walked by to use the men’s room. At The Cellar that means you have to walk past the stage while the comic is on and risk being talked about. Vos didn’t recognize Jeffrey cause it happened so fast and he said, “ Who the fuck was that, … Uncle Fester?” When Jeffrey came out of the rest room he joined Vos on stage for a hysterical mini-Roast battle where they made fun of each other for the rest of Vos’ set. It was an unusual treat for the audience. Cipha Sounds was hosting and I think he gave them a couple of extra minutes because it was so fun.
Afterwards out in the street, Jeffrey and I talked about his new special Jeffrey Ross Roasts Criminals – Live at Brazos County Jail” He was still on a high as it aired the night before and was immediately voted #1 on iTunes even over Orange is the New Black. He jokingly chastized me for not writing about it but I told him I was waiting to see it first which I did that very night when i got home. I actually stayed up till 4 A.M, watching it and it was incredible. He made fun of real hard-core prisoners, and lived to tell about it. He was like, “ Where are my murderes at?” And guys actually raised their hands. He even told one heavily tattooed neo-Nazi that he should have gotten six million tattoos, one for each Jew killed in the Holocaust, and everyone laughed. I asked him if he ever felt like he might have been in danger and he said, the entire time he was there he felt like that. But the inmates had to behave for a month in order to attend the show. He did three shows and one of them was stricly for the women. He told one of the Black inmates that obviously “orange is the new VERY black!” and she laughed harder than anyone else. The power of comedy. If you haven’t seen it yet you have to. It’s amazing.
I stopped off at Gotham’s Comedy Juice show to catch up with my buddy Colin Jost to see how he’s spending his Saturday Night Live summer vacation and he said he’ll be touring and playing places like Comedy Works in Denver, and Zanies in Chicago and told me he’s really looking forward to doing the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. And it was a nice surprise to see him waiting to go on and sitting with my friend, the gorgeous Brooke Baldwin from CNN who won for New York’s Funniest Reporter last year, and had come to see the show. I had the honor of mentoring her to prepare her for the contest.
Steve Byrne from Sullivan and Sons was also on Comedy Juice and told me he’s pitching a new show, but then he added that he’s ALWAYS pitching a new show! Comic Maria Garcia from WABC radio was there too and told me she’s running a new open mic called The Comedy Fix at LOL, which is a club on 43rd and 8th. She told me that Gary Gulman came in to do a set and brought his girlfriend Sade Pilot who performed comedy in front of Gary for the first time on that show. She said Gary said he had so much fun that he’d definitely come back. The show is Saturdays from 5-7.
And I got to catch up with Jermaine Fowler, who did a killer set at The Cellar and in the middle of it divulged to the audience that his Mom was beating breast cancer. How awesome! We hugged it out after the show. He’s in the process of editing a one hour special called Give ‘Em Hell Kid which he shot at the D.C. Improv, and hopes to get on either HBO or Netflix. He’ll start touring in September and told me he’s stayed good friends with Whoopi Goldberg after shooting their pilot Delores and Jermaine for ABC. He did a cool bit about going to her house and using her fancy, heated toilet/bidet! Funny, funny dude!
Liza Treyger also went up at The Cellar and told me after her set that she’ll be touring with Sasheer Zamata and jokingly told me she plans to try and get her very drunk, to let her loosen up a bit! And somehow Liza managed to make Holocaust humor funny in telling how her grandfather met her grandmother in a concentration camp, and wondered what kind of “game” he had to pick up a chick under those circumstances! I guess it’s that kind of strong sense of humor that have helped our people to survive! Mark Normand was there running his set for Conan which he’ll be doing this week. It was a night for deep revelations, because when Kurt Metzger took the stage, in the middle of his set he divulged that he had three suicides in his family, and it didn’t sound like he was kidding!
Every so often I get the opportunity to meet someone new who I had been hearing a lot about. Brandon T. Jackson from Nick Cannon’s Wild ’N Out as well as Big Momma’s House in which he co-starred with Martin Lawrence, was headlining Gotham from Thursday through Sunday and I was anxious to see what he did and to meet him. Contrary to popular opinion there are still a few comics I don’t know! (Shhhh, keep that to yourselves!) Brandon’s got it goin’ on, and is really very cool and by the way, you can read our full interview with Brandon from late last week right here on the site. He’s co-starring with Craig Robinson in a new NBC sit-com called Mr. Robinson which should premiere on August 5th. Brandon and I hung out after the show, and had a meaningful chat. He’s hood and suburbs at the same time. We laughed about him being the only Black kid at all the Bar Mitzvahs when he was growing up in the burbs with lots of Jewish friends. For sure he was the best dancer! I asked him if he was musical and he said he can sing and play the guitar a bit. He also just sold a show to Esquire and Oxygen Networks (more on that here) and he’s writing a movie with a girl named Dana Verde who was there in the dressing room with us also. It’s called Celibate and it’s about a guy who’s a pick-up artist who’s forced to become celibate. They said it’s like a cross between Hitch and 40 Days and 40 Nights. He told me he was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of the audience that came out for him at Gotham, and he loved being in New York. He’s a very cool dude and we talked about some deep stuff. Maybe because both of is parents are pastors he has a very Spiritual side to him which I like. I left feeling like I made a new friend. And so cool that his manager is Mark Adkins, Sinbad’s brother. They actually look a lot alike!
And my man Rip Micheals, also from Wild ’N Out was opening for Brandon. They happen to be good friends and Rip will also be in Mr. Robinson playing Brandon’s character’s friend Michael, another deadbeat who just hangs out trying to meet girls. Rip’s written for many people including Brandon, Cedric The Entertainer, for his new show Cedric’s Barber Battle on the CW, and also for Anthony Anderson. Rip always laughs about meeting me, because he said the first book on comedy he ever read was my book Make ‘Em Laugh. That was one comic who actually wanted to meet ME, instead of the other way around! He too is doing a lot of cool things, and he played the trailer for me on his phone for his new show Off The Rip which will air on FX starting in September. Rip is from Chicago and is such a funny dude. He’s also one of those guys who changed his life by losing like a hundred pounds. You would never know he had been so heavy. Off the Rip will be a half hour show of live stand-up, sketches and musical guests, with some very funny stand-ups, a bunch of whom I knew in the trailer. They already shot 4 episodes, and I wish him lots of luck with the show.
At The Creek and The Cave I saw Aaron Berg who’s one of the strongest hosts around, admit to having been a male stripper and a male prostitute. He’s doing a show he calls The Blue Show for comics who usually work clean but are willing to work “blue” for one night. He challenged me to do the show and I accepted. I was on the bill with Joe Zimmerman, Allison Klemp, Alia Janine the ex-porn star who became a comic, and Dave Smith from Legion of Skanks and Dave was particularly hilarious. Super delivery. The show went great and we got to hang out with owner Rebecca Trent, who is a really hands-on owner, and is so gracious that I’m sure I’ll be hanging out there a lot.
I went up to the 92nd Street Y to see a rare appearance by Judd Apatow in conversation with Ira Glass, the host and producer of the radio and TV show This American Life. I sat right next to Noam Dworman, the owner of The Comedy Cellar where Judd loves to perform, Noam’s wife, and the Queen of the Comedy Cellar Estee Adoram, who all went back to say hi to Judd before he came out on stage. Judd Apatow is the King of Hollywood, and everyone is awaiting the opening of his new Amy Schumer film Trainwreck which comes out July 17th. But this evening was more about his new book, Sick In The Head. Judd came out very chill, drinking a beer, and talking about how he had just come from doing Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon and ran into Jeb Bush in the hallway. He said that they had about a 20 minute conversation and he found Jeb to be an interesting guy who gets up at 5 A.M. to work out, and eats his Paleo diet.
Judd said he’s performed stand up from the time he was 17 until he was 24, but he wasn’t angry enough or didn’t have any positions in life to use for his comedy. At this point in his life he said he has plenty of anger, he’s annoyed and has stories and positions. And sometimes he feels his entire directorial career was just to get better spots at The Cellar. Noam and Estee really appreciated that, and when Judd is in town that’s exactly where he hangs out. He told a funny story about how he and Adam Sandler went out to audition for a Jim Henson show and he got a call from someone on the show who told him he was turned down because the casting director said he “lacked warmth.” And he said that’s basically the meanest thing you can say to someone and he’s never gotten over it. He keeps it in mind all the time and tries his best to project warmth wherever he goes. Loudon Wainwright III joined him on stage and played a medley of his songs, and Judd surprised everyone, or at least me, by playing the guitar a little bit to a Bob Seeger song.
After it was over Judd signed books. He was very gracious and everyone who attended got a book. He signed 941 books for everyone who lined up. I wound up near the end right behind Seth Olenick the great photographer who had his latest book with him Funny Business which is a gorgeous huge coffee table book of hilarious photos of every comedian you can think of. Judd was in it and he brought a copy to give to him. I kept looking for my photo but it wasn’t in there! When we finally got to see Judd, he was in surprisngly good shape after having signed so many books. He asked about my book Make ‘Em Laugh that he had given me a blurb for, and why I had never sent him a copy, which I reminded him that I did, and it gave me the opportunity to ask him for another blurb for my new book Man Robs Bank With His Chin – And Other Unusual Stories Missed By Mainstream Media which is an e-book coming out very soon. He promised to after his tour this week for Trainwreck with Amy, Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, and Mike Birbiglia. Then he told me if it wasn’t too late after he finished up at the Y he was going to hit The Cellar to do a set, and I left and disappeared into the night! It was a really great evening!
I ran into Harrison Greenbaum who was also on a high after performing with Gad Elmaleh from France in a sold out show at The Beacon, which has 3,000 seats. Harrison said his parents came to the show which was great cause they probably still haven’t gotten over the fact that he graduated from Harvard and spends his life telling jokes, so seeing him kill to a huge audience helps a lot, I’m sure. Gad performed in French, while Harrison performed in his usual English. They met when Harrison was hosting at The Metropolitan Room. Gad happened to see him, liked him and asked him to open for him. Harrison had come over to my place the week before with Preston Gitlin, the CEO and founder of comedwire.com to tell me about their new site and explain the concept to me. It’s a new online comedy site where people get to write in jokes about certain topics that are posted. Over the weekend they had a big event at The Friars Club which I attended to let young comics and comedy writers know about the site, and I was there with famed comedy writer Tom Leopold, as well as Jackie Martling, and Harrison who are all involved with comedywire.com. Joe Toplin was there too, the only head writer of both the Letterman Show and The Tonight Show. How’s that for your resume? So far they got a million page views in June alone, and one guy got 50,000 views for just one of his jokes. Jackie Martling even got some of the jokes on iHeart Radio, and he will be doing an upcoming show for the site.
I run into people in the street wherever I go, especially in the Village. I ran into Allan Finn who produces a show every Wednesday at the Greenwich Village Comedy Club, right down the block from The Cellar. He also does a hot podcast called The Week In Sex on Sundays from the Museum of Sex on 27th Street and it features porn stars, comics and authors! He’s bringing sexy back to comedy with a Playboy tour of Scores and other strip clubs across the country starting Sept. or October, and is the co-host of a radio show called Head Games sponsored by Playboy Radio with Maya Jordan, ex-Scores girl and now sex therapist! Nice work if you can get it!
Anyway, that’s it for me! 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 Gurian with Colin Jost, Brandon T. Jackson, Jermaine Fowler, Rip Michaels, and Jeffrey Preston Gitlin, Tom Leopold, Jackie Martling and Harrison Greenbaum.