It’s almost impossible to try and list my top comedy moments from 2015, because there were just so many. Trying to only choose 15 was a monumental task. Last year I did more of a review than a “Top 15” list, but this year I decided to try and list the 15 events that meant the most to me. Some of them I was involved in personally, others not, … but all of them were events I attended to cover for my column in The Interrobang. It’s important to emphasize that they are NOT in order. Every one of them could theoretically be #1.
Tracy Morgan. Seeing Tracy Morgan back performing again after being so seriously injured in the car accident that killed his friend Jimmy Mac, and so badly injured Ardie Fuqua. The fact that both of them are out and back performing again is a testament to their personal strength of mind and body, and to the ability of the medical community to heal people from such serious injuries. Ardie hosts quite often at The Comedy Cellar where he can be seen in a different custom suit almost every night, and I just saw Tracy drop by the new New York Comedy Club to give the audience a real treat, on his way down to The Cellar where he performed again! Harris Stanton survived the same accident but fortunately with minor injuries. Read more!
Oh Hello. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s “Oh, Hello” show at The Cherry Lane Theatre – It was the year that Nick decided to pull the plug on his wildly successful, and much loved Comedy Central hit “Kroll Show”, and John had his season of “Mulaney” on FOX with Martin Short, who I got to see recently in an evening of conversation at the 92nd STreet Y with Alan Zweibel. The “Oh, Hello” boys, in the characters of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland brought their unique form of insanity to Cherry Lane for 3 sold-out weeks after running certain parts of the show in places like King’s Theatre during the New York Comedy Festivall for a show called “Comedy Central Live”, and even in an evening at the afore-mentioned 92Y. They held a press conference in which I got to appear as the head of security, wearing a custom made jacket they made for me that identified me as the leader of “Gurian Angels”. The jacket came with two “bodacious babes” as Nick and John described them, wearing “Gurian Angels” T-shirts. Everyone in comedy came to see the show and participate including but not limited to Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers, Colin Quinn, and Fred Armisen. All were treated to an excessive amount of tuna, and they wouldn’t have had it any other way! Read more!
The Patrice O’Neal Documentary. Filming started at Just for Laughs in Montreal and the NY interviews were filmed at the end of November with more to come. The doc is being produced by Patrice’s wife Von Decarlo, Sansan Fibri, Mark Farrell, and Jason Steinberg. Patrice has legions of fans that are still loyal to him four years after his passing as is evidenced by the sold out benefits produced annually by Bill Burr and Maureen Taran, with the next one coming up on Jan. 26th at City Center. This doc project will be huge because Patrice was a real one-of-a-kind who touched many people, and his story needs to be told. Black Phillip lives on! Patrice and I were very close and one of my proudest moments was being named one of the co-hosts on The Black Phillip Show! My interview was done at The Stand very early one morning, which is where they often have the after party after the Bill Burr/Maureen Taran benefit. It’s also the home of the Six Foot Nothing crew, which might be spelled “Six Foot Nothin’”, and includes Derek Gaines and Monroe Martin, along with a bunch of other very funny comics. Read more!
Judd Apatow in NYC. Judd was here in New York City for extended periods of time this year, planning and shooting Trainwreck with Amy Schumer who wrote the movie and who has seen her career go nuclear this year. He hung out mostly at The Cellar and started doing stand-up again as well, after many years of not performing. He told me that Amy was the inspiration for that since she seemed to be having so much fun, it started to look good to him again. He also performed at Gotham Comedy Club in preparation for his big show ”Judd Apatow and Friends” during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. And then he was back in New York filming his new TV pilot “Crashing” at The Village Underground, and written by Pete Holmes. Read more!
The New York Comedy Festival. Since 2004, Caroline Hirsch, the undisputed Queen of Comedy residing right here in NYC has put on the most amazing festival, with headliners this year like Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, David Steinberg, Larry David, Bill Burr, Trevor Noah, and Amy Schumer, a Comedy Central LIve show in Brooklyn with Hannibal Buress, Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Big Jay Oakerson, Jeffrey Ross and Roy Wood Jr., and the annual Stand-Up For Heroes event at MSG this year with Seth Meyers, Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, and John Oliver.Non-stop killer shows one right after the other in venues all over town. And the Comedy Central opening party at STK was off the proverbial chain! Read more!
Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. This year was the 33rd for the mother of all festivals, and somehow they always seem to outdo themselves. Kudos to Gilbert Rozon, Andy Nulman, Bruce Hills, Paul Ronca, Robbie Praw and Jeff Singer for pulling it off year after year. And the Comedy Pro Conference offered awesome panels and afternoon programming along with the Variety’s 10 Top Comics To Watch party, and the huge Funny or Die party. not to mention shows with Dave Chappelle who I believe sold out 10 shows and could have sold out 10 more, and Kevin Hart who sold out the Bell Centre for multiple shows, which I believe also holds about 20,000. It’s the season of arenas for big names like those! Read more and more and more and more and more!
AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live. This has to be on my list because every Thursday night at 9:30 I’d be in my seat at table 69 (that’s what they give me!) at Gotham Comedy Club for another season of uproarious laughter and big name hosts. It’s the Killer Bunny guys Dave Goldberg and Rob Cea who produce this successful show, which will be starting up again for it’s sixth season either at the end of January, or the beginning of February. Just getting on this show is a big deal because every comic is thoroughly vetted before being allowed to do their what used to be 9 minutes and is now 8. By the time I get to do it it’ll probably be down to 2! (LOL) But this club also offers Comedy Juice every Tuesday which has kind of been the home of all the young SNL stars this year with almost weekly performances from either Pete Davidson, Colin Jost, Sasheer Zamata, Michael Che, and/or the newest cast member Jon Rudnitsky. It’s also the place where you’d see the top headliners like Trevor Noah, and newcomers to TV like MTV’s Chris Distefano, The Nightly Show’s Roy Wood Jr. and Ricky Velez, and The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj. Plus the occasional superstar drop-ins like Amy Schumer who came with Chris Rock to prepare for her Apollo special, Judd Apatow who came with Pete Holmes to do a special show, Louis CK who dropped in several times with his pad of new material to try things out, one time on the same evening that Sarah Silverman was there to perform, along with Jay Pharoah, and Jerry Seinfeld who seems to feel most comfortable in this club with owners Chris and Steve Mazzilli. I’ve personally seen the audience go crazy with thunderous applause due to surprise drop-ins from several superstars within the course of one evening, especially duiring the innumerable charity events they hold there. Jim Gaffigan even shot some scenes for his Jim Gaffigan Show right there at Gotham! Read more!
Trevor Noah taking over the Daily Show. After 18 years Jon Stewart passed the reins of The Daily Show to Trevor Noah and I was there for the premiere, not as a journalist but as a friend of Trevor’s! It was a very exciting evening handled by Trevor with great aplomb, and humility because he’s that kind of guy. Trevor was a great choice for this position, and is loved wherever he performs, which before he got this gig, was basically all over the world. He’d made quite a name for himself by being one of the very few truly international comedians that literally perform all around the world like Russell Peters, Chris Rock and Kevin Hart. Backed by the Levity Entertainment Group headed up by Norm Aladjem one of the nicest guys in the biz, Trevor’s rise has been meteoric, and well deserved. He’s particularly special to me because he was kind enough to join me as my guest on Sirius XM’s Bennington Show, photobombed me in Montreal backstage after hosting his gala, and I will forever be indebted to him, and never forget the fact that he honored me by apologizing for laughing too loud during the taping of my set for Comedy Juice! ( That really happened!) Read more!
The Comedy Dynamics tapings in Tarrytown. Brian Volk-Weiss’ Comedy Dynamics has achieved the reputation of producing the finest one hour specials in comedy and very often did them at the Tarrytown Music Hall right here in New York. This year alone they taped specials with Ron Funches, Jay Pharoah, Seaton Smith and Nore Davis and I was at the Tarrytown tapings for both Colin Quinn, and Lisa Lampanelli, who is currently up for her 2nd Grammy for her Comedy Dynamics produced special “Back To The Drawing Board” for EPIX, which Lisa helped promote with an evening at the 92nd Street Y moderated by Ron Bennington and an AOL Build talk moderated by yours truly at Lisa’s request. They are actually up for two more Grammy’s for Louis C.K.: Live at Madison Square Garden, which they produced and distributed, and “Craig Ferguson: Just Being Honest” which they produced and which is being distributed by Lionsgate. Read more!
The Bennington Show. When Fez Whatley retired after so many years due to health problems, Ron and Fez became The Bennington Show with Ron’s amazing daughter Gail as his co-host. The show has reached new levels of entertainment, and is considered the show to do if you want to be considered a serious comedian. Ron’s series of “Unmasked” interviews are incomparable, and just some of the more recent ones have been Chris D’Elia, done in Montreal at Just for Laughs, Brian Regan and Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan, which were both major events held at Carolines on Broadway, plus Unmasked’s with Sebastian Maniscalco, Bobcat Goldthwait, Ed Helms and Dan Aykroyd. And now that long time producer Chris Stanley is “scoping” for the IBang’s own channel, there’s no limit as to how high this show will go! I am honored to be a regular on this show since January 2014 and also do a live version of my column every Tuesday afternoon at 1:45.
The Del Close Marathon. For the last 16 years the members of UCB and all their friends come together to honor the late Del Close, their Improv teacher and hero. Where else do you get to see Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Horatio Sands, Mike Birbiglia, Aidy Bryant, Jason Mantzoukas, Ellie Kemper and more in one room! Plus the annual show Nick Kroll and Friends! It’s non-stop shows all packed into one crazy weekend. For me it was particularly crazy as literally five minutes before the red carpet started I dropped my brand new expensive wireless mic and it broke as I was standing with Amy Poehler, and in true improv tradition each of the people I mentioned above acted “as if” my mic was still working and came into a quiet kitchen with me to shoot the interviews. Unbelievable! Read more!
Garden of Laughs at MSG produced by Rory Rosegarten. This was an amazing charity event to help children facing all kinds of obstacles, whose red carpet was graced by stars like John Oliver, Sarah Silverman, Dane Cook, Bill Burr, Billy Gardell and Lewis Black to name just a few. A fantastic show hosted by ex-Soprano and one of the funniest guys, Steve Schirippa, and once again almost a technical disaster for me as my DP didn’t realize he was shooting directly into a light, and most of my videos had to be corrected so you could actually see them! Fortunately it all worked out fine and Rory raised tons of money for the charity. Read more!
Night of Too Many Stars. America Comes Together for Autism Programs – the 6th biannual event as a benefit to increase the awareness of Autism, inspired by Robert Smigel and hosted by Jon Stewart was an extravaganza of talent where among other firsts, John Oliver auctioned off the opportunity to commit a crime with him, Louis CJ auctioned off the opportunity to take a surprise bow at the end of a legitimate Broadway show, Sarah Silverman auctioned off the right for two people to act as her parents so she could tell them things she never had the opportunity to tell her own parents, and Paul Rudd auctioned off an opportunity to treat him like a baby bird where an audience member chewed up food and actually spit it into his mouth! That really happened! I was there and I saw it! I didn’t want to see it, but I saw it anyway! Huge sums were raised and it was an incredible event! Read more!
The premiere of Colin Quinn’s Cop Show at Carolines on Broadway. I ran over from attending a taping of Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show, produced by Rory Albanese and Amy Ozols, to find an exciting event where several episodes of the show were shown to a very exclusive audience, and where Jerry Seinfeld actually made himself available for interviews with anyone who asked. Perfect day for me not to have had my video camera with me! Between this, breaking my mic at the last minute at Del Close and having my DP shoot into the light at MSG, it’s almost no wonder I had a heart attack! I’m surprised I didn’t have one sooner! Anyway, it was a great year in comedy, and now that I was given the Grace to have survived my ordeal I look forward to some incredible events in 2016! All my best to all of you who read The Interrobang which has totally blown up and will continue to do so! Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year because as we say, without your Health you got nothin’! Read more!
And with that, I’m OUT for 2015!!! Happy New Year Everyone! Here’s a photographic look back at 2015!