Jeffrey Gurian is a writer, comedian and TV reporter 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 covered Skankfest NYC and more!
I went out to Long Island City to cover the opening night of Skankfest at The Creek and the Cave and boy am I glad I did. I was shooting interviews in 800 degree heat wearing a sport jacket of course because that’s what I do. But the event was AMAZING. People literally flew in from all over the world to attend this,…according to Big Jay Oakerson you can’t really call it a comedy festival…it’s more like a comedy experience, to which I added it’s more like a comedy phenomenon. When I told Big Jay by the appearance of many of the guests, I compared it to a “Gathering of the Juggaloes” he said, “ Yeah, if they listened to show tunes!” It was a sea of beards. I spoke to one couple from New Hampshire, Ryan and Whitney, who came last year and couldn’t wait to come back this year. He had a HUGE beard and she had bright blue hair. He said they referred to them as “the guy with the beard and the girl with the blue hair!” She told me the blue gets all over everything, but it’s worth it.
As I arrived, I ran into Bronston Jones who was planning to judge the Naked Roast Battle which took place Saturday night with Zac Amico hosting again as he did last year for the inaugural festival. He and Zac, along with all the comics participating, will be stone naked doing their jokes. To Zac, it’s really nothing and he said as long as your material is good you don’t have to worry! I have details below. Everyone there was proud to identify as “skanks” and Jay said he was shocked to see how many fans had the Skank tattoo.
I spoke with Big Jay Oakerson, festival producer Luis J. Gomez, AKA the Puerto Rican Rattlesnake, the two female producers Christine Evans and Rebecca Trent the owner of The Creek and the Cave, who were really happy we were there covering this amazing event. As a matter of fact during the interview, Christine said that one of the fans tweeted, “@JeffreyGurian is here. @SkankfestNYC can officially begin now. #Bennington.” I told them and it’s 100 % true, I’ve been to so many comedy events and festivals and I have never seen the level of excitement that these fans had for the event, the comics and the shows. I also got to interview Dave Smith, the third member of Legion of Skanks. I also got to meet so many fans from Bennington, Black Phillip, and Kroll Show who all came over to say hello and take photos.
The fest opened with Ha! The Musical with Big Jay, Yamaneika Saunders, Tim Dillon, Luis J. Gomez, Casey Balsham, Jeremiah Watkins and Ben DeMarco on stage all singing their little hearts out. That was followed by the Deathsquad show hosted by Brian Redban, an LA comic and co-creator of Joe Rogan’s podcast, again with Big Jay, Dave Smith the cleanest cut of the Legion of Skanks guys, Luis J. Gomez, Sam Tripoli, Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane, Jeremiah Watkins and more.
There was the Next Gen Filthy Show downstairs in “The Garage” and I got to talk to Jason Scoop and Phill Hunt who were both on that show and told me it was absolute disgusting filth, and they loved being part of it. People actually came in from England, one of which, Joe Cooper, they flew in themselves because of a video he made, and he came over to say “Hi”.
And there was tremendous excitement about Dave Smith airing his special called Libertas. I got the correct spelling from Lauren Kubera, Dave Smith’s better half who also produces Robert Kelly’s YKWD podcast as well as Jim Norton’s Chip Chipperson podcast. And Christine Evans led me to a secret door into the showroom, so I could watch standing alongside Big Jay. Dave’s performance was masterful as he is able to look at both sides of the political spectrum explaining why he hates them all.
I went back on Saturday to the Gantry Loft, which Skankfest used as an alternative venue this year, just in time to catch Artie Lange doing his thing to a crowd of 400 to 500 people. There were crowds of people in the street and I ran into Zac Amico who had his hair spiked out to the “n’th degree”, and Big Jay who told me that Artie was on and that Reggie Watts would be closing the show. Artie is just so honest about talking about his life and his experience, and he got HUGE applause.
Reggie Watts never ceases to outdo himself with the originality of what he brings to the stage. First of all, he’s the only guy I know who could pull off wearing a half Afro and make it look good. I should also add that this festival is the only place where I do not stand out. I actually almost look normal in this crowd! Reggie opened to an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd and went into an opening speech that I could only compare to the late Al Kelly, the double-talker who most of you probably never heard of. I had to go into the annals of comedy, deep into the recesses of my mind to come up with that name, because Al Kelly used to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show and no one could understand one word of what he was saying. That’s what Reggie Watts did for his opening. He played music, he performed poetry, he spoke in different accents going from English to German, to Scottish, and even to what sounded like Old English to me. He uses his voice as a true instrument, and there is literally no one like him. After the show he came out and was really surprised to see me cause it’s been a while. He was the main reason I came that night. He reminded me of how long we’ve known each other. Even before he was famous. I had been in Spain and met a girl named Nikol Kollars who told me to look him up when I got home. He was a contestant in the Andy Kaufman Awards at Carolines and I went to see him and introduced myself afterwards and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s got a new show on Comedy Central called “Taskmaster”. He explained it as kind of a contest show with comedians. They’ve already done four seasons in the U.K. and will start filming here soon. He is the Taskmaster. It was great to reconnect with him.
Then there was a half hour break while they got ready for Naked Roast Battle, which was being hosted by Zac and judged by Bronston Jones, Earl Skakel, who is an acknowledged member of the Kennedy family, (not Jamie Kennedy, the OTHER Kennedys!), and Ari Shaffir. Zac Amico set the tone for Naked Roast Battle after being introduced by Luis J. Gomez, which started a chant from the audience, “Zac, Zac, Zac!” Then he came down the main aisle with a lantern attached to a ring piercing in his penis. The lantern was hanging from his penis. His hair was up in orange spikes, no shirt, a vest, shorts and boots. ( See the photo below) And that was the mildest part of the show.
Zac mentioned the names of comics performing at Skankfest that he liked and roasted everyone up front with lines like “Yamaneika looks like Ursula the Sea Witch after the BP oil spill.” He said that Kurt Metzger couldn’t make it because he passed away from a drug overdose after waking up under the bus that Amy Schumer threw him under. I may be paraphrasing on that one, but it’s pretty close. He referred to Luis J. Gomez as his best friend in the world. Then he introduced the judges, who came out and displayed their wares for all to see. When Ari Shaffir was introduced he came out naked and walked into the audience down the center aisle and actually sat down on some people’s laps. It was literally the craziest show I had ever seen.
The FIRST BATTLE was Beecher vs. Andrew Deacon and Zac referred to Beecher as Weird Al Jazeera. Ari said to Andrew, “ What is your dick? It looks like a new species of snail!” Ari made a lot of comments about the contestants’ bodies. They had what they called a “main event” with Joel Walkowski and Alison Klemp. Alison came out and had her jokes tucked up inside of her. So she pulled them out of her vag in a plastic bag, took the jokes out and threw the plastic bag on the judges table, which immediately endeared her to them. She made fun of Joel’s broken engagement and he made fun of her body saying they were going to use her breasts to sweep up afterward. At one point, Ari threw himself on Earl Skakel who requested some Purell.
Before the final battle, Zac announced some kind of contest where the judges had to guess even before the Roast Battle, who would win and he called out his assistant, a small girl in a mask wearing pasties who brought out 3 one dollar bills and proceeded to staple them to Zac’s body. The first one got stapled to his arm. No one could believe it, until the second one got stapled to his cheek. That’s when the audience started chanting “Staple it to his dick!, Staple it to his dick!”, and Big Jay jumped up on the stage and said, “ I want you to know that your very best friend in the world started that chant”, and Zac promised something special and had the third dollar bill stapled to his forehead.
But the biggest shock was yet to come. The main battle was between two L.A. comics, Keith Carey, who it seems from the jokes about him, was charged with having sex with a minor and who caught his mom in a gang-bang, against Lindsey Jennings who said she had more tattoos than she could count, and Keith said that meant she had at least four. She even has tattoos on her face. Zac leaves the stage while the battle is going on. Both of them had very strong jokes, and when Zac reappeared he was covered in blood, which I assumed was from the staple in his forehead. That is an area that’s known to bleed a lot, but he was bleeding like an MMA fighter who had just taken a beating. But the next night, he told me he had actually cut himself with a razor blade. I didn’t bother asking why because intuitively I knew that it just made sense to him to do so. He told me he was fine.
The blood ran down his chest onto his belly and beyond. It didn’t seem to phase him. It was about that time that Ari decided to pee into a cup and then he threw it into Zac’s face. I had looked down for a minute to write something and was distracted by everyone screaming and getting to their feet. Ari literally threw a cup of piss in Zac’s face and Zac didn’t do anything in particular, but the audience went insane. Someone said they never saw Zac so happy. People jumped to their feet and Lindsey ran to the other side of the stage. Ari threw urine on top of the blood that was all over Zac, and Zac just went on and finished the show. I was so tripped out, I don’t even know who won any of the Roast Battles. I think I went into an emotional blackout! Afterwards everyone went back to The Creek for the party, but I came home to write this, and try my best to unsee what I saw.
Earlier in the week, I was sitting watching Comedy Juice as I often do, when I was joined by an old young friend Jodi Lieberman, who is a comedy/talent exec currently with JLC Entertainment, and who has a very eclectic background. She actually ran the Just for Laughs festival which is an incredible feat and she is also a talent manager who was there watching her client Ali Kolbert run her set for Fallon to be taped that Thursday and to air on Friday. Ali makes fun of the fact that she looks 14 when she’s actually around 22. Jodi and I sat and watched her together and the next night I saw her running her set at The Stand on both shows. You can never practice too much when you’re doing a show like The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Ali used to intern at the show, and was also a page at NBC, so it feels like home to her. Judah Friedlander rolled in with Dov Davidoff and Judah had his assistant with him who films everything he does. Dov is just amazing to watch as he goes through his set looking like he’s just thought of what he’s saying for the first time. Such a unique delivery. I always enjoy watching him on stage. Nimesh Patel was also on the show and told me that he and Jared Freid will be running extended sets at The Fat Black Pussycat which actually happened last night. He said it’s an option available to Cellar comics which is a very cool, and rare thing. He just passed his one year anniversary at The Cellar having had to audition for Estee Adoram, and he still hasn’t gotten over it!
I stopped by The Stand on my way over to Mike Recine’s 30th birthday party over at a place called Plug Uglies, and got a chance to actually chat and catch up with the lovely and elegant Adele Carollo who runs the place and is usually so busy she barely has time to say “Hi!”. She actually has a background in comedy and acting and has done stand-up, but her job keeps her so busy, she hardly has time for anything else. She’s not complaining because she loves what she does and runs a great club, as I’m sure the owners will attest to!
On my way up Third Avenue, I heard Tracey Carnazzo call out my name whose show I had just done out at QED with Remy Kassimir who does a Sunday brunch show at The Stand called Bacon Bits: A Brunchtime Comedy Show. It’s comedy, brunch and free bacon, and you can’t ask for more than that! Remy gets great line-ups and so far has had Roy Wood Jr., Matt Pavich, and Ricky Velez, along with Stand regulars like Neko White, Ben DeMarco, Christi Chiello and Dave Sirus. They were already leaving Mike’s party. When I got there the first person, or should I say “people” I saw were The Lucas Bros. Always so great to see these guys. They’re in town for a week, writing for the NBA Awards, which will air tonight on TNT, making sure that host Drake has some funny things to say. It’s so funny that no one would just hire one of the Lucas Brothers. If you want one, you want both. Kenny and Keith are a package deal! One of them, … and I can’t be 100% sure who it was because they look so much alike, … told me that Drake is a man of mystery with a great sense of humor and is super self-deprecating. Always nice to hear about such a big star. Matteo Lane joined us for a moment and when I asked him what he had going on he said, and I quote, “I just want to find a boyfriend!” I don’t usually post classifieds, but for Matteo, I will!
Birthday boy Mike Recine is headlining City Steam in Hartford, CT for the first time, coming up in July. So many comics came out to party including Nick Mullen, Tim Dillon, and Noah Gardenswartz. Mike told me he’s also going to Croatia and Barcelona this summer which sounded like a very strange mix, but he said they’re not far from each other and he’s heard lots of good things about Croatia. Going to Croatia and Barcelona sounds like complaining of pain in your thumb and abdomen. They don’t sound like they go together! Liza Treyger was also there with her roommate, Annie Lederman. Liza had just had all four of her wisdom teeth pulled a few days before so I was able to call on my dental training to give her an on-site consultation and review the things she needed to do and to avoid. She came through it remarkably well and said that Annie picked her up from the surgeon’s office and took her home. She did NOT wear a nurse’s uniform, although I told her she’d probably look great in one!
Annie Lederman just shot a guest spot on truTV’s Those Who Can’t which is truTV’s first scripted series. She was raving about having worked with show creators and exec producers Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl, and Ben Roy of the Denver-based comedy troupe The Grawlix. The show is about three trouble-making teachers at a school called Smoot High. It was picked up for a third season and some of the guest stars are Cheri Oteri, Susie Essman, Jade Catta-Preta and The Sklar Brothers, another twin comedy duo who both play the school’s physician. Annie will be doing the Rich Vos birthday roast which is tonight at The Village Underground before she heads back to LA for a little bit. And I will be there filming at the after-party after the roast for my Comedy Matters TV show on the Be Terrific network.
Kerryn Feehan is doing a fundraiser at The Kraine Theater with her co-producing partner Jillaine Gill as part of their regular monthly show Stand Up and Take Your Clothes Off which she said is the longest running all female show in NY. I guess that’s another show I can’t do! It’s always the first Sunday of every month, and it’s supported by the burlesque community, so each show has four comics and four burlesque acts. Coming up in July will be Rosebud Baker, and Ayanna Dookie and the fundraiser is for Divina GranSparkle who I will guess by the name is one of the burlesque performers! Kerryn said that they always get such good, energetic audiences that lots of the comics like to tape their sets there. They’ll also be doing it out in LA at a secret venue that you don’t find out until you buy your ticket. In LA, it’s sponsored by two cannabis companies, plus Morgan Murphy who I just saw in Vegas at The Crapshoot Festival is in the LA show.
My girl Walker Hays came out to join us with Sherrod Small lurking in the background as only he can do! Walker is going on the road in July to Chicago, San Francisco, LA and Vegas with McQueen Adams who is the creator and star of Comedy Central’s new Snapchat series called Heads Will Roll.
And Ian Fidance from the Six Foot Nothing crew was there and told me he just got back from a solo tour out West that he managed to book himself, that took him through Utah, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA. He said it was amazingly fun and he crashed on friends’ couches, like on Pete Holmes’ Crashing, except he said he didn’t get to stay with Artie Lange. But a friend in Seattle lent him her car and he drove to Tacoma and made lots of new friends. He laughingly said he’s currently starring in the new Jeffrey Gurian biopic!
Bill Dawes has a hilarious video up called How A White Man Says (the “N”-word) To A Black Man! You gotta see it cause if I describe it, it will take away from it. Just Google it! HILARIOUS!!!
And as part of Pride week, J.C. Best and Dina Marie Martin had their Trans Talk Live show at Carolines this week, and from what I heard it was a big hit. Trans Talk is becoming very well known and discusses present day issues within the trans community. It’s been featured in Time Out New York, and is one of the more well known comedy podcasts in NYC right now. The goal is to ultimately promote widespread awareness of Trans issues to the mainstream and Queer community alike. Proceeds from this event will go to the Ali Forney Center whose mission is to protect LGBTQ youth from the problem of homelessness.
Anyway, that’s it for me. Until next time, remember that Comedy Matters, 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, and watch Comedy Matters TV on Be Terrific. Below, Jeffrey Gurian with Reggie Watts, Zac Amico, Mike Recine, and Walker Hays.