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 The Stand, New York Comedy Club, Gotham, West Side Comedy Club and more!
Over the decades I’ve been in comedy I have befriended and been befriended by many I consider to be legends, but one of the friendships I hold the most dear is with Richard Lewis. It goes back many years. I was there in 1995 when he premiered Drunks at the Ziegfeld Theatre on West 54th Street, and it was so courageous of him. He was newly sober. And he was so surprised to see me. I was coming down the stairs as he was coming up and he said, “ What the fuck are YOU doing here?” I gave him an envelope of jokes I had written for him, knowing he never uses anyone else’s material but his own, but I always felt I could write in his voice. That very night when I got home there was already a message for me on my home phone in which he thanks me for the jokes, and says if he was ever to use anyone’s jokes he would use these because, in his words, “you are hilarious, and you know how to write a funny joke.”
He usually sends me an e-mail when he’s coming to New York, but this time I found out myself that he was headlining Carolines and I figured I’d surprise him by just showing up. I got there and was pleasantly surprised and more than a little jealous to find Eric Neumann on stage opening for Richard. And he was great and the audience loved him. He did a lot of funny Jewish stuff, so much so that when Richard came out he said he that Eric did so much Jewish stuff that all he left for him to talk about was turtles and woodworking! The room was so packed there was not one seat open. I stood and leaned against the wall near the dressing rooms, and as Richard was announced he walked by me with his black suit, dark shades and a briefcase which he carried onto the stage with him. He told me later that he recognized me from the back and thought to himself, “this fucking guy, he’s so well known and look where they put him. They seat him on the third rail!”
Somehow Eric found a chair for me and I sat and watched as Richard did a strong hour of killer material. When Richard got offstage I was waiting. He seemed surprised to see me, hugged me, said “ I love you” and then “Call me!” and with that he put on his shades and walked right out the back door to a waiting car. The next day he said he was limiting himself to only making three calls today and I was one of them. That was very special. We talked about everything under the sun but mostly about health. He’s been through a lot including the loss of several friends and a close family member, several surgeries including eye surgery, a bout of sciatica and a hernia. There was more but all I had to counter with was my heart attack. We commiserated on all these problems, and he said he doesn’t like to think about uncomfortable things before he performs which was when I told him about my new book and without a second’s delay, and before I even had a chance to ask he said, “Please send it to me and I’ll write a blurb for you.” I’m looking forward to Richard coming back to New York in early December when he’ll be at the Patchogue Theater on Long Island before he heads off to San Francisco to Cobb’s. He also said he’s really excited about performing in Los Angeles at The Roxy for the first time in five years. I just might fly out to see him!
Adam Wade is an accomplished storyteller who teaches that skill at The Magnet Theatre. He’s a record 18-time Moth Story SLAM champion and besides appearing regularly at UCB, he has also appeared as himself in HBO’s Girls with Ophira Eisenberg and also on Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central. Lance Rizzo of Cult Comedy Pictures, and Successful Failures, invited me to come to a taping of Adam’s second special at The Magnet and I’m really glad I went. Like all good storytellers Adam reveals himself to the core. With no embarrassment or uncomfortablity, he opens up his life and discusses personal details that sometimes are difficult to listen to because they are things you’ve experienced yourself and repressed. I hope to be able to do that someday.
The great thing about West Side Comedy Club aside from the club itself is that it’s so close to Stand Up New York so it gives comics a whole area to swing by. You can go to both. So when I got to West Side I said what’s up to all the comics including Russ Meneve, Lenny Marcus, Lucas Connolly who was hosting and said he recently lost 50 pounds, Joe DeVito and Dean Edwards. Joe told me he’s been teaching classes for Jeff Lawrence’s Laughing Buddha, where he teaches a comedy writer’s workshop and also “Next Level” for stand-ups. They do it at different studios. And I have to hand it to Eugene and Nina Ashe and Gina Savage for hiring some of the nicest, and best looking staff you could have. All of them are so welcoming and so helpful it makes the experience of being there even nicer.
By the time I left and got to Stand Up New York, Aaron Berg, who somehow manages to be in several clubs at the same time, was hosting and Dean Edwards was on stage closing out the show. Aaron sat with me and suddenly in the middle of performing I hear my name and Dean says, “Gurian I just saw you at the other club. What are you doing here?” And I said I was following him around. And he called me one of the “unsung heroes of the comedy world.” That was very nice!
So I went to Gotham to see Dov Davidoff who was headlining, and I wound up sitting with Bill Dawes who was hosting, and Dan Naturman who crushed as the feature, and got the scoop from Bill for what went down earlier in the week at The Stand. Bill had met this girl only once. She said she was a fan and wanted to come to his next show and bring 8 people. He said sure. She showed up alone, drunk and wearing a blonde wig. So he told her to go downstairs and reminded her to behave and be quiet. That’s when he noticed her stealing some flowers from a vase in the club. After she was escorted out of the room she was still arguing with the manager and Bill said he had to ask her to leave. But she tried to get back in when he was on stage. He said to me, “Hey I can’t control how crazy my fans are! I’m such a quiet nerd, it’s really weird I have some loud and unstable fans!”
Bill’s feature film which he wrote and produced is available on Amazon. It’s called Before The Sun Explodes and when I asked him what it was about he said it’s about a stand-up comic whose wife kicks him out, and who’s lured into a bizarre encounter with an intriguing woman who has a stalker. Their intense attraction leads to a very crazy night!” And Dov told me his memoir, which is what he called it, is coming out on Halloween. He’s been working on it for three years and its called Road Dog. If the turnout at his show is any indication the book will be a big hit because the room was packed, and he had three sold-out shows in a row, on a Saturday night which is pretty rare for any comic!
Molly Austin, who writes and performs on truTV’s Late Night Snack with Rachel Dratch, which is in its third season, told me she’s developing a new pilot for them called The Untitled Austin/Martinez project, and announced that she’s doing so well she’s got mad toilet paper money. She’s even got extra rolls at home. Whenever I see Molly I’m always tempted to touch her amazing hair, but I don’t cause I don’t let anyone touch mine! And I shared a table with my girl Corinne Fisher, one-half of the Guys We Fucked anti-slut shaming podcast, whose new book F*cked from Harper Collins is out and doing great. She told me that she and her co-host and co-author Krystyna Hutchinson will be heading out to LA to headline The Comedy Store in a show called Bookmitzvah because Krystyna recently found out that she’s Jewish. Something about her Mom being adopted and she didn’t know. I couldn’t get all the details because it was in the middle of the show. While out in LA they’ll also be doing some big podcasts like Grace Helbig and Adam Carolla. Those girls are amazing. #Killingit!
I hadn’t seen Aaron Berg in what felt like too long so I dropped by The Stand to catch up on things. As usual he’s doing a lot. He’s hosting a new pilot called Ace of Sprays” which is not a comedy show but a contest show for the best airbrush artists in New York, shot in a warehouse in Staten Island. I asked him how they found him and he said he had worked with them before doing promos for the show Pawn Stars. He shot it last week and when I asked him if he was able to inject much comedy, he laughingly said that some of his outtakes were so dirty they couldn’t be aired! And next week he’s shooting an independent pilot for TV called Young Grasshopper! Always something interesting for Aaron, and he was with Robby Slowik who was excited about being signed that day to APA. Congrats Robbie! Way to go! Aaron also shot a part on Yamaneika Saunders’ new upcoming Comedy Central project in which he plays a deaf Uber driver. And while on the subject our deepest and sincerest condolences to Yamaneika on the loss of her beloved grandmother, the woman who raised her. So sorry Yammie!
I hung out for the Fat Baby show cause that crew is also a lot of laughs and they tell me I’m an honorary member! It’s Giulio Gallarotti, Benny DeMarco, Josh Wesson and Ricky Velez. Breaking news is that Benny told me the boys are planning a collaboration with Jordan Rock and Reg Thomas to do a Productively Stoned show at Carolines sometime in December. I can only imagine how high they’ll all be! I think they were starting now to get ready for it. And Benny told me he just got hired to edit the Aaron Berg doc where Aaron did 25 spots in one night. He said he was really honored and excited for the opportunity. Benny studied documentary filmmaking at the University of Montana. I was like “how did you wind up in Montana?” He explained that he’s originally from Portland, Oregon and wound up going to Montana to play Lacrosse. While he was playing he wound up with a degree in film! And Ricky Velez the 4th member was not present as he’s out in LA creating an important TV pilot. Details on that to follow as soon as I’m allowed to say anything more!
I ran over to catch Roast Battle at New York Comedy Club, which is always a fun way to end the evening. I came in to find two comics I was not familiar with on stage. Both were great writers. One named Conor was gay and had one hand smaller than the other due to a birth defect, and the other’s name was Anthony who wore a flannel shirt with a beard. Both of them had such great lines. But one of the next comics coming to the stage took that small hand thing to a whole new level. It was Matt Maran head of the NY Comedy Fight Club vs. one of it’s members Chris Crespo who thanks to a birth defect had no hands at all. And I have to say right off the bat that I am a huge admirer of Chris for owning who he is and being the first one to joke about himself. It takes huge courage to do that, especially after what I imagine had to be a very tough childhood. I thought the room might collapse from the weight of the laughs. And Chris laughed as hard as anyone else. Matt was declared the winner by judges Gina Yashere, Dave Cirus, and Mike Cannon, who’s so nice you would never think he had a vicious streak in him.
And the “headline roast” was between Christine Meehan-Berg and Danny Palmer during which another very interesting thing happened. Sometime during the second round Danny stopped roasting, or battling or whatever you want to call it. He just suddenly announced to the audience that he didn’t like Roast Battles, and didn’t want to do it anymore or proceed any further, which led to the judges starting a chant of “Danny sucks, Danny sucks, Danny sucks” which the room took up. He gave the win to Christine who would probably have won anyway, but then he went one step further and actually tried to end the show by thanking the audience for coming and bidding them all good night! It was so funny. Neko jumped up and took back control and kept them there. And afterward Danny and I hung out at the bar and I gave him a different perspective on what he did. I thought it was very courageous to step out and say he wasn’t enjoying what he was doing when it would have been so much easier to just carry on. He said he wasn’t originally supposed to be roasting Christine. He was psyched to roast Zach McGovern, but when it got switched to Christine his heart wasn’t in it. So he took back the power, which is not easy to do, and stepped out of what he was doing, kind of breaking the fourth wall and refused to continue. It was an interesting thing psychologically, and he was glad for my perspective.
Noah Baumbach is often compared to Woody Allen so when I got the invite to a screening of his new film The Meyerowitz Stories with Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, I envisioned The Berkowitzes rolling around on the floor dressed as a moose, locking antlers with a real live moose. (Look it up on You Tube!) It was not like that at all. What I found was a very dark, dark comedy with a stellar cast including Dustin Hoffman, Judd Hirsch, Emma Thompson, Candy Bergen and Sigourney Weaver. It was an interesting collection of character studies but nothing like the Berkowitz/moose fiasco.
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 Gurian with Richard Lewis and Benny DeMarco and Josh Wesson.