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 Stand Up New York, The Gotham Comedy Club, The Stand and more.
Seth Meyers came to the 92nd Street Y to be interviewed by Ali Wentworth from In Living Color, and it was hilarious. A million laughs. They had great chemistry together and Ali was really funny, especially right at the beginning when Seth– who’s so used to hosting– tried to take over and Ali had to remind him that SHE was the host that night. He told great stories like the one about his wife giving birth in the lobby of their building because it happened so fast that they didn’t have time to get to the hospital, and how it totally changed his relationship with his doormen! Both Ali and Seth were so quick. She asked Seth if his wife, who’s a serious lawyer, thinks he’s funny and immediately he said, “Less every day!” She asked him if he thinks he will write books and he said “ I hope not!” But one of the best lines was when she asked him about interviewing politicians and he said “Politicians answer the questions they wish you had asked them rather than the one you DID ask them.” After the interview a guy came out with questions written on cards from the audience. He gave one to Ali who immediately said, “Oh I can’t, I’m married!” She too told funny stories, like the one about her husband George Stephanopoulos who she said fainted when she gave birth. It was a great night!
I ran over to The Stand to catch the very last Roast Masters show before the club closed for good. I got there in time to see the main battle between Maddy Smith and LA comic Jay Light. There were a million judges including Rich Vos, Bonnie McFarlane, Big Jay Oakerson, Mike Lawrence, Eli Sairs, Ari Shaffir, Myka Fox, and Kim Congdon. Maddy won and when host Luis J. Gomez came up on stage to decide the winner he was wearing a construction hat, gloves and a vest. No one knew why until the show was over and he picked up a sledgehammer and started destroying the brick wall of the stage. And then he led the audience in a chant, “The owners are gay!” After he took a few whacks he turned the sledgehammer over to others who wanted a shot at the wall. All I could think of was, “What if the owners change their mind about leaving?”
But that wasn’t even a thought as I found out from co-owner Paul Italia. We hung out inside and outside for quite a bit while he told me about their new space on 16th Street which should be ready by the end of the summer. It used to be a Brother Jimmys and it’s huge at 9,000 square feet with two levels meaning two show rooms. It’s going to be awesome and he invited me for a tour later this month. He said they’ve been looking to expand for the last two years. Very exciting, but it will feel weird not having The Stand until September.
Comedy Juice was great this week, but it wasn’t easy getting into the club. When I arrived there were crowds outside from two shows that were letting out so I hung outside with owner Chris Mazzilli and Rich Vos who was waiting for Bonnie McFarlane to come out. In the meantime we talked about cars, and Chris, who’s a car aficionado was helping me track down some after market pieces for my own car which recently got hit by a truck, and had to have some parts replaced. Todd Barry opened and told the audience how glad they were to see him. Katie Hannigan came by to run her set that she was going to do on Colbert that week, and Nikki Glaser came by to run her set for Fallon which was her 4th Tonight Show and her third with Jimmy. Roy Wood Jr. came in and closed the show with a bang. He always outdoes himself, and always has new material.
For the 11th year in a row The Comic Strip hosted New York’s Funniest Reporter Show produced by Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick of Goldman/McCormick PR, and it was a hoot as usual. Reporters from different platforms get up and do five minutes of material, at least it’s supposed to be five minutes of material except for those too inexperienced to look for the light! Those reporters do about 15 minutes. This year the host was David Weiss from 1010 WINS who won last year, and the winner this year was Gerald Celente of The Trends Journal. Runner-up was a tie between Ed Kalegi from the Ed Kalegi Radio Show, and Michael T. Regan from Bloomberg Markets Live. The proceeds went to benefit The Humane Society and the place was packed. Others on the show were Maria Dorfner from Good Morning America, Anne D’Innocenzio from the AP, and Alycia Powers from Inside Edition who I got to work with, and help prepare . Alycia’s schedule was so busy that she managed to get up and perform with only one rehearsal under her belt. Truly amazing!
Sibyl Santiago brought her Soho International Film Festival to the Village East Theatre for it’s 9th year, and it’s packed with great films including some great comedies. I saw one called “Limerance” written and directed and starred in by a very funny and talented comedic actress named Tammy Minoff, who I think you’ll be seeing a lot of. Limerence by the way is a real word which means: “the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.” And that’s basically what it’s about.
Pierce Brosnan was on the red carpet as well as my buddy actor Victor Coliccio who co-wrote the movie Summer of Sam with Sopranos star Michael (Christopher Moltisanti) Imperioli. Tonight I will be seeing the Rick Crom documentary “Oh Rick” by Dustin Sussman about his career at The Comedy Cellar where he’s been teaching comedy for so many years, with appearances by Bill Burr, Louis CK, Ray Romano, Jon Stewart, Jeffrey Ross, Colin Quinn, Dave Attell, Tom Papa, Judy Gold, Godfrey and more! The festival runs through Wednesday with a party every night. And you know I like that!!!
And I got to congratulate Brian Scolaro for his turn on “I’m Dying Up Here” in which he played kind of a sleazy comedy producer in a scene with Al Madrigal and my buddy Jon Daly, with whom I did Kroll Show.
I drove up to Pleasantville to check out Frank Pellegrino’s new club “Lucy’s Comedy Lounge” which was headlining comedy magician Chips Cooney the night I went, with Maryelle Turner as the MC. It’s a cool space in a nice size room in the back of a bar, and it’s been open about 5 months. Frank lives in Thornwood not far from the club and had used Lucy’s as a venue for his Yonkers Comedy Festival shows. The manager offered him the space and he said he did a lot of work to get it in shape. Frank is known for his comedy fundraisers. He’s already done four which raised over $50,000. And they are in honor of his best friend Eddie Trapasso who passed away about ten years ago. Frank is having his First Annual Lucy’s Laugh Lounge Comedy Contest starting this week, and I will be going back to be a judge.
It feels like Stand-Up New York comes out with something new every week lately. Last week it was Laugh Pass, this week it started it’s “Headliner” series of shows with Brendan Sagalow as the first, doing an hour of material. He had Maddy Smith host and had a couple of his old friends who are comics open for him, Luke Mones and Danny Delcolle. This is pretty major for Brendan as he recently headlined Carolines which was the night he was joined onstage by Amy Schumer who interrupted his set to do a spot. It got him a lot of press so this headliner show was called “Uninterrupted.” It was a 7:30 show and he told me it was very exciting because it was packed and not with family and friends. He said it was the first show where he had actual fans show up. When he opened the show he explained to the audience that “ Amy’s not coming because she’s chained to a radiator in my basement!” At the end of the month Elon Gold will be coming in to do a headline show.
Stand Up manager Steve Lipman just got cast in a new feature film that will be filming in Staten Island. More on that to come, and Darrell Hammond came in the next night to tell some great stories from his book “God If You’re Not Up There I’m Fucked” and after he got off stage he told me the book will be available in the next month or so as an audio book on Amazon and i-Tunes.
And thanks to Stand Up New York I made a new friend in comedy. I had always heard of Craig Gass but our paths had not really ever crossed which is unusual considering how long we’ve both been around. I was outside the club talking with manager Jon Borromeo when Craig came over to check on something about his spot. We got to talking and found out we had a lot in common and lots of mutual friends. Back in the day he used to room with the great Mitch Hedberg, (RIP) As a matter of fact when Craig came to New York on April 16, 1998 Mitch picked him up at Penn Station, to let him stay on his couch for the next few months.
Craig is known for his celeb voice work on Howard Stern, Family Guy, and American Dad. How he got so good at voices is a story unto itself. His entire family is deaf. Mom, Dad and sister. His Mom was born deaf, his Dad became deaf, and his sister was also born deaf so he had no one to listen to at home to learn how to speak. He said he learned from listening to people on TV and found out that he was able to imitate voices, sometimes almost as soon as he heard them. He said he doesn’t have to work from a tape or do anything special. Sometimes all he has to do is just hear a voice and he finds that it just comes out of him. An amazing gift. He was living in Seattle when he contacted Howard Stern and sent Gary Del’Abate a tape of his voices. Gary asked him how many people were on the tape and was shocked to find out it was all Craig. He wound up moving to New York to do Stern, and still does when he’s in town. Now he lives in LA. When he found out I wrote for Rodney Dangerfield he told me a great story. They recently opened the Rodney Dangerfield Institute in LA and they did a reading of the script for the film Back To School. Craig is particularly known for his spot-on Sam Kinison impression which he did for me right there in the street, screaming and all. It’s New York and nobody even looked!
He showed me a clip of the reading in which Brad Garrett played Rodney, and Brad does an amazing Rodney impression including the facial expressions and body movements and all, and Craig did the Sam Kinison part, and the clip was of the epic Vietnam tirade. You have to see it but when Craig did his thing, the entire cast went crazy, including Brad who gave him a high five. After his stand-up set I drove Craig cross town to do a set at The Comic Strip and we spent the rest of the night talking and reminiscing about all the comedy friends we had in common. We will definitely be hanging the next time he comes to town.
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 with Craig Gass, Alycia Powers, and Victor Colliccio and Sybyl Santiago.