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 reports from Comedy Juice, and Gotham Comedy Live and Stand Up New York.
It couldn’t have been more than a few days since I thought to myself, “ I wonder where Joe Machi’s been? I haven’t seen him in months since Last Comic Standing.” Then I walked into Stand-Up New York to check on what was going on and he walked in. It felt like I manifested him. I know Joe since he used to perform at The Comic Strip when I was hosting the late show, alternating nights with Jordan Rock. Joe has definitely matured and even looks different. He’s gone through a complete transformation. His cheeks always used to be bright red, which they are no longer. I think that comes with a sense of confidence he’s gotten from going so far on LCS. Joe told me he’s trying to capitalize on his LCS appearance by appearing all across the country. He said doing the show was very stressful but totally worth it, “because now I can go on the road and sell tickets to fans on Twitter and Facebook which would never have happened before.” So he’s headlining all over the country, “trying to learn as much as I can.” I asked him what there was to learn and he said that sometimes he has to do an hour of material and in the beginning he would get tired, the same as when he first started doing 15 minute sets at The Comic Strip. He said he had to learn how to do much more crowd work, how to open a casino show when they’re not really comedy fans but mostly just there to gamble, and how to get through a check spot on the 2nd show on Friday night when the audience is already tired. Joe said he knows that nothing lasts forever so he’s trying to strike while the proverbial iron is hot! ( To use a phrase from 1810! My choice not his! )
Joe came in with his buddy Sam Morril and they have such an interesting dynamic between them. They tease each other constantly as only good friends can do, about their success with their careers, their sexuality and their talent. They’re like the odd couple and they used to have a show together at Carolines on Broadway, the Sam and Joe Show. Sam used to do my latenight show at The Strip also, and I didn’t realize he’s been performing for ten years already. He’s preparing for his first special which he’ll be recording as a CD at The Village Underground. It’s as yet unnamed and when I asked him how he chose that venue he told me that he felt that working at The Comedy Cellar was such an honor and did so much for his career, that he wanted to tape his first hour special there.
Bob DiBuono was hosting at Stand Up New York that night and he told me that he’s launching a new podcast around the middle of May based on the show he does at Stand Up called Character Flawed. Bob’s known for his character work and the show will be mostly Bob but also with special guests who do characters like Greer Barnes and Nick Vatterott. He likened it to what Carol Burnett would have done if she had a podcast, and he wants to marry old-time radio sketches with improv and comics who do characters.
I checked out the Comedy Juice show this week at Gotham Comedy Club and the first person I ran into was my buddy Cort McCown who’s in from LA for a week or so. He too taped a new special at the end of February in La Jolla at The Comedy Store. He said it was one of the first comedy clubs to headline him and he loves the club. It holds around 200 people. I asked him if it was a CD or DVD and he said “It’s a CD. No one watches video anymore.” Not sure if he was kidding or not, but he sounded serious! He didn’t have an opening act, so it’s a full hour of Cort McCown. He came to town to do Comedy Juice and also to do a set on the last Gotham Comedy Live of the season with Chris Kattan as the host. More on that later… Cort also has a podcast called Insensitivity Training on the All Things Comedy Network which was started by Bill Burr and Al Madrigal. Now everyone’s on it. Cort is staying with a friend in Soho.
Louis Katz put together a European tour for himself, 17 days, 10 gigs starting in May and going through Sweden, The Baltics, Latvia, Estonia, then Finland and Norway. I guessed correctly when I asked him if world traveler Tom Rhodes helped him in any way and he said, “Exactly! That’s who I called, how did you know?” And I was like, “ Who else would one call if you wanted to perform comedy all over the world?” It’s like Tom, Russell Peters, and Trevor Noah, the three world travelers. Louis just got back from LA out there for pilot season, and will be with Dave Attell this week at The Stress Factory.
Nikki Glaser is waiting to hear about her Comedy Central pilot which she described as a “sex talk show” called Not Safe For Work which she shot in LA last December. It’s like an advice show with a rotating cast of comics. Her guests in the pilot were Ali Wong and T.J. Miller who’s absolutely hilarious in anything he does, especially his hit HBO show Silicon Valley, in which he plays stoner Erlich Bachman (season two started last night!). Nikki’s also touring across the country and putting material together for her first hour special. It was great to see her again and catch up! And one of my faves, Aaron Berg was hosting the show. Totally ripped and tattooed, which is not a necessity for being a great host, but it definitely adds to the Aaron Berg experience! And he’s putting out his second book sometime in mid-May called American Etiquette – Failing Upwardly in a Fox News Nation. Not only funny, but smart too!
It was the last show in the current season of AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and I popped in to see Chris Kattan of Saturday Night Live fame as the host. The room was so packed there was no room to take a deep breath. Since Chris is not really a stand-up comic he did some of his favorite characters from SNL like Mango and his half of the Butabi Brothers. That’s a tough character to do over a period of time, without getting whiplash. He kind of split right after the show and didn’t hang out at the after-party; not all the hosts do. Also on the show was someone I had wanted to meet since I saw her on Last Comic Standing– Aida Rodriguez. She opens for Russell Peters sometimes and we know a lot of the same people and I always thought she was funny and interesting. I was right. She was very funny and very interesting. She had a great set, and after the show we sat down at the after-party and she’s doing a ton of cool stuff. She told me she’s on Shaq’s All Star Comedy Tour, and the first Latin person to do so! She was added on along with Earthquake, Tommy Davidson, Bill Bellamy, both of whom I saw recently and who were in this column and DeRay Davis who I met through Mike Epps. When I mentioned Mike to Aida she told me he calls her his new Marsha Warfield. Since she did LCS, she’s got five agents at Innovative. She just did Vegas and is in a development deal with network TV for a half hour show. She’s co-creating it and when I asked her for her wishlist of who she’d like to be in it she said Roseanne, who she explained was part of the reason for her success. She’s also launching a podcast on April 14th called Truth Serum, a name that was given to her by Keenan Ivory Wayans. And when I asked her what was the best thing that came out of doing LCS, she answered right away, that it was her meeting with Norman Lear. He asked to meet with her. And he said to her, “ You my dear are a TV show, and I know a TV show when I see one.” She said that meeting Norman Lear had been on her bucket list, but she never expected it to happen so soon! She will be in New York once a month from now on so I look forward to seeing her again!
D.C. Benny who also appeared on LCS last season is doing a bunch of cool stuff including a series of writing projects. Topping the list he’s shopping around a book of funny autobiographical essays about race “from the perspective of a 1/2 Jewish, 1/2 German comedian, married to a black woman with a PHD who looks Indian, while living in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, where everyone thinks I’m Puerto Rican.” The working title is Off White. He’s also just getting back into producing a rotating live monthly comedy show again after a 7 year hiatus from producing. He’s kicking off the first one at Republic in Astoria, on Wed. April 22nd, with a strong line-up including Dan Naturman from Americas Got Talent and Mike Britt from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He’s also in preproduction on shooting a couple of short projects, and shopping a feature script for a low budget horror/thriller about high school kids getting hunted by a teacher. And he’s performing with Leslie Jones at Carolines next week!
Finesse Mitchell another past SNL cast member was headlining at Gotham this past weekend and I stopped by to see him. And after Finesse’s killer set we hung out for a bit so he could tell me what he had going on. Two pilots! One for Lorne Michaels called Brothers in Atlanta, and a pilot for Showtime called Roadies with Luke Wilson, Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, and Ron White who’s coming to The Theatre at Madison Square Garden this week (read more on that in our interview with Ron White), on Saturday April 18th. Finesse is also planning a one hour special to be shot in the Fall either for Comedy Central, Netflix or Showtime, and he said with all these things going on, if we don’t see him on TV next year, something’s very wrong!
Angelo Lozada was hosting and is very excited about being nominated for a Best Actor award in a comedy web series. His series with Tammi Cubilette is called Get Some, and it’s on Kollide TV. He’s up against four other actors and he’s going out to Vegas for the awards produced by the IAWTV, which is the International Academy of Web Series TV for those not in the know!
That’s it for this week. I am OUT!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey with Aida Rodriguez, Finesse Mitchell, Kurt McKown and Nikki Glaser.