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 the last night of Skankfest NYC, Rich Vos’ Roast, The Stand, Gotham and more!
It was a week of major comedy events, including more on Skankfest that I didn’t get a chance to include in last week’s column.
I missed Ron Bennington’s Unmasked interview with Ari Shaffir at the closing night of Skankfest, but I did get there in time to see most of Bonnie McFarlane and Rich Vos’ Would You Bang Him?, a funny show where they destroy the self-esteem of anyone willing to go before the panel, which in this case was Joe DeRosa going up before Matteo Lane, Yamaneika Saunders, Annie Lederman, and Tammy Pescatelli. The brave, but unlucky Joe DeRosa was the one I saw get judged. Joe and I were hanging out in the back talking to Bert Kreischer, when someone came up to Joe and asked him if he wanted to be part of the show, and mid-sentence, without saying a word to either of us, he ran to the stage. Bert was having such a good time, he was concerned about his voice because he still had to do the headline show with Jim Gaffigan, plus Goddamn Comedy Jam and then at 1:00 A.M., his Bert Kreischer’s Shirtless Party to close the fest. But he needn’t have worried because you can always count on Bert to come through.
Joe did however have time to tell me afterwards about the podcast he does with Kurt Braunohler called Emotional Hangs. He described it as being about adult friendship, because as he explained: “most adults don’t act vulnerable with each other”, and I’m assuming that in this podcast they attempt to. It’s only a few months old, but already they’ve had Andy Dick and the women from My Favorite Murder Karen Kilgariff from Mr. Show and Georgia Hardstark. Their podcast is on the Feral Audio network and has a really large following. Around 8:30 P.M., the whole crowd got ready to move to the alternative venue, Gantry Loft where the bigger shows took place, and was going to all walk over in parade style with Big Jay Oakerson and Luis J. Gomez leading the way. Other comics hanging out were Owen Benjamin, who is giving Bronston Jones a run for his money in the height department, Josh Adam Meyers, Greg Stone, Sean Donnelly, and Nate Bargatze.
The next night was the Rich Vos 60th Birthday Roast and earlier in the week, I did a special piece on that which you can read here. Suffice it to say, it was one of the strongest comedy events ever with everyone on the dais bringing their A-game. The insults flew and everyone loved it. Gary Gulman said to me afterwards, “Isn’t it a great feeling to look at that dais and know that all those people are your friends, and that you know them personally?” And I had to agree because I had the exact same thought. I felt proud to know such talent. I sat right near Jamie Roberts who was there with his girlfriend and fellow comic Nicky Sunshine. The two of them are on the new show A Question of Love where three couples move in together, not all in the same house, but together as a couple, and they ask each other the hard questions couples don’t often ask in order to test each other and see if they really belong together. The show airs on July 11th at 10 P.M. on the FYI Network.
Some of the lines were so killer, I’ll try and repeat a couple, and in some I’m paraphrasing as I did not tape the event. Bonnie McFarlane, who served as the Roastmaster wore a super tight, beautiful, white top which Jim Norton commented on, saying, “Great top Bonnie. If you have A-cups, you really wanna show them off.” He also told Big Jay he looked like the cowardly lion dressed up like Dice for Halloween, and that Bobby Kelly should hang himself if he could find a ceiling strong enough. Someone said that Vos’ head made a small appearance in The Godfather, and they hit Bobby Kelly with every fat joke known to man. Bobby gave as good as he got with lines like “You can see Joe DeRosa’s acting ability on Better Call Saul, … and when he says he’s fine!” And about Colin Quinn – “Colin is a comic’s comic and that comic is Jerry Seinfeld.” Bonnie commented on Joe DeRosa’s posture by saying it looks like he spent all day trying to roll Bobby Kelly up a hill, and DeRosa said about Big Jay, “He looks like he ate the merch table at a Marilyn Manson concert!” People were crying with laughter. Big Jay closed, the 10th comic to perform and still had such killer lines. He told Keith Robinson who was in the audience, he’s the only Black comic who went into the hospital last year and came out poorer than when he went in. He said that Ardie Fuqua is driving a $200,000 Mercedes and Keith has a closet full of shirts with one unwrinkled sleeve. People were falling out of their chairs.
Then Vos came up and asked Bonnie who she fucked to get on the dais, he asked Anthony Cumia what time his ankle bracelet goes off, which led to a spirited back and forth between the two. Vos said the dais looked like the waiting room at Sloan Kettering and then advised Bobby, “I said Kettering, not Catering.” It was a truly amazing event and I’d be shocked if TV didn’t buy it!
Geno Bisconte told me the Friars Roast of Gary Busey was also fun. He sad it was a small in-house event, really more of a contest, So You Think You Can Roast? and it was him, Steven Scott who was Roast Master, Seth Herzog and Tom Cotter who was also at the Vos Roast with his lovely wife, comic Kerri Louise. He said the Busey event was really fun with young comics who just wanted to entertain each other.
I was at The Stand for The Interrobang’s “Street Jokes” show hosted by Ron Bennington and Gail Bennington, with a panel of jokesters telling old time street jokes– the kind that no one knows where they came from. People used to like to say they came from prison, but no one knows for sure. Back in the day, comics in the Catskills would always look for a killer joke, or “story” as they called it to open their act and get the audience in the mood. So I had plenty of experience with those kinds of jokes having done a book of them back in 2007 called Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive based on my writings for the Friars Roasts for so many years. I got 250 celebs to tell me their favorite nasty jokes. If I’m lucky, it’s still available on Amazon. It’s become a collector’s item with some copies being offered for hundreds of dollars. Anyway, it was Mark Normand, Dante Nero, Ari Shaffir and myself and I can’t tell you anything more except that it was an evening of hilarity, and that it will air on SiriusXM’s Bennington Show at some point this summer.
I happened to stop by Gotham’s All-Star Show with Wil Sylvince, Casey Balsham, and Jared Freid, and who walked in but Jim Gaffigan to do an unannounced spot. The audience went crazy. Jim referenced his wife Jeannie’s recent bout with surgery for a brain tumor, which thank G-d she came through with flying colors, (and some day, I have to look up what “flying colors” actually are), but he said he’s so grateful she’s okay.
I dropped by New York Comedy Club and ran into Ricky Velez and Matt Pavich both of whom are on the new MTV game show SafeWord based on a show that aired in the U.K. and premieres on Thursday, July 13th. Terrence J from Spike’s hit Lip Sync Battle will host and executive produce and other comics on the show are Carly Aquilino, Sam Jay, Leonard Ouzts, Taylor Tomlinson, Akaash Singh and Sherry Cola. Celeb guests will include Kevin Hart, Marlon Wayans, Charlamagne tha God, Jermaine Fowler, Lil Rel Howery and more. They play a series of games in front of a live audience daring each other in a variety of challenges and as they described it, the celebs take the heat like in a friendly comedy roast kind of way, but can always stop the action by using their “SafeWord.” Sounds really fun!
Kyle Mooney stopped by the Comedy Matters TV office to talk about his new film Brigsby Bear which just screened at Cannes, and to talk about all things comedy in a little video which you’ll see very soon on my Comedy Matters TV channel. I’ll be featuring this story in next week’s column, just wanted to give you a little taste because he had a lot of great stories.
Young comic Dan LaMorte, who was passed at The Comedy Cellar, was hanging outside and told me he’s still healing from the bad car accident he was in and is still in therapy, but trying to keep his spirits up by doing New Joke Night at the Fat Black Pussycat and working on a new hour while waiting to hear from JFL to see if he’s going to Montreal.
Andrew Schulz was killing it, doing a very difficult thing comedically. He takes very unpopular themes and makes you see the other side of them like why men should be allowed to cheat and why women should complain more when they get their period. The audience goes with him because Andrew is simply HILARIOUS and sharp enough to make his point poignant!
I dropped by The Stand and ran into Derek Gaines hanging with Monroe Martin. Monroe told me he’ll be doing an hour at The Stand on July 23rd and Derek said that on July 9th he’ll be doing what he’s calling Superlative – Session 1 because his goal is to be “one of the best comics I can be for the people.” I asked him how long he’s been working on it and he seriously said “14 years.” His Superlative Session 2 will be some time in December at The Standing Room in which according to him, he’ll be “banging out jokes for 30 minutes.”
The little table outside The Stand only has two chairs and both of them were taken by Dante Nero, and a friend, so owner Paul Italia brought me a chair so I could join them and then Emily Tarver came out to join us. She said that in Season 5 of Orange Is the New Black she spends most of the time in her underwear, as the most recent season takes place over a period of three days when she and the other guards are being held hostage, and the inmates take their clothes. She said she never thought when she went into comedy that she’d ever have to take off her clothes on camera, but she said at least they let her wear a matching bra and panties. I asked her if she got paid extra for that and she just looked at me as if to say, “ What are you kidding?”
Billy “Bingo” Denis is a comic who put in 20 years on the job as one of New York’s Bravest. He was a fireman who now does comedy and lots of charity work. Now he’s organizing what hopefully will be a huge comedy event to help a young relative of his who’s been struck down with MS and is deteriorating very quickly. His name is Larry Lyons and he’s only 37 years old. He’s now bedridden, paraplegic and losing his sight and needs stem cell treatment from a doctor in Chicago. It’s not covered by insurance and costs 50K. Billy is trying to enlist all the comedy clubs to donate part of their door on one special night called Laughs for Larry coming up on August 3rd. So far, he’s got Al Martin on his side with his multiple clubs and Patrick Milligan from The Stand. He’s waiting to hear from the other clubs, and there’s also a Go Fund Me page. Billy says that top PR man Ryan McCormick from Goldman McCormick PR will be handling the press and promotion and that WOR has also offered assistance. They are looking for other clubs to step up and participate, so if you know anyone, …. This is the link to his Go Fund Me page.
I did a documentary style interview shoot with Aaron Berg. It came off fantastically with me and my Be Terrific team shooting him at six very different venues. As most of you may already know, his record is 25 shows in one night. So for him six shows is nothing, but they were all over town and with NYC traffic, it’s not easy to get everyplace on time. Thank you Waze! Aaron and I rode in a van set up with two cameras facing us, and a chase car following us. just like in the movies. Really fun! At every stop, they got us jumping out of the car to get to the set on time. We started out at a coffee shop on the LES called Black Cat, then on to a show called The Barbershop in where-else, but a real barbershop, The Original Barbershop on East 2nd Street. Afterwards we hit Dangerfield’s where we just happened to run into my old buddy, owner and Rodney Dangerfield’s original partner Tony Bevacqua, who told me that Dice was in town and stopped by the club the night before, straight from the airport, to do a 40 minute set. He was in town for an important meeting on a film and I won’t say what it was because it might be a secret, but it’s HUGE! Then it was off to New York Comedy Club, then racing across town to get to Stand Up New York, and then back to The Stand for the midnight show. He totally killed it on all six spots, and totally killed his legs as well, with a 700 pound leg press that fortunately didn’t keep him from being his usual funny self. I got home at 2 A.M. and needed the next day to rest.
We taped another episode of Comics Watching Comics out in Kevin Gootee’s home studio in New Jersey where I sat on the couch with Jason Scoop, Carole Montgomery, and Gina Brillon judging the shit out of 25 comics who dared, or should I say “had the courage” to audition for the show. We all try and be as kind as possible since we all know how hard it is to get up on a stage, but some of the comics exhibit such unusual personality and or performance defects that we have no choice, but to comment. And I as the “Master Panelist” often have to make the final decision about who goes forward. Gina told me that CBS passed on her pilot previously called A Girl on Fire, but in an exciting development, Sofia Vergara’s people are now interested in developing it, and she’s currently looking for a writer.
I hope you all have a great Fourth of July weekend, 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 Kyle Mooney, Bert Kreischer and Christine Evans, Colin Quinn, Aaron Berg, Robert Kelly, Jim Norton.