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 was a holiday week with a little less Jumping, but Jeffrey checked out Gotham Comedy Club for Comedy Juice, had a chat with rising star Roy Wood Jr., and talks about his friend, Patrice O’Neal, who passed away four years ago yesterday.
On the way into Gotham to see Comedy Juice I ran into Dan St. Germaine and Sean Donnelly who were on the way out looking like they were heading for a woodsman’s convention! All you saw were beards! There was a time when you couldn’t even BE a comedian and look like that and now you almost can’t be a comedian if you don’t! As I was taking their photo I was thinking to myself all we need is Mike Lawrence, and coincidentally who showed up later on at Juice but Mike Lawrence himself, … with beard! I’m not sure why I’m so fascinated with the concept of guys growing such thick beards. Maybe it’s because mine never grew in well. Dan and Sean do a weekly podcast called My Dumb Friends and on All Things Comedy, Bill Burr’s network. They do it over Skype often since Dan is based in LA now and Sean is in New York. When I asked him the theme of the show he said it’s about “all the dumb shit that we all do!”. He said he’s also working on Nikki Glaser’s new show Not Safe!
Comedy Juice this week was all about Saturday Night Live. It’s amazing how the SNL crew is so supportive of Juice that they come out in force. Sasheer Zamata came on. Pete Davidson came up wearing a wild jacket that he said he bought 6 months ago, but didn’t have the nerve to wear until that night. He always seems to be working on new stuff and he warned the audience that he hadn’t been on stage for about a month so he didn’t think his set would go over well, but he was wrong, cause they loved him. He also said he had no material, but did a 20 minute set telling lots of stories about his friend Anthony, and ended by saying, “I’ll do some dead Dad jokes now, and then I’ll leave. It’s really no big deal!” And then Jon Rudnitsky came out, and did such a great Donald Trump impression, and talked about how comfortable Donald was on the set of SNL to the point where he actually took a call during the table read. He said that Donald was great, and friendly to everyone, then also talked about Matthew McConaughey, and how he introduces himself by his last name, as if people didn’t know who he was, and offered suggestions on sketches, some of which were used. It was Chris Millhouse’s last time as host of Juice before he heads back to LA for the winter!
The always funny Marion Grodin was the host at Gotham this weekend, and when I asked her afterwards what she had going on she told me she spends a lot of time as a regular host at Gotham, which she loves. And she also told me that her Dad, the legendary Charles Grodin, is doing a new film with Robert DeNiro. Two other faves of mine were also on the show, Rich Francese, who I’ve enjoyed for so many years and who was there with his son Richie, which was so nice to see, and Vladimmir Caamano, who’s always a crowd pleaser and did more stuff about his Dad, a Dominican super which will be the theme of his new NBC sit-com called Vlad.
I finally got the opportunity to sit down with Roy Wood Jr. to talk about his gig as a correspondent on The Daily Show. We’ve been passing each other like ships in the night because we’re both always running off someplace, so before he took the stage to headline Gotham Comedy Club we sat down in the green room to chat. And as a testament to his popularity despite the holiday weekend the room was packed.
Roy suggested we sit down and talk before the show started because he had to run out to do a set at The Cellar before his second show of the night. When I asked him if he was working on anything else besides The Daily Show he explained it to me this way, “ I won’t pretend to be a female. but doing The Daily Show is almost like finding out your career got pregnant, and you gotta drop everything and just tend to that pregnancy.” He said everything else in the works has to be put on hold so he can focus on the enormous opportunity that the Daily Show is. He said it’s been fun to be a part of it but even more fun to learn the process of what goes into making a show like The Daily Show. He said he’s been doing comedy for 17 years and he feels like everything he’s been doing up to this point has been “one long-ass internship!” One of the big surprises to me was when I asked him how he got the show, and he said he didn’t even know. He said “their people called my people and 48 hours later I was on a plane to New York for my audition.” You can read more about my conversation with Roy Wood Jr. later today in a separate column.
I was getting ready to head over to Carolines to shoot my interview for the highly anticipated Patrice O’Neal documentary, Better Than You, in the works right now, when I got a message asking if I could come the next day instead to The Stand, at 9 A.M.. For Patrice I would get up at 6:30 on a Monday which is what I had to do in order to be there on time. The doc is being produced by his wife Von Decarlo, Sansan Fibri, Mark Farrell, and comedy manager Jason Steinberg of Steinberg Talent, who worked with Patrice for years. I refer to Von as Patrice’s “wife” despite the fact that she’s very open about the fact that they never got to have an official ceremony. Patrice referred to her as his wife, … among other things, … which I won’t print here, … but which he always said with a chuckle and with love! The team shot several interviews this past summer in Montreal at Just for Laughs, but because of time constraints decided to wait with the New York comics until a later date.
I had so much to say about Patrice and about a relationship that many people did not even know we had, so I was really looking forward to participating. It wasn’t that our friendship and working relationship were any kind of secret, but there were so many other people linked to Patrice where it was so much better known. I found the first photo I ever took with Patrice and it was dated 11/10/01. We were introduced at some kind of alternative show by Jason Steinberg who was managing him at the time, and who told me we had to meet. From the first time Patrice and I met we had such an interesting connection, and for whatever reason a mutual admiration. In my mind, not only being accepted by Patrice but having him actually like you was like achieving some kind of automatic street cred, because he had high standards when it came to deciding who was allowed into his life. it wasn’t an easy thing to achieve.
Our relationship was different than most, which was backed up for me by the other producers when they heard my stories and by Von, when she autographed her book for me, “Speak Fluent Man” with some very nice things which I hope she won’t mind me sharing, including, “ Patrice loved you! You will understand the contents of this book better than most!” Patrice and I did understand each other. I own rare footage of Patrice and I on The Black Phillip Show where he named me a co-host, and to this day I get e-mails from guys who loved the show and still give us props on what we were doing. And that was in 2008. Patrice allowed me to bring my video camera up with me to the Black Phillip studios which at the time were on West 57th Street. I also used to bring lots of models on the show during which Patrice would do his best to “deconstruct” them and take away their power! So many people mistakenly thought that Patrice hated women. He LOVED women. What he hated was how men gave up their power around them, and were reduced to mental weaklings.
During my interview for Better Than You, ( which is a perfect title because I actually have him saying on tape to one of the girls I brought on the show,”I’m better than you!”), I got to play a tape recording which I keep on my phone, and listen to from time to time. It was a phone message left for me from Patrice after we did one of our first shows together. He was so excited that he couldn’t wait and called me at 4:05 A.M. one cold winter morning to tell me how much he liked what we did on the air and that he thought we should do a show together. Just the two of us. Patrice was also very humble, which I know will sound strange to some people. That’s why I say our relationship was different than most. He showed his humility in that phone call by actually saying he didn’t want to “assume” anything, as if I might not have wanted to do a show with Patrice O’Neal. I would have done anything to have done that show. Needless to say we never got to do it. But he made himself vulnerable to me, which he didn’t often do.
I’m not going to go into the real details of my interview because I hope that you’ll see it in the film, but suffice it to say I got to talk about the Patrice I knew in depth! Although I’ve tried my best to learn not to be defined by outside validation, because it’s really what you think of yourself that matters, I don’t mind saying that I feel that Patrice validated me on many levels, as a friend, as a man, and as a performer. We were always happy to see each other, and I always did my best to give him a big hug, which is not easy when a guy is 6’5” and 350 pounds! His loss was a great loss to all who knew and loved him and I can’t wait to see what they do with this doc. It’s gonna be HUGE!
I ran into Harry Terjanian, co-host of the Beige Phillip show with Dante Nero, the other co-host on Black Phillip, who told me that Beige Phillip is now available on You Tube and that Dante shot something for the new Pete Holmes/Judd Aptatow TV pilot Crashing and also is in the sequel to John Wick, the upcoming movie with John Leguizamo and Keanu Reeves!
Anyway that’s it for me! In next week’s column I will have a super fun story about two huge stars doing something very cool this week, so make sure to check it out next Monday! And tune in to the live version of this column every Tuesday on The Bennington Show on SiriusXM
Until then, hope you had a great Thanksgiving, … 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 include Jeffrey’s last photo with Patrice O’Neal, Jeffrey with Von Decarlo and Mark Farrell, and Jeffrey with Roy Wood Jr.