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 visited The Stand, New York Comedy Club, and more!
So, I made my way out to Brooklyn on a Tuesday night, a newly settled land which never ceases to amaze me. In some areas, it doesn’t even look or feel like part of the city. I almost expect to see covered wagons rolling by. I feel the need to throw in the word “ artisanal” when I speak to people. I went to a watch emporium called Throne Watches to catch Julio Torres of SNL fame do his Future Forms show with three co-hosts, Mary Houlihan, Joe Rumrill and Sam Taggart and it was Brooklyn comedy at its finest. It’s actually very different than Manhattan club comedy because most of the Brooklyn performers I’ve seen are also sketch players with a background in improv. It’s a whole different scene. Plus, there were lots of watches mounted on the wall. And I was glad I got there early because the place gets really packed and seats fill up fast.
Mustaches abound and mine would have fit in great had I not shaved it off more than 10 years ago. I had held onto it too long as it was and had no idea it would be coming back again. I was able to chat briefly with Julio as he came in. He had just gotten back from Scotland’s Fringe Festival and when I asked him how it went he said , “It’s long. Like a month!”
The four co-hosts open the show together in what they referred to as “The Big Riff”, and then a special drop-in guest was announced to great excitement. He was announced with great fanfare and as an inspiration to many of the comics of today. It was SNL’s Kyle Mooney in the guise of one of his characters from the show, the terrible stand-up comic Bruce Chandling. Billing your self as a terrible stand-up comic is an ingenious way to get up and do stand-up and not have to worry about the audience’s reaction. The worse the jokes, the more they laugh. Exactly the opposite of what most comics have to endure. Kyle is always funny and the audience loved him. He came and went to great applause. I stayed to watch Joyelle do her thing, and then had to leave to get back to the city after the next act who was a thin blonde woman who talked a lot about sex, and then acted out a very graphic sex scene, which I guess is where the improv background comes in handy.
And as I left I ran right into my buddy Brett Davis from the The Special Without Brett Davis show, one of the most fun shows I had ever done. It was out of the MNN studios in the exact same studio where Chris Gethard used to do his cable show before he got the opportunity to move to regular TV. Brett just re-launched his show as more of a talk-show type show with SNL alum Sasheer Zamata as his first guest. It also includes some remote segments shot on the street with a comic named Lorelei Ramirez, and then an interview with the cast of Amazon’s The Tick which he did in the character of Akiva Smirnoff who claimed during the interview that he had just come in from a very rough night of partying with Jamie Kennedy. Brett is very innovative and he’s also doing The Podcast for Laundry, which he described as “a parody of the super niche podcasts that keep popping up. His first guest was comic/comedy writer Tom Scharpling, host of The Best Show with Tom Scharpling, who also was one of the executive producers on Monk, and who spent his time on air trying to convince Brett that this podcast is a bad idea for an hour of airtime. He invited me on the show to tell what he referred to as some of my “great stories”, as well as my opinions “on various detergents!” Personally I happen to like Wisk!
I caught Comedy Juice of which there were actually two this week. Very rare. I ran into B. Phlat outside who had just done Meshelle’s show in the Gotham lounge, and had also done The Bonfire with Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder. She told me what a great impressionist Dan is, which is something I wasn’t aware of. She said he blew her away with his impressions of Frank Sinatra, Biggie and Tupac.
So many LA comics are in New York. Amir K was still in town after his headlining gig. During his act, he imitated a black voice and some schmuck in the audience yelled out “Go back to Irania” Irania! He actually said “Irania” which gave Amir about ten minutes of material working off this putz.
Dean Delray was also still in town, who I ran into in the men’s room. He commented on the piece I wrote about him last week when I said with that name he should be fronting a band. He said he actually DID front a band for 25 years. On stage that night, he described himself as looking like a psycho biker, and far be it from me to comment on unusual hairstyles, but in his case I have to agree. Michael Kosta, the newest correspondent on The Daily Show came by to do a set and did well, but berated the audience when he didn’t get the response he thought a joke deserved. That always feels weird for the crowd, and changes the energy in the room, especially for the people who were actually laughing. Des Bishop was on and told me afterwards that he’s filming an hour special for Irish TV and doing warm-up shows down at The Cellar and Fat Black Pussycat where they let you do longer sets to prepare for a taping. He’ll be running the whole show on two consecutive Sundays in September. He always blows everyone away when he speaks fluent Chinese.
Angelo Lozada, the warm-up for The Daily Show told me his show The Lowdown, which he does every month, is doing it’s fifth show in Gotham’s lounge in September and all four previous shows have been sold out. It’s a combination stand-up/talk show which he does with comedy partner Tammi Cubilette, and after he told me that, we were joined by Amir, James Mattern, and Monroe Martin discussing who we liked best on Game of Thrones. Monroe said he likes Cersei because she’s so cold!
Kerry Coddett taped the first episode of her new comedy talk show Inside the Cipher at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan and it was a really great time. Produced by Krystal Stark of Stark White Entertainment it was like a party and a talk show at the same time. Great band and everyone on the show rapped. Even the white people! The guests were Phill Hunt, Krystyna Hutchinson, John Moses and a surprise guest Denishiha Jones who was a school teacher and friend of Kerry who turned out to be very funny and very provocative in her comments. This year, Kerry became the first woman to win the Carolines March Madness competition beating out 63 other comics. She’s also a great singer and dancer, and a super freestyle rapper. Each of the guests had to get up and freestyle rap using a topic they got to pick out of a jar of topics. Amazingly, they all did it well. In the talk show portion, they addressed questions like “Would you let Michael Jackson babysit your kids?”, “What did you think about Mayweather beating his wife?”, “Do you believe in open marriage?” The hilarious Jon Laster closed the show and people hung out afterwards because no one wanted to leave. I asked Kerry about the title, “Inside The Cipher” and she explained that a cipher conjured up “an exchange of ideas and friends just rapping.” Also getting high while sitting in a circle. Hope they do more!
It was a week of traveling for me, as I went out to LIC to catch Matt Levy’s Birthday Show at The Standing Room. He co-produces it with Jesse Swatling-Holcomb, which is a name you can not whisper to someone in a crowded noisy room, which is why I had him spell it and write it down for me. The reason they call it the Birthday Show is that it celebrates everyone’s birthday. If you’re there, it’s YOUR birthday and everyone gets candy and a doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts. Matt and Jesse open the show and between stand-up acts, are up there singing Happy Birthday to random people and doing a two man comedy thing. They also have raffles for gifts they give out. Jesse has a full beard and it was funny for me seeing a guy with such a full beard wearing a little pointed party hat, and jumping around on stage like a little kid singing Happy Birthday to strangers. Some of the people they’ve had as guest performers are Yamaneika Saunders, Harrison Greenbaum, and Shalewa Sharpe.
I ran into my old pal Greer Barnes who had just closed the second Comedy Juice show of the week. Greer is a beast on stage, but so humble in real life. We stopped to chat, but it took awhile because people who had attended the show kept stopping him to tell him how great he was. He finally got to tell me that he was in two episodes of Amazon’s Red Oaks, an 80’s period piece about a college student enjoying a last wild fling before summer comes to an end and the future begins. He also recently shot a couple of episodes of Judd Apatow’s Crashing, in which he said he’s playing the dark side of himself. He must be a good actor because no one I know has ever seen the dark side of Greer Barnes. Judd was the one who called him in and they shot it at The Cellar, The Village Underground and the Fat Black Pussycat bar. He said he originally had read for the Artie Lange part, but after his third audition, they found this other part for him, and he was really psyched about it.
Roast Battle at New York Comedy Club was it’s usual crazy self. When I got there Dan Lamorte was hanging out outside having just come from New Joke Night at the Fat Black Pussycat. Matthew Broussard and Alex Pavone opened the show warming up the crowd. Alex, as I’ve told you has the most interesting stage techniques, often holding the mic down by his waist. This time he didn’t use the mic at all and wound up laying down across a stool on stage while he performed. You just never know what he might do. The judging was done by Mike Cannon, Akaash Singh, and special guest judge Carly Aquilino. The jokes were as brutal as usual with Catherine Zini telling Jill Weiner she was a Daddy’s girl because her Mom is dead.
Dead parents seem to be the favorite topic of discussion at the Roast Battles because in the battle between Alex Engelbert and James Pontillo many of Alex’s jokes were about James’ deceased Mom, but he came back with an amazing line. He said “ Alex, you’re so jealous of my dead Mom because no guy is ever gonna bring you flowers.” And the house came down with applause. It was amazing. Mike Cannon told James it was the closest to sex he’s ever gonna get! James Pontillo won the battle. The main battle was betweem Matty Smith and Ali Kolbert, and they were both so good that even though they voted Matty the winner after the second round they asked them to do a third round. One of Ali’s best lines was that “Matty is saving herself for marriage- not for sex, for showering!”
Bob Dibuono checked in to let me know that after seeing him on Comedy Central’s Nightly Show, he was asked to join the YG and Kendrick Lamar tour for the last three weeks doing his impression of Donald Trump. They started in Anaheim and ended this past Friday night in Miami. It was 15 cities in venues that held 20,000 people. That’s a lot more than you get in most comedy clubs! Congrats Bob!
And Ben Rosenfeld, whose tag line is “Smarter comedy for smarter people” let me know that he’s taping his third album with Comedy Dynamics in September at The PIT. I asked him how it came about and he said he did his second album, The Russian Optimist”on his own and it was doing well. It hit #5 in Amazon’s Comedy Albums section, and his agent put him in touch with Comedy Dynamics and brought it to their attention. They were looking to re-release an album under their label and the rest as they say is history.
It’s a rare weekend when Gotham decides to have an All Star show rather than a headliner but I went to see a few of my faves. Harris Stanton is always a crowd pleaser and has his first album coming out in November called Naive Innocence. It was shot at Gotham over the Memorial Day weekend.
Johanny Mota one of the servers at Gotham who did the film Cheryl and Denise with co-Gotham server Rebekah Stein told me they’re waiting to hear whether they got into the Oaxaca Festival in Mexico. They already won for Best Comedy Short at the Madrid International Film Festival. It pays to work at Gotham where you’re surrounded by comedy all the time!
Mike Vecchione one of the funniest and best writers in the game will be doing the Impractical Jokers cruise in November thanks to Sal Vulcano. They start in New Orleans and who knows where they’ll end up with those guys. It’s Mike’s first time performing with The Jokers. Mike did Fallon at the end of May. I asked him if it was his first time. He said it was his first time with Fallon but he had done The Tonight Show with Jay Leno back in 2010. He said that Jimmy is such a sweetheart and that it was a great experience.
And Ophira Eisenberg is doing a live version of her NPR show Ask Me Another at The Bell House in Brooklyn later this month, and her guest will be Julia Stiles. Ophira will interview her and play some kind of game with her. In the past she’s had Jeff Garlin, Paul Rust the star of “Love” and Amy Sedaris on as guests.
Rich Francese brought his young son with him and I made sure to assure him that his Dad didn’t mean anything he said about him during his act. Then I left and accidentally left my doggy bag of food on Rich’s table. When I came back to get it he chastized me and said, “ Don’t you know better than to leave food near an Italian? You almost lost it!”
Wishing everyone a Happy Labor Day and congrats to Aaron and Christine Meehan on the birth of their beautiful daughter Piper!
And on that note, 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 Greer Barnes, and Amir K.