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 parties all over the city, and more!
Every week for the last four years in this column, I write about comedy events that have happened. This week for the first time ever I’m writing about an event that was supposed to happen but did NOT happen. At least not yet.
A very special woman named Marsha Taylor with her company Hidden Agenda created an event called the LOL Comedy Honors, after seeing a comedy show on Broadway back in 2014 and thinking that that comedian deserved an award. This past week was supposed to be their second annual event and was expected to be a HUGE award show at Gotham Hall honoring some of the top black comedians in the business with awards named after late comedy giants like Bernie Mac, Robin Harris, Moms Mabley, Nell Carter and Charlie Murphy. What makes it even more special is that the honors were to be presented by family members to recipients they’ve personally selected, which makes it unlike any other award show out there. The event is meant to celebrate not only present day stand-up stars, but also social media sensations, behind the scenes players, and comics on the rise, for their work in stand-up, TV, movies and social media.
Expected to receive awards were Nick Cannon getting the Bernie Mac Comedy King award, Deon Cole named the 2018 Rising Star honoree, Earthquake who was to receive the George Wallace Living Legend award, Tracy Morgan slated to receive the Triumph of the Spirit award, Donnell Rawlings slated to receive the Charlie Murphy Road Warrior award, Sheryl Underwood was to receive the Marsha Warfield Comedy Queen award, Demond Wilson who played Lamont Sanford on Sanford and Son with Redd Foxx was to come in from LA to receive the Special Achievement in Television Award, and the whole thing was to be hosted by my man Jamie Roberts and Luenell, one of Snoop Dogg’s Bad Girls of Comedy.
The night before the event I attended the private press/media dinner up in Harlem, facilitated by PR maven Nicole Curtis, at a cool spot called Common Good Harlem and was sitting with Jamie Roberts enjoying this great dinner and talking about how amazing the event would be. Besides all the stars I already mentioned they were expecting appearances from Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. Then Marsha Taylor came in and addressed the crowd with a welcome speech during which she said she was devastated to announce that the event was cancelled. The night before! Being that it was Halloween night I first thought that maybe it was a “Trick or Treat” thing, but unfortunately it was all too real. I’m sure this had to be one of the most difficult things she ever had to face. It’s one thing for a big event to be cancelled a month before, even a couple of weeks before, but the night before has to be brutal. Especially when she had been working on it for over a year. What impressed me the most was how she handled it with such style and grace and explained that the event was just postponed, and would be held at an upcoming date which was not ready to be announced yet. They still held the afterparty, a very classy move at a cool venue called McGettigans. I can’t wait to find out the new date. I hope it’s soon and I wish her much luck.
I went to two comedy Halloween bashes that night. Stand Up NY had it’s annual party and GM Jon Borromeo was helping to man the bar. Neko White looking very spiffy in a sport jacket was dressed as the Allstate Guy, while Pat Brown was channeling her best Grace Jones, and Sheba Mason was a saloon girl while her date Ian was dressed as a corn dog. Adam Gabel was there and had just gotten back from touring around with Dan Lamorte for 30 days on the road. He said they had the best time touring the Southern states, and wound up staying in hotels and people’s houses. They drove over 10,000 miles after telling the car rental place they’d only be doing less than 5,000. It kicked off with a show at the Triad Theatre in NYC and he told me that one night they had to drive the entire night to beat a hurricane. That’s life on the road!
At some point Sheba and Ian piled into my car and we headed down to the New York Comedy Club Halloween party at their new spot on East 4th Street. That party had already spilled out onto the street as it was so crowded. I made my way in to the back room where the Karaoke machine was happening with Josh Wesson from the Fat Baby crew running the game. Of course the other members of Fat Baby were in attendance, Giulio Gallarotti, Benny Demarco, and Ricky Velez. Eagle Witt was on stage dressed in a onesie as a big baby. He was ecstatic over being chosen to be in the finals of New York’s Funniest on Saturday November 10th at Carolines as part of the NY Comedy Festival. Jason Scoop who was dressed as Osama Bin Laden and kept questioning me in Osama’s voice about my Jewish background will also be in the contest, one of 12 comics in the finals. Owner Emilio Savone was in a striped outfit, maybe as a prisoner, and at one point Ricky Velez led a small group of us to the basement to start our own little pop-up party which made Emilio nervous as we descended the steep staircase. It was Walker Hays, Zach McGovern, Giulio (don’t need his last name cause there’s only one!), Benny D, Ryan Dacalos, and Phil From Chico. Jordan Ferber was a 70’s style pimp, Krystyna Hutchinson looked absolutely ravishing in her green hair, Rydaddy Dacalos was a gladiator, I almost didn’t recognize Jamie Lee, who I hadn’t seen since we shot an episode of Crashing back in July, and she looked fantastic but I’m still not sure I know what she was dressed as, and she was with comic/rapper T-Spoon otherwise known as Katie Haller who was dressed as a sexy little girl with pigtails who looked so young, I told her I felt guilty even looking! The party went late and was still going strong when I left at 1.
It was a week of parties as I attended the launch party for the new Amazon show called “Dinner With Dani” and it’s adult film star Dani Daniels as the host along with her porn star friends having a round table conversation with a comedian. Comics and pornstars, a match made in heaven. Comics are probably some of their greatest fans. They also plan to mix in psychologists, pop culture icons and influencers. The party was at The Mezzanine a really cool space down on lower Broadway and when I walked in I ran right into Jim Mendrinos whose company New Media Comedy is producing the show, and Jimmy was also running the red carpet. I hung out a lot of the time with Steve Fabricant longtime host at The Comedy Cellar, and Walker Hays who books the talent for the show. And then I got interviewed on the red carpet by a very well dressed porn star! They previewed two episodes on the multiple TV screens around the room and the first featured Asa Akira, Alexis Texas, and Phoenix Maria along with Jim Norton talking about sex, relationships, life in general, porn and social media. The second episode featured comic Jeff Leach addressing the same topics.
I asked Jim Mendrinos how it all came about because from what I understand it wasn’t easy and he said Dinner With Dani is nothing that you’d expect. She hosts a round table discussion over dinner and the result is a hybrid conversation that is often intellectual, often bawdy and always funny. It is a one of a kind talk show.” He went on to say “I first met Dani and her husband Vic through a former producing partner. She came in and read for a project for me and even though me and that partner split up, Dani, Vic and I remained friends. Her quick wit is so underrated, and her compassion as an actress comes through so much so that I cast her in a pivotal role in a dramatic film I’m directing. So when Vic and his production partners needed someone to help get Dani on Amazon, he called me because my company already had inroads there. We all love working with her.”
I ended my comedy week with my good pal D.L. Hughley truly one of the official Kings of Comedy. He was headlining at Carolines and there was not a seat to be had. I was with him for two nights and by the time you read this it may have been three! As usual D.L. is very generous with his opening spots and gives stage time to comics on their way up. Bo “Last Name” Dacious is one of his regular openers who is always a killer, and Clint Coley has such a unique stage persona, and is so funny that you gotta come away liking the guy. He really takes command of the stage. Part of Bo’s merch is “Miss Hattie’s rag” which you have to see to understand but it’s a great gimmick and he said one of his best ideas ever! Richie Redding did a set and told me about his new album “Late Bloomer” that was featured on the NY Post’s Page Six this week.
D.L. is one of the only comics I know who is confident and relaxed enough to either hang out with friends backstage until literally the moment he’s announced to go up, and I know this because I’m usually sitting right next to him when I’m there, and I walk with him to the showroom, or else he arrives at the club just minutes before he’s due to go on, and just goes right up. That is amazing to me. Many comics like to be alone before, and center themselves in some way. Some are still looking over their material until right before they go up. The girl I was with sparked a deep conversation about the power of women that D.L. and I will continue on his radio show very soon! His radio co-host Jasmine Sanders was backstage on the second night that I went. Always so good to see Jaz! D.L. hits the stage, always dressed to the nines with his unique style, and does a flawless hour plus with no stress. He saves his crowdwork for the end. And he always proves why he’s one of the true Kings of Comedy.
And 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. Pictured, Jeffrey with D.L. Hughley, Richie Redding, the basement party crew at New York Comedy Club and Marsha Taylor and Jamie Robertson.