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 went to see Mike Epps in Westbury, and hung out at Comedy Juice.
So I drove through a torrential rainstorm to get out to Westbury this week to see my buddy Mike Epps. I had already told him I was coming and I’m like the post office, neither rain, nor snow nor whatever stops me from jumping around to see my friends perform. And I’m so glad I went. Mike and his manager T.C. hooked us up with great seats and we saw an amazing show.
Henry Welch totally brought it as the MC with really strong acts like Smokey Suarez. Mike came out to thunderous applause and the audience was definitely there to see him. It was his crowd and he had an incredible show. Mike not only does imitations of voices, but also how people walk. His physicality on stage is truly amazing, as he literally becomes other people in front of your eyes. And the man has style. He came out wearing a a big diamond earring that glittered as he walked around the stage, and a huge gold chain, which his security guard Shaft wound up protecting after the show, in a special room with all of Mike’s personal belongings.
Of course I accidentally wound up in that room and when Shaft asked me what I was doing in there, I told him I was his security and that if anyone bothered him to let me know! I actually made him laugh at that one! The man is a building with clothes, plus a bullet proof vest!
The special part for me was getting to go back after the show and hang with Mike. He’s just so cool and I’m so happy for him that he’s getting to play Richard Pryor in the new Lee Daniels flick on Richard. Mike referred to Richard as “The King” and said he was so honored to be chosen to play him. He also said that any Black comic that wasn’t influenced by Richard was doing something wrong. They weren’t paying attention, cause Richard was the blueprint for this whole thing. When I asked him how he was going to spend the holidays he said with his kids. So I asked him how many he had and he said at this point, he just drives through the hood and waves!
Mike’s headed back to LA, but before I left we made plans to do something cool together. More on that to come!
I went to catch the Comedy Juice show at Gotham which is every Tuesday night and usually has a great line-up very often with comics from LA that I don’t get to see too often. I got to see my old pal Eliot Chang whose goal is to post two new videos a week on his Facebook page. Eliot is all about social media and told me that lately he’s getting lots of work from his You Tube presence, and even gets offers of work from his Facebook page. He’ll be on HBO’s Looking a comedy series about three best friends living in San Francisco who happen to be gay. Wonder how they picked San Francisco for that action? He’s playing a gay character who’s trying to pick up one of the lead characters, and it will be on at the end of January during the season two. He’ll also be on Marlon Wayans TBS show Funniest Wins, a reality competition that launched this past June.
But the highlight of the evening, sandwiched in between Eliot Chang and the hilarious Mike Vecchione was a surprise walk-in by Louis CK. I was sitting at my usual table, #69, set off to the side so I can jump up and take photos without disturbing anyone, when I looked up from my popcorn shrimp to see what I thought looked like Louis CK standing alone in the room. In the dark I was like, this guy looks a lot like Louis CK,. but I wasn’t sure it was him. He was just standing there alone looking down. However, I could actually feel something going on in the room. It was almost as if you could feel star power standing there. Then as Eliot ended his set, the host James Mattern told the audience he had a big surprise for them and the room erupted in wild applause as Louis took the stage. The applause was so crazy that Louis remarked that he felt sorry for any foreign people in the audience who didn’t know who he was. He said they were probably thinking to themselves, who the fuck is that guy? And at the same time, I was thinking to myself, what country would you have to be from to be in a comedy club and NOT know Louis CK! A small village in Estonia perhaps?
Honoring a comedian’s right to work out new stuff without people writing about it, let me just say that Louie was really funny and the audience had an unexpected treat. He probably did about 20-30 minutes, and then walked off to huge applause. His new season of Louie on FX is slated to begin in the Spring of 2015. I went over to say “Hi” when he got offstage and asked him if he had anything special coming up, and I don’t know if he was kidding with me or not, because sometimes I can’t tell with certain people, but he said no, he just wanted to rest for a while. We shook hands and he split.
Mike Lawrence came in looking very neat and clean shaven and I didn’t ask him why, because I always wind up writing something about his beard and I don’t want him to think I’m obsessed with facial hair. When I ran into him recently at UCB he told me he was doing shows with his best friend Dan St. Germaine, who also looks like a woodsman.
This week was Trevor Noah’s debut as a regular correspondent on The Daily Show, and I love seeing him perform. He was doing only one show on a Thursday night the same night he was premiering on The Daily Show and I ran down to catch his set. Ophira Eisenberg was the host, and I shocked the woman sitting next to me by laughing out loud which I don’t often do. She’s really very funny! Keith Alberstadt went up next and he’s just such a strong writer. And then Trevor Noah took the stage and the audience went crazy. He is just so talented and likeable. He half-sat on a stool during his act, as he explained that he had hurt his leg playing soccer. His opening act was also from Africa. I greeted Trevor when he finished his set, and he invited me downstairs to the green room to hang out. He was there with his people from Levity and Chris Mazzilli, owner of Gotham, who’s the East Coast Levity guy. Chris and I talked about how he refurbishes the club on a constant basis because he cares about every single detail that goes into making the club what it is. And I waited until after Trevor and his people finished reviewing his set and went in to hang and congratulate him on the Daily Show gig, during which he warned fellow Africans about the dangers of catching Ebola in The United States. He was only in town for the day and was leaving the very next day but we made plans to do something cool the next time he’s back in town.
I asked him about how he would spend the holidays and this is what he told me: “Holidays in South Africa is a very different world. There’s no Christmas trees, there’s no snow, there’s no Santa Claus, so it’s just extra chicken, one set of new “clothes” (where he pronounces the “th” very clearly in the word “clothes” which sounds great!), and lots of family. But this time I’m gonna be away. I’m gonna go to the East and see what Japan’s like around Christmas time.” And then he kind of summed it up by saying that wherever you go it’s really about family time. So then I asked him why there’s no Christmas in South Africa and he said that Christmas is basically a European tradition. There will be some people who have adopted it, but he explained laughingly, for the most part Africans are not going to celebrate a fat white guy giving your children gifts. It’s not really appealing, There’s no Black man in Africa who’s gonna give the credit to some fat white dude, for bringing his kids joy.
That’s it for this week, but I’ll be jumping around all week and I’ll be back next Monday with another new column.
Pictured top to bottom, Jeffrey with Mike Epps, and Jeffrey with Trevor Noah.