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 covered the scene at New York Comedy Club, Gotham, and Comic Strip Live.
Two of my boys got shows! Chris Distefano has been telling me for a while that he had something big coming up but couldn’t talk about it yet. Well now it’s legal! He got a deal with CBS for a pilot based on his story about an Italian guy married to a Puerto Rican girl and the culture clash between their two families. If it’s anything like he talks about in his act it will be HILARIOUS! Chris told me he’s so excited to start work on the pilot with CBS and he gave me a little exclusive insight on casting. “Myself, Craig Thomas, Carter Bays, (creators of How I Met Your Mother), and Brian Bockrath are working on the script right now and I can’t wait to see where it all goes. Hopefully my daughter can play herself on screen.” His manager Rick Dorfman over at Converge is also thrilled as he should be. Among others Rick handles J.B. Smoove who according to what he told me in Montreal a couple of weeks ago, will be doing the 9th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
And Tone Bell from Atlanta who’s been in several NBC projects, the latest being Mr. Robinson with Craig Robinson has just been cast as a series regular opposite Kathy Bates in what is being described as a “Netflix pot comedy” called Disjointed. Created by Chuck Lorre of Two and a Half Men fame, who’s writing and executive producing, Tone will play a security guard in a cannabis dispensary, who’s always stoned. And the dispensary is owned by Kathy Bates’ character, Ruth. Me and Tone just hung out in Montreal where we danced our asses off to Russell Peters spinning late night in the hotel lobby. And just to make that clear, … we were NOT dancing together!
I hadda go see my girl Loni Love headlining Gotham Comedy Club, cause I hadn’t see her in a while. On stage she thanked Ellen DeGeneres for giving her a start in daytime TV, and advised the audience that if anyone needed money to contact Ellen because she makes so much she gives it away. She said she gives away like $20,000. a week. She ended her set by having the audience sing along with her to Whitney Houston’s memorable hit “I Will Always Love You”, which they did. Afterwards we hung out for a bit in her dressing room and she was fascinated and horrified by my heart attack story. She said I need to tell it to more people, to encourage people to go get checked out. She’s got lots of stuff coming up. She’s on a new show on the Food Network called World’s Worst Cooks – Celebrity Edition, starting in the fall. All she was allowed to tell me was that there are two teams, including Tommy Davidson, Nicole Sullivan, Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, Mindy Cohen, John Henson, Barbara Eden and Kenya from Real Housewives of Atlanta. Very eclectic mix. And they’ll be playing for 50K of prize money to go to their team’s favorite charity. Then FOX’s The Real starts season 3 in September, and after only two seasons they were up for an Emmy. Loni and the other women got to go to The White House for the Easter Egg Roll, and she said she was able to tell Michelle Obama that the reason they got the Emmy nomination was because of the show they did with her at The White House. She also said she got to see Barack take off on Marine 1 and it was very exciting.
Sometime after midnight, I spotted about a hundred people camped out outside of Gotham waiting in line, in the rain. They were lined up for auditions for NBC’s Stand-Up For Diversity competition. Luckily they were able to sit under some construction scaffolding that shielded them from most of the rain. I went over and spoke to Mike Figs who I knew from Gladys Simon’s show and also from Pat Dixon’s NY Crime Report. He was sitting in a folding chair and had gotten there that morning. He said he only had 9 hours to go before the auditions started. In front of him were open bags of chips and all kinds of snacks. This was the line for unrepped comics who don’t get an assigned spot, as do some of the more experienced comics whose talents are already known to the industry. Mike said he was drinking vodka out of a coffee cup and that it was a lot easier waiting all night in the street in the summer than it had been in the past when they did it in the winter. In the competition, you start out doing one minute of comedy and if the judges pass you, you get to do two minutes. Both Mike and Aminah Imani got a 2 P.M. call back to do 2 minutes. I wished everyone luck and split to make a late night stop at New York Comedy Club cause I knew there was always something happening there. And I was right. It was Mike Merkovich’s Melting Pot show and it was still packed. Got to hang out with Matt Richards who was kind enough to request a copy of my book and who told me he was doing the NBC Diversity show the next day. Matt is a powerhouse on the stage, and is doing big things with more coming up including his show with 50 Cent. He was there with Kerry Coddett also from MTV 2’s Joking Off, and they often make a hilarious team. Even just sitting backstage!
Comedy Juice was poppin’ this week with Roy Wood Jr., Nimesh Patel, Sam Morril and Jim Florentine all hanging out as I came in the door. Jim told me he’s been performing with Dice, and was with him for his July 30th show in New York at the Coney Island Amphitheater, which I missed due to being in Montreal.
I saw Jon Rudnitsky there, and I invited him to perform the very next night on the comedy show/book signing I had at The Comic Strip for my book, which by now if you don’t know about it, you haven’t been paying attention. It’s called Laughing Legends, and you can read all about the show right here on the IBang, but for those of you who’ve never produced a show, let me tell you what goes into that. The show was supposed to start at 8, but three of the comics wanted to go on early. I showed up at 7 to make sure everything was ready. The idea is that you always want to accommodate your performers in any way you can. In order not to inconvenience anyone, I sent each comic their proposed call time, because if I had asked everyone to come at 8, the 10:30 guy would have had more than 2 hours to wait before he went on, and all these guys have busy schedules. But by 8:20 I was still there alone, and I was afraid to start the show not knowing who I was going to bring up when I finished my opening. You can’t just yell out, “ Who’s here to go on next?” Doesn’t look very professional. Luckily my buddy JC Best was there, and offered to do a few minutes and that’s when Jon Rudnitsky came in with his look-alike dad. It was so cool to meet his dad. They really look like brothers. And he was just as nice as Jon. So then I felt comfortable starting the show. Judah Friedlander agreed to participate and originally asked to go on early also, so I was planning on putting him up first or second, but he got stuck down at The Cellar and texted me that he might have to close the show instead. Chuck Nice had to get up at 4:30 A.M. for a show he was doing so I put him on early right after Mike Vecchione who had another spot downtown and also had to go on early. Brian Scott McFadden had more time and was kind enough to be flexible as was Nore Davis, because Judah texted me that he got free and would be there at 9:45, and then Leonard Ouzts came in to close the show, and the crazy thing was it all worked out. People tend to overuse the word, but it was truly an AMAZING show with a stellar line-up, and at the end Richie Tienken and I put chairs up on the stage and did a little Q&A with the audience and then we signed books. It was a magical night, and everyone had a killer set.
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Brett Eidman is a comic who lives upstate and who’s been working hard for many years to get known. He’s played clubs, had small character parts on SNL, performed with sketch troupes and was even in a recent film on Netflix, but the acclaim he’s pursued had eluded him. As an attempt to draw attention to himself, he staged an event that went viral. He created a parody of Tom Vu, an Asian businessman who had late night TV commercials promising people he could make them rich, if you “come to my seminar.” Brett created a character he called “Dom Fok” and portrayed him in a way that would be considered politically incorrect. He staged a scene in a comedy club where he was doing his Dom Fok bit on stage and an Asian guy jumped up and hit him. The video of the event went viral, with 10 million hits, and no one knew if it was legit or not. Brett got a lot of hits, but also a lot of negativity. He was threatened and blackballed. He just created a short film about his experience which will be coming out soon. It’s called In The Name of Comedy. In it is Lisa Lampanelli, Johnny Lampert and myself talking about Brett and the affect this event had on his life and his career. It hits the festival circuit in September and was selected to be part of the Northeast Film Festival.
And on that note, … 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 Loni Love.