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 hit up the Gotham, New York Comedy Club and more!
I happened to get to Gotham Comedy Club at the exact second that Judd Apatow got there, so we walked in together making our way around the line that was out the door and down the street made up of people who came to see him. And as we walked past them all they didn’t seem to notice that it was Judd coming through. It was a cold night but Judd just carried his coat and was wearing just a short sleeve polo shirt. He went downstairs to the green room, and I went to my regular table, and sat with Ryan Reiss who was hosting the show. Ryan’s got a lot going on. Besides warming up the crowd for Seth Meyers, he’s now also warming up the crowd for Megyn Kelly and he says it’s been a blast. I asked him what kind of material he does and he said he likes to keep it considerate of the audience. He said it’s never about your own comedy taste it’s about theirs. He also does Seth’s post-show podcast over at NBC where he gets to interview audience members about topics that were discussed during the show. This particular day was a busy one for him, as after his warm-up gigs at NBC he ran down to the Fat Black Pussycat to do New Joke Night and then came to Gotham to host this show starring Judd Apatow and featuring Colin Quinn who told me he’s always working on new stuff. Both Colin and Judd joke about their levels of fame. Judd says his is like if people come up to him on the street and say, “Hey aren’t you Judd Apatow?” and he says “No” they just say, “Oh okay”, and walk away. Colin says that he’s famous in the way that no one gives a fuck. Like he’s walking down the street and a bunch of people are struggling to move a couch and one yells out “Hey you’re Colin Quinn, … grab the other end for a second ok?” or they ask him if he has jumper cables.
Colin did a masterful thing when he acted out a scene he thought should be on Law and Order with him and Jane Lynch. And the audience collectively fell out of their seats because he’s just so funny. After the show Gotham owner Chris Mazzilli and I were talking about Colin’s performance and Chris said he’s one of a kind. There’s no one like him. It’s true. Colin comes out on stage like he doesn’t know what he’s going to say or talk about and hesitates in his Colin Quinn way only to come out with some of the most funny and insightful comments on how we do things and how we live our lives. He deconstructs everything we know and do.
Judd announced that it would be the very last time he’d be telling the jokes we were about to hear because they were on his Netflix special The Return which would be dropping that night at 3 A.M. Why 3 A.M. I have no idea but I guess Netflix wants to encourage people to stay up late for some reason. Judd said he became a comedian as a kid because he was so bad at sports. He used to try and play soccer but he says he was terrible. One day out on the field he started jamming pebbles up his nose, and asked his friend to pull his arm like a slot machine and all the pebbles fell from his nose, and he says that that’s the day he became a comedian. He also told of the time he was asked to throw out the first ball at a Mets game and did it so poorly that suddenly there were 50,000 Jeff Ross’es in the crowd. Everyone was heckling him. He also told “celebrity stories that may or may not be true” which were very funny, scandalous and probably all true, and we found out that Robert DeNiro says “Cheese” out loud before he takes a picture.
Judd is so humble and self-deprecating that the audience immediately loves him. He reminisced about the time he lived with Adam Sandler and went on an audition for Jim Henson who told him he lacked warmth, and that he didn’t want him on the show. Alan Havey came to join me and we watched the show together. And just the way we came in at the exact same time, just by chance Judd and I left at the exact same time and I was able to tell him how much I enjoyed the show and wished him luck with his special. Not that he needs it. Everything he touches turns to comedy gold!
It was a week of parties and celebrations with more coming up. Todd Stone of the Stone Brothers aka Stone and Stone had a Chanukah party with over 500 latkes according to what his Mom told me. It also felt like there were over 500 comedians there as it was wall to wall in a modest Manhattan apartment. Jess Salomon was there after I had just seen her taping a half hour ay New York Comedy Club to submit to Comedy Central and she was there with her wife, comic Eman El-Husseini, literally wearing Christmas clothing. I don’t think I had ever seen that before. Jess is Jewish and her wife is Palestinian Muslim and their life is probably a sitcom. They do an animated cartoon about their marriage called “The El-Salomons” which comes out every Tuesday. They write the cartoon and they have it animated. They moved here from Montreal a year and a half ago.
Chris Laker was there and he recently made his first late night appearance with Jimmy Kimmel. He had been recommended by Mike Birbiglia who he often opens for on the road. As a matter of fact he’ll be opening for him in South Carolina and Atlanta very soon doing a couple of theatres for Mike’s newest show aptly titled The New One. I asked him what it was like doing Kimmel and he said he was more nervous beforehand than he could ever imagine, until he got out on the stage. He said that Jimmy was great to him and came to say hi about five minutes before he went on. And he said if he could have picked any show to be on it would have been Kimmel because he loves Kimmel. What I didn’t know was that they tape the comedy set in a different room than the actual show, so it feels more like a comedy club. They bring the whole studio audience in there, for the five minute set. And Chris said that Mike had worked with him on his set for about the last nine months helping him prepare, and whittling it down to those five powerful minutes.
I got to host at West Side Comedy Club this week and I really love that place. It has a great feel to it and everyone there is so friendly and welcoming. Jon Laster came and filled in for someone who couldn’t make it, and Jon told me he has a brand new web series called Ride Share in which he plays like an Uber driver. Each episode is about 8 minutes long and he writes and stars in it. He’ll be inviting friends to be in it, and he shoots it all over the city but mostly in Brooklyn. Karith Foster was there and I hadn’t seen her in such a long time. She told me she’s in a doc film called Can We Take A Joke which is on Netflix and iTunes, and she shot another doc with Adam Carolla and Tim Allen called No Safe Spaces. They shot it in LA and she shared a very funny un-PC like story which was great. She said she was sitting with Bryan Callen, Adam and Tim when she asked one of them how they liked their coffee, and one of them said “I like my coffee black with big tits. How do you like YOUR coffee, and Karith answered “Uncircumsized and with a lot of cream.” Aside from doing double entendres in coffee shops she’s also doing a lot of work on college campuses involving free speech and inclusion.
I dropped by Gotham again to catch Tom Papa who was headlining. He was there with his longtime publicist Michael O’Brien. Stavros Halkias was hosting and as I was sitting there eating my grilled chicken sandwich, someone slipped in next to me and it was my old pal, Adam Ferrara. Adam’s been in town from LA since the beginning of the month and will be here till Jan. 8th shooting all kinds of TV shows. He just did a movie with Emma Roberts and Hayden Christianson, Danny Aiello, Andrea Martin and Alyssa Milano who plays his wife. It’s a romantic comedy called Little Italy and he said it’s like Romeo and Juliet with two warring pizza families. He’s a guest star on the new ABC drama called Deception playing an alcoholic cop, and he’s in it with the gorgeous (my word) Ilfanesh Hadera from Showtime’s Billions, and Jack Cutmore Scott who plays Cameron Black, the lead, a Vegas illusionist who works with the FBI to help solve crimes. Adam’s also taping The Good Fight on CBS this week while he’s in New York and then on December 29th which happens to be my birthday he’s recording an album for 800 Pound Gorilla and he shared his choice of working titles with me and both are very funny. But that’s not all, on New Years he’ll be headlining the show at Gotham. I’m tired just repeating his schedule. But Adam is amazing.
Aaron Berg spent the week with Anthony Cumia filling in for Artie Lange while he’s in treatment, and Aaron told me it’s like playing tennis with a master. He said that Anthony is just so funny and he felt that it was really an honor for him to be asked to do it. He also said and I quote, “We all hope that Artie gets better but if he doesn’t I’ll do it for half of the money he was getting.” I guess his new baby Piper doesn’t eat that much yet! More on Piper a little bit later!
I got to do warm up for Jay Nog’s Paid or Pain this week and John Moses and Joe Larson were the very funny judges. As you may know comics come up and do their thing and the audience votes whether they get “paid” or receive “pain” from Lady Zombie the Dominatrix. Jay came out dressed as Santa for his special holiday edition. Joe Larson played good cop most of the time and John Moses was definitely the bad cop who had no problem telling comics he didn’t think they were funny, in no uncertain terms. When Gianmarco Soresi came up one of the first things John asked was “ Where’s your ass?” Gianmarco is kind of a classy comic, because he was primarily an actor before he started in stand-up about four years ago. He’s tall, thin and good looking and in those four short years has headlined at Carolines and Eastville, and also has representation. When they awarded him with “Pain” he took off his shirt to be shocked with electricity, and probably had a better body than anyone in there. Afterwards John Moses and I had a good laugh about how mean he was and I told him he must have been an amazing bully in high school. He corrected me by saying “not only in high school but in middle school too!” He shared that he was bullied a lot as a kid because he was very small with red hair, and then he shot up to his approximate 6’2” height and the bullying stopped.
When I walked into the New York Comedy Club holiday party literally the first person I saw was an infant. I was like, “Is that Piper Berg?” and it was. And she was being held by someone other than her mother, Christine Meehan-Berg who’s cool enough that she lets other people hold her. As I made my way through the sea of comedians it was big holiday hugs from all around, which is so cool. I made my way into the adjoining lounge and ran into Nore Davis who told me he’ll be taping his third album in February at Union Hall in Brooklyn.I asked him why Union Hall and he said cause it’s a great venue with low ceilings, which is great for sound, and they’ve always been great to him there. I loved the name of his special. It’s called Too Woke and I got it right away. He said that in their effort to create a better world people are becoming too conscious of everything and you just can’t enjoy anything anymore. He was like “Ease up! It’s so sad!” And it’s true, Woke is okay but too woke is too much! You can’t be offended by EVERYTHING!!! In the special he talks about masculinity, sexual harassment, politics and lots of other stuff.
Jason Salman was there and I almost didn’t recognize him without his big mustache, which has been his calling card for the last several years. He’s like the king of commercials booking one big one after the next and he got a series of commercials from NAPA Auto Parts and they didn’t want the stach, so off it came! I suggested he keep it in his wallet in case he ever needs it. At around 3:30 P.M. they announced the talent show so everyone made their way to the showroom. Geno Bisconte who shares my birthday on 12/29 was the host, and the audience of comics loves to bust on Geno, because he loves busting on other people. So they kept booing him and yelling out stuff, and asking why Aaron Berg wasn’t hosting. And Geno thought it was hilarious, and gave it right back to them. Some of the people there were Neko White, Shuli Egar, a great Dad, who had to miss Paid or Pain the other night because both of his daughters were sick, Walker Hays, Madison Malloy, Mike Cannon, Ricky Velez, Rosebud Baker, Camille Theobald, Alexis Guerrero, Casey Balsham, Giulio Gallarotti, Benny Demarco, Brendan Sagalow, and Mike Merkovich plus many more!
The show started with Mike Cannon and Casey Balsham singing a song, actually a parody they called the 2017 version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with the opening line from Casey “I really can’t stay” followed by Mike Cannon singing, “But baby I’m Louie CK” and it was a funny song. They had an ugly sweater contest won by Camille Theobald, and then a sketch by three employees and then I had to leave to catch the Long Island premiere of Joey Kola’s new film Gender Bender, featuring comics like Gilbert Gottfried as a crazed gynecologist, Kevin Downey Jr. as his crazed assistant, Chris Roach, Danny Cohen, Sal Governale, and even I who played a porn director but most of the time you heard me and didn’t see me. Joey played a really funny part about a guy who wants to know the power of a woman and winds up magically losing his shvontz for a vag!
And from there because there’s literally no end to what I do I drove down to Sammy’s Roumanian restaurant to wish Sheba Mason a Happy Birthday. Sheba has a new show coming out at the end of this month at The Cutting Room and it was recently written up in Richard Johnson’s column in the NY Post. It’s called Alexander Schwartz Sleeps with Mae West and it was written by Sheba’s mom Ginger Reiter. Sheba’s Dad is Jackie Mason and although she says that the blood tests proved she was his daughter and that he paid child support until she was 18 he still refuses to admit that she’s his daughter. Sheba told me the show deals with transgender issues, and sends a message of acceptance and love. She plays Marla, the lead’s transgender mistress who also turns out to be the long lost son of his friend Milty. She explained, “Milty’s wife had kicked my character out of the house years ago because I was “weird”. When we reunite he says “ I never once said anything negative about homosexual people” to which I reply “I’m not homosexual, I’m a woman even though I was born a man.” This helps articulate what transgender people are really going through…. Then she added “ As a person who has been totally abandoned by my father, I can relate to Marla’s pain.”
I raced to get to the restaurant before the party was over and Sheba was sitting there with Corinne Fisher, Ben Rosenfeld, and a whole bunch of other comics enjoying bowls of cholesterol and that’s when it dawned on me. Exactly two years ago today I was lying in bed in Lenox Hill Hospital having a stent put in to unclog the “Widowmaker” artery in my heart. The night before I had attended a dinner at Sammy’s Roumanian restaurant. I made sure not to eat a thing, but just said a prayer of gratitude. I recently read that the survival rate of a “Widowmaker” heart attack is like 8 % so I feel truly Blessed.
Ryan Dacalos had a holiday party at a new little place down on Forsyth Street called “The Meat Shop” and lots of comics were there too. Comics love parties when they’re not on stage, and that’s where they learn to be social because many comics are socially awkward. You wouldn’t know that by seeing them on stage, but the comedy community is so welcoming in New York that everyone learns to open up and feel at home. It’s really a wonderful thing to be part of. Allan Fuks of The Week in Sex podcast was there and told me he’s starting a new podcast with Elon Altman called “Judges of History; they will be judging historical icons “with an unfair modern lens and context.”
And since my next column will come out on Christmas day I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy Holidays, … which I may say again next week, … and with that I’m OUT!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, Comedy Matters TV. Pictured, Jeffrey Gurian with Sheba Mason; Rosebud Baker, Nore Davis and Neko White, and Adam Ferrara.