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 hit up West Side Comedy Club, and The Stand.
I dropped by The Stand to catch my buddy Ron Bennington doing his thing and he told me that he had the owners of West Side Comedy Club on his Sirius XM Bennington Show this past week. We hung out for a bit, and then Nikki Glaser came along and after her killer set during which she explained why she likes to date short guys, we sat in the restaurant and chatted a bit on her move back to New York and all the cool things she’s got going on. Nikki’s got a new morning show on SiriusXM, Channel 95 Comedy Central Radio, and it’s called “You Up With Nikki Glaser”. Her co-host is Tom Thakkar who’s opened for Nikki for the past five years but mostly under the name Tom Brady. He finally got tired of people asking him about Tom Brady the football player and changed his name to his father’s last name Thakkar. The show will be on from 10 A.M. till 12 noon EST from Monday to Thursday and will be about sex, dating, relationships and pop culture. But how it all came about was the interesting part to me. Nikki had heard that Comedy Central Radio was looking for a morning show so she reached out to them to tell them she’d do it. They came back by saying they had a long list of people and Nikki basically said “No you don’t. I’m the list, and I’ll do it.” And about a week later she got an offer. Great story. Talk about female empowerment! Nikki told me she moved back here from L.A, about a month ago so she could wake up three hours earlier. She also said she’s a HUGE Howard Stern fan and just wanted to be in the same building as him. She said that he’s the reason she always wanted to do radio, and he’s not only her inspiration but also a big influence on her stand-up cause he’s the king of being honest. And that’s her thing. She’s thrilled with her producer, a woman named Noa Avior who she describes as “ a bad-ass female radio producer who always wanted to produce a morning comedy show, so Tom and I really lucked out. We’re all on the same page. She’s my Baba Booey!” The show starts next Monday. Make sure to tune in!
Bonnie McFarlane came in and when I congratulated her on her Fallon appearance she confessed she hasn’t watched it yet. She said she wasn’t ready. Maybe a few months down the line, but as for now she feels great getting such good feedback from people. I told her she looked so relaxed and she said it was the result of having done so many shows, and she just took herself out of the moment so she wouldn’t feel nervous and said she actually felt very calm while she was up there. She just had fun. And her facial expressions were the best. Bonnie is one of the funniest people in the biz and a great writer as well. Her jokes are not predictable and as a long time comedy writer I can usually figure out where a joke is going but Bonnie always surprises me.
Yamaneika Saunders was hosting and she’s the proverbial host with the most. In between acts we sat down to chat and she told me this great story. She has a podcast called Rantin’ and Ravin’ which is what she does so well, and for two years she did it with Chloe Hilliard as her co-host. They had a falling out and split up. Chloe started her own podcast called “Social Misfits” and Yammie stayed with her podcast and brought on James Mattern as her co-host, which they do from a recording studio. After about a year and a half Yammie and Chloe decided too much time had gone by and after discussing it fully they each were a guest on the other’s podcast, during which they discussed their break-up. Both episodes aired the same day, just this past week. I asked her if they had spoken during that year and a half, and what she said was very cool. She said they didn’t speak, and weren’t really friends but still supported each other comedically by suggesting each other for spots. Now they made up, everything is cool and they’re friends again. You can hear both shows on Sound Cloud and iTunes. Yammie also did another very cool thing. She coached Carla Hall and Michael Symon, two of the hosts of ABC’s “The Chew” on how to do stand-up comedy, and the segment aired this past week, the day after Valentine’s Day. She said they were both very funny.
I went back downstairs to watch Dan Soder do his thing and he has such an unconventional approach to his premises. Very creative thinker. While watching Dan I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I turned to see who it was I was thrilled to see Artie Lange, looking great with three weeks of sobriety under his belt. I thought he looked great but with his knit hat pulled down low on his forehead he described himself as looking like a homeless jewel thief. He was introduced as a very special guest and the audience went crazy. It was a testament to how much people love him and are rooting for him to make it. I just hope he knows that. On stage he told stories of being locked up in jails and mental institutions. He had a lot of new stuff like a bit on Bruce Jenner before he was Caitlyn, running into Lamar Odom in the kitchen of the Kardashian house telling each other what they were up to. He also kept an unlit cigarette in his hand the whole time. He left the crowd with some advice, “never give a hooker money to go and buy coke ’cause she’ll never come back.” And he said he learned that the hard way.
After his set we went upstairs to catch up and wound up having to go into the kitchen to talk cause the club was so crowded. He was very excited about last night’s episode of HBO’s Crashing which is entitled “Artie” and is about his battle with addiction. He said that Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes came to him and suggested doing an episode around his addiction thinking it would not only be good for the show but also for people battling with the same problem. And Artie said “Sure” and was thrilled with the script they wrote. He said they were very thoughtful, came to him for his input and wound up with a great script, and one he was proud to do. He said it’s getting great reviews which is something he’s not used to! He also said that some people were saying it was the best episode they’ve seen which he said was very flattering, and he really hopes his troubles could be helpful to people battling addiction. He said he’s really proud of the episode. This was the next to last episode and he’s hoping for a third season. He said he tries to hit at least four sobriety meetings a week and that going on the road is a challenge and is hard for him as it would be for anyone trying to stay sober. There’s lots of temptations on the road. He said his three weeks feels like an eternity and he plans to be more diligent about attending meetings.
And then we talked about the Artie and Anthony Show on Anthony Cumia’s Compound Media network. He said he didn’t really know Anthony well before but had always thought he was so funny, and had heard great things about him from Jim Norton, who told him if you ever meet him you’re gonna love him. He said he didn’t expect the chemistry to be this good, but in Artie’s words, “Anthony is such a talent, one of the funniest guys I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with some of the funniest people in the world in broadcasting, but we have great chemistry and they’ve been very tolerant of my addiction. I’ve been back full time now for a couple of weeks and it’s non-stop laughter for two hours. I’m very grateful for Keith (Maresca) the producer, and to Anthony for sticking with me, because I love it so much. I really do.” He said it’s just an amazing gig and they’re very generous, and then we hugged it out because we’re longtime friends, and we made some cool plans!
And just when I thought my comedy week was over I got the greatest, and most unexpected story from Adele Carollo the GM of The Stand. Adele told me she’s the production stage manager for a new off-Broadway musical, and when I asked her the name and what it was about I almost leaped in the air with excitement. Not something I do very often! LOL It’s called “Dead Serious” and it’s about the life of a man named Thomas John otherwise known as The Manhattan Medium. Thomas John connects with people who have passed on. And I know this because I happen to know the man, and not only do I know him but I had the experience before I knew him of him connecting me with both of my parents. Crazy! He created it with Michelle Wendt, an Emmy Award winning producer who created the show “Ha! The Musical that Big Jay Oakerson and so many comedians were in. I saw it at The Triad Theatre.
Well Big Jay’s daughter Izabella is interning on the show and Big Jay’s girlfriend, producer Christine Evans asked Michelle if she’d meet with Adele. Adele always had aspirations to make movies and produce content and she said producing in any capacity is a way to make that happen. She said she’s a “go-getter” and anyone who’s been to The Stand can attest to that by the way she runs the room. Strict but with respect. She said she basically forced Michelle to hire her which just goes to show there’s no stopping powerful women when they have a goal to achieve. Rehearsals start April 2nd at The Creek and the Cave, and the show is scheduled for a limited run from May 8-May 15th at The Clemente Theatre on the Lower East Side, which she said holds about 200 people. I was so excited that she made me promise to be there for the opening and the red carpet. I’m leaving tonight so I won’t be late!
West Side Comedy Club was really hopping this week. I’ve always been told I had a strong connection to my feminine side, and I’m very comfortable with that fact, but that was made even more obvious to me than ever during the production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues for two nights this past week at West Side. Thanks to comic/West Side GM Gina Savage and her talented cast of women Vicky Kuperman, Nicky Sunshine, Vanessa Hollingshead, and Stacey Prussman, the mostly female audience whooped and hollered in recognition and solidarity with what they were hearing. I dropped by on Valentine’s Day, which was a very appropriate day to do the show.
From what they told me Eve Ensler adds new pieces every year, and this year she added two called “They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy”, and “My Short Skirt”. Each of the women did stand-out performances, with each doing several presentations of pieces during the show, and a couple of ensemble pieces where all of them participated. Nicky Sunshine did “My Short Skirt” in effect saying that her short skirt was not an invitation to be raped, and when she did memories from a five year old girl and then the same little girl at ten, she actually became that little girl on stage. When Vicky Kuperman did a piece as if she was a woman from Bosnia who had been sexually tortured by soldiers it moved a lot of people to tears, including me. Gina Savage did a whole thing on “The C Word” and Stacey Prussman had the courage to have an orgasm on stage that resonated through the audience. Vanessa Hollingshead did a couple of powerful pieces, one in which she was an older women uncomfortable talking about her private parts and in another piece she referenced a tall thin man named Bob that she had been involved with, who brought her out and gave her confidence. After the show she told me that the “Bob” character was based on her ex-husband Lucien Hold, a very old friend of mine, and an iconic figure in the comedy world who ruled The Comic Strip for 25 years before he lost his battle with Scleroderma. It was a very special evening, and really well done after only about a month’s rehearsals.
I was back at West Side later in the week and ran into Alex Babbitt who’s becoming quite a favorite over there, even using three of his sold out shows there to create his first album, entitled “Finally Defined.” The title is based off a hashtag he often uses called #DefineYourself. It’s going to be about 30 minutes long, will be digital and he’s putting it out himself. He’s doing great stuff at only 23 years old, but as I’ve said before he has a much more mature demeanor. He got a real kick out of the fact that I compared him favorably with Neko White. And I got to meet a comic I had never met before which is always exciting to me. During the show I heard a very loud, powerful laugh coming from a woman sitting at the back banquet. Turned out it was Christy Miller who was there to close the show. Her powerful laugh matched her powerful presence, and when we spoke afterwards I found out why. She’s an ex-Roller Derby queen and powerlifter, who admits to 165 pounds of muscle, and who opened for Andrew “Dice” Clay and also opened for Paul Mooney for 12 years. She’s originally from LA and cut her chops at LA’s Comedy Store. She said she came to New York in 2005 and worked with Paul until 2012. When she’s not telling jokes she can often be found lifting heavy things at TMPL gym in Hell’s Kitchen. She told me her butt was featured on the cover of Dice Clay’s album, “Face Down, Ass Up.” Needless to say if she opened for Dice you would not expect a PG act, and you would be correct! Christy has a podcast called “The Monthly Period” in which she discusses pop culture, gossip and all things funny and when I asked her more about the tech aspects of it she described herself as computer illiterate and a little retarded. Her co-host is comic Katharyn Henson who she said she was mentoring, and she tapes the show in her own studio.
It was a very exciting week for me getting all this cool inside news, so with that, … 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 Artie Lange, Yamaneika Saunders, and Nikki Glaser.