Jeffrey Gurian Looks Back at Comedy in 2016

At the end of each year I usually write a post called Jeffrey Gurian’s Favorite Comedy Things from all the events I attended personally, all year long.  This year I’m trying something different, because there were so many, and recapping the highlights of the entire year, month by the month.

So in January, I found myself spending lots of time at The Cherry Lane Theatre. First for the very early Oh, Hello incarnation leading into Colin Quinn’s The New York Story directed by Jerry Seinfeld and then Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King.  All those shows were produced mostly by the same team of Mike Lavoie, Brian Stern, Kristen Buckels, and Mike Berkowitz and the APA gang.

February found me at Radio City with truTV’s Impractical Jokers, for their amazing show starring The Tenderloins themselves, James Murray, Brian Quinn, Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano, including a video of James Murray eating a piece of dog poop for $300. Then there was their off the hook exclusive after-party at 48 Lounge. It was Dice Clay on the premiere of Vinyl getting killed by Bo Dietl who recently announced that he’s running for Mayor of NYC,  And Dice’s Unmasked up at SiriusXM with Ron Bennington.

March saw Amy Schumer shooting her show all over town, and me accidentally running into a scene, and Chrissie Mayr’s Pride Show at The Stonewall with Oscar Aydin, Mark Normand, Tim Dillon and Matteo Lane. It also saw Lisa Lampanelli’s debut of her first play which at the time was called Fat Girls, Interrupted at The Westport Country Playhouse, after which we shot a cool video for my Comedy Matters TV channel. Lisa said “this play will do for weight and food issues what The Vagina Monologues did for women’s nether regions.”  Then there was Bonnie McFarlane’s Unmasked interview at The Village Underground for her book You’re Better Than Me and the Just for Laughs auditions headed up by Jeff Singer at both The P.I.T. and Stand Up New York.

April was a crazy month with the 6th season of AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live with David Hasselhoff kicking off the season with a packed house. The guys at Killer Bunny, Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea decided to go with famous actors after having used only comedians in the past, and two weeks later it was Pam Anderson doing the hosting duties. My column about Pam got over 1,000 Facebook shares, and that was pretty cool. Aaron Berg and Geno Bisconte got to do their “In Hot Water” podcast on the Anthony Cumia Network, and they claim it was thanks to me writing about it in this very column that it happened, so that was also cool. Neko White won the March Madness competition at Carolines on Broadway, D.L. Hughley took time out from his Comedy Get Down Tour to come and headline Carolines where he broke the news to me that he’d be starring in NBC’s Heartbeat, and had a new book “Black Man, White House.”  Ryan Ling the creator of Guy Code, Girl Code and Guy Court started his Bird Brain Comedy shows at The ultra -hip Ace Hotel, which was hosted by Chris Distefano with Leonard Ouzts as the closer.

May saw Bobby Lee come to Gotham with his special brand of insanity where he always winds up basically naked on stage doing a lap dance for some helpless guy, and Brad Garrett came to host Gotham Comedy Live and played strip poker with Esther Ku, only when it came time for her to take off her top some male comic took off his instead. I guess chivalry is not dead! There was the big SNL show at The Comic Strip hosted by Jordan Rock who was in Judd Apatow’s new Netflix show Love, as was Bobby Lee, and the show had Jay Pharoah, Sasheer Zamata, Jon Rudnitsky, Leslie Jones and Julio Torres. Mark Normand rehearsed his set at The Stand for his 4th Conan appearance and Cristina Cote had her HERsterical show at The Friars Club featuring Leslie Jones and a sketch with SNL’s Kenan Thompson.  May also saw the taping of Seeso’s “Debate Wars” hosted by Michael Ian Black at the 106th and Park studios, produced by ex-IFC exec Dan Pasternack, now of Big Beach Films, who was kind enough to lead me past the crowds and long lines to a VIP seat.  Then there was Dice Clay’s sold out show at The Wellmont Theatre in New Jersey with Jim Florentine as his opener, and hanging backstage at a little private after-party was manager Bruce Rubinstein, agent Peter Pappalardo and Dice’s guy Happy Face. Lastly in May, was Legendary Entertainment’s big comedy show out in Astoria where actress Sean Young wound up doing a very unexpected, impromptu dance number from her seat in the audience.

June was packed with cool events exemplified by Skankfest billed as “the anti-comedy festival” held at The Creek and The Cave and produced by Luis J. Gomez, Christine Marie Evans, and Rebecca Trent, the owner of The Creek.  It was as insane as you might imagine and then some and among other events, I was there with Ron Bennington to watch his mash-up with Big Jay Oakerson. I was also back there again to watch the Naked Roast Battle hosted by Zac Amico, an image I can never get out of my mind, (as much as I try! LOL), and judged by Bronston Jones, Ari Shaffir and Mike Lawrence all of whom spared us from being naked as well. It was following Big Jay’s Comedy Central taping at Webster Hall, the taping of Pete Holmes’ upcoming HBO show “Crashing” directed by Judd Apatow a lot of which was shot at The Village Underground and Comedy Cellar, and it was the month that saw Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, my girls from the “Guys We Fucked” podcast,  preparing for their national tour and their show at JFL the following month, with shows at SubCulture, a cool theater on Bleecker Street. June was also the month of the Del Close Marathon, 670 shows on 9 different stages brought to us by UCB and Seeso this year, opening with a press conference with the original founding members of UCB, Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, also joined by the other original member Horatio Sanz. Plus friends like Jon Daly, Chris Gethard, and Jason Mantzoukas. And of course you know, I had to attend the annual “Nick Kroll and Friends” show at FIT.  It was a big show at New York Comedy Club in honor of Comedian Lord who left us suddenly, and with an appearance by none other than 50 Cent, who was planning a project with Matt Richards, it was also Lance Rizzo’s filming of an independent pilot called Successful Failures with Eric Lyden, Harris Stanton, myself and one of the last with Kevin Meaney before he also left us way too soon. And on a very personal note, it was my stand-up debut on national TV with my appearance on AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live with my old buddy Jon Lovitz as the host, who gave me a very wonderful and personal introduction. And then there was the release of my new book from Skyhorse Publishing called “Laughing Legends” about the history of The Comic Strip comedy club featuring an intro by Chris Rock.

July was as busy as June with the first anniversary of Roast Battle, Mo Mandel’s Comedy Knockout for truTV hosted by Damien Lemon at the 106th and Park studios, the 2nd anniversary of Nacho Bitches at NYCC, courtesy of Corinne Fisher and Blair Socci, a show I have still not been on, and mostly it was Just for Laughs in Montreal that is the culmination of all things comedy.  JFL for me was two Ron Bennington Unmaskeds with Barry Katz and Andy Kindler, shows and interviews I did with Jay Pharoah, Ryan Hamilton, Joe List who went on to open for Louis CK, Gad Elmaleh, Jeffrey Ross, J.B. Smoove, Brad Williams, and Ralphie May.  It was the LOL press conference at which Kevin Hart spoke. the Top Ten Comics To Watch luncheon with friends Vlad Caamano, Jermaine Fowler, Aparna Nancherla, and the opportunity to meet YouTube sensation Lilly Singh, a highlight for me personally, and all hosted by my buddy Lil Rel Howery. But there’s a lot more!  It was seeing Judd Apatow perform at the Goddam Comedy Jam, dancing to music DJ’ed by Russell Peters late at night in the lobby of the Hyatt, seeing Maria Bamford’s show, and hanging with Kroll and Mulaney and doing a Facebook Live video with them backstage at The Gesu Theatre where I did my duty as head of security for their “Oh, Hello” show, and then got to wear my Gurian Angels jacket that they made for me to come out on stage during the show to prank Judd Apatow with the big tuna sandwich for the “Too Much Tuna” portion of the show.  It was also doing the SiriusXM show “Raw Report” with Andy Fiori and his gang, along with Joe Machi, hanging with my bud George Wallace, attending the killer Guys We Fucked show, and hanging backstage with Corinne and Krystyna afterwards to shoot a video, attending the Netflix party, the Funny or Die party, the Roast Battle with Jeffrey Ross, Kevin Hart, and David Spade, and covering two red carpet events, first was the JFL Awards show with J.B. Smoove, Andy Dick, Judd Apatow, Pete Correale, Sebastian Maniscalco who won for Stand-Up Comedian of the Year, Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll and John Mulaney who took my mic and started interviewing me!  Then there was the red carpet for Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party premiere. And a big thanks to SiriusXM’s Vito Calise from The Bennington Show for being my DP and shooting videos with me.

August was about Craig Carton’s TicTocStop Tourettes benefit at Gotham Comedy Club with Sebastian Maniscalco as the only entertainer this  year. It was Joey Kola’s filming of his feature film “Gender Bender” out in Astoria, with Gilbert Gottfried, Sal “The Stockbroker” from the Stern show, and Kevin Downey Jr. among others.  It was Loni Love at Gotham, Pat Dixon’s New York Crime Report, and Mike Merkovich’s Melting Pot show. It was Dolph Ziggler at NYCC as a judge for Roast Battle, another Comedy 101 this time at The Village Underground with judges Sal Vulcano, Big Jay, and Kurt Metzger who shouted me out during the show wondering why there seemed to be a spotlight shining directly on me. It was Wil Sylvince’s NBC Universal Short Comedy Film Fest, and the new season of Gotham Comedy Live now being taped which kicked off with Paul Rodriguez as the host. It was Eddie Brill’s show at The Friars with Kevin Meaney doing an outstanding performance and the last time I got to see him. And it was Noah Gardenswartz’s release party for his Comedy Central Records album, Blunt, Bill Bellamy at Gotham, and Cipha Sounds with Casey Jost as his Friday night comedy/hip hop/improv show at UCBEast.

September was  Aaron Berg’s wedding to Christine Meehan in Central Park with Yamaneika Saunders officiating, Joe Gerics’ Free Stand-Up Festival at NYCC, Joey CoCo Diaz performing to a huge crowd at Gotham, the Jackie Martling event at The Cutting Room for the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center and the previews for Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s “Oh, Hello” at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway.

October saw Neruda Williams with his first annual Harlem Comedy Festival at which I was honored to be a judge along with Luisa Diez, producer of Seeso’s Schtick or Treat.  Then the Killer Bunny guys pulled off the coup of getting both Fran Drescher and Cedric the Entertainer to host Gotham Comedy Live one right after the other. It saw Rick Dorfman formerly of Converge Media announce his merger with Jon Rubinstein’s Authentic Talent and Literary group after 12 years of talking about it, and saw Kevin Gootee film another segment of his Comics Watching Comics with Jim Mendrinos, back after his serious illness, Amy Shanker, and Sean Lynch with me as the overall judge. I attended the “Oh, Hello” preview where Katie Couric was pranked with Too Much Tuna and then on Oct. 10th, participated in the actual Broadway red carpet for the official opening of “Oh, Hello” along with Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels, Michael Ian Black, Jon Hamm, and Jason Mantzoukas among others with a kick-ass party at Brasserie 8 1/2. It was the month that saw Christi Chiello break her losing streak in Roast Masters to win against Pete Lee, the opening of Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide produced by Judd Apatow who came to the Lynn Redgrave Theater for the opening, and Frank Pellegrino and Rich DeLayo’s Yonkers Comedy Festival. It was the month that Tom Rhodes came to town to stay with me for a week while he did an Unmasked with Ron Bennington, and a slew of shows at The Comedy Cellar whose renovations were finally finished, so the comics could get back to “the table” with owner Noam Dworman. It was hanging at The Cellar with Rhodes, Ardie Fuqua, Godfrey and Tony Woods, and the month that Bert Kreischer headlined Gotham topless as he always does and told stories about committing crimes with the Russian mob as “The Machine.” It was seeing Trevor Noah at the Daily Show studio, and him telling me about his new book “Born a Crime.” And it was Mel Brooks coming to New York to do the red carpet for the premiere of his son Nick’s film “Sam” which Mel exec produced and then after the showing, we all hung out and did the photo op thing which was particularly cool being that it was Mel Brooks.

November was Caroline Hirsch’s annual New York Comedy Festival with the biggest of the big stars all at major venues.  I was at many shows including Rick Newman and Alan Zweibel’s comedy writers show at The Friars with Phil Rosenthal, Larry Wilmore, and Pamela Adlon, then the tribute to Mitch Hedberg at Carolines with Artie Lange, Tammy Pescatelli and the insanity of Eric Andre also at Carolines. It was Goddam Comedy Jam at The Gramercy Theatre and Guys We Fucked at Carolines. Later in the month, it was Nick Cannon’s live show out in Jamaica with the Wild ‘N Out crew including Rip Micheals and Chico Bean, Gary (Baba Booey) Dell’Abate hosting Gotham Comedy Live, and Joe Rogan headlining Gotham.  It was the taping of Big Jay’s “What’s Your Fucking Deal?” at The Bitter End with Goddam Comedy Jam and Tony Clifton outdoing himself in how many people he managed to offend, Lisa Lampanelli’s play now called “Stuffed” at the WP Theater and Chrissie Mayr’s comedy bus birthday party.  It was Rodney Dangerfield’s 95th birthday show at his eponymous club with Andrew Schulz, Dante Nero, Greer Barnes, Mike Bocchetti, and Bob Nelson and myself who were the only two who had actually worked with Rodney, karaoke at NYCC with the Fat Baby crew and Josh Wesson as the DJ, and Von Decarlo’s mannequin challenge late one November night at NYCC. It was the launch of Peter Rosegarten’s’ new management company PARosegarten Media Group, and his move to NYC, Mark Normand’s Comedy Central taping at the Angel Orensanz Center produced by Amy Schumer who brought Mark to the stage, and gave him notes at the end, the incredible Bennington Thanksgiving party at The Hard Rock where I got to be a judge on a crazy game show.  And lastly, it was the month I got to do a book signing for my other new book “Man Robs Bank With His Chin” from Micro Publishing Media thanks to Emilio Savone at NYCC, with a kick-ass show hosted for me as a favor by Tom Rhodes, featuring Corinne Fisher, Paul Virzi who brought a great message from Bill Burr for whom he opens, Ricky Velez, Aaron Berg and Richie Redding.

Which brings me huffing and puffing and totally out of breath to the month of December which saw the premiere party for WEtv’s “Ghosts in the Hood” with my buddy Matt Richards as one of the stars ending in a really cool party at The McKittrick Hotel in NYC with SiriusXM star Sway Calloway as the host of the evening. It saw Dustin (Screech) Diamond headlining the new comedy club “Ha” up in Yonkers, with me as the feature, and Jerrod Carmichael’s unusual taping of his HBO special at the Masonic Hall in NYC, and the huge RoastMasters battle between the two kings of roast battling New York’s Zac Amico and now L.A.’s Mike Lawrence, in the presence of Roastmaster General Jeffrey Ross, with Zac coming up as the winner. And it was the sad loss of ground-breaking female comedian and old friend Adrianne Tolsch, whose been married to Letterman’s Bill Scheft for the last couple of decades. RIP Adrianne, Lord and Kevin Meaney.  But for me December is the month of the one year anniversary of my heart attack which was 12/17/15.  I am very grateful to have recovered and according to my doctors who just did a nuclear stress test on me, I’m doing great, as hopefully evidenced by all of the events I attended this past year.

I wish you all very Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to all.  See you right here in 2017!


And with that, … I’m OUT!!!

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Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer, comedian, author, producer, comedy connoisseur, comedy journalist, and an all around bon vivant. You can find him on red carpets, at comedy events across the country and hosting Comedy Matters TV. He’s the author of the book Make ‘Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock”. You've seen him on Comedy Central's Kroll Show and he's a regular on SiriusXM's Bennington Show and it's predecessor the Ron and Fez Show. He's also A BIG BELIEVER in Happiness and Love.
Jeffrey Gurian
Jeffrey Gurian
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer, comedian, author, producer, comedy connoisseur, comedy journalist, and an all around bon vivant. You can find him on red carpets, at comedy events across the country and hosting Comedy Matters TV. He’s the author of the book Make ‘Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock”. You've seen him on Comedy Central's Kroll Show and he's a regular on SiriusXM's Bennington Show and it's predecessor the Ron and Fez Show. He's also A BIG BELIEVER in Happiness and Love.