Tracy Morgan On Road To Recovery

Anyone who knows my posts knows I only like to write about positive things.  I’ve been holding off on writing about the horrible accident that injured Tracy Morgan, and his fellow-comic passengers Ardie Fuqua, Harris Stanton, and Jimmy Mack who unfortunately did not survive.   I didn’t know Jimmy personally but from mutual friends I  heard he was a great guy and that Tracy considered him his mentor.

It’s a very different thing writing about someone you know.  Especially when it’s something terrible.  Most journalists write very dispassionately never having met the people they’re writing about.  Writing about a friend is much more difficult in many ways, because you never want to feel that you’re trying to draw attention to yourself, through their misfortune.

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

With Tracy Morgan in happier days at Gotham Comedy Club!

I saw Tracy as recently as April 15th when he came up to Sirius XM studios to do a special ” Unmasked” interview with Ron Bennington, the “Ron” from the legendary Ron and Fez Show.  Everyone was excited and Tracy did a very moving and intimate interview, really opening up about his life, and the things that are important to him, and moving both himself and the audience to tears!   I was in the green room watching, and after the interview there were big hugs all around!

The shocking news came through on Saturday, June 7th that Tracy was in critical condition after a tractor trailer slammed into his SUV limo bringing him and his entourage back from performing at a casino in Delaware.

The limo Tracy was in turned over, and Tracy was said to have sustained several injuries including a broken femur, a broken nose and several broken ribs.  He already underwent surgery for the broken femur , and was said to be recovering, at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.

Fortunately Harris Stanton got away with relatively minor injuries if you can call any injury “minor”,  and was well enough to be released.

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice O'Neal at the taping of Patrice's last special "Elephant In The Room!"

Harris Stanton, Jeffrey Gurian, and Patrice O’Neal at the taping of Patrice’s last special “Elephant In The Room!”

Ardie who has been opening for Tracy for a while now, is still listed in critical condition, and to my knowledge no one has said anything  specific about his injuries.  I last heard from him the Wednesday before the accident, when he texted me all excited that Chris Rock himself had brought him on to the BET Awards.

Ardie is a super guy, loved by all who know him, who’s still recovering from the loss of his beloved son Ardley Jamaal Fuqua in May of 2012 in a freak accident, but he still manages to go out and make other people laugh despite his own personal pain.   He teased me for weeks about the fact that when I went out to Brooklyn a few months back to see him open for Tracy , I brought Tracy a copy of my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” as a gift, and signed it for him on the spot.  Tracy had known about the book, and I promised him a copy but for some reason Ardie thought it was hysterical that I would think to give Tracy a signed copy of my book!  I’m still not sure why he thought it was strange, but he did!  And he told that to everyone he saw when I was around! (LOL)

Ardie Fuqua and Jeffrey Gurian in an Ardie-taken selfie at Carolines!  His arms are REALLY long so they come out good!

Ardie Fuqua and Jeffrey Gurian in an Ardie-taken selfie at Carolines! His arms are REALLY long so they come out good!

Also seriously injured were Tracy’s assistant Jeffrey Millea, and there were supposedly two other people in the limo that were not injured.  Thank G-d Tracy’s wife Megan, and 11 month old baby daughter  Maven were not in the SUV as they usually travel with Tracy, and are there at every recent show of Tracy’s that I’ve attended.

Everyone, especially his friends in the comedy community are all praying for their swift and complete recovery!

 

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Kevin Hart Produces Keith Robinson Special

Keith Robinson is often called a “comic’s comic”, which means he’s very highly respected by his peers.  In the world of comedy that means a lot.  Because from the time they start out, all comics want to feel like they’re the funniest of all, and because of that they often don’t encourage their peers!  A lot of comics don’t even take the time to say ” Nice set” after another comic performs.  It’s such an easy thing to do, and means so much to a fellow hardworking comic, but out of fear, they keep it to themselves.

Keith Robinson and Jeffrey Gurian backstage at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC after Keith's killer show!

Keith Robinson and Jeffrey Gurian backstage at The Gramercy Theatre in NYC after Keith’s killer show!

I make it a point of telling other comics when I think they did well.  We all need encouragement.  Anyway, I digress! (LOL) Kevin Hart, who’s career is absolutely HUGE, and getting bigger by the moment, produced a Keith Robinson special called ” Back of the Bus Funny”, at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City.

But not only did he produce it,  he came out on stage to welcome the audience before the show started, and said that Keith Robinson was his mentor and he wouldn’t be who he was today if not for Keith!  What a tribute!  And what a  great, and selfless  thing to do.  Kevin didn’t have to say that but he was being honest, and you could tell that he meant it!

Keith Robinson producer Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian backstage after Keith's show "Back of the Bus Funny!"

Keith Robinson producer Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian backstage after Keith’s show “Back of the Bus Funny!”

I got to know Kevin originally when I co-produced a comedy show at Westbury Theatre on Long Island starring Kevin back in 2010.  It was right after the earthquake in Haiti and we decided to make it a benefit for that ravaged island.  My partner was Haitian and I have a lot of Haitian friends, and thanks to Kevin we sold out the place.  Three thousand people came out to see Kevin kill it, with Tony Rock as the feature, and Haitian-American comic Wil Sylvince as the MC! Needless to say, a lot of them were late, (LOL), but they came, and that’s what counts!

Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian promoting their show at Westbury Theatre back in 2010!

Kevin Hart and Jeffrey Gurian promoting their show at Westbury Theatre back in 2010!

So when I run into Kevin periodically it’s always good, and I’m really happy for his success!  He’s got 11.7 million followers on Twitter and will probably have more than 12 million by the time I finish this blog post! (LOL)  Two years ago, when I interviewed him for Black History Month,  he had only 3 million followers, and in two years time his popularity has grown so much, … I wish my investments would grow like Kevin Hart’s Twitter following!

Zainab Johnson opened the show and it was really cool because I had just seen her the night before on Last Comic Standing.  She’s got a shaved head, .. I don’t wanna say “bald” because “Bald” to me implies that you somehow lost your hair.  Her’s is obviously a fashion choice!  And it works for her.  She wore a belly baring outfit on LCS and did the same at Keith’s special.  The girl is proud of her abs! (LOL)  And she’s funny too,  so it’s a good combination all around, ’cause abs by themselves don’t fill seats!

The audience was packed and there were lots of Keith’s friends from his Tough Crowd days.  Colin Quinn was sitting in front of me with Chris Rock and Gary Gulman.  Next to me was Robert Kelly and Vondecarlo Brown, Patrice O’Neal’s wife.  Keith gave Colin a shout-out in a very funny, but backhanded way by saying there were people in the audience who used to be famous, like Colin Quinn, and nobody laughed harder than Colin.  Well that was the confrontational energy that Colin brought to Tough Crowd, and he told me once in an interview that  he wanted it that way!

Kevin Hart and Chris Rock enjoying the festivities!

Kevin Hart and Chris Rock enjoying the festivities!

Robert Kelly, Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman backstage for Keith Robinson!

Robert Kelly, Colin Quinn and Gary Gulman backstage for Keith Robinson!

Vondecarlo and Jeffrey Gurian at the after-party for Keith Robinson's show!

Vondecarlo and Jeffrey Gurian at the after-party for Keith Robinson’s show!

The show had a really cool set and Keith came out, literally from the back of a bus, wearing a very cool looking suit.

The backdrop of Keith Robinson's set, where he stepped off the back of the bus to open the show!

The backdrop of Keith Robinson’s set, where he stepped off the back of the bus to open the show!

He thanked Kevin, and mentioned that Kevin had a HUGE following on Twitter, and that probably 12 of them were white!   He said that Kevin was like “the Red Lobster of comedy”! (LOL) He went on for an hour with really strong material.  There were so many strong spots but I particularly like when he’s talking about the saying, ” Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Now I’m paraphrasing here, but he says something like guns DO kill people.  if you wanna kill someone you use a gun.  No one goes around choking people.  There’s a reason you never hear of a mass choking!  And then he acts it out, like a guy’s sneaking up on someone to choke them, and it’s hysterical!

Many years ago, when I was writing for Weekly World News I did a story on a man who claimed to have personally killed every person in Manhattan!  He says he did it about two weeks before, and that he single-handedly snuck up on each and every person in the borough and strangled them, while under the influence of an entire pack of cigarettes.  Police spokesmen were quoted as saying they felt that the man either lying, or else he was covering up for someone else.  What the public wanted to know was, ” Who are police spokesmen anyway?  What kind of a job is it?  Are they actually policemen or just men who speak?  Has anyone you know actually ever met a police spokesman, and if not do they in fact exist?” 

Anyway, after the first show we all went backstage to congratulate Keith and it was Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Gary Gulman, Robert Kelly, Jermaine Fowler, Marc Theobald, Vondecarlo, Kevin’s posse, and lots more people eating, drinking and letting Keith know how good he was.  Then he had to split to do it all over again for the second show!  That has to be hard, following yourself on a really great performance!  Now they have to go to the next step!

Colin Quinn and Georgia O'Neal, Patrice's Mom!

Colin Quinn and Georgia O’Neal, Patrice’s Mom!

Everybody laughing and having a good time after the show!

Everybody laughing and having a good time after the show!

Another candid backstage photo of Kevin Hart and Chris Rock!

Another candid backstage photo of Kevin Hart and Chris Rock, with Keith in the foreground!

But  between Keith’s talent and Kevin’s heat they should have no trouble finding a home for this special!  I for one can’t wait to see it again!  It was a great night and very special to see Kevin and Chris again!

Chris Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, and Kevin Hart backstage after Keith Robinson's show!

Chris Rock, Jeffrey Gurian, and Kevin Hart backstage after Keith Robinson’s show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Artie Lange Back on Track

ArtieLange_Gotham_5_4_14So great to see Artie Lange back on stage again, barely a month after coming out of the hospital due to an episode of “diabetic shock”!

Artie did a late show the other night at Gotham Comedy Club and was in rare form.  He lost 25 pounds and looked great!  He was taping material for an upcoming TV special but this particular tape he explained was for “the lawyers”, who he jokingly guessed would probably not like 90% of it! (LOL)

Artie is so relaxed before he goes onstage that he just sat in the back of the room, waiting for Rich Francese to finish his opening set, and both I and Richie Tienken the owner of The Comic Strip, were able to go over and say “Hi”.   A lot of comics sequester themselves in their dressing room before a show, but Artie doesn’t need to do that.  He’s just so relaxed, and confident in his ability to make people laugh.  

He also makes himself available to his fans, and talks openly about every single thing he’s been through, the hospitals, the mental wards, the heroin usage, and then manages to make every single incident funny.

He even posts self-deprecating Tweets about himself like the one he got from a supposed “fan” who wrote, “Too bad you didn’t croak, waterpig!”    Artie didn’t seem to care, but I personally, was so offended by that Tweet!  Only small insignificant people who feel they have no power in the world use anonymity to write hateful and heinous remarks to people who have accomplished so much in their lives.

To write something like that to a guy like Artie who is so talented and one of the nicest guys in the world, plus who has a history of a suicide attempt, is so disgusting to me.  It’s just another form of cyber-bullying, and I hope that even though Artie jokes about it, that on some level he doesn’t hold onto that negative energy, knowing that there are such sick people in the world.

I admire Artie for being able to read it, and actually go to the trouble of re-tweeting it.  I hope that someday I am confident enough to do something like that!  Long Live Artie Lange!

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Win $1000. as Funniest Professional at Gotham Comedy Club!

Andy Engel, long-time producer from Gotham Comedy Club, who also runs the Manhattan Comedy School, is running a really fun, exciting contest for professionals in many fields, searching for “New York’s Funniest Professional!”    The GRAND PRIZE will be $1000. , a guest spot on Gotham’s “New Talent” Show, and a guest spot on Gotham’s “All Star” showcase, as well as additional gifts from sponsors.

So all of you people out there laboring in different professions, knowing you can be as funny as the comics you see on TV or on stage who are already doing it, this is your big chance to show us what you’ve got.  Bring your “A” game!

Submissions must be in by May 4th and contestants will be announced on May 5th.  Each profession will have different nights to perform, and that info is listed below.

There will be prizes in 8 categories, so even if you don’t take 1st place you can still win in 7 other places!

For the preliminary rounds every comic will receive two tickets to a future Gotham show and anyone that knows Gotham knows they get the best talent to perform there!  Plus each comic will receive a FREE  HD video download of their performance! 

Go to this link IMMEDIATELY and download the submission information   http://www.manhattancomedyschool.com/new-yorks-funniest-professional/

The final show will have a celebrity host, so no matter what you’re doing when you read this, jump up from your desk right now and get ready to enter!  And make sure to tell Andy Engel that I sent you, and that Comedy Matters!!!

(Details below!!!)

Gotham Comedy Club &Manhattan Comedy School Present: “NEW YORK’S FUNNIEST PROFESSIONAL”Grand Prize of $1,000

Are you the funniest person in your workplace? Prove it! Compete against hilarious workers to find out which profession is the funniest, win big prizes, and become New York’s Funniest Professional in the largest amateur comedy competition in New York.

 

RULES

·         The competition will be two rounds. Each comedian will perform in one of the ten (+) preliminary rounds according to his/her field of work.

·         12 contestants will be accepted for each industry

·         One comic from each preliminary round will move onto the finale.

·         On each night, two judges will score comics on stage presence, originality, and most importantly, audience reaction.

·         Each comedian will get a 5 minute set.

 

Submission DeadlineMay 4th

Contestants AnnouncedMay 5th

 

COMPETITION BREAKDOWN

·         Advertising/Marketing/Digital Market – May 19th 7pm

·         Food Industry (Waiters / Bartenders/ etc.) – May 19th 9:30pm

·         Actors – May 20th 7pm

·         Lawyers – May 28th 9:30pm

·         Teachers – June 2nd 7pm

·         Housewives/Husbands – June 2nd 9:30pm

·         Real Estate – June 3rd 7pm

·         Sales Rep/Retail – June 11th 7pm

·         College Students – June 11th 9:30pm

·         Tradesman (Mechanics, Plumbers, Electricians, Construction, etc) – June 17th7pm

·         Journalists / On-air TV Reporters / Bloggers – June 24th 9:30pm

·         Finals – July 15th 7pm

There will be a celebrity host for the final show.

———————————————————————————–

 

SUBMISSIONS:

Follow this link and fill out the entire submission form.

Submit here: New York’s Funniest Submission Form

 

 

*Filling out a submission form does not guarantee admission into the contest. There are a limited number of spots for each industry. We will contact people with a confirmation if they have been accepted or not. All accepted contestants will be announced May 5th.

 

*There is NO entry fee for this competition.

However, there is a bringer requirement of 15 guests per round (2 rounds total). The shows have a $12 cover + 2 drink minimum.

 

 

PRIZES:

·         Preliminary Round

o    Every comic receives two tickets to Gotham Comedy Club to be used on future shows

o    Every comic receives a free high definition video download of their performance

 

Finals

First Place –  $1000 cash

·         Meet and greet with the Owner of Gotham Comedy Club Chris Mazzilli

·         One guest spot on Gotham’s “New Talent” and one guest spot on Gotham’s “All Star” Showcases

·         Additional gifts from our sponsors

Second Place –  $500 cash 

·         1 Guest spot on a Gotham “All-Star” showcase

·         1 Guest spot on a Gotham New Talent show

 

Third Place

Free class at The Manhattan Comedy School ($400 value)

 

 

4th – 8th place

Gift from our Sponsors ($250 Restaurant Gift Certificates)

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Colin Jost Takes Over Weekend Update on SNL Tonight

It’s been kind of a tradition that the head writer of SNL takes over the Weekend Update desk and now that Seth Meyers left to take over for Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Colin Jost gets to occupy the co-anchor seat next to Cecily Strong, as of tonight, March 1, 2014.

Jeffrey Gurian with SNL Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost at a comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian with SNL Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost at a comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC!

And for that I’m staying home, because Colin is a friend and I feel like I support him better by watching it live rather than taping it!

It’s a very prestigious position held by only a relative few in the show’s 38 year history.  Chevy Chase was the first with Gilda Radner from 1975-1976, then Jane Curtin from 1976-1980, followed by Dennis Miller from 1985-1991, Kevin Nealon from 1991-1994, Norm Macdonald from 1994-1997, Colin Quinn from 1999-2000, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon from 2000-2004, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler from 2004-2006. Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers from 2006-2008, and finally Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong from 2013-2014.

Like others before him on SNL Colin graduated from Harvard where he was President of The Harvard Lampoon, and joined SNL in 2005.  He worked his way up to head writer in 2012. 

I see Colin fairly often performing at The Comic Strip, which is one of his favorite clubs, and he’s really funny and very likeable onstage.  People will love him as the Weekend Update anchor.  His parents came to see him at one of the shows I was at and interesting fact, … his Mom is the Chief Medical Officer for the NYC Fire Department!

Colin Jost onstage at The Comic Strip!

Colin Jost onstage at The Comic Strip!

Make sure to tune in and watch!  But first watch this little video I shot with Colin backstage at The Comic Strip!

 

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Seth Meyers Takes Over Late Night Tonight

In the ever-increasing entertainment empire that is under the guidance/ownership/leadership of king-maker Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers will take over the reins of Late Night tonight, a week after his friend and former SNL cast-mate Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.

 

Jeffrey Gurian of ComedyMattersTV.com interviewing Seth Meyers on the red carpet of the Just for Laughs Awards luncheon!

Jeffrey Gurian of ComedyMattersTV.com interviewing Seth Meyers on the red carpet of the Just for Laughs Awards luncheon!

In a NY Post article, Seth credits the confidence needed to make such a move to Lorne’s support in suggesting him for the gig.  It’s such a HUGE thing to have someone like that behind you.  It makes all the difference in the world, when someone with that much power believes in you!

Jeffrey Gurian with Lorne Michaels at a Writers Guild Awards event!

Jeffrey Gurian with Lorne Michaels at a Writers Guild Awards event!

Lorne created Saturday Night Live in 1975 and the show has gone on to provide some of the biggest stars we know today like Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, TIna Fey, Amy Poehler, Eddie Murphy, Jimmy Fallon and on and on!

It’s a huge amount of pressure to do a show five nights a week where you have to interview A-list celebs every night, and keep it fresh and hip!  He’ll be in the same 30 Rock building  he’s called home, since 2001 when he joined the cast of SNL.  Within a period of two years he went from writing supervisor to head writer, and then to Weekend Update co-anchor with Amy Poehler.

He, like Jimmy Fallon has been doing test shows during the week with guest celebs like Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of “Today”, and a few guest comics as well.  His bandleader is also an interesting choice, former SNL star and current star of IFC’s Portlandia, Fred Armisen.

Interesting fact: Portlandia was created by Jonathan Krisel who also directs Kroll Show on Comedy Central, and during the last NY Comedy Festival, when Nick Kroll did a panel at The Paley Center, ( formerly the Museum of TV and Radio), Seth was the moderator, and Jon Krisel was on the panel, along with Nick Kroll and Exec. Producer of Kroll Show and sometime actor on the show, John Levenstein.

KrollShowGraphic_PaleyCenter_SetyhMeyers_11_9_13

(L-R) Jon Krisel, John Levenstein, Nick Kroll, and Seth Meyers at The Paley Center in a panel on Kroll Show!

(L-R) Jon Krisel, John Levenstein, Nick Kroll, and Seth Meyers at The Paley Center in a panel on Kroll Show!

It happened to be during that panel that I got a great surprise.  Not only did Nick give me a shout out from the stage, before showing my ” Too Much Tuna” sketch with him and John Mulaney, but they also showed the upcoming sketch I’m in, which I understand will be the finale of the 2nd season, with me playing myself in a sketch with Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, and Katy Perry!

Jeffrey Gurian with Laura Dern, as C-Czar's mom. on the LA set of Comedy Central's hit Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with Laura Dern, as C-Czar’s mom. on the LA set of Comedy Central’s hit Kroll Show!

Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler on the LA set of Kroll Show in a sketch that will air in the new 2nd season!

Jeffrey Gurian with Amy Poehler on the LA set of Kroll Show in a sketch that will air in the new 2nd season!

Amy and Seth are very close as they shared the Weekend Update desk for two years from 2006-2008.  This past summer in Montreal at The Just for Laughs Festival which is the biggest comedy festival in the world, Seth presented Amy with the Breakout Comedy Star of the Year Award at a huge awards luncheon.

AmyPoehlerGraphic_Montreal_7:24:13

Seth Meyers at the podium at the Just for Laughs Festival presenting Amy Poehler with the Comedy Person of the Year Award!

Seth Meyers at the podium at the Just for Laughs Festival presenting Amy Poehler with the Comedy Person of the Year Award!  Amy is partly shown sitting behind where he’s standing!

She will be his first guest tonight along with VP Joe Biden.  Interesting mix!  Later in the week he’ll have Kanye West, and Patrick Stewart!

Seth is such a charming, humble, and likable guy, he’s a natural for the spot and people will love him.   Just last year he got married to human rights lawyer Alexi Ashe and he says his new schedule will allow him to start a family!  ( Not by himself, with Alexi’s cooperation, of course! LOL)

Between Seth, Jimmy, and David Letterman, they’ll be bringing major entertainment back to New York in a very big way.  So many more stars from LA will be here to do the shows!  Very exciting.

We’ll all be watching you tonight Seth, and we know you’ll totally kill it!  Below you can see my little interview with Seth in Montreal just before he presented Amy with her award!

 

 

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Jimmy Fallon Brings The Tonight Show Tonight!

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for.  You’d basically have to be from a small village in Bulgaria, living next to a stream not to know that Jimmy Fallon is bringing The Tonight Show back to New York, starting tonight and it will change entertainment completely!

For the first time in 42 years since Johnny Carson took the show out to Burbank, The Tonight Show will have it’s home at 30 Rock, along with SNL and Late Night with Seth Meyers, who is replacing Jimmy Fallon in that spot.  Jimmy’s last night on Late Night was Feb. 7th.

Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell doing a song about their tight pants!

Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell doing a song about their tight pants!

Never before has there been a late night host as talented as Jimmy.  Many were funny, and many did characters and different types of “shtick”, but NOBODY does as many things as Jimmy Fallon.  First he’s only 39 and appeals to a younger demographic.  But besides doing stand-up, he also sings, dances, (which he claimed in an interview he did with me that he doesn’t dance, but anyone who’s seen him move on the show will beg to differ), plays instruments, (especially the guitar!), does impressions, and is the right age to bond with most of his popular guests like Justin Timberlake, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt with whom he yodeled in a video, and Bruce Springsteen who he dressed up as and sang a duet with.  He even  got Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Crystal to dress up as old time baseball players!

 

Jimmy Fallon and guest Justin Timberlake in conversation!

Jimmy Fallon and guest Justin Timberlake in conversation!

Tom Cruise crushing raw eggs on his head after losing a bet to Jimmy Fallon!

Tom Cruise crushing raw eggs on his head after losing in Egg Russian Roulette, to Jimmy Fallon!  Hysterical bit!

Jerry Seinfeld, not sure who this guy is, and Billy Crystal as old time baseball players

Jerry Seinfeld, not sure who this guy is, and Billy Crystal as old time baseball players

Jimmy’s “Tonight Show  starring Jimmy Fallon”, will be broadcast from Studio 6B in 30 Rock, Monday through Friday at 11:34, except for tonight when it will start a few minutes later due to The Olympics! Among his first guests will be Will Smith and U2.  Can’t wait to hear U2 jamming with The Roots!

Later on in the week he’s planning on having Justin Timberlake who was on his recent “Best Of” special on NBC doing a “History of Rap” duet with Jimmy, Lady Gaga, and Michelle Obama, who also appeared in that special.  And what a special it was.  Not only does he have the hugest guests in the world, but he does fun things with them.

Like when he got Pres. Obama to actually do “Slow Jam the News”, a bit he does where they do the news to Barry White-like music in the background.  C’mon, … getting the President of the United States on your show doing comedy?  Talk about “beyond your wildest dreams!”  Who gets the Pres. to do comedy on their show?  Only Jimmy Fallon!

Pres. Barack Obama "slow-jamming the news" with Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots!

Pres. Barack Obama “slow-jamming the news” with Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots!

He’s had Mick Jagger, Mariah Carey, and Robin Thicke, he’s come out dressed as David Bowie, and Bob Dylan  and imitated both, (his Dylan is better than Dylan, and he did it during an interview he did with me as well!), he’s arm-wrestled with Jason Statham, he had Tom Cruise crack eggs on his own head, and dressed up like Bruce Springsteen and actually did a duet with the real Springsteen, side by side on his show.

Jimmy Fallon on stage with Mick Jagger!

Jimmy Fallon on stage with Mick Jagger!

Jimmy Fallon having fun with Robin Thicke!

Jimmy Fallon having fun with Robin Thicke!

Jimmy Fallon arm-wrestling with action star Jason Statham!

Jimmy Fallon arm-wrestling with action star Jason Statham!

And as far as arm-wrestling with Jason Statham goes, I can attest to how strong Jimmy is physically.   One night when we were hanging out he insisted on picking me up, and not that I’m so heavy, but when I resisted as I tend to do when people try and lift me off the ground, I could feel the strength in his arms. The dude works out!

Having Jimmy in New York will give New York’s comedic talent more of a shot at getting on the show and many more big stars from LA will be coming to New York to be on the show.

What’s also special about Jimmy is that he’s not out to make his guests uncomfortable or as was said in a recent New York Mag article  of 2/10/14, ” he doesn’t try to expose his guests’ hypocrisy like Stewart or Colbert, and in contrast to Letterman, he actually watches his guests’ movies, listens to their music and geeks out endearingly in front of them.”

That “niceness” comes easily for Jimmy.  He’s a genuinely nice guy!  I remember when I was shooting an interview with him backstage at Gotham Comedy Club, and my D.P wasn’t able to make it.  I was so nervous to tell him I didn’t have anyone to work my camera, and when I finally got up the nerve to tell him as we sat in the green room, he said ” Don’t worry about it, my wife Nancy is a producer and she’ll shoot it for us”, … and she did!

Jeffrey Gurian with Jimmy Fallon backstage at Gotham Comedy Club after Jeffrey interviewed Jimmy for Comedy Matters TV! (with the help of Jimmy's wife Nancy!)

Jeffrey Gurian with Jimmy Fallon backstage at Gotham Comedy Club after Jeffrey interviewed Jimmy for Comedy Matters TV! (with the help of Jimmy’s wife Nancy!)

The last time I saw Jimmy I was performing in a show at The Players Club, hosted by the inimitable Brute Force who hosts a monthly show there, and Jimmy dropped by to see Brute.  He was shocked to see me, and we all hung out at the bar after the show.  I think he was playing a song on the piano and then turned to me and asked me to play something!

Jeffrey Gurian, Jimmy Fallon and Brute Force hanging out at The Players Club!

Jeffrey Gurian, Jimmy Fallon and Brute Force hanging out at The Players Club!

I think I surprised him by playing a little something I remembered from my 10 years of taking lessons when I was a kid.   Jimmy sat on the pool table behind me and just listened.  Then we all just hung out and had fun for the next couple of hours.

Jimmy Fallon hanging out with Jeffrey Gurian, and a whole group of people at The Players Club, June 2013!

Jimmy Fallon hanging out with Jeffrey Gurian, and a whole group of people at The Players Club, June 2013!

Anyway, I’ll be staying home tonight to watch Jimmy inaugurate his show.  I could TIVO it, but that wouldn’t be as fun as seeing it live and in person.  I’ve never really had the time to watch late night TV, but I plan to be watching Jimmy on a constant basis!  I hope you will too!

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Hail (Sid) Caesar! There’ll Never Be Another!

When I heard the sad news that Sid Caesar passed away this week at 91 years old, I was very moved.  He’s one of the last of his generation of comedians from what has been referred to as The Golden Age of Television.  I think I first got to meet him when I wrote for his Friars Roast in 1983.  Every big star was there, and I was writing for the Roasts at the time and at that Roast I wrote for five different performers including Dick Shawn, Jan Murray, and Joey Travolta, John Travolta’s older brother, and the son-in-law of Dick Shawn, one of my very favorite comedians, and a friend.

(L-R) Bobby Shields, Norm Crosby, Gene Baylos, Sid Caesar, and Jeffrey Gurian at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar, 1983.

(L-R) Bobby Shields, Norm Crosby, Gene Baylos, Sid Caesar, and Jeffrey Gurian at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar, 1983.

Joey Travolta, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jack Carter at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar!

Joey Travolta, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jack Carter at the Friars Roast for Sid Caesar!

Sid was the star of NBC’s “Your Show of Shows” from 1950-1954, and “Caesar’s Hour” from 1954-57, and created sketches with his co-star comedienne Imogene Coca that are funny to this very day.  Sid was a genius in what you might call “dialect comedy.”  He could make believe he was speaking almost any language, from German, French, Italian, Russian, or Japanese, and with the help of writers like Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen created many memorable characters.

He was also known for being incredibly strong physically, and supposedly once pulled a sink out of a wall in anger, and held Mel Brooks out of a window by his feet!  After we met, we stayed in touch for a while and I remmber going to see him in a theatre in NYC, and when I went backstage after the show to say “Hi” it looked like an underground bunker or construction site.

Jeffrey Gurian visiting Sid Caesar backstage in what looks like a construction site!

Jeffrey Gurian visiting Sid Caesar backstage in what looks like a construction site!

A different grouping at the Sid Caesar Roast, (L-R) Henny Youngman, Sid Caesar, Gene Baylos, Jan Murray, Norm Crosby, and Jeffrey Gurian!

A different grouping at the Sid Caesar Roast, (L-R) Henny Youngman, Sid Caesar, Gene Baylos, Jan Murray, Norm Crosby, and Jeffrey Gurian!

 

So many of the greats of that generation lived to ripe old ages. Milton Berle lived to be 93 or 94.  He was my original sponsor in The Friars Club and brought me into the LA club first where he was the President.   I was out there in 1985, which was where we took the photo below.

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985.  Milton was the Pres. of The Friars Club and was Jeffrey's sponsor!

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985. Milton was the Pres. of The Friars Club and was Jeffrey’s sponsor!

And in all the years I knew Milton I was always in awe of him.  I’d be on the phone with him and all I’d be thinking was, ” Holy s**t, I’m on the phone with Milton Berle!”.  Mr. Television.  The reason he was called “Mr. Television” was because people in this country bought TV’s just to watch him on Texaco Star Theatre.

He was the host on the show that ran from 1948 until 1956, eventually called “The MIlton Berle Show”, and people would crowd around in the streets watching his show through the windows of the television stores.  TV had only been around since 1941, and thanks to Milton TV ownership went from about 500,000 TV’s to over 30 million.

Milton was like a mentor to me, and we’d have lunch at The Friars Club in NY, just the two of us, and he’d tell me wonderful show biz stories and about things like “spitballing” where two comics run ideas back and forth to create new material.    He took me to his home in Beverly Hills, and showed me  his archives of kinescopes and jokes, and even showed me the thing he was most famous for in terms of his physical endowment! (LOL)  Not that I asked to see it, but I think he was so proud of it, that he showed it to people he trusted!

Jeffrey Gurian and Milton Berle at an event where Milton was performing! Circa mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian and Milton Berle at an event where Milton was performing! Circa mid-80’s.

I recall one instance where I felt he really came to my rescue.  It was 1985, and I was in a very down place emotionally.  It was a freezing cold winter day, and I got to the door of my 2nd floor studio apartment, just in time to hear the phone ringing.  I remember fumbling with my keys, hoping to get the call before they hung up.  I raced to the phone and picked it up just in time and who was it, … Milton Berle.  He had called to see how I was doing.   To this day I still can’t believe that.  If I had been one minute later, I might have missed it because who knows if Milton Berle would have left a message on my answering machine.

He wound up inviting me to a Friars Tribute in his honor.  I think he was named “Man of the Year”, and that’s where he introduced me to Sammy Davis Jr., who actually kidded me about the amount of jewelry I was wearing.  He who wore more gold than an Aztec god! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian with Sammy Davis Jr. at a Friars Club tribute to Milton Berle.

Jeffrey Gurian with Sammy Davis Jr. at a Friars Club tribute to Milton Berle. 1985

Some years later, I also attended a special event in Milton’s honor in Montreal hosted by the legendary Budd Friedman, owner and founder of The Improv, the very first comedy club in the world.  Budd sat at the head of the table, Milton sat next to him, and I sat next to Budd directly across from Milton.    When Budd inserted his monacle into his eye, I took a plastic spoon out of my pocket, ( I’ve been carrying at least one spoon since the early 80’s and no one knows why! LOL) and inserted that into my eye to “look at the menu.”

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman at the 89th Birthday Roast of Henny Youngman, for TV!

Jeffrey Gurian with Budd Friedman at the 89th Birthday Roast of Henny Youngman, for TV!

It was a character I created back in the 70’s which I called “Spoon-eye”, and which was copied many years later by Conan O’Brien, and written about in Cindy Adam’s column in the NY Post.  I provided photos of myself “with spoon” from back in the 70’s, and Cindy wrote, ” I don’t know why anyone would want to take credit for something like this, but Jeffrey  Gurian definitely did it first!

Anyway, Budd looked at me like  “What the F**K are you doing?”  And I simply said, ” It’s very big out on the coast”, not thinking that HE lived out on “the coast.”  He looked at me and said, ” I live out there and I have NEVER seen anyone do that.”  In the meantine, Milton was looking at me in disbelief, and I decided to take out the spoon and just change the subject.  I don’t think it ever came up again!

On May 14, 1998, when Frank Sinatra passed away, I happened to be out in LA.  I remember very clearly calling Milton from a pay phone. I guess my StarTAC clamshell cell phone was on “Roam”!  He took the call and told me that he wasn’t taking calls from anyone else because the press was calling him non-stop for quotes on Frank Sinatra’s passing, but he said when he heard it was me he took the call.  Another amazing moment for me.

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985.

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle at the LA Friars Club in 1985.

He brought me to his home in Beverly Hills, and showed me his kinescopes and the 6 million jokes he had compiled over the years that he kept in a separate little house.  He also showed me the body part he was known for, … without me asking, … which is a whole other story for another time! (LOL)

I remember the first time he let me write for him.  It was for an event honoring Buddy Hackett.  I was supposed to go to Atlantic City to meet with Milton where he was performing, and I was bringing my wife at the time, as Milton’s guests, and a couple of days before we were scheduled to come, he called me at home and asked me to give him an example of the jokes I was writing about Buddy.  If they were funny I could come, if not, I guess he would withdraw the offer.  Now I was in the position of having to impress Milton Berle with my jokes, the man who heard every joke ever told.

Jeffrey Gurian with Buddy Hackett at a Friars Roast, mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian with Buddy Hackett at a Friars Roast, mid-80’s.

I recall saying to him, ” Clean or dirty?”  He said, ” One of each.”  My clean joke was, ” Buddy’s not a good looking man.  It took him a long time to get used to the fact that girls are supposed to close their eyes when they KISS you, not when they’re introduced!”  My “dirty” one was, ” A lot of people like to think of Buddy Hackett as a little man with a rubber face.  I prefer to think of him as a little rubber, with a man’s face!”  Milton laughed, and told me to pack my bags cause he was expecting us in AC!  AMAZING!!!

Through Milton I also got to meet George Burns who was performing at one of the grand hotels in The Catskills.  In those days all the big TV stars still performed at the hotels, like The Concord, Grossingers, Kutschers, and The Nevele. George lived to be 100 years old.

Jeffrey Gurian with George (God) Burns backstage at a hotel in The Catskills! Mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian with George (God) Burns backstage at a hotel in The Catskills! Mid-80’s.

I got to know Red Buttons very well, who lived to be 87, as well as Norm Crosby, “The Master of Malaprop” who fortunately is still with us, and is in his mid-80’s, as is Jerry Lewis who’s 87 and who I had the honor of writing for and working alone with, when he was Roasted by The Friars, back in 1986.

Jeffrey Gurian with Red Buttons at a comedy event, mid-80's.

Jeffrey Gurian with Red Buttons at a comedy event, mid-80’s.

Jeffrey Gurian with Norm Crosby at The Friars Roast of Don King, 2005.

Jeffrey Gurian with Norm Crosby at The Friars Roast of Don King, 2005.

And then there was Henny Youngman who lived to be 91 and who I knew well from The Friars Club and from Milton.  He and Milton once headlined together at Westbury Music Fair and when Milton saw me, he gave ma a shout-out from the stage.  It was one of the proudest moments of my life.  He would always kid Youngman with lines like, ” Nice suit Youngman, who shines it for you?”  And lines like that would crack me up, cause I love that kind of humor!

Jeffrey Gurian with Henny Youngman at a comedy event, Oct. 1990.

Jeffrey Gurian with Henny Youngman at a comedy event, Oct. 1990.

I got to work with Henny for his 89th birthday roast which was televised and which I wrote with Bill Persky, the genius who wrote and created “That Girl” for Marlo Thomas, Danny Thomas’s daughter, and was also known for “Kate and Allie” and for his writing on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

I consider myself Blessed that I got to meet so many of the legends I watched growing up, and I think it’s safe to say that no matter how talented the stars of today are, there’ll never be any others like Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and the others I mentioned.  And the fact that they all had such longevity adds strength to the concept that laughing keeps you young!  In any case, I certainly hope so!  As a matter of fact, I’m counting on it! (LOL)

 

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Princess/Housewife Carole Radziwill Writes A Fun, Sexy Book!

I get to meet lots of fun people within the confines of what I casually refer to as “my life”, (LOL) but I have to honestly say that one of the most fun people I’ve met in a long time is Carole Radziwill, who just happens to be a real live Princess.  Fortunately, … although she’s elegant, she doesn’t act like a Princess,(in a GOOD way!)

Jeffrey Gurian with Princess Carole Radziwill, who only dressed like a Princess because Jeffrey begged her to!

Jeffrey Gurian with Princess Carole Radziwill, who only dressed like a Princess because Jeffrey begged her to!

She became a Princess by way of marriage to Anthony Radziwill, who was the son of socialite Lee Radziwill, (younger sister of Jacqueline Bouvier, better known as Jackie Kennedy, wife of JFK), and his father Polish Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, which was how he came by the title he never used.

He passed away in August of 1999 after a five year bout with cancer during which time his wife Carole was his primary care-giver, which right away shows you a rare level of character.   Anthony was a cousin to JFK Jr. who with his wife Carolyn, and her sister Lauren, all perished in a plane crash that very same summer, while on their way to a wedding and a visit to Anthony.

The pain of those multiple overwhelming losses led to Carole’s first book in 2005, a memoir, and the NY Times bestseller, “What Remains ; A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love (Scribner)

And leaving her a young, attractive widow gave her the authority to write this new book “A Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating”, coming out on Feb. 11th, (today!), and  which I plan to purchase at her book-signing at Barnes and Noble on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 at 7 P.M.

That’s the Barnes and Noble  at 2289 Broadway for you New Yorkers, between 82nd and 83rd streets, on the ultra-hip Upper West Side.  When you really think about it, almost every part of NYC these days can be considered “ultra-hip!”

In an article in the NY Post, Carole talked a little about her book, and a lot of it seems to be about empowerment, a topic I love.  One of the tips she mentioned was ” when he shows up 20 minutes late for a date, you shouldn’t still be there.”  I love that, and wonder if it pertains to both sexes.

I’ve had women show up hours late for a date who were meeting me at my home, and several times I didn’t want to be there or answer the door when they finally arrived.  On more than one occasion I told the doorman not to ring me, but then felt guilty about it later!

It’s the height of disrespect to show up so late, but values these days seem to have changed.  It’s probably my own fault for dating out of my generation! (LOL)

In another tip she advises women not to have sex with a man until he THINKS he’s in love with you!  Not necessarily when he KNOWS he’s in love with you, but when he THINKS he’s in love with you.  However she admits that sometimes that can happen  for men before they even meet a woman.  If so, does that means sex on the first date?  I’ll have to ask her that when I see her!

I’m looking forward to the new season of Real Housewives of NY, which premieres on Tuesday March 11th on Bravo, not only to see what Carole and the girls are up to, but also because I’m going to appear in a few episodes this season.  I got to know Carole personally when I created a comedy sketch for her and LuAnn DeLesseps to perform in.

LuAnn DeLesseps and Jeffrey Gurian at a gala Jeffrey produced in honor of Susie Essman!

LuAnn DeLesseps and Jeffrey Gurian at a gala Jeffrey produced in honor of Susie Essman!

LuAnn and I have been friends for more than 20 years, and she had always told me she wanted to do comedy.  Last June I was out in LA shooting an episode of Kroll Show for Comedy Central and LuAnn was out there shooting a show for the Oxygen network and playing a character named “Donna” that she loved.

I went over to join her on set and she was having a blast and told me she definitely wanted  to do something comedic with me.  I told her to call me when we got back to New York, and she did.  She said that she and Carole wanted to make fun of their “royal” titles, which was very “hip” of them to do!  LuAnn is a legitimate Countess, and Carole is a legit Princess.  Both of them received their titles  the same way, … by way of marriage.

My writing partner Lance Rizzo, and I created a sketch for them that they loved, and that Bravo loved as well and it will be on the new season.  I brought them to The PIT, ( People’s Improv Theatre) founded by my friend Ali Farahnakian, who was one of the original founding members of UCB, and he graciously offered us the use of his theatre to participate in an improv class just to get the girls feet wet.  Bravo filmed us in that class.

(L-R) Improv teacher Richard Hollman from The PIT, Carole Radziwill, Jeffrey Gurian, and LuAnn DeLesseps after their improv class!

(L-R) Improv teacher Richard Hollman from The PIT, Carole Radziwill, Jeffrey Gurian, and LuAnn DeLesseps after their improv class!

Then Bravo came to my home and filmed me, LuAnn and Carole in a planning session about the script.  I though it would be best to film the sketch as a video and show it as part of a live “improv” show at The PIT, which is what we did.

Jeffrey Gurian, Carole Radziwill, and LuAnn DeLesseps in Jeffrey's apartment rehearsing the sketch for RHONY!

Jeffrey Gurian, Carole Radziwill, and LuAnn DeLesseps in Jeffrey’s apartment rehearsing the sketch for RHONY!

 

I brought in the hysterical Cult Comedy Picture Show group which I am proud to be a part of, and they filmed the sketch also at The PIT,  and some of them participated in the acting as well.   The founding members are George Gaffney, Brent Katz, and Lance Rizzo, along with Jake Hart who was our main host and voice over guy for the sketch.

The cast of Cult Comedy Pictures at The PIT for the RHONY shoot!

The cast of Cult Comedy Pictures at The PIT for the RHONY shoot!

Then we filmed the actual live show at The PIT where we showed our video sketch, the details of which must remain secret until the show airs.  And then after we wrapped the season, Carole had a surprise 50th birthday party which I was invited to and that got filmed for the show as well.

Jeffrey Gurian with Carole Radziwill at her 50th birthday party!

Jeffrey Gurian with Carole Radziwill at her 50th birthday party!

So I can personally attest to the fact that Carole is a spectacular and fascinating person, who is so funny and delightful, (much funnier than she even realizes!), and I hope you’ll join me at her book signing where I plan to buy the book and report back to you!

 

 

 

 

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Marc Yaffe’s Chucklelicious Scores!

As you might imagine I get sent all kinds of CD’s and DVD’s to listen to and watch, and if I listened to even half of them I’d never leave the house!

But when I get a CD like Marc Yaffee’s Chucklelicious, that’s suggested to me by Goldman-McCormick PR, I listen ’cause those guys know what’s funny.

MarcYaffee_CDCover

Those are the guys, Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick, who created and produce the Funniest Reporter Show every year where they take TV and radio reporters, and put them in a stand-up comedy contest.

I’m usually either a mentor or a judge, and I can attest to the fact that these guys know what’s funny.

Plus the CD was made by David Drozen of Uproar Entertainment.  David is an old friend and he only does quality projects.

So I listened and it did not disappoint!  You could never tell from his name but Marc Yaffee identifies himself as Native American.  Actually he’s Mexican, Irish and Navajo Indian, or as he explains on the census, he’s “Other”!

He also says his mother had an easy delivery, … because he was adopted.  It’s a funny line, but maybe it’s true?  I’ll have to ask.

He says he can claim his Irish roots by his high blood alcohol level!

He had a really good flow and sharp jokes.  As a comedy writer myself, I always respect a good one liner.  And with his multi-ethnic background he has a wealth of material to draw from.

These are some examples:

You shouldn’t call a little person a midget.  You should call them “micro-Americans!

At a New Years Eve show in Minnesota, where it was 34 below, he commented that he didn’t know how people could live in a place that’s warmer inside of his freezer than it is outside.

He said he went to a casino where the hotel was so old, the Bible in the room didn’t even have The New Testament!

He describes sex with his wife as “rodeo sex.”  He jumps on and within 5 seconds she kicks him off!

He’s got two daughters in college.  He says, I’m now old enough to be their Dad and poor enough to be their roommate!

He asked his Dad what the secret was to his long marriage to his Mom.  His Dad said, ” Hearing loss!”.

If you get a chance buy the CD.  You won’t be sorry!

Here’s a little taste of Marc from You Tube!

And PLEASE don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @jeffreygurian and Subscribe to http://www.comedymatterstv.com to see videos with all of your favorite stars!

 

 

 

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