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 Comedy Juice, The Comedy Cellar, The Stand and more…
This week at the Comedy Juice Show at Gotham Comedy Club, I was out in the hall talking to owner Chris Mazzilli when he casually asked me who I was there to see. I said, “No one in particular. I came to see the whole show.” He said, “Don’t leave early cause Kevin Hart is coming by.” No way I was leaving early after that. I’d never miss a chance to see Kev. They were stretching the show and adding comics who were in the room to keep the audience till Kev arrived. Sure enough at around 11:30 Kevin’s security came in to check out the scene. Kev doesn’t just walk in anywhere anymore. He sends his security in first. That’s dope! The man has style. A few minutes later he came in with his posse, which was about six guys. The only one I recognized was his best friend Harry. Harry’s with him all the time. They went down to the green room to chill undisturbed until it was time for Kev to go on.
They announced they had a special guest and the crowd perked up, and when they found out who it was they went CRAZY! Kev came up and did an hour. He’s working on new material for his next special called What Now? And he said he likes to come to Gotham cause he can just get up on stage and talk and develop stuff. He told stories about his kids, about an interaction he had with a raccoon, about how he’d react if the girl he was dating survived a shark attack. He talked about how he likes to help his friends with projects, which explains Lil Rel’s Kevin Hart-produced special coming up in April. I heard he turned up at Carolines the next night during the March Madness competition and did a set as well. When he left, his entourage and security surrounded him and escorted him out, but he did stop and chat with some fans. He’s always gracious to his fans.
Earlier that night I ran into Paul Morrissey at Comedy Juice who’s in town from LA and co-hosting Artie Lange’s podcast with him for a couple of days. Paul had opened for Artie in San Francisco and they got along great so Artie invited him on to co-host. Next week he’s heading off to Florida to open for Tom Papa. Mike Vecchione was on the show. He’ll be traveling to St. Louis, Phoenix and Omaha this Spring. He still lives with Dan Soder and they actually see each other in passing while on their way to gigs. Seaton Smith from Mulaney was there to do a set as well. The Mulaney finale was on Feb. 15th, and Seaton told me that he was so grateful to have gotten that show. He said as a result of having been on that show he’s able to talk to his heroes and have a legitimate conversation, which he wasn’t able to do before.
Roy Wood Jr. was there too, he just got cast in a co-starring role in Jermaine Fowler’s ABC pilot called Delores and Jermaine. Delores, who is Jermaine’s grandma will be played by Whoopi Goldberg, while Roy plays Jermaine’s hard-nosed father, who kicks him out of the house, so he has to go and live with his grandmother! They’re shooting the pilot in April around the 8th or 9th according to Roy, He was in NY for a table read. Needless to say, he’s totally psyched about the whole project.
At the Comedy Cellar this week, I stopped in for a bit on my way to another show, but the show was too good to leave. Sean Donnelly was the host, and I stood in the back with him. It’s his job to give the comics the red light to tell them when to get off. The red light at the Cellar is at the very top of the doorway. That’s when I realized I could never host at the Cellar. I don’t think I could reach the red light! Jim Norton performed and killed it with a great story about asking Madonna for a photo, and Judah Friedlander did amazing crowd work. Keith Robinson and I were talking before he went on, and he told me that his special Back of the Bus Funny also produced by Kevin Hart, will be released in a longer, unedited version today, March 23rd. We got so into talking that he almost didn’t hear Sean Donnelly introduce him, and he had to bolt and run onto the stage.
Closing the show was Ricky Velez, and being the closer at the Cellar is a big deal. After his set we had a meaningful talk about a bunch of things, including his recent trip to LA. He went out there with Pete Davidson to do his first @midnight with Chris Hardwick and hang with Pete at the Bieber Roast where Pete was performing. He said he got to meet Bieber and Snoop Dogg and that was very cool. And he got to do @midnight with Jesse Joyce who was also out there writing for the roast. He and Pete and two other friends all stayed in one huge room at The Beverly Hills Hotel, and he told me some of the stories. Trust me, … they had a blast!
Comedy Central asked Ricky to do the red carpet for the roast as long as he was there, so he had to answer some questions from journalists. One journo asked him who he would choose for a threesome and without hesitation he said “Hillary Clinton and Oprah, because I’m addicted to power”, and it got a big laugh. Ricky is considered a contributor on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and he does field pieces, desk pieces and panel. He said it’s his dream job, and although he liked LA he couldn’t wait to get back to New York “to be with his people who understand him and his comedy.”
Bill Bellamy was hosting AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live this week. I got there particularly early and the place was already filling up. There was a lot of excitement about Bill performing since he’s not in NY that often. Bill is right in the middle of his Ladies Night Out Tour, and his next stops are Chicago, New Brunswick, NJ and Austin, Texas. He said that thanks to comedy he’s had the opportunity to travel all over the world, and he’s met two Presidents, Clinton and Obama. He told me that he’s really looking forward to his new movie The Bounce Back with Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds, Nadine Velazquez, and Michael Beech. It’s about love and bouncing back from heartbreak. Bill plays Shemar’s best friend and manager who tries to help him find his own true love, which (spoiler alert!) he eventually does! The only comedian I knew on the show was Owen Benjamin, who has a very unusual podcast called Why Didn’t They Laugh in which he analyzes jokes that don’t work in his act. He said he used to get rid of jokes right away that didn’t work but now he gives them six shows to prove themselves. Owen is 6’7” and Bill Bellamy is 6’4” which made me want to take a photo standing between them. If you look closely at the photo below you can almost see me!
This week, Irish-American comedian Des Bishop was in town. Des moved to China for a year to learn enough Chinese to perform stand-up comedy in Mandarin which was his goal. He’s got a one man show called Made in China which was at the Barrow Street Theatre and I ran into Todd Barry there. I brought a girl with me who actually WAS made in China and they sat us right up front, so when he asked if anyone in the audience was Chinese and she raised her hand, he directed all the Chinese comments to her. To be honest I’m not sure she even understood him. His Chinese was great but her English is horrible.
At The Stand this week, I ran into Nore Davis who was all excited about just getting passed at the Comedy Cellar. He auditioned for Estee at a midnight show on a Friday night, did five minutes and she started booking him right away, like Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wed. and wound up on shows with Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari and Kevin Hart, cause that’s basically who you find there!
Paul Virzi just got back from SXSW in Austin, Texas where he did a show at Esther’s Follies, with Glen Wool, Sasheer Zamata, Nate Bargatze, Al Madrigal, Bill Burr, and Joe DeRosa. He was out there for three days, staying at The Hilton and said there was some serious partying going on. He went out with Steve Mazzilli from Gotham Comedy Club and his manager Dave Kimowitz, who is also one of the owners of The Stand.
Yannis Pappas told me he’s hosting a new internet-based TV show for a well known internet company but isn’t allowed to say the name yet. He’s gotta be able to say it soon, because it’s starting on April 2, and it’s gonna be a mix of sports and comedy. Yannis will be providing content on a daily basis and he’ll have athletes, and comedians on as guests. Not just any guys who are athletic, but famous athletes, and knowing Yannis, I’m sure famous comedians as well! And then Kurt Metzger came over and sat down and was writing furiously. Probably working on new material. He stopped long enough to tell me he’s waiting for news on his TV pilot with Monroe Martin and Sabrina Jalees, a very interesting mix if I say so myself, … and why shouldn’t I? It’s my column!
Anyway that’s it for me, … I’m OUT!!! See you next week, where I’ll be jumping around all over New York.
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey with Owen Benjamin, Bill Bellamy, and Roy Wood Jr.