Jeffrey Gurian is a writer, comedian and TV reporter 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 the Gotham Comedy Club, the Soho Film Festival, 92nd Street Y and more.
So I’m sitting in the audience at the 92nd Street Y playing with my phone, while waiting for Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland to take the stage for an interview moderated by John Oliver when I felt a tap on my arm and a voice said, “Stop playing with your phone and watch the show!” And it was Lynn Kroll, mother of Nick Kroll who was rumored to have been there too, along with John Mulaney. And I said to her, “I was wondering if you’d be here.” And she said, “Would I ever miss a chance to see my son on stage?” A question that did not need to be answered! Needless to say it was a fantastic show. John Oliver came out wearing a baseball cap which he kept on the whole time, and read an introduction which he claimed was written by Mssrs. Kroll and Mulaney in which he stated that he’s either English or British, and went on to mention other shows coming up at the Y like “The History of Jewish Texting”, and “Another Goddamn Evening with Norman Lear” and this time his hat spoke. That’s MY kind of comedy. I actually did a film about a man who introduces people to his hat. Then George and Gil came out to thunderous applause, and the way they bounce off each other takes improv to a new level. Every single line got a huge laugh. Not like laugh, pause, laugh, pause, but laugh, laugh, laugh. They had amazing lines like when Gil said that Anthony Weiner should have been nominated at this year’s Tony Awards for “Smoothest Chest.” At a couple of points, John Oliver was literally crying with laughter. He had to wipe his eyes.
Gil also admitted that he was the only guy to ever get kicked out of a cult for being too into it. They discussed the new version of Fuck, Marry, Kill or as some call it F,M,K. Their version is called F. Murray Abraham in which you either have to fuck, marry or kill F. Murray Abraham. And I’m pretty sure it was George who discussed the movie “Basic Instinct” and said it was written by Joe Eszterhas, a reference going back to 1992, and was directed by a pair of sunglasses. A reference from the future! They do more obscure references than Gilbert Gottfried, and are a compendium of unbelievable facts like when George asked John Oliver, “ What’s your favorite stop on Metro North?” and then answered it for him by saying, “The answer is Mount Kisco my friend.” When John Oliver asked Gil about his summer activities, Gil said he gets a gorgeous woman to tell him there’s a lobster loose in his house, then he gives the lobster a tennis racket and makes love to the lobster while the woman watches. George claimed his favorite karaoke song was Michael Dukakis’ acceptance speech. Boy, I wish I could write for these guys!
At the theater and afterward I ran into comic/TV host Scott Rogowsky whose talk show Running Late which he used to do at Carolines on Broadway and was on Go90 told me he’s moving to L.A. to do the live talk show out there. Maybe at The Virgil where Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal do Hot Tub. He said he tends to follow the venues that Hot Tub uses, hoping to have their success. Running Late was always produced by Alex Brizel and Scott told me that Alex had started his own podcast network, so I contacted him to get the scoop and here it is. He told me he built his own state-of-the-art podcast studio right here in Manhattan and launched his own podcast network called ShowBriz Studios. Since then, he’s amassed a roster full of fantastic podcasts, such as The Carson Podcast hosted by Mark Malkoff, Thought Spiral hosted by Andy Kindler & J. Elvis Weinstein, The David Feldman Show, Defend Your Movie hosted by Sean Donnelly, and Fat Pig hosted by Jessica Kirson & Frank Liotti. He’s also rented out his studio in the past to Kevin Allison, the Guys We Fucked girls (Krystyna Hutchinson & Corinne Fisher) and Greg Fitzsimmons. Starting this summer, he will be renting out his studio to Pete Holmes, where he will record several episodes of his You Made It Weird podcast. And he’s had a lot of big names in there like Dick Cavett, Lewis Black, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Scheer, Brook Shields, Edie Falco, Todd Barry, Robert Smigel, Greg Proops, Jeff Ross and just this past week, Susie Essman.
I hadn’t seen Jay Chandrasekhar in quite a while, so I dropped by Gotham Comedy Club where he was headlining. He is one of the great storytellers, and among the great ones he told, was one about meeting Willie Nelson and smoking so much pot with him that his throat closed up and he wasn’t able to speak or invite Willie to be in a film he was doing, which was the reason he contacted Willie in the first place. After the show, we chatted at his merch table for a few minutes while I volunteered to take the photos of fans that wanted pictures with him. He and the Broken Lizard guys recently made Super Troopers 2 which will be coming out this coming Winter and for which he grew back his distinctive mustache from the first Super Troopers. They shot the movie in Massachusetts over a period of four weeks and it also features Rob Lowe, Emmanuelle Chriqui from Entourage, and what he would only refer to as “several surprise guests.” He’s really into mustaches and has a book out with the great title of Mustache Shenanigans. I asked him why and he said there were a lot of mustaches in the new movie, and “shenanigans” is just a funny word. He’s right and I know that Gary Gulman agrees! (Another inside joke!)
I popped into New York Comedy Club and caught Nore Davis‘ act and when he came off stage, he told me that he’s working on a new hour and plans to record it in NY by the end of the year. His wish would be to do it at Union Hall in Brooklyn. It would be his 4th special. His 3rd will be available this Summer and is yet untitled. I told him he’s going to need that in order for people to order it and he agreed.
I covered the opening of the Soho International Film Festival this week as they always have aspiring comedy filmmakers and they always have a great red carpet on opening night. The Be Terrific team was there to film me doing my red carpet interviews, and I was pleasantly surprised to see two of the waitresses from Gotham Comedy Club who were there with their own film. At first, I was so shocked I didn’t recognize them, like when you see people out of context from where you usually see them. It was Rebekah Stein and Johanny Mota with their film Cheryl & Denise which I will be going to see tomorrow afternoon. They said that several of the Gotham staff were in it including comic Charles McBee who performs there often. It’s a 15 minute short, and when I asked them what it was about they said, “It’s a comedy about a young woman named Cheryl from Wyoming who moves to NYC and forces her way into Denise’s life, after stopping Denise for directions.” The film focuses on their week together trying to survive in a small apartment. The film and production are a collaboration between friends who all work at Gotham Comedy Club. One Saturday night after their shift, they were having a drink down in the lounge at Gotham, and talking about how they both wanted to do something creative together. Johanny had a script and wanted to direct, and Rebekah wanted to learn how to produce her own work. A month later, they were in production. They both produced and starred in the film, and Johanny directed. Their AD, cast and crew, and music/composition were all done by the staff of Gotham Comedy Club. You can always tell when you’re there that the Gotham team feels like a family and that’s thanks to the Mazzillis who run it that way.
“Cheryl & Denise” has been a selection at several film festivals; and is also a selection at the Madrid International Film Festival, where it has been nominated for best short comedy. The girls said they are “fortunate and thrilled that what is our ‘survival job’ —introduced us to other artists, and that we have had an opportunity to do what we love: create!” When they get famous, I’ll be able to say that each of these ladies has brought me a chicken sandwich on an untoasted roll with extra ketchup for the fries. (Inside joke!) I cannot wait to see this film.
I also met and interviewed a husband and wife team Jessica Piervicenti-Copeland and Sloan Copeland who wrote and produced a feature comedy film called Life Hack. Sloan wrote, produced and directed and Jessica produced and acted in it. It’s about a hacker whose best friend gets caught masturbating on video and is being blackmailed for 25K by a cyber bully who threatens to make it public. The hacker and a friend embark on “a tense and amusing search for the twistedly righteous bully before he can release the video.” The couple said that “Life Hack” is an incredibly relevant comedic cautionary tale about our digital privacy, … or complete lack thereof.” They have two previous features. Very exciting to see a young hip couple out doing creative things like this together. Very rare.
And the last two comedic creators I met were two girls named Patricia Selznick and Ford. Just Ford, … that’s it. Ford. Two very unique and special women. Great interviews as well. They did a short film named Chocolates, playing two sisters who take a trip to their family’s weekend home to prepare for their parents 35th anniversary party and one of the sisters eats what she thinks is chocolate, which in fact turns out to be some very strong “chocolate edibles.” Suddenly their trip takes a new turn. I saw this film and it got the most applause of all the shorts shown that day.
I drove out to Brooklyn for comic/producer Cristina Cote’s 30th birthday party and boy am I glad I did. What an elegant event in a gorgeous townhouse with ceilings and doors so high the giants from Game of Thrones could comfortably live there. As it is Cristina and her mom who used to live there. For two years. Amazing food, great upscale crowd. I feel like I’ve known her for so many years and she’s just 30 now. It makes me wonder, how young was she when I first met her? She’s got a lot going on as well. She’s producing and performing in a new show called In Your Face New York which will be at the Merkin Theatre, and she described it as “a NY variety show.” She’s also working on a new HERsterical show for some time after the summer which she does with Gilda’s Club, and usually features big SNL stars like Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata, and she’s working on developing some Melania Trump sketches over the summer. The accent should be very similar to the one she uses for her character “Svetty.”
One night at The Stand when I went to see Ron Bennington perform, I was hanging out in the street afterward with Ron when a fan of the Bennington Show from Tennessee approached and introduced himself to me. He told me about a friend who was trying to open a 700 seat comedy space in Tennessee. Not knowing much about the comedy scene in that part of the country, I figured I’d give the guy a call and see what was up. So glad I did as he’s a fascinating character who goes by the name of Dr. Steve from Faction Talk, who is also an M.D. specializing in hospice care and palliative treatment for people suffering from pain caused by cancer. I called him on the phone for a chat and he couldn’t have been nicer. He said that with his kind of work, comedy and laughter is essential.
He said that for years the only outlet for “big time” comedy in East Tennessee was Side Splitters in Knoxville. When Bobby J. went out of business there, the closest they had was Zanies in Nashville. He said he’s friends with Jim Florentine and once heard him on the radio talking about how comics are treated on the road. Putting them up in crap hotels, making them eat off “the comic’s menu” for fear they might eat too much and affect profits… He said, “it actually hurt my feelings hearing how my friends were being treated.” After that appearance, he resolved to put on a show that would put the comics FIRST, to treat them the way he thought they should be treated. So he says he has a supermodel who picks the comics up at the airport, they get a generous per diem, he puts them up in a 4-star resort and makes sure whatever they want is in the green room. (I wonder how many pick that supermodel!?) On top of that, he said they have crowds that are starved for advanced comedy entertainment and they make fantastic audiences.
Right now, he said that have a venue issue. So he’s currently working on renovating a 750 seat theater, The State Theatre, that was built in 1936, in hopes that it will anchor their downtown area. Although it’ll house all kinds of entertainment, his goal is to bring more “A-list” comedy to the Tri-Cities and be known for great shows by the audience and the talent alike. In the past, he’s produced shows starring Bobby Kelly, Jim Florentine, and Shuli Egar, at the 350 seat Kingsport Renaissance Theatre, run a “Funniest Person” competition and is developing a stable of new comics! More doctors should be into comedy! Maybe it would improve their bedside manner! (LOL)
And with that, …until next week remember that Comedy Matters! I’m out!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, and watch Comedy Matters TV on Be Terrific. Below, Jeffrey Gurian with Patricia Selznick and Ford, Scott Rogowsky, Jay Chandrasekhar and Cristina Cote.