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 Skankfest, Gotham Comedy Club, Carolines and more.
I got to spend the day on the set of one of my favorite shows of all time, Crashing, and it was even more amazing than I thought it would be. The production was so huge. Macdougal street was filled with equipment, the make-up and wardrobe trailers were a couple of blocks away on 6th avenue, and the Kraft table was up the block on West 3rd street. One of the holding rooms for the talent was at the Players Theatre next door to the Olive Tree Cafe where a lot of the action took place.
I got there about 9:30 a little before Judd Apatow, who is the Executive Producer and who directed the episode. Then people started showing up and it was all the faces I enjoy watching so much on the show. Lauren Lapkus who plays Jessica, Pete’s ex-wife who cheated on Pete with Leif played so well by George Basil, and his long hair is real. He showed up with it that way. It was also Zach Cherry who plays Chicken Wing an interesting name given to him because he’s always eating chicken wings, and Jamie Lee who’s also a writer on the show but who plays Pete’s ex-girlfriend and stand-up comic Ali Reissen.
The show uses many comics playing themselves and on the set this day were Colin Quinn and Kevin Brennan, who played themselves, and who I hung out with for most of the day, Jermaine Fowler who played a character named Russell, Greg Fitzsimmons who is a writer and producer on the show, Mike Lawrence who’s a co-producer, Joyelle Johnson who played herself, Aparna Nancherla who played a character named Anaya, and Wayne Federman who played himself.
And then, of course, there was Estee Adoram the legendary booker of The Comedy Cellar and Madeline Wise who’s new to the show and plays Pete’s new girlfriend. It was fascinating to watch Judd coordinate the actions of so many people and there are two teams, which I never knew. Each actor has a stand-in who wears a tape with their own name and the name of the actor they’re standing in for. They use that second team in rehearsals for blocking the shots. Once Judd places you in a position that’s the position you have to stay in each time they shoot that scene. They take lots of still pictures to ensure continuity.
Not all the actors were stand-up comedians though. Tony award-winning Marissa Jaret Winokur was there to play a character named Guinevere, and was so bubbly and energetic she kept everybody laughing throughout the day, Henry Zebrowski from Adult Swim was there, and in early drafts of the script it just said that a big comedy star would be there. It turned out to be Emo Philips, one of the nicest guys in the biz. Emo came in and mingled with everyone. I reminded him of a photo we took up in Montreal back in 1994, in the lobby of The Delta Hotel where JFL was held in those days. We were standing in the lobby and there was a sign hanging that said “L’ogistique, avion et hotel” and Emo stood in such a fashion that the sign looked like a text bubble coming out of his mouth. I promised to send it to him which I will.
It was pouring rain outside so they sent PAs to the Kraft table to bring us food. At around 5 P.M. Judd treated the entire cast to dinner at a cool Italian place and we went over in two vans. Everyone was given a huge umbrella, which really came in handy. At one point during the shoot, Mike Lawrence who was sitting with Judd watching the screens was ad-libbing amazing lines like he does at the Roast Battles where he often judges. And Judd often offers suggestions of lines that are not in the script. As a stand-up comedian he knows what works, and he directs in such a comfortable way that everyone is in a good mood all day.
It’s really like a family on the show. Most of the scenes were shot in the Olive Tree Cafe but they also shot some scenes out in the street, where crowd control was necessary. I left around 10:30 P.M. but when I went back the next day to see Judd I was told they shot till 3 A.M. I can’t tell you anything about the storyline except to say that it’s really funny and you’ll definitely enjoy it. Season 3 should start sometime around February.
Henry Zebrowski is one of the stars of Adult Swim’s live-action TV series “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell” which he described to me as an office comedy set in Hell. It’s about a guy named Gary, an associate demon, who attempts to capture souls on Earth in order to climb the corporate ladder of the underworld. I asked him if he had ever done stand-up and he said he was an improv guy at UCB who started out in Murderfest. Season 4 should air sometime in 2019.
Jermaine Fowler is following up his co-starring role in Superior Donuts with the new film “Sorry To Bother You” with LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Terry Graves, and Steven Yuen in a film that had a successful debut at Sundance this year back in January. Rapper Boots Reilly is the director in his directorial debut, and when I asked Jermaine what it’s about he said it was kind of hard to describe. He said it’s about the world of telemarketing. The star gets a job as a telemarketer and finds out that success is not all it’s cracked up to be. Danny Glover plays a veteran salesman who tells Lakeith to use his “white voice” in order to boost his sales record. The white voices are supplied by David Cross and Patton Oswalt. Jermaine plays Salvador, the lead’s best friend.
Thanks Crashing team for making me feel so comfortable!
Andrea Mezvinsky is a New York comic transplanted to LA who just finished the third iteration of her comedy series about the drama of moving. It’s based on her stint as a real estate broker in NYC to make ends meet, while doing stand-up and raising a daughter on her own. During her struggle to close deals, she said she was struck by how “the stress of moving caused everyone’s personal dramas to unravel regardless of how much money they had or didn’t have.” She said she realized that people move because of life-changing events i.e. marriage, divorce, the birth of a baby, the death of a loved one, the loss or the changing of a job etc. , and she thought it would make a good topic for a show. Her logline is: Andrea’s Listings is about the unlikely rise of a Manhattan realtor whose crazy clientele make her own crazy life seem almost normal. Her experiences included the orthodox wife who brought a breast pump machine to an open house and started to pump, a trust fund millennial who insisted on locking herself in the master bedroom so she could see what it would be like to have sex in there, and a psychic who tried to rearrange the furniture to get rid of ghosts and negative energy. She filmed the first iteration in New York and screened it at the Comic Strip. She said that “Everyone loved the pilot including an independent producer from Los Angeles who wanted to develop it further so I came out to Los Angeles and we rewrote it. Now it’s about a successful Manhattan realtor forced to relocate and sell homes in Los Angeles.” After filming the second pilot they were about to produce a web series when a third independent production company became interested in developing and fine tuning it.so It is now in the form of a mini pilot/ trailer that they are currently pitching to network, cable, and streaming channels. Good luck with that Andrea!
And another comedian named Kenan Jerome Floyd who also worked as a doorman at Carolines for two years moved out to LA and just announced an independent cross-country tour he’s calling “The Millennial Tour” in which he will talk about his strict upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness, “feeling out of place in an upper middle class Black family, cynical views of modern society and the struggle of paying his cell phone bill on time.” It will be in Philly, Chicago, LA and San Francisco to start and shows will be added in cites like Houston, Austin, Mobile, Alabama, where he’s from, and Jacksonville, Florida. According to Kenan he’s working on two TV pilots, a feature film and hitting the clubs out in LA. He’ll be performing in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn House of Comedy in August.
Later this week I will be in Montreal covering the red carpet for the JFL awards to see among others Tiffany Haddish get the award for Comedy Person of the Year presented to her by Kevin Hart, Jo Koy get the award for Stand-Up Comedian of the Year presented by Howie Mandel who is now part owner of JFL, and Lil Rel Howery for Breakout Comedy Star of the Year presented to him by Deon Cole.
Jon B the Chief of Staff at Stand Up NY hosts a podcast called “Passed” with comic Kevin Hurley up at the 78th Street Labs studio above the club. I dropped by to check it out and wound up as the only guest since someone else who was scheduled didn’t show up, and the topic was “leveling up” in comedy. How to take your act to the next level and how to break into the business. Very insightful commentary, if I must say so myself, and a fast moving hour.
And last night I got to see Bo Burnham at the 92Y being interviewed by Lauren Duca from Teen Vogue magazine about his new film Eighth Grade starring the amazing 13-year-old actress Elsie Fisher and how her character Kayla is handling her final week of middle school in contemporary suburban America. It’s a perfect study of the angst and awkwardness that tweens and pre-teens feel at that age. They showed clips from the film and Bo told of his own experiences at that age where he was voted Most Shy, and later on in high school Most Likely To Be On A Reality Show.
Bo said he wrote the film be cause of the anxiety he was feeling in his own life at the time and that it took him three years to get the financing in place. He said his last special gave him the momentum to raise the money. He was nothing but honest about himself, and his feelings about himself, And he said that he chose Elsie out of hundreds of kids because whereas the other kids were acting like confident kids pretending to be shy, Elsie acted like a shy kid, pretending to be confident. And with all that being said, when she got into high school she didn’t make it into the school play! Perfect show biz story!
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 with Colin Quinn, Pete Holmes, Judd Apatow and Wil Sylvince, Jermaine Fowler and Colin Quinn on the set of Crashing, and Wil, Colin, Kevin Brennan and Estee Adoram.