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, The Cellar, New York Comedy Club, Carolines and more!
I went to hang out at The Stand one night and wound up sitting outside at the lone table with Ricky Velez, Yannis Pappas and Chris Laker until Ricky had to run in to do his set. Yannis told me he started making videos again of his characters Mr. Panos and Maurica and he’s recording them at Luis J. Gomez’s Gas Digital Studio, which he said was amazing in terms of the quality of the equipment. Ari Shaffir joined us and told me he shot his Netflix special Double Negative out in Austin at Cap City Comedy Club because he thinks it’s one of the best rooms in the country. I asked him how his Just For Laughs experience was because I saw he had done a bunch of shows. He enumerated at least 12 for me, not counting podcasts. He hosted ten Nasty Shows, his story-telling show, and opened for Ali Siddiq. And when I asked him if he met any new people he told me he got to be closer to Jimmy Carr, and took two days off and went camping with Big Jay Oakerson and Robert Kelly. That had to be insane! The woods will never be the same!
Artie Lange was headlining Carolines this weekend so I popped by to catch up with Artie and see how he was doing since his recent hospitalization. Fortunately, he’s great and made a point of ordering only bottles of water. Joe Matarese was the MC and Adrienne Iapalucci and Russ Meneve were the openers. I sat with Joe between acts and he told me his special Medicated which was on Seeso is now available on his website for live streaming. He said he used to open for Artie a lot, but now that he’s married with kids, Artie tends to use Russ. Joe said he lost his gig to “the single version of me!” And it’s true, they do remind you of each other. But Russ has a lot of very edgy jokes which he used handily to control a table of loud drunk Indian women, who kept yelling out remarks, which in itself is kind of a rarity.
Artie got there shortly before he was due to go on and had a great show. A lot of his Stern fans were there and he was amazed that it’s been so long since he’s been on the show, but the fans are still very loyal. A couple even came back to the green room after the show, where I was hanging out with Artie and his producer Dan Falato, and Artie was very cordial to them. He’s very open on stage and there seems to be nothing he won’t talk about. I got to commend him afterward on his performance in Crashing, for which he’ll be shooting the second season very soon, and then I split to let him relax between shows.
And speaking of Crashing, Pete Holmes is in town shooting the second season so I stopped by the shoot at The Village Underground to yell out a quick hello to Pete during a break. They were shooting a scene outside the club, and they gather quite a crowd of onlookers, but everyone cooperates and doesn’t make noise during the shoot which is very rare in NY.
Ben Gleib always has so much going on. He was headlining Gotham so I stopped by to catch his act, and catch up with him as well. He told me that the 200th episode of his Idiotest show on the Game Show Network just aired last week and he actually survived the episode where he had on four of his ex-girlfriends. This week he has a celebrity episode with Joey Fatone as the special guest. And his podcast Last Week On Earth, which covers news and politics, will also have its 200th episode in a few weeks. He’ll be hosting a Battle of the Sexes on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda later this month. He’s a regular on that show in a segment called Guys Tell All, but this time his panel of guys will include Dean Cain, Chuck Nice, Bob Guiney former Bachelor, and Andrew McCarthy from Blacklist. And as if that’s not enough, he’s still touring with “The Gleib Squad” using different feature acts as he moves across the country. And there’s one more thing he couldn’t divulge completely yet, but it involves a new and very different kind of TV show that he’ll be able to share with me in about a week! Go Ben!
Every once in a while I get to meet someone I had always heard about, but for some reason our paths have never officially crossed. There aren’t many on that list, but Greg Fitzsimmons was one of them, and thanks to Ron Bennington we finally got to meet and talk. I went down to watch Ron host at The Stand. I always enjoy seeing him on stage. When I got there he was sitting outside with Ben Bailey and Jim Florentine, who were waiting to go on, in that order. We hung outside and schmoozed a bit talking about how the audience can sometimes tell when you’re tired of doing a certain bit. Then Ron went up and intro’ed Ben as the host of Cash Cab, and the crowd was very enthusiastic.
Jim told me he has a book coming out in February as well as his third special that’s already in the can, that he shot at Anthony Cumia’s studio on West 35th Street. He debated for awhile about telling me the title of the book, until we realized that you can’t copyright a title, so for now, it’s Everyone Is Awful (Except You), and it’s based on his podcast Comedy Metal Midgets.
Then just before he went up on stage he said, “Wait till you see how Ron introduces me!” Jim explained that they came up with an intro for him that would leave him in a hole that he had to climb out of. He said he likes that. So Ron built up the excitement by saying you never know who happens to drop in at The Stand. Did any of you see “Trainwreck?” And when the crowd got all excited expecting to see Amy Schumer, Ron announced Jim Florentine, and he told me you could see all their faces collectively drop. Jim explained that he was in the opening scenes as one of the guys that Amy throws out of her apartment. Why Jim likes experiencing things like that I have no idea. Some people like pain. But fortunately, he was funny enough to climb out of it.
So I’m standing near the opening to the room and the next comic is ready to go on and Ron says to me, “Do you know Greg Fitzsimmons?” And I was like, “ No, but I always wanted to.” So he introduced us and I stayed to watch Greg’s act and then we hung out a bit. Turns out he’s in from LA writing for Crashing and had seen me on the set two nights before when I took the photos of Pete for this very column. Also turns out, I knew his dad, radio guy Bob Fitzsimmons from The Friars Club. I asked Greg how he wound up writing for Crashing and he said he had met Judd numerous times. Judd had been a guest on his podcast Fitzdog Radio and they performed together at The Comedy Store in LA. and so Judd asked Greg to write for the second season. They wrote in LA for about six weeks before coming here and he’ll be here until the end of August as he’s on set for every shoot.
Funny enough, I wrote above how the crowd was well behaved. Greg told me that one street guy was purposely making a lot of noise to interrupt the shoot. Somebody came up with the idea to pay him off, so a P.A. went over and took care of it. Later on, Greg asked the guy how much he paid him to knock it off. The fee was one dollar! I asked Greg if his podcast was on hiatus while he was in NY and he said on the contrary, he’s recording it while he’s here and the next day he was doing both Ari Shaffir and Lisa Lampanelli!
Roast Battle was back at New York Comedy Club this week and I sat in the back with AMarie Castillo who filled me in on a lot of the back story of some of the comics. Neko White was hosting and the first battle was between Rachel Green and Venessa Peruda. Rachel was the victor. Venessa told me she ran out of jokes and didn’t have enough for a third round. She had also shaved her head, which was not a penance for losing. She said it was in solidarity with her sister, Isolda, who’s going thru chemo for cervical cancer and lost her hair. I thought it was such a cool thing and a brave thing for her to do, so I’m writing about it. I asked her if she realized that her first name was spelled wrong and she told me her mother was trying to be very creative. Rachel does a monthly show at The Village Lantern with Jacq the Stripper, who used to be a stripper, for real, and now does stand-up comedy. It’s one year old, held the last Monday of every month and it’s called Venus Fly Trap. The main battle was between Zach McGovern and Walker Hays, and AMarie hipped me to the fact they had once dated. Most of their jokes were about their sexual history and each other’s supposed shortcomings in bed. Walker claimed they only had sex once. And Zach came out with a line where he said that Walker fucked more dudes than he did. No one really asked him to explain that, but it sounded like the kind of thing that Walker would have said about him, rather than him saying it about himself. At one point, judge Mike Cannon interrupted Zach’s flow which Zach blamed for his losing, but it really had nothing to do with that. Both had great jokes, but Walker’s were stronger and more consistent. I think it was her fifth win and she was ecstatic!
The other judges were Shuli Egar and Dave Sirus. Shuli gave one of the rounds to me. I didn’t even know he knew I was there. He just announced on the mic, “I think that round should go to Jeffrey Gurian.” Then Mike Cannon started saying how he’d love to see my dick, and that he’d pay lots of money to see my dick, and then led the audience in a chant for me to show it. I’m pretty sure I declined. There was a time I might have had a photo of it in my wallet, but I’m carrying a smaller wallet these days and there’s just no room! Mike and I hung out afterwards and he told me his special is edited already and they wound up using most of the first take which was shot at the 7 P.M. show. It’s called I Think It Just Kicked In and it’s based on a mushroom trip he once took. He said it will be playing on SiriusXM all month. Very cool!
James Mattern was with Shuli and was really psyched that they used his photo on the LOL app with Gina Yashere. He and Shuli first met up when they were both living in Vegas and they started the open mic circuit back in 1999 or 2000. When Shuli came to New York to audition for The Howard Stern Show, James came with him and stayed on his couch for awhile until he got settled. New York Comedy Club is opening a club in Philly and they’re both going out there to do it together. They’re also planning a show together at NYCC right here in the city.
It was great to see Dan LaMorte again as I hadn’t seen him for awhile. Fortunately, he’s completely recovered from his car accident and back performing at The Cellar and at NYCC. He said he’s working on a new hour which he’ll start touring at the end of October, going to Philly, D.C., Boston and New Hampshire, and he’s being repped by James Cristiano at Authentic.
I wound up doing another double episode of Race Wars this week with Sherrod Small, Keren Margolis, a girl I brought named Valencia Woods, and a very interesting person who goes by the name of Venus Lux. I got there a few minutes late because I got pulled over by the cops for what they said was an illegal turn. If you have to get caught with anything illegal, I guess a turn is the best thing! Unlike drugs, it’s very hard to hide a turn! Anyway, when I got there the show was already underway so I thought Venus Lux was just another pretty Asian girl. Turns out she’s a transgender porn star and it was a fascinating few hours, as she’s very open to talking about her life, her porno career, and her body parts. Kurt Metzger is still away on a writing project, but hopefully will be there tonight when Race Wars goes live at The Village Underground. I know that I will be there for sure! Also celebrating the joint birthdays of Pete Lee and Sherrod Small. And I have the distinct feeling there will be more than one “joint” on the scene!
Giulio Gallarotti told me his alter-ego Lil Young Big was out in East Hampton shooting video for his new rap song “Boy From The Wild” and as a surprise, someone brought a drone camera so he’s got some really amazing footage to go with the song. It should be done and out in the next couple of weeks. You’ll be able to see it on Facebook or on Lil Young Big’s channel on YouTube. The Fat Baby boys including Benny DeMarco and Josh Wesson will be having a live show in the Fat Baby bar they were banned from last year because things had gotten out of hand and one of the revelers actually assaulted a police officer. I understand a kick was involved! Anyway, the manager decided to give them one more chance for just one night and it’s going down this Thursday. I’m so there. Those are my boys!
Final notes from Montreal. I asked Kevin Hart what’s left for him to do. He’s conquered film, TV and he’s filled arenas. He said he wants to be a mogul and hopes that the LOL Network will help him reach that status. And Jim Carrey told me that when he was starting out, he played all the NY clubs which I was not aware of. He said he played The Improv, Catch, and The Comic Strip. He said that comedy in those days was a true happening and he feels like it’s happening again. He also said about life, that we’re all just trying to figure it out. Because our lives are just a collection of abstract ideas, including our ethnicity and our nationality. He also said you might be successful, but you’re still unhappy and don’t know why. He explains it all in this little special video I shot which is a very unusual video for a red carpet where they’re usually quite superficial.
And that’s it for me, … 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 and Jim Carrey, Kevin Hart and the cast of this week’s Race Wars