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 reports from Comedy Juice, and the Oxygen Red Carpet….
Well it’s been a very strange and trying week with all the news of the end of the 17 year run of the Ron and Fez Show. I was privileged to be part of it for the last 16 months, and want to thank both Ron Bennington and Fez Whatley sincerely for making me a part of their Ron and Fez family. For me it was a dream come true, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity. I sincerely hope that Fezzie finds peace and good health. Ron constantly amazed me with his never-ending flow of funny thoughts and stories from the fund of knowledge stored in his gray matter. All the guests I brought on were amazed at his ability to speak on just about any topic without using notes of any kind and his “Unmasked” interviews were beyond compare. It will be interesting to see what Ron winds up doing because he will certainly find a home somewhere on radio. True talent always finds a home! I wish them both so much luck, and a special thanks to Chris Stanley for all of his help and support through the last 16 months, and to Shelby as well.
I went over to catch the Comedy Juice show at Gotham, because I heard that Damon Wayans Jr. would be there as a special guest and I watched him kill it to a packed house. He said he looks exactly like his Dad and he does. After the show Damon told me he’ll be shooting a movie in New York in April called How To Be Single with Dakota Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey as his love interest. It’s also starring Leslie Mann, (Mrs. Judd Apatow), and Rebel Wilson. I asked him how it felt having his Dad making fun of him in his act growing up, and he said it was weird, but he grew up in a mansion with a fountain on the front lawn so he let it slide! Funny dude and a really nice guy!
Dov Davidoff was also on the show and Dov is hilarious. He was in the middle of a four week run as he called it and on his way to San Jose, then Boston, working out material for the special he’ll be shooting later this month in Chicago. As of yet it has no name. He also wrote a memoir for St. Martin’s Press called Shadow Boxing which he worked on for a year and a half. It’s gotta be funny cause Dov has such a unique take on everything he talks about, and his unique voice, halting delivery, and intonation just make it all even funnier. Chris Millhouse was hosting the show. He’s in from LA and was excited about opening for Owen Benjamin on his Netflix special, and was also featuring for Brent Morin who was headlining at Carolines.
The other big surprise guest was Dave Attell, who’s kind of the king of the Comedy Cellar and so respected by his peers. I always ask Dave if he has anything coming up he wants to talk about and he’s always so low key about stuff like that. He just says he’s on the road.
Oxygen launched it’s new show Funny Girls this week also with a big red carpet event at Gotham, and I was there to check it out and congratulate the cast members, especially the two I was close with Yamaneika Saunders, and Calise Hawkins. The show was hosted by Retta who plays Donna Meagle on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. All six girls were dressed up in interesting outfits especially Scout Durwood who wore the sexiest outfit. It was like a turquoise color corset, very “hot” looking and she’s the one who described herself as being gay. When I asked Stephanie Simbari to tell me about her part she said, “It’s based off my act. We just took the basis of our lives and extended it. I do stand-up, I have a dog, I’m very lonely and I do yoga.” I asked her about the loneliness and she said, “I really am. I’m very lonely. Do you know anybody?” Ester Steinberg said her dream is to be on SNL and she got this Oxygen show by magic. She said when she was interviewed they asked her one question and she talked for an hour and a half! Nicole Aimee Schreiber had the most interesting hairdo. I’ll try my best to describe it in guy terms. One side long ang glamorous, the other side kind of shaved with horizontal braids! In explaining her choice of lingerie, Scout Durwood said you can’t be funny if you’re not wearing a corset. I agreed with her that comedy and lingerie go hand in hand.
I had first met Stephanie Simbari at Carolines when she was opening for Whitney Cummings. She said that being on the road with Whitney was so helpful to her because Whitney is a “beast” when it comes to working hard and she felt that she grew tremendously. She said you can kick around LA and NY and that’s really awesome but there’s nothing like being on the road for becoming a real comic. Being able to do 30 minutes at a time just changes you as a performer. She says she wound up with an hour of material.
Calise Hawkins and I have a very special connection, and she doesn’t mind me talking about it. I’ve been watching her progress for years. We met a long time ago when both of us were performing at The Village Lantern in Manhattan. I always thought she was funny. A couple of years ago in Montreal during the Just for Laughs Festival I was working my way across the lobby of the hotel, interviewing everyone I ran into, when I came upon Calise. She was up there doing New Faces. We did a very cool interview but she had had a bit too much to drink and was kind of slurring. After I got home and reviewed it I decided not to post it, because I didn’t want it to possibly reflect badly on her, and she said she loved me for doing that, and we’ve had this amazing bond ever since. She also feels if she had been a “dude” she would have been further along in her career. She said, “I’m not saying i’m a genius but if you look at my You Tube clips you’ll see I get the job done, … so hire me! That’s all I’m saying.” And I think that after this show airs if you get to see her true self, she’ll definitely be hired constantly!
I saw Harland Williams host Gotham Comedy Live, and almost didn’t recognize him with the beard. He may have had it for a while but I hadn’t seen him in a while, so it caught me by surprise. Harland was very funny but didn’t hang out at the after-party. He stayed for about two minutes, then split. I think he said he had to be up early to get on the road. Mark Normand was also on the show and he did attend the after party because just like me, Mark likes parties! He told me he’s psyched about going to Bonaroo in June for his first time and appearing with people like Chris Hardwick, Reggie Watts, Jeff Ross, Ralphie May, Ron Funches, Moshe Kasher, Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder. He’s also writing for the MTV Movie Awards along with Dan Soder and Mike Lawrence, which are being hosted by Amy Schumer who he opens for, and he will be opening for Amy in her new one hour special which is taping in May either in NY or LA.
Anyway that’s it for me. Hope you all had a great holiday! I’m OUT!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey with Scout Durwood, Calise Hawkins, Stephanie Simbari, Nicole Aimee Schreiber, Damon Wayans Jr., Ester Steinberg, Yamaneika Saunders, Mark Normand, Dov Davidoff and Dave Attell.