All photos copyright: Phil Provencio
Gary Gulman’s brand new special, It’s About Time, debuts today on Netflix. To mark the occasion, Phil Provencio photographed Gary Gulman for his “Up Next” column, at Gary’s New York Comedy Home, the infamous New York Comedy Cellar. They sat down at the Olive Tree restaurant upstairs afterwards to talk. “I feel very comfortable here,” Gary told Phil. I have places in Boston that I have more history with– in that I’ve been performing there for over 20 years– but this place is my home away from Boston.” And they love him too. Gary did four shows at the Cellar this weekend and despite being pretty humble was comfortable enough to say. “I was really funny.” Of course he had to add, “it was a good crowd. I’ll give credit to the crowd, they were real receptive,” he said.
Of course they were receptive, whether he knows it or not, Gary is beloved by everyone in comedy- at least anyone we’ve ever talked with. He’s a brilliant comic, respected for both his art, and his craft, and as a bonus, he’s possibly the most likeable person working in the business today. A few minutes into the conversation, as if to punctuate that thought, Estee Adoram, the legendary booker of the Comedy Cellar, came running over ecstatic to see Gary, gave him a big kiss, (and complimented him on his haircut).
Gulman recorded his new special, It’s About Time, towards the end of his tour last year in New York. Produced by Bobcat Goldthwait, his third special comes just as Gulman hits the milestone of performing comedy for 20 years. Bobcat, he said, was amazing to work with. “I admire his movies and his project so much, so it was really an honor to have him direct it and produce it. He had certain insight into how to shoot it in a certain look. . .that I was very happy with. I would have just made it look like the rest of the specials that were out there so I was very happy with how it came out. And it’s just great to be able to talk comedy with somebody whose been doing it even longer than I have and has such insight and so much knowledge and experience. It’s more than just knowing where to put the camera, he also taught me some things about working on camera that I hadn’t been aware of.”
Six things you might not know about Gary Gulman:
He’s a huge Brian Regan Fan. “I’ve always been blown away by Brian Regan. He’s just tremendous.”
The guys he came up with in comedy are more family than competition. “The guys who I started with– and I only say this because I continue to be in awe of them– but I was in awe of them when I first started. They had been doing it maybe a year and a half when I first started. They were already so good. It was Bob Kelly, Dane Cook, Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal: I never reached the heights that those guys did but I almost feel like they are sort of older brothers. So when you grow up in a family like that its hard to really distinguish yourself. But it made you work really hard.”
He has huge respect for the legends of Boston comedy. “I was always a fan of the Boston guys that were the legends when I started like Steve Sweeney, and Don Gavin and Kevin Knox and Tony V, Frank Santorelli, Paul D’Angelo, is amazing and a great mentor to me.”
He’s got a badass baseball card collection. “It’s pretty valuable. I keep it at my mom’s house. I have cards– because they were given to me by an uncle– going back to 1967 although I didn’t start collecting till 1977. There’s a gap between 72 and 77 but from 77 till I stopped collecting in earnest in 92 or 93, I have a huge baseball card collection.”
He won’t wear a Mets or Yankees cap, but when he plugs New York gigs on his instagram, he represents New York in a different way, with a replica of an old New York Giant’s hat.
He lived in Los Angeles before moving to New York, but considers New York the better comedy education. “I was pretty isolated when i lived in LA. Mostly I took acting classes when I lived in la because I couldn’t get on many of the stages. There were a few places that would put me on, but they were generally bars and upstairs in restaurants. Not until I was ready to move to New York did I really start to get momentum at some of the clubs in LA and it never matched what you can do in a weekend in NY. This is a doctoral program, compared to LA, where you’re taking some classes here and there. This is intense.”
Gary Gulman headlines the Gramercy Theater in New York City on May 21st, and says he’s got all new material for the show. Check out It’s About Time on Netflix and get tickets for the Gramercy here. You can also purchase It’s About Time on itunes right here.