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 Colin Quinn’s star studded premiere, the Night of Too Many Stars, Gotham and more…
As always, I hit the Comedy Juice show at Gotham to see Hasan Minhaj the new Daily Show correspondent who told me it’s exciting being on the show but also sad because Jon is leaving. But he’s also excited to see Jon getting back to stand-up which he said is his plan. He’s also looking forward to his taping on March 4th out at Union Hall in Brooklyn, that he’s doing with Jordan Klepper also from The Daily Show. It’s a one hour private show of what Hasan is planning to film for a special later in the year. Before I left he complimented me on some of the videos he watched on my channel. I forgot to remind him that he’s in one of them!
When I got there Judah Friedlander was hanging out in the hallway with Hasan waiting to do his spot. Judah announced that America is the best country in the United States. And he said his plan was to get a copy of Planet of the Apes, break into the zoo, and show it to the animals! After his set we all wound up outside the showroom, me, Judah, Hasan, Dan Naturman who was so tan just getting back from doing Ray Ellin’s show in Aruba, and uber comedy agent Matt Frost who reps a bunch of big names, talking about the positive aspects of being married. Hasan just got married recently and Matt is expecting his second son very soon, to join the two year old son he already has! Every once in a while comics talk about real things too!
And then I got to see Rory Albanese perform and he’s always so funny. He’s on both sides of the camera. Not only is he a comic but he’s also a major producer. After producing The Daily Show he’s now producing The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, and I got to tell him my story of how I almost got to see the show, and how accomodating his team was in letting me leave, and he told me I could come back anytime I wanted! Very cool! He referred to Larry Wilmore as a Jedi Master of Comedy! Rory will be performing on Dave Attell’s show Live From The Village Underground on March 25th and he said he’s doing a lot more stand-up these days. Just shows that even busy people can make time for things they love!
The host of Comedy Juice this week was Naomi Ekperigin, and I had her spell her name for me a few times to make sure I had it right! She’s Nigerian, so I threw out the names of the only two other Nigerian comics I knew, Godfrey and Gina Yashere! Naomi is a writer for Broad City. She’s from Harlem and she’s friends with Ilana Glazer. She started as a writer’s assistant on season one, and then got bumped up to be a staff writer on season two. I asked her if that happens to all writer’s assistants and she said it didn’t that it was just a stroke of luck. They knew her stand-up and liked it. She’ll be starting working on season three very soon. They write for about three months and then shooot the whole season all at once. Sometimes they try and get the special guest stars to attend the read throughs. She told me Susie Essman was a recent guest playing Ilana’s mother and they had a blast.
Naomi has a monthly show with comedy writer Andy Beckerman who she calls her “Jew-Boo” and he wrote on the Pete Holmes Show. It’s a couples show, meaning that couple’s perform, and it’s at the HiFi Bar on Avenue A, which means if I want to perform, I’ll have to start dating someone exclusively! That’s a lot of pressure just to be on a show!
I found myself in a crazy situation this week. I’m at The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore ready to be seated. There’s a mad crush of people in the lobby because it was so bitter cold outside so they let everyone in, but they had to get the studio ready for people to be seated. The show was supposed to be from 6-7 and then I was heading over to Carolines on Broadway to catch the premiere of Colin Quinn’s new web series Cop Show. As I’m waiting to be seated my cell phone goes off and it’s Morris S. Levy the producer of Cop Show telling me the red carpet is starting earlier and that I should come as early as I can. Now I’m in a panic cause once the show starts taping you can’t leave. I asked the Wilmore people if there was a place I could sit where I could leave when I had to without disturbing anyone, but the doors get locked and someone would have to escort me out. I didn’t want to create any stress for anyone and the Wilmore people were so kind to try and accomodate me, so they suggested that I just come back another night and run over to Carolines which is what I did.
In Colin’s digital series, Cop Show Colin plays a cop, and it’s like a parody of TV crime dramas, showing all the behind the scenes hilarity, in which well known comedians play guest roles, like Amy Schumer playing the ringleader of a female hipster drug gang.
I got to the red carpet so early I had time to schmooze with Morris S. Levy, the producer who has a great sense of humor and a personality to match. One of the very special guys in the biz. It started getting crowded pretty quickly, and one of the first people I ran into was Tamsen Fadal, the WPIX anchor who laughingly told me the first thing she saw when she came in was my hair! Her cousin, film actress Shannon Elizabeth was there too. Her real name is Shannon Elizabeth Fadal and she looked gorgeous! I knew she looked familiar but when Morris introduced us he just called her Shannon, and I spent the rest of the evening wondering why she looked so familiar. Then as I was passing the bar I heard someone yell out, “ Hey doc” which hardly anyone ever calls me and it was my old pal Pat Cooper who is in one of the episodes. Pat is hysterical whether he’s standing in front ot the bar, on the radio or on stage, and he went on one of his usual hysterically funny rants about why does he even do these things and how he doesn’t need any of this shit, and we had a good laugh and then Jerry Seinfeld came in and the press went nuts. He came over to Pat to say hello, and he was in such a great mood! Then he and Pat did the red carpet that was set up where the press was three deep. I didn’t even try to get any videos of that whole scene. It was too intense.
Jerry was dressed very casually in a long coat with just a sweater and scarf but he made himself available to anyone who wanted to talk to him or interview him on camera. He was saying that he was amazed that his show Seinfeld is even more popular now than it was when it was on the air. He said that Colin was one of his best friends, and that his favorite part of Colin’s show was himself. Jerry told us he likes seeing himself on camera and can’t wait to see what he does next! He said people always ask him about people he worked with 15 years ago. Do you see everyone YOU worked with 15 years ago? I got a phone call and went to talk on the stairs, which is when I got to exchange a quick hello with Amy Schumer who also came out to support Colin. She looked great as always, played a very funny part as the ringleader of a drug gang, and I hope to see her later in the week at Night of Too Many Stars. If I do, you’ll be reading about it right here!
Also in the crowd were Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane who played a sexy hooker in Cop Show, Esther Ku who’s on the new Jack and Triumph Show, Jim Norton who played a very funny part in Cop Show and was sitting with Anthony Cumia, and Sam Roberts producer of Sirius XM’s Opie and Jim show,Benjy Bronk from the Howard Stern Show, Richard Johnson from Page Six, Ramona Singer from Real Housewives, and Steve Guttenberg who I finally got to ask a question I’ve been carrying around for many years. I had always read that Steve had originally planned to be a dentist, but instead wound up in show biz. I never knew if it was a press thing or if it was real. He confirmed to me that it was a real goal of his!
They screened about 5 episodes each of which was about 5 minutes long. Caroline Hirsch and I shared a laugh about how short everybody’s attention span is these days, that entire episodes of anything could be only five minutes! And some people won’t even watch the whole thing! Also in Cop Show was Jim Gaffigan who played a Congolese military guy with a great accent that could definitely have been Congolese, but I wouldn’t know, Wil Sylvince, Keith Robinson, who played a detective, and Dante Nero. It was a really fun night.
I did a run in at The Friars Club to catch the end of Cristina Cote’s Hersterical show, a show of all female comics. It was her first time at The Friars and she was very excited, and so I promised to come by and support! I missed a lot of it, but I got to see the very funny Sabrina Jalees, Annie Barry the UCB girl who also does stand-up, and Carole Montgomery the comic who recently produced the Shang comedy special I attended, which was taped at the John Jay Theatre.
I went to check out the opening night of the March Madness competition at Carolines on Broadway, and it was huge, and a very well planned event. Mark Normand was the MC and there’s just something so funny about Mark’s delivery. It’s not just that what he says is funny. He was blessed with a comedy voice. An intonation that makes everything he says sound sarcastic and funny. Anyway, it was broken up into four teams, North, South, East and West, and comics came up in twos to compete against each other for one minute. Their photos were shown on a big TV screen in pairs. At the one minute mark, a very loud musical thing would start or something funny would come over the sound system to interrupt them. It’s the modern day version of the old vaudeville hook! The place was packed with all the comics I see performing in all the clubs. I won’t say who lost cause sometimes I feel like one of those parents who wants to develop a sport where BOTH teams win so nobody feels sad about losing, but some of the people I knew who won were Aaron Berg, John Moses, Neko White, who may even be 20 already, Sarah Tollemache, and Pat Dixon. The next dates will be March 3rd, March 11th, and March 25th after which we’ll find out who won the whole thing.
Night of Too Many Stars is the ultimate understatement! For the sixth time in it’s history, Comedy Central has joined forces with Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions and New York Collaborates for Autism,for this biennial event, which started in 2003. So far according to Jon, they have raised about 18 million dollars to bring awareness and raise funding for educational programs to help Autistic children. Robert Smigel is the father of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, but he’s also the father of an autistic son, and he’s really the glue behind this event. People love Robert Smigel, and all the big stars come out for him.
The show was taped at The Beacon Theatre on West 75th Street, but it won’t be televised until Sunday March 8th so you guys are getting the scoop on this. I got to cover the red carpet, which was very exiciting and meant I got to interview Jim Gaffigan, who made a point of saying he loved my hair, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Feinstein, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Gilbert Gottfried, and even Steve Carell.
Covering a red carpet with video interviews is very stressful, because the comedians arrive as they will and they first go to the still photographers, then to the big networks, then Comedy Central had it’s own team doing video interviews and luckily I got the spot right next to them. So the comics hit me first. Now if the comics did the red carpet in an orderly fashion there wouldn’t be a problem.
I was so shocked to see Steve Carell who wasn’t on the tip sheet I was given, that I almost went blank when I was talking to him. Other celebs who did the red carpet who I just wasn’t able to speak to because I was engaged in interviewing other people were Steve Buscemi, who did a great bit during the show, Martha Stewart, and Tommy Hilfiger who was there with his wife Dee Ocleppo, and I really wanted to speak to them both.
I personally had a couple of special moments you won’t see on the red carpet. Jodi DiPiazza the young autistic girl who sang a duet with Katy Perry last year sang one this year with Weird Al Yankovic who I also did a fun interview with. Her Dad came over to thank me for the article I wrote about Jodi last year. It was a very special moment and meant a lot to me. Jodi and I even became FB friends! The other special red carpet moment was with Amy Schumer. Before she got to me she stopped off to be interviewed by the Comedy Central people. She could tell right away that the guy who was interviewing her was not a comedian, and she took control and told him she wanted her sister Kim to ask her the questions that he would have asked. So he gave his pad of questions to Kim and she took over and did the interview. It was even funnier to me, because I remember that Amy started out hosting the red carpet for Comedy Central at one of these shows. I remembered it clearly because I was there that day,and she came over to say “Hi” and told me she was hosting the red carpet. And she wondered why Comedy Central wouldn’t have a comedian interviewing the other comedians, and I suggested that next time they use me! I couldn’t tell if she agreed with me or not!
Amy Schumer opened the show after Jon Stewart’s intro and she was her ever-funny self. She and I spoke about April being a huge month for her since she’s hosting the MTV Movie Awards on April 12th and about a week later her 3rd season of Inside Amy Schumer starts. She told me she still has two more weeks of shooting, but that unfortunately my name didn’t come up in the casting! Darn! I really wanna be on that show!
Steve Carell came out and did a phony swag bag bit, from which he actually ate something he couldn’t identify that was greasy and disgusting and he and Jon Stewart broke up laughing because he really ate it, and it was really disgusting. Every so often they’d stop to do an auction and auctioned off things like two tickets to HBO’s Girls which started at $3,000. and ended with two guys paying $25,000 each. Sarah Silverman came out and auctioned off the chance for two people to play her parents. Sarah looked really beautiful and was wearing just a jersey and camouflage pants with her hair in a ponytail, but that’s all she needed! John Oliver auctioned off the opportunity to commit a crime with him. Chris Rock auctioned himself off to do a commercial for the highest bidder which Chris did on the spot. Louis CK added $2,000 of his own money to help a woman bid for a New Yorker Magazine event, Then he auctioned off a bow on Broadway during the curtain call for Martin Short’s show It’s Only A Play and the guy who won was whisked out of the theatre by Louis, into a waiting car that took them to the Broadway theatre. I won’t give it all away but let’s just say it happened that moment and all of this was seen from inside our theater on giant video screens.
Steve Buscemi, who always seems to get seriously killed in every movie he’s in, auctioned off the opportunity to kill him on stage. And one of the funniest and most outrageous bits was Paul Rudd who was in a bit where people came up and spun a roulette-type wheel with different things on it that Paul would have to do if it landed on that space. It goes a lot farther than you might expect. Gilbert Gottfried gave us all a very sentimental moment we weren’t expecting. When Gilbert did the voice of the parrot Iago in Disney’s Aladdin, something about the voice encouraged a young autistic boy named Owen Suskind to start speaking again. He’s all grown up now and came out on the stage with Gilbert and did a very funny back-and-forth with him. It was very touching, and very different from what Gilbert usually does.
Bill Burr closed the show admirably as he always does. I’m glad to see Bill being so courageous in his choice of material– you’ll see what I mean when you watch the broadcast next Sunday! Very funny stuff Bill! Don’t forget to tune in on Sunday March 8th and call up and make a donation! It was an unforgettable night on many accounts, and I was really glad I was there to see it!!
I got to meet someone new and very talented when I went to see Pablo Francisco headline at Gotham on Friday night. A comic named Steve Kramer opened for Pablo, and he does musical comedy and parodies but very hip stuff. He did Arnold Schwarzenegger rapping, and Lady Gaga, and Megadeath in Popeye’s voice, in a bit he called “Celebrity Karaoke”. After his set I ran into Sean Savoy a comic who often travels with Pablo and he brought me to meet Steve. Steve showed me this cool thing on his phone, that he and Pablo are doing for TV. Steve does animation also and he and Pablo are doing an animated show together using their ability to do voices. Pablo does a million voices in his act and he’s non-stop energy from the moment he comes out on the stage till the moment he decides to finish. I say “decides to finish” because it looks like he could just go on and on for as long as he wanted to!
Pablo also has a deal with Nuvo which is J Lo’s new network, and his special that Steve is also in should be out in the summer. Steve is from Kansas City and he told me that Pablo saw him performing and liked him so much that he invited him out to LA to stay at his place. He said he had kind of been ostracized by his fellow comedians in Kansas City who kind of look down on musical comedy and parodies, but Pablo embraced that gift cause he does the same kind of thing, and gave him the confidence he needed to rise to the level of where he is now. Very cool story! Just shows how important it is to have support! And I have to say that Pablo Francisco has to be one of the most secure guys I ever met. He spent the first ten minutes of his act riffing on his bald spot. Most guys try and hide it. He embraces it, and uses it for comedic material. My hat is off to him, if I ever wore a hat, which I don’t! Not with MY hair! But I might go so far as to buy a hat, just to take it off to him!
Jim Florentine hosted AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live this week. He’s gearing up for the 14th season of That Metal Show which he does with my old comedy partner Don Jamieson, and Eddie Trunk! It’s Saturdays at 9 P.M. on VH1 Classic, and there’s 12 new episodes. I asked him how he and Don hooked up and he told me that when Don used to be an MTV executive which I had forgotten but that’s what he was when I first met him, he used to book a show called Kamikaze. Jim auditioned for the show at The Comic Strip, Don liked him, and they realized they had a lot in common. They were both from New Jersey, they both had long hair, and they both liked strippers and heavy metal. It was a match made in heaven! And now it’s 7 years later and still going strong.
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey with Jerry Seinfeld, Jeffrey with Colin Quinn and Rich Vos, Jeffrey with Morris Levy, Jeffrey with Jim Florentine. Image two shows Jeffrey with Pat Cooper, Jeffrey with Rory Albanese, Jeffrey with Seth Herzog and Jeffrey with Steve Guttenberg. Image three shows Jeffrey with Weird Al Yankovic, Gilbert Gottfried, Rachel Feinstein and Jim Gaffigan. At the very bottom is Sarah Silverman and Steve Carell.