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 visited Carolines on Broadway, The Stand, The Producer’s Club and more.
Gary Gulman is a great performer and a really good writer so whenever I get a chance to see him, it’s always a good thing. He was on the Comedy Juice show at Gotham this past Tuesday, and for some reason as soon as he hit the stage he didn’t think the audience was with him. Really, …before he even said anything. He may have been judging by the response to the two comics who preceded him, but I thought the audience was very welcoming to Gary. Gary is a consummate wordsmith, which as a writer myself I value so highly, and he creates what I can only describe as a visual world around his jokes, as only a master wordsmith like him could do.
At one point he chastized the audience for clapping at his material and said he didn’t need their applause, because it was too late, and then chastized himself for coming out to perform on a Tuesday night, and then somehow my name got mentioned, which was shocking to me and totally unexpected. At one point he asked if I was going to write down what was happening. The audience had no idea who I was, and why he was referencing me. He explained that it was a very inside reference that only the other comics would get. When he came off stage we had a good laugh about it and he told me he was doing Conan this coming Tuesday. Make sure to tune in. You don’t wanna miss Gary Gulman!
And then as often happens a surprise guest pops in and it turned out to be Judah Friedlander, another fave of mine. Judah takes crowd work to the level that Gary Gulman takes his visuals. There were a lot of foreign people there that night and Judah asked one guy where he was from, and then commented that the guy was from one of the top 30 countries in Europe. I think it may have been Belgium which Judah referred to as the “Delaware of Europe!” He went on to explain that California gets earthquakes because the people who live there are too thin to hold things in place. He told a guy he didn’t like his laugh and instructed him to go home and work on it. He’s also instructed people that they were clapping incorrectly, and needed to get instruction on how to do it properly. Judah left the stage to cheers, whistles and huge applause.
Brian Scolaro was in from LA and is thinking of moving back to the East Coast. He was on Mad Men, had a role in an NBC pilot called People Are Talking with a guy from Saved By The Bell whose name escaped him. It was shot on the Universal Studios lot. He’s also doing a podcast, (cause no one else has one) called This Is My Podcast on the Bill Burr network All Things Comedy. It’s gonna have sketches, and when I asked about that, he described it as “Jack Benny with curse words!” For you millennials, Google Jack Benny!
And because I try and broaden my horizons I went over to The Producer’s Club to catch part of Keith Fuerstenberg and Henry Cruz’s weekly Wednesday show lovingly titled Train Wreck Comedy. I got there late, but still in time to enjoy Sheng Wang, and Aparna Nancherla. Sheng’s working on an album that may wind up being self produced. It’s as yet untitled and he’s hoping for a mid-July release. Aparna is a great and clever writer, who addressed basically two themes in her set, confidence (and the lack of), and depression. She described herself as being dressed like an 8 year old boy, and said that some days she feels depressed for no reason, but then she remembers some of the reasons! Aparna is recording an album on Tuesday, June 2nd which should be tomorrow if you’re reading this today, and it will be at Union Hall in Brooklyn, Many of you already have a beard, and a flannel shirt so head on over there for what I’m sure will be an enjoyable time! She’ll be doing two shows that night, which is cool cause then she can take the best parts of each show, and edit them into one amazing performance! She’s doing it with Jacqueline Novak, and Naomi Ekperigin a comic and writer for Broad City who will be opening for Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer when they appear on the stage of the 92nd Street Y in a few weeks on June 21st. The album is as yet untitled but it’s for Secretly Canadian, a label started by Tig Notaro who Aparna has worked with.
I rely on The Stand as one of my go-to places, and this night I ran into Aaron Berg who was waiting to go on Ben DeMarco’s Fat Baby Show, which goes up every Thursday night! Aaron often hosts because he’s so quick, very strong on crowd work, and refreshingly politically incorrect! He told one girl in the audience, “ I would do shit to you that’s illegal in Dubai. I’d let you formulate your own opinions, let you read, and even let you drive!” And then for some reason for the second time this week I got called out from the stage,this time by Aaron, and was asked to stand up, which I did and once again the audience was confused! Aaron is excited about his new monthly show out at The Creek and the Cave. It’s a midnight show on Saturdays, called The Blue Show where “blue” material is not only tolerated, it’s expected and encouraged. As Aaron told me, the nastier the better!
I stopped by Gibran Saleem’s birthday party at Kingston Hall and ran into Chris Millhouse, and Adam Mamawala, and as I left Neko White one of the youngest players on the scene, but who already opened for Jay Pharoah at Carolines and is currently a cast member of the Elite Daily internet show Gen Why came by. He also released his first hour comedy special this year called Neko White Introducing Me, and he’s only 22 and been performing for 8 years already!
There are cool comedy shows in bars all around the city so I was intrigued to check out a show at a very cool bar/lounge called Meridian 23 being produced by a girl named Delisious Rodriguez, which she swears is her real name! (Delisious, … the Rodriguez part I believed right away! LOL) She does it with partners Edwardo Infante and William Font and the host was Jamie Roberts who I had been hearing a lot about, plus Del Harrison who is HILARIOUS, and Aldo Marachlian, a funny dude who produces a bunch of shows in Queens. Jamie, who’s a great host, has got a Sunday night show at New York Comedy Club at 8 P.M. that he’s been running for the past six years. He also does a great Jamaican accent cause he’s West Indian.
Del’s got a show at The Village Lantern every Wed. night at 8 that she produces with a comic named Lord, (real name btw!), and she says it has the most diverse line-up having featured comics like Corinne Fisher, one of my faves, the above-mentioned Neko White, Jon Laster and Leah Bonnema, a very diverse crew to say the least! Del too does a great Jamaican accent, and on top of everything else she’s also a talented singer and totally surprised me by closing her set with a very cool original song.
And because I can never get enough of Richard Lewis I went to see him at Carolines where he was headlining this past weekend. Richard told me to get there early in order to see him before the show, because he never hangs out afterwards. He leaves the stage and generally splits immediately, I guess to recover from exposing himself on stage for an hour. ( Not literally, … internally!) There’s basically nothing that Richard is not willing to share about himself with his audience, and he talks proudly about his sobriety. On Aug. 4th he’ll be celebrating 21 years! Amazing. That means he did the movie Drunks when he only had about a year or so sober which is an AMAZING task to have accomplished. There have to be so many triggers during the course of making a movie.
Anyway I got to Carolines extra early and waited in his dressing room for him to arrive.
I was so happy to see that Carmen Lynch was hosting the show. Richard doesn’t travel with an opening act, and it was very exciting to Carmen to have the opportunity to work with Richard. While I was waiting for him to show up, she filled me in on what she had going on. She’s headlining at Acme, a big comedy club in Minneapolis from June 9-13, and just got back from Spain where she actually performed a bunch of shows in Spanish, thanks to her Mom, who is a Latina! When Carmen opens the show she asks the audience to laugh at her jokes because she has a heart murmur and wins them over right away.
When Richard finally arrived our interaction was truly comical. We talked briefly about how fun it was for him to do the show with J.B. Smoove at the 92nd Street Y earlier in the week, for the launch of his book Reflections From Hell. He said working with J.B. was like working with Rickles. It was a blast and he was grateful to J.B. for doing it with him. Now I know that Richard needs to be alone before he goes on stage so he can focus, but at the same time he wants to be polite to me, so the two of us start apologizing to each other. I’m apologizing to him for being there, even though he told me to, and was expecting me, and he was apologizing to ME for not being able to spend more time with me. It was a perfect example of passive agression combined with extreme Jewish guilt. And in the midst of the mutual apologizing we hugged and expressed our love for each other! It was hysterical!
I told him that unfortunately I related too much to his life, and that if I had a tattoo it would say “ Born To Be Nervous”, and he said we were definitely from the same tree! He reiterated that the next day, when he kindly listened to a recent set of mine. Getting comedic validation from Richard will go down as one of the high points in my own life! And before I left his dressing room he said, “ Why do I still do this? It’s 45 years and I still don’t have an act!” Which is belied by the fact that when he gets out there he does an hour with ease, but it could never be the same hour twice, because he goes on riffs, interrupts himself constantly with a flow of consciousness delivery, with one story leading into another, and there’s no way he could ever duplicate one of his shows. But every single one is gold!
I took a seat along the wall and he had to pass me on his way to the stage. He was carrying a little leather satchel which I asked him if he wanted me to watch while he was up there. He was like, “Are you crazy? I don’t trust you! I don’t trust anyone, not even my wife with this bag. It comes on stage with me!” If he could he’d probably bring all of his furniture and belongings with him wherever he went! He took the stage, announced to the audience that there was a very important hockey game on, and said very seriously, “ I don’t wanna shortchange you, but I’m leaving!” Then he talked about how the club hasn’t changed in all the years since it opened and he proceeded to rip the “R” off the wall in the Carolines name which you can see in the photos below if you look at the photo of Carmen Lynch where the “R” is in place and then the phofo ot Richard where the “R” is gone. Maybe he’s using it for something since his name starts with an “R’! And shortly thereafter he asked, “ Is it clear immediately that I don’t have an act?”
He told such great stories about meeting Prince, and having to dance next to him in a club, and that it’s not possible to feel cool dancing next to Prince who was doing splits, while Richard was doing the Cha-Cha with steps that would have been big at The Concord back in 1968! He told priceless stories about how he tortured Tom Cruise at a party by continuously asking him to explain part of a movie, until he was politely asked by the host to leave, plus hysterical stories about David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Ozzy Osbourne. But the line that stuck with me, was that if he moves too fast during sex, he breaks out with Rosacea! Being in Richard’s company is the closest you can get to hanging out with Woody Allen angst-wise and I don’t think he’d mind the comparison! So I’m anxious to see Richard playing a shrink of all things in his new series on Starz called Blunt Talk, with Patrick Stewart, debuting according to Richard on Aug. 22nd. He said “ I play a slightly whacked network psychiatrist, with no black clothes in sight!” and he told me it was already picked up for two years. How cool is that? (Rhetorical question, don’t bother answering!)
In next week’s column news from Charles Grodin’s benefit for the homeless at Gotham, with Joy Behar, Regis Philbin, Marion Grodin and Ted Alexandro is happening tonight! Come join us. Tix still available through Gotham.
I’ll be there covering the red carpet!
Enough already! I’m OUT!!!
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Richard Lewis with Jeffrey; Edwardo Infante with Jeffrey, Jamie Roberts, Del Harrison, Aldo Marachlian and Phill Huht; Aparna Nancherla, Jeffrey, Henry Cruz and Keith Fuerstenberg.