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 stopped at Gotham, The Cellar, Stand Up New York, and more!
Aaron Berg had a party for his new book American Etiquette at The Stand, and it was a great way to start the week, and was a really fun hang. I was chillin’ at the bar with my man Nore Davis, he of the new special Away Game following up on his first special Home Game, who opened the show that came after the party, and he and Monroe Martin and Derek Gaines were comparing sneakers. Well actually Monroe was one-upping Derek on his sneaks. If I wrote it down correctly Derek had Laser 4 Jordans, but Monroe had Legend Blue 11 Jordans, which seemed to have outranked Derek, by his own admission. I foolishly thought the 11 stood for the size because Monroe is a big dude and also cause the last sneakers I remember getting excited about were Keds! But then they looked down at Nore’s sneaks and basically bowed down to him cause he had on Supreme Jordans, which by their reaction, obviously blows away the other two! And they’re each hundreds of dollars which is why I guess kids are killing each other to get a pair! I had them all put their feet together so I could get a shot of them, and let you share in the excitement!
So Nore opened the show, and Subhah Agarwal, Luis J. Gomez went up, Derek Gaines, and Yamaneika Saunders performed, and of course Aaron Berg. Yamaneika was in rare form. She is now blonde, and she’s on TV with Meredith Viera and says she spends her time trying to figure out how to win over old White women in the Midwest. I asked her how she got the show because I’m always interested in that kind of stuff and she told me she did two weeks last season, and then they brought her on full time this past September 8th. She absolutely LOVES doing the show, and her spot What’s Hot Now. She’ll be doing her podcast Rantin’ and Raving for the New York Comedy Festival with her buddy and co-host Chloe Hilliard at Carolines with a special secret guest.
Judah Friedlander held a book release party the next night which was just as much fun and a very insane night for me. It was at The Comedy Cellar’s Village Underground. I sat in the back with owner Noam Dworman and Joe Machi, and it was a great show. Judah did a cool hour and showed why he’s The World Champion not just of all sports but of comedy as well. He’s just so quick and unique. He did so much funny crowd work and you can never tell where people will be from, but he has so much material ready to go about every country. He had me laughing the whole time! He told me he drew a lot as a kid which is what led to his new book If The Raindrops United, a book of his drawings. He said he did about 30 drawings while he was on the road about two years ago, and that was enough for him to get a book deal and then he drew the rest. Tina Fey wrote on the cover, “ I think this book will probably fix the world!”
I ran up to Gotham to catch the Comedy Juice show which I hate to miss and again ran into Aaron Berg who seems to be challenging me for who can be in the most places at the same time! But I got to see Roy Wood Jr. who is on the new Daily Show with Trevor Noah and he had such a killer set! The show had already started when I got there, and I got there in time to see Roy bring down the house! It’s always good to see Roy as we haven’t seen each other in a while, so I was glad I was there to congratulate him when he got off stage. I was standing in the back with Norm Aladjem from Levity who was there to see Leonard Ouzts, who’s making big waves.
Then there was a girl names Daphnique Springs from Florida who also went up. Her name sounds like a place I’d like to go on vacation, and I’d like to take her with me! She told me she had already done the Juice show in LA, and was really enjoying her time in New York. Jon Rudnitsky from Saturday Night Live came up and did a masterful bit where he danced with an imaginary partner. It was involved, detailed, and complex and not only showed off his comedic ability but his dance ability as well. I asked him afterwards how long it took him to get it down and he said about two months. And when I asked him to sum up his experiences on SNL he said, “ Every day is the scariest and most exciting day of my life!” Really great, very humble guy!
Correction: After this story was written I was contacted by Noam Dworman personally, and he said that he did not sponsor Jeffrey Leach’s visa to come to this country. Apologies to all for the error.
I walked into The Cellar and approached the table gingerly as you never know who to expect there, and I see Pete Holmes sitting with Judd Apatow, Estee, the legendary booker of The Cellar, the always funny Jon Fisch who was hosting, Andrew Schulz, Liza Treyger, Todd Barry, and a guy who at first glance I thought was Russell Brand, but who I soon learned was Jeffrey Leach. He’s an incredibly funny guy with a great English accent, who was leaving the next day for London to shoot a movie called London Town about the rock group The Clash, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers playing Joe Strummer. I asked him how he got hooked up at The Cellar the hardest club to pass in Manhattan, and he told me this great story.
He had hosted an award show for the advertising world and came to the attention of Noam and Estee who wound up sponsoring his visa to come here from London! That sounds like a guaranteed spot at The Cellar! He jokingly said it was a lot of pressure, cause if he didn’t do well they could probably unsponsor him! He didn’t have to worry. I went down with him to watch his set and he’s a show stopper. First of all he’s 6’4” with rock star looks and tons of silver rings, and jewelry. Really cool dude! So that was the table. And it got even better as Keith Robinson showed up and then Jeffrey Ross popped in wearing an unusual black Amish-type hat and sporting a thin moustache.
Pete Holmes told me how excited he was to perform at The Cellar. He said it was his dream for the last 14 years. He started out in Chicago from 2001-2004, then lived in New York from 2004 until 2010, which is when he moved to LA, but the whole time he always wished he could perform at The Cellar. He had Jon Fisch take photos of him on stage and after Jon told him how good his set was, he said he feels like moving back to New York because The Cellar is such a great room. He was genuinely buzzed. I knew I was gonna see him and Judd the next night when they were doing a special show at Gotham so I left some of my questions for then.
Todd Barry told me he was on the premiere of The Knick this season on Cinemax playing of all things a dentist. I asked him why he didn’t call me for some tips and he said he had very little dentistry to do. It’s set in the early 20th century, and he said he was basically selling teeth to people, which is something I had to admit I had never done! He’s also touring but has no name for his tour! I suggested The Untitled Todd Barry Tour!
When I saw Judd at The Cellar we had made plans to shoot a little video the next night at Gotham. My DP wasn’t free so I brought my camera stuff and tripod myself, hoping I’d remember how to plug everything into the right openings. I’m not good at that, but I try my best! I’m not about to fuck up with Judd Apatow. Then owner Chris Mazzilli popped in to say “Hi” to Judd and I turned him into a still photographer to help me shoot some stills because I hate selfies! The interview went great and was about his book Sick In The Head as well as his upcoming show for the New York Comedy festival at Carnegie Hall with Pete Holmes, Mike Birbiglia who Judd told me he loves as does everyone else, and a bunch of other funny people. You can see the interview on my channel!
When we were done we were joined by Pete Holmes and they were waiting for Rachel Feinstein who was going up first. As I was packing up my stuff, Judd asked if I would tape his set for him so he could use it to help prepare for Carnegie Hall, and I was excited to do it, but once again nervous that I’d mess it up. I’ll never forget the time that Rodney
Dangerfield allowed me to tape his set so that I could use it to write more jokes for him, and I must have pressed a wrong button because afterwards I wound up with a blank tape and was afraid to admit it to him! I felt like such a moron! I’ve also wound up with videos with no sound as a result of plugging the mic into the wrong opening. Or the time recently with Amy Poehler where I dropped my mic on the ground literally minutes before I was to interview her, and it broke and was not able to be used.
Rachel Feinstein and Pete Holmes killed, and then Judd came out to THUNDEROUS applause, and did a very funny hour and actually stayed on longer because he said he had nowhere else to go, except to go to a bar and talk to Dave Attell, so he was going to hold the audience hostage. They loved it, and just stayed and laughed. His act is made up of very personal stories ranging from having a three way during his days on the Ben Stiller Show to meeting The President.
Afterwards Pete Holmes told me about the tv pilot he’s doing with Judd that will be shot this coming month. It’s called Crashing, about a comic (Pete) who gets divorced and has to crash on other comic’s couches, leading to a different guest every episode. Now they just have to find comics who have a couch! Judd left around 12:40 to catch Dave Attell’s 1 A.M. set at The Cellar! It was a CRAZY night for me and I was exhausted by the time it was over.
Next night I’m back at Gotham again to catch Michael Che host AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live. Michael was such a strong host and is just so funny. He came out to UPROARIOUS cheering and applause. Afterwards when I asked him what he was doing he said he’s so busy with SNL’s Weekend Update that he really has no time for anything else. It’s the same reason that Colin Jost stepped down as head writer of SNL this past week so he could also concentrate on Weekend Update, which has been a mainstay of the show since it’s inception in ’75, when Chevy Chase did it and opened with “ I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not!”.
A documentary film is being made by a guy named Alan Berman about the great and often overlooked comic Lenny Schultz, who was a favorite of Billy Crystal and David Letterman and was one of the craziest comics to ever hit the stage, using props way before Carrot Top and Gallagher. The teaser is launched and they are in the process of raising money, and hopefully shooting in a month or so. I was lucky enough to know Lenny well and used to go and watch him perform all the time. It was so long ago I even used to yell out, “Go crazy Lenny” which was his request to the audience. I have’t yelled out anything in years, but I recall explicitly yelling until I was hoarse. Lenny used to arrange for me to have my own mic so I wouldn’t lose my voice.
I popped into Stand-Up New York to see my old buddy J.R. Ravitz who’s in charge on the weekends, just in time to catch Sherrod Small showing no mercy to a packed room. Wall to wall people to the point it was hard for the comics to get on and off the stage. Owner/comic Gabe Waldman was at the bar and told me he’s been performing more himself lately, and when I commented on the packed room he said, If you can’t fill a room on Saturday night, you shouldn’t really have a club!” Gabe congratulated me on the success of this column and said that everybody reads it. A very nice thing to hear. Chllin’ at the bar was Warren Holstein, Lenny Marcus and Yamaneika Saunders who was blonde at the beginning of this column and went back to dark hair by the end of this column! She made a point of explaining to me that it was a wig! Bob Dibuono was hosting the show. He was recently back from Vegas where he did 14 shows at The Laugh Factory. He also does many voices on Sherrod and Kurt Metzger’s hit podcast Race Wars. And 8 times a month he produces the stand-up show called Character Flawed which he explained was different from most shows that have a lof of new talent with one headliner.
At Carolines, I caught my pal Talent headlining. There’s a reason they refer to Talent from 98.7 Kiss FM as the official “King of New York Comedy” and it’s definitely a well deserved title for him. I thought they were gonna have to bring in paramedics with oxygen to revive people by the time he got off stage. They were gasping for breath! His take on Black people having a cook-out as opposed to White people having a barbecue had people rolling! The room was so packed I wound up standing against the wall near the backstage area along with a bunch of other people, which is fine because it gives me the oppportunity to see the comics on their way to the stage and leaving the stage. If I was at a table I wouldn’t be able to do that.
Shawn Harvey was holding it down as the host, and Ed Lover was the special guest and the first person I ran into as I came into the club. After Ed and I said hello to each other or should I say “ Wassup!”, he opened the side door leading to the stage, and entered the showroom that way. I was glad to see my buddies Barry Ribs and Aldo Marachlian who’s a beast on stage, also on the bill. After the show I was talking to long time Carolines showroom manager Kenny Quinn, who makes sure that everything runs 100%, as we walked out together through the private egress that takes you through the kitchen, and Talent came by to say “Hi” so I was able to tell him how amazing his show was. He was on his way out to the bar area, where all the comics gathered to greet their many fans, take photos and sell merch. Jamie Roberts was there and told me it was Talent who taught him how to host a show. He learned well because I’ve performed with him and he’s a great host.
And shout out to everyone at the All Star Show at Gotham. Larry Beyah who was hosting and he and Jason Andors invited me to see the show. Jason was on stage when I got there around 1 A.M. and he often uses his past ballet experience in his act, by incorporating dance moves into his material! I’d like to see him and Jon Rudnitsky in a dance sketch together. Jimmy Failla was waiting to headline the show, and he said the nicest thing when he saw me. He said that me showing up validated the evening! It doesn’t get better than that.
More next week, but for now, …. 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. Below, photos, Jeffrey with Judah Friedlander, Pete Holmes, Aaron Berg, Judd Apatow.