Jeffrey Gurian is a writer, comedian and tv reporter 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 covered the scene at Gotham, New York Comedy Club, SiriusXM, The Stand and more.
Kyle Mooney from Saturday Night Live has a new movie that he wrote with Kevin Costello called Brigsby Bear, and trying to describe it might not do it the justice it deserves. When I first got invited to the screening by top PR guy Gary Springer, I thought by the title that it was going to be an animated film for children. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s such an innovative, creative, and different kind of film. It also features a great cast with Matt Walsh from UCB, Greg Kinnear, Mark Hamill, and Claire Danes from Homeland. It’s got great comedy and is co-produced by The Lonely Island Guys, Andy Samberg who appears in the film, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone. I will try and describe it by saying that Brigsby Bear Adventures is supposedly a kids’ TV show, produced for an audience of one, namely James played magnificently by Kyle Mooney, and when the show ends abruptly in the middle of a season, due to reasons that you’ll never forget, James becomes obsessed with finishing the story, and must learn to cope within a new world he knows nothing about. You gotta see this flick! It’s amazing and Kyle is a force to be reckoned with. In theaters on July 28th. I would even see it again!
Hanging backstage at New York Comedy Club one night, I ran into Jason Salmon who had just headlined Carolines on Broadway for the first time. He said the place was packed and he promoted it on social media using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. He’s also been on the road in places like Nebraska, and North and South Dakota, Oklahoma and Arkansas. He said in three consecutive weeks, he put 1,000 miles on his car. I’m sure they appreciate his Texas accent and his mustache that features prominently in all of the national commercials he does. He also works clean and they love that out in the Heartland. He’s also doing a 15-minute podcast with comic Amy Shanker called 15 Minutes of Infamy, and it’s not about Pearl Harbor.
Mel Brooks’ son Nick Brooks is co-producing a new comedy series with Sibyl Santiago who runs the Soho International Film Festival. It’s a Blaxploitation comedy series like a take-off on the films from the 70’s like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones, but set in modern times and it’s called Nefertitty. I drove out to Brooklyn one day to watch the shoot on the lawn of a big private home, and I shot some cool video with Kevin Brown (Dot Com from 30 Rock) who is one of the stars in this project, and plays a character called “The Velvet Hammer.” And of course, while I was there I made sure to accidentally walk into the frame as they were shooting, and ruined a couple of takes, because that’s what I do! Kevin is as talented and as nice as he is big, and he’s tired of being typecast as the bouncer, or the guy who tells you that you can’t come in someplace. He said he’s at the point after 7 years on 30 Rock where he can afford to turn down those kinds of roles that he doesn’t like. He was wearing such sharp clothing for this shoot, and on his own with no prompting, he said his threads look like they came directly from my closet, … only in HIS size! Maine Anders plays super heroine Nefertitty and I interviewed the director Lola RocknRolla and of course had to ask her about her name. Very high energy, she gave me a very funny interview which you will be able to see very soon on my Comedy Matters TV channel.
I stopped up at SiriusXM studios to hang with my boys on the Raw Report— Aaron Hodges who’s leaving the show after 2 years to start his own comedy label, Jason Shebiro, who will not believe me that his name was supposed to be “Shapiro,” and Andy Fiori who if he wasn’t living in New York would have no idea of the difference between Shebiro and Shapiro. These guys do a fun radio show every Thursday from 3:30-4:30 on Raw Dog Channel 99. Aaron’s last day will be this coming Friday, and his label will be called You Lucky Dog Productions. He’s got a home studio out in New Jersey and he’ll be starting with audio albums. The first is already available for pre-order and will be formally released on May 26th featuring the work of Costaki Economopoulos, which is easy for you to say, and which Costaki cleverly refers to as “the biggest name in comedy.” Why couldn’t he make it easy like Yannis Pappas did? He chose to be Greek too, but was kind enough to make sure his name was easy to say. Aaron already signed his second comedian J-L Cauvin who will be doing kind of a sketch album impersonating President Trump doing a “Fireside Chat” kind of thing called Fireside Craps discussing the first 100 days of his administration. He just recorded it and they’re planning on the 2nd week in June for a release. Very exciting endeavor.
Jason Shebiro is teaching sketch comedy at the UCB training center, and continues to work in programming, hosting and producing on the Raw Dog channel, and Andy Fiori says that for him stand-up is his #1 priority. He recently performed at Moontower in Austin, Texas where he opened for both The Bonfire with Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder, and Legion of Skanks with Big Jay, Luis J. Gomez and Dave Smith. He had been producing The Bonfire, but is now wrapping that and moving on to produce the Nick Di Paolo Show. It’s on Faction Talk 103 which is kind of what Opie’s channel became. The first show airs today, May 15th and it’s on after Opie who runs from 6-8 P.M.
I stopped by the Fat Baby show and hung out with my boys Benny DeMarco and Giulio Gallarotti for a bit. Giulio was out in LA for a while for pilot season and wound up doing his first feature film, a movie they shot in North Carolina in which he plays a villain. And he’s still making his rap music under the name of Lil Young Big, which is one of the best names I personally have EVER heard, and I’ve heard a lot of names. He’s like a Riff-Raff type character with a piercing in his nose and gold teeth, and who am I to talk about hair? But with CRAZY hair, and he’s bare-chested a lot and spits beats like a madman. Now I know why he did Desiigner’s Tiimmy Turner so well at karaoke one night at NYCC. No one understands Desiigner, but Giulio got all the words. Even the black comics dug it! He’s actually releasing three new singles in June and when I asked Benny D what he thought about them he said, and I quote, “Man, they are so unbelievable, they blew my dick off! I don’t have a dick anymore thanks to Lil Young Big. I wish he had left me even a little, but no, … it’s all gone!” I didn’t bother to check, but I believe him. Cause no one would lie about something like that. Benny told me they’re bringing Fat Baby to Atlantic City. They already did two shows there and hope to make it on the regular. He said a crazy town like that deserves a crazy show like Fat Baby. Benny and I have this thing where when we see each other we both can’t stop smiling! He’s an authentic madman and I give him major props for that!
Jessica Kirson did an outstanding set at Comedy Juice this week, and when she turns her back to the audience and uses her inner voice to reassure herself that everything is going well, it’s hilarious. Owen Benjamin had to follow her and said he found it hard to follow Lesbian porn jokes, because he does jokes about mittens, but he too, had a killer set. He’s 6’7” and describes himself as “a giant human being.” He’s really such a talented musician, and always brings his keyboard on stage with him, so he could do musical things like “Beethoven stuck in traffic” and really creative parodies of songs, as well as original songs like “Every Relationship From A Man’s Point of View.” He said his site is HugePianist.com, and I checked it and it really is. I thought it was just a great joke, but it’s real on both counts. Roy Wood Jr. closed the show which is not always easy when the audience has been sitting for a long time, but he had no problem. He told a lot of very personal, emotionally charged stories about his dad who was a program director on the radio and had actually hired Don Cornelius of Soul Train fame. Don had come to Roy’s dad looking for money to invest in a show (Soul Train) that he said would be like a black version of Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” and his dad would become one of the original investors in the show. It would have made him rich if he had not demanded his money back at some point and for the rest of his life whenever he heard Roy watching that show he’d yell out, “Turn that monkey shit off.” Roy said that Soul Train was like the black Facebook of the 70’s, and it was a truly great and touching story. Roy said he was only 16 when his dad died, and that his dad was a complicated man who was a civil rights activist and who is buried next to his side-chick!
I popped by The Stand and caught Ron Bennington hosting a killer show with a great line-up. It opened with Vlad Caamaño who was followed by Dan Soder who is killing it on Billions and has a new special coming to Netflix. Then Bonnie McFarlane snuck up on me and surprised me while I was standing with Ron near the bar. Ron and I agreed that she is truly one of the funniest and sharpest people in the game, and then Ari Shaffir came out. He’s back from his journey to far-off lands, and I need to get some stories from him next time I see him.
Chloé Hilliard opened for Vic DiBitetto who was headlining Gotham. Chloé told me she’s developing a few TV projects, two of which she created, and that she STILL doesn’t have an agent or manager. She was wearing a great, brightly colored outfit with her big, beautiful fro, and I told her she would have been perfect to be in Nefertitty. And she agreed! Vic has such a great story. Going from a sanitation man and struggling for years, where he’d pull his garbage truck up to a comedy club and run in and do a set, to his Bread & Milk video going viral, and to where he is now with superstar status who sells out theaters. It’s a great and unique story. The kind I love that breaks down stereotypes because lots of people think you have to be in your 20’s to get big in comedy. Vic belies that myth. And after the show, we chatted for a while and he told me he just signed with a literary agent to write a book about his unique and inspirational story. It’s definitely a story that needs to be told. He’s in two upcoming independent films. One is with Cheri Oteri and called Turkey’s Done, and the other is called Who’s Jenna…? with Vinny Pastore. Vic will also be at The Borgata at the end of June.
Kevin Gootee is working feverishly on the new season of his show Comics Watching Comics and plans to release seasons 5 and 6 sometime during the summer. We went out to Secaucus to shoot some new episodes in his home studio where he has a three camera shoot set-up, and the panel was really fun with Kevin, Mark DeMayo, Geno Bisconte, and Mark Riccadonna. We try and give new comics constructive criticism, which sometimes devolves into just ripping them apart, … in a nice way of course, … and the difference between this and Last Comic Standing besides the fact that LCS is a highly successful show, is that the audience doesn’t vote on the comics, it votes on which of the three panelists it wants to return in the next episode.
And now for the big news….I can now announce that I just signed a deal with a production company and online network called Be Terrific that was also filming me and the panel, and will be filming me wherever I go in kind of a live version of what I do all week for a show appropriately called Comedy Matters TV with Jeffrey Gurian. This coming Wednesday, we are off to Paul Chamberlain‘s first annual Crapshoot Comedy Festival in Vegas shooting videos for three days with as many of the 30 comics as possible who will be there.
Spent time this week coaching Fox Business health reporter Jade Scipioni and the NY Post’s Chris Perez for next Sunday, May 21st’s New York’s Funniest Reporter Show at The Comic Strip. I think it’s the 9th year and it’s produced by Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick of the great PR firm Goldman/McCormick. It’s always at The Strip. Wait till they see how nice it looks now, thanks to Jerry Seinfeld and Netflix. Like back in 1976. Both Jade and Chris are actually very funny, and have their timing down pat. Reporters seem to do well with comedy and I think it’s because they’re good working with copy and keeping things brief which is what you have to do when writing jokes. Brief and to the point!
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. Photos below Jeffrey with Kevin Brown, Aaron Hodges, Jason Shebiro and Andy Fiori, and Vic DiBitetto.