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, Gotham and more!
If you want to mix comedy with elegance the best place to do that is still at The Friars Club. For the second year in a row Eddie Brill who booked the Letterman show for many years and tours the world doing his comedy, helmed a comedy show at The Friars thanks to producer Dean Meierfeld. Dean spent many years literally behind the camera as a cameraman on Letterman which is where he met Eddie, but he also spent time camera-manning at NBC Entertainment, ABC Sports, 60 Minutes, Inside Edition, and all the major soaps at CBS. Needless to say he knows something about lighting and camera angles. Bob Spiotto director of programs and special events had saved a couple of great seats for myself and my date and was kind enough to help carry our desserts to where the event was held. The show was opened by Alan Kalter who was the announcer on Letterman for 20 years, from 1995 until 2015 and he told a story that started out sounding serious, about how when Eddie was the booker all his comic friends expected him to put them on the show. When he couldn’t get them on, people “hated” him, and by the end of his run so many people hated him, the only people who didn’t were the ones he invited to be on this show, Nick Griffin, Caroline Rhea and Tom Cotter. Eddie Brill took the stage and entertained people with stories, … not stand-up, about his times on Letterman, like meeting his idol Robert DeNiro after 9/11, when he went to an event with Denis Leary saw deNiro, and without even saying anything DeNiro grabbed him and hugged him, according to Eddie, in the best hug he ever had. The rest of the night everyone was asking him how he was so close to DeNiro and he had to say he had never met him before.
Nick and Caroline left early but Tom and Eddie stayed to party with the crowd afterwards. I got to share the event with tablemate Mark Jigarjian, better known as Jiggy, who opens for my boys The Impractical Jokers, and will be with them on their upcoming cruise in November. Also starting in 2018 he’ll be producing a monthly show at The Friars which he’ll be calling The Vault. He foresees it being like a comedy speakeasy, bringing in non-members, which was never allowed in the past, and also industry to see the comics, which of course was ALWAYS allowed!
The Roast Battle judges at New York Comedy Club are always so on point that even if the battles themselves aren’t great the judges are hilarious. Mike Cannon is a permanent judge, who never fails to come up with some killer one-liners about the roasters, and was very excited that his new album which I almost called “ Is It In Yet?” but which is really called “ I Think It Just Kicked In!” was rated #1 on iTunes. Congrats Mike, that’s HUGE! Yamaneika Saunders who again makes every decision funny and meaningful with a detailed explanation of why she’s voting the way she is, along with assuring the losing comedian that she still loves them, … although she might hate what they did up there, … was totally psyched about her half hour on Comedy Central which was airing the next night with a special showing at NYCC. It’s her first half hour special. Go Yammie! And Shuli Egar from the Howard Stern show who not only is a frequent judge but also opened the pre-show before the Roast Battle was there and has a lot going on. He’ll be performing in Minnesota soon thanks to a fan of Howard Stern who got a hold of him on his Twitter feed. He said that Raw Dog is now playing some of his comedy stuff for which he was really happy. Kerry Coddett also opened the show to warm up the audience despite the fact that five minutes before I saw her limping severely and she told me she had just sprained her ankle. Didn’t affect her performance one bit!
Two girls who supposedly are friends went at it first. And it was vicious! Vanetta Schofield vs. Sally Ann with Sally telling Vanetta that it’s not her body or her weight that keeps her single, it’s her face! Most of Sally Ann’s jokes were about Vanetta being Black. Sally won anyway after telling Vanetta she’d be a big star because she has the body of Beyonce and the face of Jay Z. Chrissie Mayr was up next against Jess Solomon and Chrissie was working hard on her material which was on index cards until she took the stage. She wore a very revealing low cut dress as opposed to Jess who was admittedly gay and wore a very high necked T-shirt and jeans, for which she took a lot of abuse, but never the less she wound up winning. And the main event was Rob Ryan vs. Dave Sirus comic and SNL writer who won with lines like referring to Rob as Notorious F.A.G. which made Yamaneika literally scream over and over again, and made Mike Cannon in his own words “speak like a Black grandmother” when he threw his arms up and yelled out “Oh, Lordie!”.
Afterwards out in the street I ran into my buddy Matt Richards who was in from LA and had literally just come from performing in a college with Brendon Sagalow who he described as “a beast” on stage. Matt is doing so many things. It’s one TV show after the next for him and well deserved. He’s one of the quickest guys in the game and an amazing host. He’s now hosting his own game show on Fuse called Trivial Takedown where celebs compete over pop culture trivia. They shot 21 episodes in 7 days. He’s also writing for Snoop Dogg who’s bringing back the show Jokers Wild in his own version called “Snoop Dogg Presents The Jokers Wild. It’s on TBS and will be coming out this fall. He told me he comes back to NY as often as he can. This is where he works on his stand-up as he says there are more stage opportunities here. Not only can he afford to travel now he’s taking his family, including his Dad and his grandma on a trip to the Dominican Republic as his treat, before heading back to LA and then to Atlanta to work on a secret thing for MTV, and then a secret thing for VH1. Mark my words this boy is headling for his own sitcom. It has to happen, and when it does, remember that you heard it here first!
I popped over to Broadway Comedy Club to catch Nicky Sunshine’s one woman show “Confessions of a Massage Parlor Madam” and you can add Nicky to the very short list of comedy performers who have openly talked about having successful careers as sex workers like Kaytlin Bailey, Alia Janine and Lisa Ann. Born in Falls Church, VA, she started out with the name Maya Nicole Miller, but after a 10 year career as a massage parlor madam which ended about three years ago, she transformed into Nicky Sunshine and that she is. Like a bright ray of sunshine. And her producer is Jamie Roberts who also happens to double as her boyfriend. I know Nicky from us having performed together but I never realized how multi-talented she is. Great singing voice, and acapella at that, and super great at accents like the Russian accent she used for portraying the Russian madam she worked for in her first massage parlor gig, which she needed to take to cover her bills. Then she got addicted to the money. She flips effortessly between characters and accents becoming the women she used to work with as well as the men who were her customers. She told great stories of some of her outcall clients including the guy who tried to pay her with a check! She even talked about her two arrests. And the audience was with her 100%. As a matter of fact there was at least one woman who felt the need to accompany her while she was singing. She probably thought she was in the movies! Lots of comics were there and in my area alone was Bob Greenberg, Nancy Lombardo, Laura Spaeth and Rhonda Hansome. At the end of the show she did a cool Q&A and lots of people had some very personal questions. She answered them all. One woman was even there from her Church group. That group has no idea of her background. Neither does her family. I really give her credit for having the courage to put it all out there and own her stuff. Some times in life we do what we have to do to get by. It doesn’t define who we are as people!
Colin Kane is a good example. He was in from L.A., and I went to see him headline Gotham. We had only a few minutes to reminisce about the early days when we were both at The Village Lantern, and he used to be outside barking for patrons. Now he packs them in at sold out shows.
And in this age of P.C. bullcrap I don’t think he could get away with what he says on stage if he wasn’t so good looking. There is literally nothing he won’t say or talk about, and he las LOTS of women fans. He called one pretty girl up on stage and told her boyfriend she was going to suck his dick in the green room after the show. The boyfriend and everyone else thought it was hilarious. He even did some new jokes he said he wrote on the plane right off his phone and tried them out during the show. But at the end he finishes on a kind of Spiritual note where he tells the audience that if they have any problems either Spiritual, financial, emotional, or political and he made them laugh and took their minds off their problems even for a little while then he’s done his job. Because that’s what comedy is about. And then he left the stage to huge applause to meet his fans and take photos. When I went to say goodnight and congratulate him on the show he was actually very humble. It was great to see him again!
I popped into The Stand to catch Ron Bennington performing and wound up hanging out in the street with him instead while waiting for the show to start. Lots of his fans drive in from all over to see him when they know he’s performing. One couple who knew me from the show told me they drove in from out of state and were told the show was sold out. While I was there Vondecarlo came along and told me she’s finally realizing a dream of hers in the form of her Coach Von podcast that’s launching in the next couple of weeks. She said it’s an extension of her Instagram thing where she talks sports, pop culture, relationships (with knowledge she developed during her longtime relationship with Patrice O’Neal), and of course comedy. And then Luis J. Gomez came along holding his skateboard and gave me the lowdown on all that he’s doing with his GAS Digital. He directed Dave Smith’s special “Libertas” that dropped this past week, and is planning two specials for 2018 and four for 2019. He explained that doing a special with GAS Digital is way different than doing it with a regular company or network because here the comics are in charge. He said you can work on your material for years and get a special on a network and not only do they have to approve your material, they also tell you what they want you to do.
With GAS he leaves it up to the comics to do whatever they want. They have total freedom which is why he thinks they will produce the best specials ever. He said that all they need is some guidance but when it comes to the comedy material it’s up to them what they want to say, and how they want to say it. The networks are too safe he says, and you have to submit your jokes to the producers and lawyers, who often don’t have the best sense of humor. He feels that self-produced content is where the industry is moving and he used Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, and Bill Burr as examples. He said they’re changing the game and the way that comedians are performing, encouraging them to take chances and push the envelope! ( And when I get a chance I have to look up where that expression came from, … pushing the envelope! If you will permit me to say so, … Luis J. Gomez is cooking with GAS!
Then he told me about his plans for Skankfest 2018. They have outgrown The Creek and the Cave and even though Rebecca Trent will still be involved producing it with him and Christine Evans, they have found a larger venue. He wasn’t allowed to tell me where it was yet except to say that it’s close to The Creek and it wasn’t the large venue where they had some shows this past summer. From the description, it sounded amazing! They will also be planning a Skankfest tour which he plans to do in seven different cities starting with the weekend in New York, and duplicating it in 6 other major cities. He described it as “the only comedy party in the world!”
I finished off my comedy week at Madison Malloy’s “Slutty Western Birthday Party” at a place called Mockingbird’s on Avenue B. Madison was in full Western regalia in Daisy Dukes and a low cut top with a cowboy hat and she looked totally hot. The place was packed with comedians most of whom I knew some of whom I just met. Jason Scoop also had on a cowboy hat and a little plastic space gun which I wish was mine! And it was Kenny Warren, Ryan Dacalos and Matt Mendillo, Jeremy Pinsley, Camille Theobald, and AMarie Castillo all in my little area.
Tuesday night at 8 P.M. The Comic Strip will be having a special screening of Jerry Seinfeld’s new Netflix special called “Jerry Before Seinfeld”, that was shot at the club earlier this summer. For anyone who doesn’t remember, Netflix built a new stage and changed the club to look the way it did back in 1976 when Jerry was just starting out. I was one of the few people who knew that Jerry was going to tape his special at The Strip but as a favor to him I kept it a secret for two months. He asked and I couldn’t say no. All cover charge proceeds will be donated to the Hurricane Harvey victims. Try and come if it’s not already sold out.
Special congrats to Gina Savage who left her longtime position at Broadway Comedy Club to run the new West Side Comedy Club opening in October. It’s attached to the Playa Betty’s restaurant on 75th and Amsterdam and holds around 110 people. A very exciting addition to the New York comedy scene. Gina has such a long history in comedy. I know her for at least 25 years and probably more from when she used to work at Carolines with Louis Faranda and Caroline Hirsch, from her days booking and managing with Barry Katz and also at Comix. She’s a force in comedy and will also be booking this new club as well as managing. It’s a lot but she can do it. I spoke with Eugene Ashe the co-owner of the club, with his Playa Betty’s partner Thomas Wilson and Eugene also has a long history in comedy. The club is the brainchild of Eugene and his wife Nina who actually met while working at Carolines Comedy Club back in the 90’s and Nina actually worked for Gotham Comedy Club for most of the 2000’s so they are definitely a comedy couple. I’m looking forward to the opening and the opening party after which I’ll be able to tell you a lot more!
Chris Roach who plays Mott on Kevin Can Wait with Kevin James has come out with a song parody to the tune of the Beach Boys “Kokomo” about his hometown Ronkonkoma, out on The Island called “Ronkokomo”. It’s clever and funny and his voice isn’t bad either. It’s already got 75,000 views.
And finally Richie Redding, who often tours with Katt Williams let me know that his game show Rachet A$$ Trivia is going live online today. He describes it as being the most inappropriate trivia show ever, “testing your knowledge of shit you’re not even supposed to know!” They shot it guerrilla style on the street and the cast includes Petey DeAbreu as his hype man and the lovely Cristina Galston as the pregnant hostess. I didn’t bother to ask if she was really pregnant and if she was if she agreed to do it just for the show!
And with that I’m OUT!!! Happy Rosh Hashanah to all those who celebrate!!!
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.