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 Stand Up New York, West Side Comedy Club, and The Stand.
I often get invited to a lot of cool things and this week was very special. I was invited to attend the Digital Hollywood 2018 Media Summit held at the Czech Center and Consulate on East 73th Street in Manhattan and it was two days of conferences by leaders in entertainment on TV, mobile phones, virtual and augmented reality, social media, film, advertising and so much more with execs from many networks in attandance like the CEO of truTV, and the heads of Lorne Michael’s Above Average and David Zucker’s company plus a whole lot of media companies and content creators I hadn’t heard of before, many of whom use comedy in their work and to carry their message.
I also ran into my buddy Mike Heller there, the CEO of Talent Resources. Mike is a very old friend and an entertainment lawyer who started out managing stars like Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Rachel Hunter and through his many celebrity connections wound up creating a company that bridges the gap between brands and talent by creating powerful media-driven celebrity and influencer-based campaigns for their clients. Always great to see Mike who’s funny enough to be a comic himself!
Needless to say there were also sessions on OTT and streaming as well as social media including how to use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to promote whatever you’re doing. Kudos to comic Brett Eidman for his new Funny or Die video with Bruce Willis. Brett is a multi-talented comic who does stand-up, sketch and acting and often gets to do cool online videos. In this one called “Bruce Willis Loves to Be Interviewed” Bruce starts off complaining about having to do multiple interviews about his new movie “Death Wish 2018″ where he’s asked the same stupid questions over and over again, and during the interview it cuts away to Brett as Bruce’s stand-in to answer the questions that Bruce is tired of answering. That is until the interviewer gets pissed off at Bruce for letting his “stand-in” do the talking. You can watch it at Funny or Die of course.
I caught up with Taylor Tomlinson at The Stand and besides talking her out of walking to The Comedy Cellar in the cold we sat down to catch up on what she’s up to these days. She doesn’t get to New York much so it was good timing running into her. She had just gotten in on the redeye that morning and was already leaving the next morning by train to Syracuse to perform in Auburn at the Auburn Public Theatre. In April she’ll be headlining for the first time at the D.C. Improv where she had previously featured for Bert Kreischer, and her 15 minute Netflix special is due to come out this summer.
She often opens for Brian Regan and when I asked her how that came about because those things always fascinate me, she told me he saw her on You Tube and contacted her manager, the great Judy Brown-Marmel at Levity and the rest is history. This night she said she was scared because it was her very first time performing at The Cellar and the thought of all those legends who’ve been on that stage was making her nervous. So of course I asked her how THAT came about and she told me that Estee had seen her perform at Just for Laughs and told her to contact her when she got to New York. She did and she was going up that night and if I hadn’t had a spot myself to get to I would have gone down there with her to offer my support. But I had just seen her do a killer set at The Stand so I’m sure she did well. Her set is non-stop clever stuff. I say “non-stop” because there are no awkward pauses as she thinks of what to talk about next. It just flowed. I really hope she didn’t walk all the way to The Cellar in 30 degree temperature!
Lots of people in comedy do other things but I don’t think I ever met anyone who was a landscaper/poet before. That is an unusual combination, but not so for comedy producer Charlie Baquet who’s been producing shows at Broadway Comedy Club for what will be two years in July. He said he enjoys handpicking the perfomers and his shows are a mix of newcomers and seasoned comics. Once in a while he performs himself but mostly he just produces. I asked him about the poetry thing and he said the only time you get famous with that is after your dead, so he’s not pursuing it as much as he’d like to but he is working on a book of his poems.
Greg Kritikos was there just finishing up his Bagels and Baklava show with his producing partner comic Janice Messite who was also celebrating her birthday with little red velvet cupcakes she gave out, and he’s got a lot going on. He created a cartoon called The Witless Protection Program, which he is also Exec. Producing with his partners Eleni Lucas and Mike Rockwitz, along with an animater from Ren and Stimpy named Wil Branca. Actress Sean Young will be playing Miss Kitty in episode #4. Speaking of Sean Young, Greg also just got cast in the lead role in a feature film that will be Sean’s directorial debut. It’s called Charlie Boy which will be in production by June. Greg described it as a dark comedy about a gangster that’s gone straight ( him) and now he’s helping a friend of his who’s in trouble with the mob. They plan to shoot it mostly in Astoria where he’s from, and where he’s well known in the Greek community. He’s also bringing live comedy to Astoria in a monthly show in a place called “Beans and Lager” and he said it’s the first time that Astoria has a legitimate comedy room with a professional sound stage. He produces that show on his own, and as if that’s not enough he’s putting together funding for a major comedy show with a major comedy star and that’s all I can say for now. I know who he has in mind, and trust me it’s HUGE! More will be revealed! Greg is a power of example when it comes to changing one’s life. He’s open about his sobriety, which he claims brings him all of his success as well as his hundred-plus pound weight loss. He’s an inspiration to anyone faced with obstacles in their life which is just about everyone.
I dropped by Stand Up New York and ran into Dante Nero who was wearing a custom-made jacket I just had to take a picture of. I swear I’m not kidding when I tell you that when I shook his hand one of his rings cut my finger. His thousand silver rings are like medieval weapons. His jacket was a mixture of python and mink. He’s now doing one-on-one sessions with men all over the country giving dating and relationship device. The kind of stuff he talks about on his long-running Beige Phillip Show that he does with comic Harry Terjanian.
Late night at New York Comedy is always fun and I ran into Ricky Velez who told me he’s psyched about doing the new Comedy Cellar in Vegas in April. He’s been to Vegas before with friends but never performed there until now. And in May he’ll be doing Levity Live and the Philly Punchline as a headliner for the first time. He had featured there before with his buddy Pete Davidson but this will be his first time headlining. Sean Donnelly ran in from his gig at The Cellar and he and Ricky started reminiscing about the hood they grew up in, and Sean said his Dad had been a jail guard at Riker’s for 20 years and got stabbed there once. He had some great stories.
Rosebud Baker is starting a podcast with Corinne Fisher who knows a thing or two about podcasts, and it’s going to be called “Two Less Lonely Girls” which she explained is a title loosely based on one of Justin Bieber’s songs. When I asked her why a Bieber song, she said that the podcast was basically her and Corinne stalking Justin Bieber because they both love him so much. She said that Corrine is the only other adult woman she knows who’s as obssessed with Bieber as much as she is. They will be doing it from Corinne’s apartment where they will try and get Bieber to show up!
Kevin Ryan told me he too has got a new podcast which he’s doing with H. Foley who was hosting the show I came to see. Their pod is called Hard Feelings, and he said it’s just the two of them complaining about things. He clarified it by saying “two lunatics that take offense to everything”. They’ll be doing it from 2 Penn Plaza above MSG at the OG Podcast Network run by my buddy Mike Coscarelli who also produces the Curtis Sliwa and Rita Cosby show, and made his bones in roasting at the big WABC roast I produced honoring Curtis and his ex-partner Ron Kuby at Gotham Comedy Club.
And Tom Cassidy said he has a few irons in the fire, which is an expression I haven’t heard since I left the Old West. He and Rosebud Baker made a parordy of the Stallone movie Creed, called “Creed 2 – Ronnie Lang Rising” in which Adonis Creed’s next opponent is supposedly Clubber Lang’s son Ronnie, a gay boxer with a ferocious left hook. It’s on Funny or Die and I watched it and it’s hilarious. Rosebud plays the boxer’s trainer. She’s Mickey’s granddaughter and speaks just like he did! Also in it is Dave Temple and Leonard Ouzts. Check it out!
It was good to finally get a chance to meet and talk to H. Foley who as I said was hosting the show. Of course I had to ask him about his name because I always do. It’s interesting to me how people take a name. He said he’s named after his grandfather, Henry William Foley who he loved very much and was very close to. He grew up with a plaque over his bed given to him by another family member and it said H. Foley, so when he became a comic he decided to take that name in honor of his grandfather. That’s the kind of stuff I like to write about. H. is in a Netflix movie coming out this summer called “Set It up” which he described as a rom -com about two interns from different companies that try to get their bosses together romantically so they could do less work. It’s got a bunch of stars like Zoey Deutch, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs and two comics you may have heard of, the aformentioned Leonard Ouzts and the aforementioned Pete Davidson. He also did a movie that was in Sundance this year called “Night Comes On” which he described as a coming of age story about a girl who gets out of rehab and seeks reveng on her father. And he’s working on writing a pilot with comic Irene Morales with the working title “We Don’t Know” which he described as an episodic of vignettes about a couple living in Queens and strictly by coincidence he and Irene just happen to play the couple. They have a 10 minute sizzle reel and are aiming for a network deal.
And finally JC Best and his producing partner comic Brian Rabadeau, ( it helps to say his name of you studied French!), put on a killer show at West Side Comedy Club. It’s called “Coffee for Closers” and it’s all comics who could close shows. Not permanently, … like “close” as in headline! It was Corinne Fisher, Joyelle Johnson, Rob Haze who I hadn’t seen before but who recently did Fallon, so I watched intently, Mehran Khagani, Petey DeAbreu Wil Sylvince and myself, and I hope I didn’t leave anyone out. Petey is absolutely hilarious, especially when he talks about wanting to be an Orthodox Jew and how he’d use the word Shabbos in the hood. He’s got a new show called “Better Days Comedy” at a lounge on Broome Street called Better Days. It’s every Wed. and he’s drawing some good talent so far like Godfrey, Chris Redd from SNL and Lisa Treyger.
I asked Rob Haze how his Fallon gig came about and he said that the booker and Jimmy were at The Stand for the Tonight Show showcase and saw him last December. He wasn’t aware that night but they called his people and set it up. He said he brought his Mom and sister to the show, and that Jimmy was so nice to them that when his Mom told JImmy she watches the show every night he gave her a big hug. Rob’s been in the game for eight years now, so I guess it’s time for me to step up my game and do Fallon too!
And you can always count on JC Best, who hosts the show, to push the proverbial envelope. He not only pushes it he beats the crap out of it. He’s doing a new web series called “Dancing For Dementia” about his Mom who’s living in a facility with Stage 4 Vascular Dementia, and his project is about “the power of music as it pertains to brain degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and other brain illnesses.” I’m not sure if he has his mother dancing but he says it’s conversations with his mother plus music and dancing. JC is definitely unque in a world where it’s not easy to be seen that way. Great dude!
And Brody Brodo who confessed that his real name is Thomas captured the whole thing in his photos. You can see Brody at every hot comedy show taking photos for the last five years. Despite the fact that this was his birthday weekend he was still there taking his photos. I didn’t ask him what his wife thinks of that but she must be very cool because he told me he’s a stay-at-home Dad while she brings in the big bucks in the pharmaceutical industry. He said he started out wanting to be a comic, but didn’t think he could dedicate the time it deserved so he started taking photos and you can probably see them later today on his Facebook page.
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 Gurian with Mike Heller, and with JC Best, Brian Rabadeau, Petey Deabreau, Rob Haze.