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. In today’s column, Jeffrey went to a screening event for Rosewater with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and saw Susie Essman at Gotham and much more.
This week I got invited to an advance screening of Jon Stewart’s Rosewater. I won’t give the film away but it was fantastic, and very courageous of Jon to do. After seeing Rosewater on Monday I got invited to a special press event where Stephen Colbert would be interviewing Jon Stewart about the film. I liked it enough to see it again so I went and I’m so glad I did. It was being live-streamed from the AMC Theatre on 68th and Broadway, and not only was Stephen Colbert there with Jon but they were joined with Maziar Bahari, the captured journalist who the movie was about. And he was as funny as Jon and Stephen. The guy had a great sense of humor, and after what he went through that’s really saying something.
After the film, Jon and Stephen came out and hugged each other to a standing ovation from the packed crowd. Colbert introduced himself by saying, ” Hi, I’m Jon’s friend Stephen!”, and the crowd lost it! He said they had about 8 minutes before the actual taping started, so they were gonna just hang out. Colbert told the audience he’s known Jon for about 52 years since the Eisenhower administration, and went on to say that he’s never surprised when Jon does something thoughtful, but that even he was surprised by the grace and facility with which he wrote and directed this film. The audience exploded with applause. This was all before the cameras started taping. And then he said to Jon, “Let’s bullshit for a minute,” and they talked about things they liked to eat. Stephen likes plums; Jon likes pistachios and said he eats so many pistachios when he goes to the bathroom it comes out in a shell!
When the filming started Jon joked that he had originally wanted to direct a rom-com, but Maziar didn’t meet anybody cute in the Iranian prison, so this was the story he had to go with. When Maziar came out and joined them he was greeted with a huge standing ovation also. Maziar said if eve one person in the Iranian government changes his behavior as a result of this film he’ll feel that his job was done.
News from comedy film director John Gallagher (The Deli) who I spoke to on the phone this week. John was almost killed in a fire just about one year ago this month, on Nov. 30th. John was in the hospital for 6 months learning to walk again. But he’s making significant progress, enough to have directed a new comedy feature starring William Forsythe and Sean Young called The Networker. He said that editing this film was the best possible therapy for him. He’s trying to get it done in time for the Tribeca deadline. Another romantic comedy feature he Executive Produced with Joe D’Onofrio called Enchantments, is on it’s way to Sundance and SXSW as we speak. He told me he has a new lease on life and a totally different outlook. He said his ordeal made him realize there’s no time to waste. If you have a dream, you have to get out there and go for it. Good luck John, we wish you well in all that you’re doing.
It was pouring rain but I’m like the mailman…nothing stops me, so I raced down to Gotham to see the AXS TV taping of Gotham Comedy Live this week. The place was packed wall to wall. I missed Margaret Cho’s monologue but got to see her pull down her pants on stage to show the audience her butt tattoos. I really thought she was just bluffing but she had alluded to doing it throughout the evening, and at the last minute she first exposed her upper body, and then turned around and pulled down her pants. Basically her entire body was tattooed and she said she started tattooing herself in 2006, and that theres not much room left for any more! She said her entire crowd is made up of people who are heavily tattooed so she feels right at home with them. So Kim K is not the only one showing off her butt these days.
And truth be told Margarets looked better, and a lot more creative!
Lisa Lampanelli is a great aunt! Not a “great” aunt as in “great grandmother”, but a wonderful, caring aunt. She took a group of people out to dinner to celebrate her niece Emily Lessard’s performance at The PIT, in what is being billed as a “musical parody mashup of “Wicked” and “Frozen” called Wicked Frozen, and I was one of the lucky ones that got invited. I usually spend Tuesday nights at Comedy Juice, but I enjoy spending time with Lisa, as she’s one of the rare ones who “gets it!”. Maybe her level of success has afforded her that but whatever the reason it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that she gets it!
With us was her best friend and opening act Luke McCollum, another couple, Lisa’s ex-husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, who I think she sees more now that they’re divorced than when they were married, and Jimmy’s girlfriend Jenna Esposito, the great singer. After dinner we all walked over to The PIT, ( People’s Improv Theatre) and saw a very entertaining show. Emily played Glindanna a major role, and has a bunch of theatrical credits to her name. It was fun sitting next to Lisa and watching her laugh what’s left of her butt off, at the action on stage.
There’s lots of news from Lisa. This past Thursday, she was on The Celebrity Name Game with Craig Ferguson, and she said he started hugging her and telling her how much he had wanted her to come on the show. He made her feel very welcome. She told him she thought he didn’t like her, because he’s so smart and foreign, and she didn’t think she’d fit in! She was so excited about winning $23,000 for the couple she played for. She also got asked to perform at the ESPN/Friars Roast of Terry Bradshaw taping January 29th. It will be a star-studded luncheon, and will air during Super Bowl weekend. She loves The Friars and said she’s always happy to do anything they ask. She recently did J.B. Smoove’s show 4 Courses with J.B. along with fellow comic Godfrey and she said that J.B. is funny every minute that you’re with him. This Friday you can have see her on The Today Show with Cathie Lee and Hoda, which she does once a month with fellow comediennes Judy Gold and Susie Essman. When I asked her about why the three of them were together she said she thinks they are the new experts on being old!
I jumped on over to see Susie Essman headline Gotham, and it was nothing less than I expected, wall to wall fans who couldn’t wait to hear Susie say “Fuck You” to anyone and everyone. Susie told me that of all the things she’s accomplished in her long career, it always strikes her funny that wherever she goes people just want her to call someone in their family a “fat fuck.”
MC’ing the show was the very funny Gina Brillon, a favorite of my buddy Gabriel Iglesias. Gabriel put her in his film The Fluffy Movie which came out this past summer, and he also produced her special on Nuvo TV called Pacifically Speaking which just came out at the end of September. Gina’s a Bronx chick who made good, but she can still speak like she’s from the hood when she wants, and when she imitates the Puerto Rican accent, it’s the best. She says at some point in your life you gotta stop talking that way or else you’re gonna wind up with a lawyer who tells the judge, “He didn’t did it, your Honor, I’m telling you he didn’t did it!” And when she does two girls talking and one asks the other to clarify something she said by saying, ” You gotta pacifically tell me!” That line is so strong,she took it to name her special.
Mike Gaffney from the recent season of Last Comic Standing also performed. He talks a lot about his teenage kids, son 16 and daughter 17. He says his son is a moron, and that you can’t talk to him while he’s walking or he’ll fall. And while I was enjoying Mike, I felt a squeeze on my shoulder and who was it, none other than Susie herself who popped over to say “Hi!”. She took the stage to thunderous applause, and it was just constant laughter for the next hour. Even though it was her second show of the evening, back to back, she brought her A-game.
She jokes about her parents a lot and after the show, she and I reminisced about her Dad, Leonard, who I knew. He was a physician who was part of the medical group where me and my parents went when we lived in Yonkers. One time I went for a severe pain in the back of my head. My regular doctor wasn’t there, and as I remember it, Susie’s Dad came out and in the waiting room pressed a particularly painful spot on the back of my head and took the pain away. It had been a muscle spasm and he taught me how to break it in case it ever happened again.
Susie will be playing Governors in Levittown on Dec. 5th and 6th.
By the way, I haven’t gotten all my videos from the New York Comedy Festival posted yet, but my brief interview with Larry David from the red carpet for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is up and you can view it right here. The rest of my videos will be up soon.
That’s it for this week, I’ll be back with next Monday with a new column full of updates.