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 the Gotham, New York Comedy Club and more!
I first met Tiffany Haddish a long time ago out in LA when we were both performing on a show at The Laugh Factory. Could have been Kevin Nealon’s show. Anyway she was funny then and even funnier now, and it was way before she became such a big star as the result of her co-starring role on NBC’s The Carmichael Show, with Jerrod Carmichael, where she played Lil Rel Howery’s ex-wife, co-starring with Tracy Morgan in The Last O.G., hosting SNL which she just did and her hilarious co-starring role in Girl’s Trip. Tiffany is inspirational and a true power of example of what you can accomplish if you work hard. Her success is so well deseerved, and truly miraculous as she came from a very difficult background of foster care, homelessness, and abuse. So I decided to surprise her at Carolines where she was headlining this past weekend, and I did. She was excited to see me and big hugs were exchanged. She was wearing a really beautiful outfit, and a lot of it was see-through!
I was also pleasantly surprised when I got there to see that Wellie Jackson was the host of the show. Wellie had been a writer on The Last O.G. and told me that he’s been excited just watching Tiffany climb to superstardom since they were on set together just last June. That’s when she asked him to host when she headlined Carolines. She was promoting Girls Trip at the time and preparing for a spot on Colbert, and he said from the first day they met it was like brother and sister.
During Tiffany’s set she asked the audience who had seen Girls Trip and the audience exploded with applause and cheering. One of her aunts was there and yelled out, “ You made the movie” but she was very humble and gave credit to everyone else as well. She loved the fact that everyone involved with the movie was black, including the producer, director and cast, and she made a point of saying that “we all have melanin and we have to stick together.” She was very inspirational in her talk with the audience and very grateful for all of her success. Of her background she said she even tried to be a gangbanger but she wasn’t successsful because she was too silly, and didn’t want to mess up her nails! There wasn’t a seat left in the house and I stood in the back with Wellie watching her kill. They even loved her crowd work. She shouted out her Carmichael castmates and said they all went on to do great things. She said that Jerrod just sold three shows, and Lil Rel just shot a movie with Sandra Bullock for Netflix called Bird Box and has another one with Eric Andre. She said she did Ellen last week and that the next day Ellen sent a diamond necklace to her home. She also said she did Trevor Noah’s show and he smelled so good he smelled like cocoa butter.
After her show, we hung out for a few minutes and took some photos together and not one person there knew how to work a simple camera. Everybody is so used to using their phones that everyone forgot how to work a camera. They literally took 10 photos and every one was bad until Tiffany herself grabbed my camera and said, “ Here, let me do it.” And she took a selfie of us that came out great! And then as tired as she was, since she was only on three hours sleep, she still met with her fans in a VIP meet and greet, and graciously took photos with every single person who attended. You can see by the way she interacts with her fans that she’s very grateful for her success but yet still very humble. She was leaving for LA right after her Sunday night show.
It was Big Jay Oakerson’s birthday and he was celebrating it out at The Creek and the Cave in Long Island City, so of course I had to attend. The party was going to be after a live version of Legion of Skanks and when I got there around 9:15 the show was in full swing. I was lucky to find a seat. It was Dave Smith, Luis J. Gomez, Big Jay of course, special guest Sal Vulcano and a rotating cast of guest comics starting with Justin Silver, then Ari Shaffir, a brief visit from Kim Congdon, and then Dan Soder who stayed on till the end. Luis regaled the crowd with stories of his four year old son James and building Legos together, and then they all compared the results of their DNA tests. According to Luis’s test he’s not even Puerto Rican, which the guys found hilarious. I wouldn’t swear to it cause it was too dark to write but I’m pretty sure they said he was a mix of European, Indian and black, and they all jokingly ganged up on him about that. Because it’s Legion of Skanks, … and that’s what they do. They also compared ages with Ari saying he felt old at 43, since Sal is 41 and Luis is just 38. At the end they brought out a big cake with Big Jay’s picture on it and I don’t know if it was cause it was his birthday or not but Big Jay wore a jacket and tie, of course in combination with his knuckle gloves. It was a fun night, and Sal told me he’s really psyched about doing the Nassau Coliseum with the boys for New Years Eve, but after the show he wants to get home to his family.
Marty Dundics of National Lampoon fame as former Creative Director and Editor In Chief has got a lot going on. He let me know he’s producing a new stand-up comedy show at the new hip place called The Mailroom down on Wall Street tonight hosted by my girl Wendi Starling, and featuring Jared Freid, Adrienne Iapalucci, Jonathan Zeller, David Drake, Daniel Simonsen the Edinburgh Award Winner, Ester Steinberg, and Jarret Berenstein. It will be a monthly show and he’s also got a new humor magazine that he’s doing with Lou Wallach former Sr. VP of Programming at Comedy Central, called The Weekly Humorist from Humorist Media featuring writers and editors from MAD, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, National Lampoon, and Funny or Die, and he will be the Editor-In-Chief, so I know it’s gonna be good!
Congrats to Jordan Rock for opening for his brother Chris Rock at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. He told me it was truly a dream come true, and the first time they were actually billed together where “we both got paid.” Jordan said that Chris had come through and done guest spots on some of his shows in the past, but this was their first official show together. He was brought on as a surprise by Jeff Ross who often opens for Chris, and Jordan had to keep it a secret and was only able to tell friends and family. He performed on the opening night and said it was all love. Yvonne Orji from Insecure was also on the show, and Jordan’s quote was “ it was mad fun!”
Comics will definitely perform anywhere. I went to Jeremy Asgari’s 6th Annual Ping Pong charity event down at The Jane Hotel and found comic Jason Burke on the mic hosting the thing and calling out the scores of the ping pong players who came from all over the world. But calling them out in a humorous way that only a stand-up could do.
Jason Scoop had some great stories about being out in LA. It seems that Donnell Rawlings vouched for him at The Laugh Factory and got him a spot on Chocolate Sundays to audition, which often takes 2-3 years according to the booker. So much depends on who you know! So he killed it and got passed at the club. The booker said to contact her any time he was in town. Plus he and Matt Richards, who seems to be on every new show on TV, had rehearsals with Wanda Sykes for her new sketch show “ Nasty Women” and he and Matt are the only two guys on the show. It’s a female based show. He said that Wanda was with them the whole time and read for various roles as well as giving tips and suggestions for rewrites. The next day they shot for 10 hours at Viacom and he said it went great with him playing various roles especially Donald Trump whose name is actually tattooed on Jason’s arm! For real!
Then the next night he did a spot on Donnell Rawlings’ birthday show at The Hollywood Improv and right before he went up Dave Chappelle walked in, an experience he called “incredible and slightly nerve wracking”, and he said that Dave laughed loudly at a joke where he mentioned Ohio, one of the places that Dave grew up. He said that after the show he got to speak to Dave briefly before Dave and Donnell teamed up to sing Creep from RadioHead, and then Dave went up on stage and did an extended set in honor of Donnell. Jason had to leave after an hour when he ran into an old friend from NY, plus he said that Dave was there to celebrate Donnell’s birthday and he didn’t want to impose on that. But the funniest part of the story was that while Dave was on stage Jason was “canoodling” with some chick at the bar, and accidentally leaned on the light switch and turned on all the house lights! I thought that was the kind of ridiculous thing that only happened to me, which it does on a constant basis, but I see it happens to others as well. Jason said he was HORRIFIED in that moment but it was quickly remedied and Dave made a joke about it and they all laughed, but Jason said he was very scared for a hot second! So funny!
Alex Babbitt may only be 23 but on the phone his voice is so deep and resonant it sounds like he’s 40, and on stage he comes across as a much more mature performer with great stage presence. He informed me he was taping a half hour at West Side Comedy Club, so I made it my business to attend. A lot of other people had the same idea. It was a sold out show. Alex and I had performed together on the show Comics Cutting Comics and he didn’t disappoint. He chose the opening comics who were Andre Thompson, and Eagle Witt, (I always forget to ask him how he got the name Eagle), and Kerry Coddett was the host, who really got things poppin’.
When Alex hit the stage he was so amped he ran up there yelling “I’m hype” to the packed room. He said he just got off from doing Def Comedy Jam and was so honored to be on that show and was really psyched about this taping. He had a lot of friends there to support. One of the girls he knew yelled out to him from the back of the room, but he shut her down cause he didn’t want that kind of interaction in his show. He did a very strong set and was so comfortable up there it’s like he was born to be on stage. Some of the other comedy people that came to support were Norlex Belma, Masavia Greer, and JC Best who told me he’s got a new stand-up show he’s producing coming out real soon. Afterwards we all hung outside the showroom for a bit and when it was time to take the photo you see below, Eagle took it and looking at my new red Adidas he told Alex that I looked younger than him! Hilarious!
Kerry Coddett is writing for the new Wyatt Cenac show on HBO Executive Produced by John Oliver, which she described as a late night partly documentary series. She submitted a writing packet and was chosen. She was ecstatic. And she’s so excited about it she said she feels like her life changed forever, and she already bought something special with the check she said she didn’t even get yet! She’s already been writing for a month and the show will start in March. Three of the writers are from a stand-up background and the rest are from the improv world.
I went down to New York Comedy Club to congratulate Mike Merkovich on his final Melting Pot show which he’s been doing for the last three years. It was a sold out show with Jamie Roberts hosting because Jamie was the very first host three years ago, so Mike thought it would be fitting for him to host the last one as well. Jon Laster opened and Jason Scoop who just got back from LA with some big news I’ll share below also did a set, as well as Melissa Diaz, who is Mike’s co-producer, and Katie Haller who came out as her character rapper T-Spoon, and then there were the musicians. It was also Mike’s birthday so it was a combination celebration. Mike is ending the show because he’s moving to Atlantic City in January where he’s been performing consistently on Matt Bridgestone’s shows, and is hoping to move his Melting Pot show down there as well. He likes the idea of mixing up-and-coming talent with established talent and other assorted talents like magic and music, in a cool variety type show, and he said it’s been a great experience and so much fun to be able to do something different by doing a variety show. And he’s opening Matt’s new room at The Showboat Hotel later this month when he’ll be hosting a show starring Jim Florentine. He got to open for Jim before but this time he’ll be the host of the show, and that will give Matt three venues in Atlantic City. Way to go Matt! Outside in the street grabbing a smoke I ran into Carly Aquilino who told me she’s staying in town for the holidays and prepping for a new tour in February.
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 Tiffany Haddish and Carly Aquilino.