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 reports from Tony Danza’s Broadway Show, Scott Rogowsky’s Running Late, and Keith and the Girl’s Podcast Marathon.
I went down to check out the premiere of the seventh season of Scott Rogowsky‘s talk show on stage at Carolines called Running Late which is exactly what happened. It ran late! Scott co-hosts the show with his Dad, Marty and it’s a fun family affair. There was a very cool band that opened the show, Rebecca Vigil and The Vigilante, comic Jason Saenz did the warm-up, and also on the show was film director writer and actor Desiree Akhavan, my friend Judy Gold, and Travon Free from The Daily Show. Scott had read my tribute to the legendary Joe Franklin, who passed away last week at 88, and had asked me to come and participate in an on-stage tribute to the man which I was happy to do. Everyone in show biz is unique but Joe took it to another level.
I got there early cause that’s what I do, and I’m glad I did, cause I was able to catch up with Morgan Spurlock, the king of documentary film, who was also on the show. I hadn’t seen him since the premiere of his film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold back in 2011, which I think was the only time I ever did an interview on a flip camera. You have to love Morgan cause he’s just so talented, and as we were talking Whitney Cummings came out of the dressing room. She had just finished the first of her headlining shows for the weekend and she was even more excited to see Morgan than I was. She was actually screaming, “Morgan, you’re so rad! I’m really so excited to meet you!” And she was high fiving him. And he was telling her how excited he was to meet her! Basically there was a lot of excitement going on, and I was glad I was there to take photos of the two of them which I promised to send them right away. And which I did. I hate people who tell you they’ll send you the photos and they don’t! I don’t wanna be one of those people!
Morgan Spurlock has some amazing things going on. He made a deal with Marker TV to launch his own digital channel called Smartish. It will start airing around the beginning of April, and he explained it as “a cross between Ted Talks and reality TV, like if Honey Boo Boo had a brain! ” He’s actually doing seven different shows and while we were standing backstage together waiting to go on, he told me about a few of them. One is How To Win At Life and is about how the choices you make every day are ruining your life. Another show is called Consider the Source , which is about everything you own from the minute you buy it back to the source of where it came from. And then there’s Everything Must Go which is about why we buy what we buy and how we are influenced by advertising. Now here’s the really amazing part of this whole Maker deal. Each of the seven shows will have 6-12 episodes, and each quarter he will launch FIVE new shows! That is a hard concept to wrap your mind around, creating that many shows, and that many INTERESTING shows to boot! But if anyone can do it it’s Morgan.
Judy Gold was also at the taping along with Travon Free from The Daily Show. The last time I saw Judy, at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, when she had knee problems and I did some healing work with her. She’s still in pain but that doesn’t stop her from working. Judy is up to a lot these days. She’s interviewing Wanda Sykes on February 16th at the 92nd Street Y, starting a new podcast within the next few weeks called Kill Me Now where people will be able to vent about things that piss them off, but the really big thing that I think is an exclusive for this column, is that she’s in a new Off-Broadway musical called Clinton The Musical playing Eleanor Roosevelt! That’s all she told me and all I know!
I also got to hang with Travon Free another correspondent on The Daily Show. He’s 29, and really good friends with my buddy Jessica Williams. She and Travon went to the same school in Long Beach, CA where they’re from. So he’s also a writer for The Daily Show and I asked him how he got it cause I’m always interested in stuff like that. He told me ex-Daily Show comedy writer Rob Kutner put him on the submission list which meant he was eligible to submit a package. Not just any package, like a Fed Ex package or UPS package, but a package of written material, which he did. He had been doing stand-up and acting and writing jokes freelance, and for the first submission he had to write three scripts. When he got called for the second submission he had to write one script in one day. He sent it in August and got hired in October. I asked him what went down and he told me that he got a call that Jon himself wanted to meet with him. He said he was so nervous to meet his idol. He flew to New York, and they sat down together for 10-15 minutes and talked about his background, and how he got started, and then Jon asked him if he’d be willing to commit to doing the show! I jokingly asked him, ” Did you tell him you’d think about it?” He said that Jon asked him to stick around for the taping of that night’s show and after the taping he himself offered Travon the job. How cool is that? (Rhetorical question!)
Now he works 10 hour days and loves it. He’s just starting his third year, and told me how the day lays out. He gets in around 8:45 A.M., then there’s a writing and production meeting around 9:30 to figure out the day’s show, then they have about an hour to change and write it, then about 45 minutes to an hour to do a second draft, rehearsal is from 4-4:30, and then the audience loads in around 5 for the 6:15 taping. I was tired just from hearing the schedule. Travon will be appearing at Rutgers on February 11th with John Hodgeman, and Jordan Klepper two other Daily Show guys.
I’m not one of those guys who lives to watch sports. I look at sports like I look at sex. You wanna watch or you wanna do it? If I’m not playing, I’m not watching. So as one of the very few people in the United States who couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, I chose to go and see Tony Danza yesterday in Honeymoon in Vegas at The Nederlander Theatre on Broadway. Tony had been telling me about the show when I saw him a few weeks back at The Metropolitan Room where he was one of the hosts for their 60 hour Guinness Book of Records Show. He was all excited about it and said it was a really fun show. So I decided to go and check it out because comedy is not just done in the clubs. It’s also done on the stage and Tony knows from comedy after co-starring with Andy Kaufman in Taxi, and starring in Who’s The Boss, which ran on ABC from 1984-1992. Generally, the only thing I like less than sports is Broadway musicals because it always seems very contrived that just at a dramatic moment everyone would break out in song and they all know the words. And then wild dancing usually ensues! Anyway in a life-changing move, I came away LOVING the show. Not just liking it but LOVING it! They must have invented the term “song and dance man” for Tony because he not only acts but sings, (and has a great voice), does jazz dancing, then a solo tap dance, plays the ukelele, (which he told me after the show is a real chick magnet), and tells jokes, with superb comedic timing. I’ve been reading that the show needs an audience but at the performance I went to it was packed to the rafters. To tell you the truth, I’m not even positive what rafters are, but if they had them then that’s what it was packed to! The show is so well written and filled with funny moments which made both of us laugh out loud, again something unusual for me. All I can tell you is that there are some very exciting moments, where you wonder what you yourself would do in situations like that.
After the show I went to see Tony in his dressing room, which is filled with cool stuff. Fans sent him photos of himself from all different stages of his career, and he posted them on the walls of the room. We shot a little video which I will be posting later in the week, and we all walked out together through the stage door to the street where Tony was mobbed by polite fans waiting for photos and autographs. As we were leaving, Tony’s plan was to go home, cook some pasta and watch the Super Bowl. We were reminiscing about some mutual friends and when he mentioned that he made his own sauce, I asked him if he had seen our friend Cha-Cha, the king of Mulberry Street who owns Cha-Cha’s restaurant and knows every actor and show biz person in the biz. The man is an icon. Anytime you walk into the place it’s always packed and there’s always somebody famous like Danny DeVito, Tony, or Chuck Zito. He told me that he and Chach recently bought the Alleva Dairy on Mulberry Street, the oldest cheese store in America, and that’s where he gets the Italian specialties he uses in his cooking. Add that to the list of his innumerable talents! Anyway, go see the show, you’ll love it! And tell Tony I sent you.
This week the Keith and the Girl Podcast held their 57 Hour Marathon, which was pretty amazing. Keith (Keith Malley) and the Girl (Chemda Khalili) have been doing their podcast for ten years already and have an international audience. I know because when I went to their week of shows, which they do every year, I met people from Australia, London, Latin America, and basically all over the world who actually flew in to meet them and spend time with them. That is what you’d call a loyal audience. They do it from their studio, where the last time I was there I ran into Colin Quinn. I always enjoy hanging out with them and their interesting cast of characters! Big shout out to Lauren Hennessy who when I got there was on her way to the East Village to do his show. (That is not a typo using both genders!) Lauren identifies as a guy but with a female body and she’s engaged to Chemda who used to date her co-host Keith Malley. Lauren always forgives me for accidentally referring to him as a girl and I can only imagine the confusion he has had to face in his life.
My man Angelo Lozada who often warms up the crowds for AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, is kicking butt with his new web series called Get Some, which can be seen on Kollidetv.com. The number of available platforms for content these days is mind boggling! So far they’ve aired four episodes, which drop every Friday at 8 P.M. The fourth episode which aired this past Friday featured Selenis Leyva who plays Gloria in Orange is The New Black. The description of the show is “A Nuyorican couple from The Bronx who refuse to accept that the honeymoon is over, go out of their way to try and keep things hot and spicy! They find that in life and love there’s always room to laugh.” Needless to say, Angelo plays Joey the guy and his wife Gloria is played by the very funny Tammi Cubilette. Plus there’s a hot hip-hop beat in the background! Check it out!
That’s it for this week! Got something you want to share with me? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Tony Danza and Jeffrey, Jeffrey at the Keith and the Girl marathon, and Jeffrey with Whitney Cummings.