Posts Tagged 30 Rock

The Making of "Make ‘Em Laugh"- 35 Years of The Comic Strip

On June 15, 2008, I was at The Comic Strip with Ann Curry, and Gilbert Gottfried and we were giving Ann tips on how to do stand-up comedy for some kind of event she was preparing for. And despite the fact that I had been there for so many years, and had seen the walls before, I found myself transfixed by all the amazing memorabilia that I noticed that day.

Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken on the day that Jeffrey suggested doing a book on the iconic Comic Strip!

So I said to Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the club, “You know we should do a book on this club!”

I didn’t know that other people had suggested that to him before but for some reason he wound up not doing it with them. He came to my home for a meeting and ended by saying “You have more photos on your walls than I have at the club”, and he decided to trust me with telling his story, and the stories of all the huge stars that came out of the club.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken in the lobby of Jeffrey’s building after their meeting to agree on doing the book!

The club officially opened on June 1, 1976 with Billy Crystal as the opening act. On JUne 17th a young, and unknown Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition. In those days people were graded on their auditions. Jerry was graded “Good”, and then someone wrote on his sheet, “Definitely put on Mon. 6/21!” Whoever that person was had a good eye for comedy! Jerry stayed at The Strip for four years until he left for LA in 1980. It was his home club.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Richie Tienken on the day of Jerry’s interview for the book!

In the book Jerry said he felt like he was born in 1976, because that’s when he began working at The Strip and that felt like the start of his life!

Eddie Murphy spent his early years at the club, and Richie Tienken was his manager for the years when Eddie was the biggest star in the world. That period of time spanned his days on SNL through Beverly Hills Cop 2.

The one night in 1986 Eddie came into The Strip and asked to see a Black comic. The only one around was a 19 year old Chris Rock who was setting up chairs in exchange for stage time, and had only performed for very small audiences at 2 or 3 A.M. Not wanting to disappoint Eddie, they put Chris up in front of a packed house on a Friday night, and Chris killed it in front of his idol.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip on the day we did Chris’ interview for the book!

That was the start of Chris’s rise to stardom. He hasn’t lost his gratitude for all that Richie did for him and wrote a fantastic, and funny introduction to the book.

He also came into the club and gave Richie and I a really super interview. Most of the big stars came into the club for their interviews because Richie and I felt that being surrounded by those four walls would bring back memories, and we were right.

Alan Colmes who many people don’t even know started his career as a stand-up comic came in wearing his 30 year old Comic Strip jacket that looked as if it was brand new.

Jeffrey Gurian with Alan Colmes wearing his original 30 year old Comic Strip jacket, which looked brand new!

In the middle of Paul Reiser’s interview he suddenly recalled what started the annual New Years Day brunch attended every Jan. 1, by himself, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Mark Schiff. There had even been a fifth member of the group, a friend named Michael Cain but he passed away very young.

Gilbert Gottfried and Lisa Lampanelli got interviewed outside the club, and Jeffrey Ross got interviewed inside the club with a dual book/documentary film video interview at the same time. That experience taught us never to do that again! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian, Gilbert Gottfried and Richie Tienken at lunch at Pastis where GIlbert spent most of his interview denying he had ever been at The Comic Strip. He did say they had good electricity though!

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian,(hidden behind the book! LOL) backstage at Westbury for Lisa’s recent sold-out performance

And then I flew out to LA to get an in office interview with Billy Crystal the first comic to hit the stage on opening night, back in 1976.

Other comics interviewed were Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Judah Friedlander, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Rick Overton, who has also gone on to have a very successful acting/film career, Jim Breuer, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, plus newer stars who frequent the club like Colin Jost and Jay Pharaoah from SNL.

Thanks to our agent J.L. Stermer from N.S. Bienstock, we got a deal with Skyhorse Publishing and the book is 250 pages down from the 500 I started out with. It took three years to get all of the interviews done and transcribed, because I did it myself by hand just by playing the interviews over and over again, and the fourth year was about editing and getting it down from 500 pages to the 250 that was needed. It was often a grueling process, but always a labor of love!

Since it came out, it’s gotten great reviews, tons of press, and lots of celeb attention as you can tell from the following photos.

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Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Host Golden Globes Again-Tonight on NBC

Last year when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globes, they both looked gorgeous and sexy, and viewership went up 17% over the year before, to almost 20 million people.  That’s a lot of people! Especially if you invite them all back to your house for a post-show snack!

I’m one of the lucky 20 million who got to tell Amy Poehler personally how much I enjoyed their performance.   It was on the set of Kroll Show, Comedy Central’s hit show starring Nick Kroll the man of a million characters, all of them funny, this past June.

Amy Poehler, Jeffrey Gurian, and Nick Kroll as Liz G. on the set of Comedy Central's hit Kroll Show!

Amy Poehler, Jeffrey Gurian, and Nick Kroll as Liz G. on the set of Comedy Central’s hit Kroll Show!

Nick had brought me out to LA to be in a sketch playing myself in a red carpet scene where I had to interact with Nick in character as Liz G., Laura Dern, Golden Globe-Award-winning actress, who played C-Czar’s mother, ( C-Czar is the toilet baby dating Pretty Liz!), internationally known singing sensation Katy Perry, and the super-talented UCB co-founder Amy Poehler!

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 international singing star Katy Perry on the set of Kroll Show in LA!

Jeffrey Gurian with international singing star Katy Perry on the set of Kroll Show in LA!

What a thrill for me.  It’s enough to be on any show but when you get the opportunity to be on a show you absolutely LOVE it makes all the difference in the world.   Anyway after the shoot I got to tell Amy that she and Tina were incredible as hosts, and that I hoped they do it again.

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!

When I think of comedy teams I think of the old greats Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers.  Comedy like that no longer exists.  It’s not hip enough.   Those guys probably couldn’t even get representation today.

Yet many young people still love the old comedies.

But there haven’t been any two women teams in comedy that I can think of and Tina and Amy  would be perfect to be the first ones to do it.  I told her that too! (LOL)

In their one co-starring movie, “Baby Mama” the film grossed more than $17 million in it’s opening weekend.

About a month or so later I saw Amy again in Montreal at The Just for Laughs Festival, and shot a little video with her again on the red carpet of the Just for Laughs Comedy Awards where she won for Comedy Person of the Year, in which she gave me the unexpected  honor of referring to me as her “co-star.”

Nick Kroll won for Breakout Comedy Star, even though he broke out a long time ago!  And John Mulaney who was recently written up in the NY Post as the next Jerry Seinfeld was there to present him with the award.

John also gave me a very unexpected shout-out in front of the entire comedy industry as he was introducing Andy Kindler to give his annual State of the Industry speech.  You can see it at the end of this little 3 minute video entitled “Who The F*@k is Jeffrey Gurian.”

I got to see Tina work in person when Tracy Morgan brought me to the set of 30 Rock where he was doing a scene with a horse.  I sat in the control booth with Tina’s husband Jeff Richmond and needless to say it was a really fun day! ( And if it was needless to say then why did I say it?)

Tina Fey, Jeffrey Gurian and Rachel Dratch at an Animal Fair event in NYC!

Tina Fey, Jeffrey Gurian and Rachel Dratch at an Animal Fair event in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock!

Tracy Morgan and the horse he co-starred with in a scene from 30 Rock! I keep in touch with that horse!

Tracy Morgan and the horse he co-starred with in a scene from 30 Rock! I still keep in touch with that horse!

Tina and Amy have been friends for more than 20 years, as you can tell by the chemistry they have together.

Tina got SNL in 1997 and Amy came on in 2001 and since then they’ve become super-powers in Hollywood.  They both have 4 year deals with NBC, with Tina doing a new as yet unnamed series she’s writing with Robert Carlock the showrunner of 30 Rock, (how’s that for a credit on your resume?) , and Amy  has a new sit-com as well written with her brother Greg called ” Welcome to Sweden”, set to air this coming summer!

So tonight at 8 on NBC, I will be watching and cheering them on, and I’m sure you will too!

 

 

 

 

 

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"Make ‘Em Laugh" With An Intro By Chris Rock

After four years of work, my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Richie Tienken, owner/founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip finally came out, and is in bookstores all across the country.

The front cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” with an intro. by Chris Rock, and interviews with Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Billy Crystal, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman and tons more!

It’s about the 35 year history of the club which Richie opened on June 1, 1976, and which is still going strong. I got the idea for it back in 2008 while at the club one afternoon with Ann Curry and Gilbert Gottfried, coaching Ann on how to do stand-up comedy for some event she was doing, and I suggested to Richie that we do a book on the club.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Ann Curry, PR guru Ryan McCormick, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken, owner/founder of The Strip!

It took three years to get all the interviews and transcribe them from the digital audio recordings, because I did it all by myself. Every word. Every single word. It takes a long time to listen to an hour long conversation, which most of them were, if not longer, and transcribe every single word, by constantly pressing “Repeat” and playing each sentence over and over again to make sure you got it correctly.

That first summer, I went up to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and got the first three interviews with Larry Miller, George Wallace and Paul Provenza.

Larry Miller with Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with George Wallace at Just for Laughs in Montreal, the biggest comedy festival in the world!

At the end besides having a killer, hilarious introduction from Chris Rock, I had interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Paul Provenza, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Lisa Lampanelli and many more! A book filled with stories from comedy legends on how they got their start and wound up at The Comic Strip.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry’s interview for the book!

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Comic Strip after Ray’s interview for the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh!”

Although Gilbert Gottfried claimed he had never actually been there and just showed up to the interview for a free lunch! He did admit to having heard rumours around 1974 that a club would be opening so he stood in that spot for years waiting for it to open, and he heard it did eventually open and had electricity. He also heard that many comics came there for dessert, at which point he started yelling out to no one in particular that he wanted a Peach Melba!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken trying to get Gilbert to admit he had ever performed at The Comic Strip!

This was as Richie Tienken was getting nauseous after having paid $50. to park, and was picking up the tab for lunch, to hear Gilbert say he had never been to the club. Needless to say, the interview was pure Gilbert, and hysterically funny.

I flew to LA to interview Billy Crystal, and that was really a treat. I hadn’t seen him in many years, and we got to reminisce about the days when I was a dentist and his manager at the time, the legendary Jack Rollins, who also managed Woody Allen and Robin Williams, wanted him to play me in a sit-com about a dentist in show biz.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in his offices in Beverly Hills! Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s former life as a dentist!

Most of the interviews were done at The Comic Strip because Richie and I felt it would be advantageous for the comics to be in that environment because it would help to bring back memories and it did.

We got to hear great stories like how Chris Rock was discovered by Eddie Murphy in 1986 when Eddie was considered the biggest star in the world and was being managed by Richie at the time. Or how Ray Romano started his career under the name “Jackie Roberts” for the first two or three months.

Then he “bombed” one night and experienced stage fright, so he quit and went back to selling futons for his best friend, which became an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond!” Two years later he returned to comedy at The Comic Strip under the name Ray Romano and the rest is history!

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Comic Strip after Chris’ interview for the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh!”

Interestingly enough, he even delivered a futon to Larry David who was already well known and true to character, was not happy with the futon, and made Ray take it back.

We have Jerry Seinfeld’s first sign-up sheet on the night he auditioned to perform at The Strip on June 17th, 1976. In those days you were rated, and Jerry was rated “Good” and then someone wrote, ” Definitely put on Monday, 6/21.” That person was smart!

And blurbs! You wanna see blurbs? I got so many celeb blurbs they almost had to use a separate page. I got blurbs from Judd Apatow the king of Hollywood comedies, Richard Lewis, Charles Grodin, Nick Kroll, (whose new “Kroll Show” comes out on Comedy Central in January with me on it!), Bob Saget, (who was kind enough to write: “No matter how many years pass, I can never say no to Jeff Gurian. Hence this quote on his book’s back cover!”) Plus Tom Papa, Danny Aiello, Mike Birbiglia, DJ Cassidy and more!

Back cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” with blurbs from Judd Apatow, Richard Lewis, Tom Papa. Nick Kroll, Mike Birbiglia, Bob Saget and more!!!

Since the book came out we’ve been getting a lot of attention. Tons of press. A great review from Larry Getlen in the NY Post, an interview on NBC TV, Channel 4, 7 P.M. news with Roseanne Coletti, an interview with WPIX TV, Channel 11 with reporter Dan Mannarino, which will be airing the week of Dec. 10th, radio interviews with Judith Regan, and Ron Bennington of “Ron and Fez” on Sirius Radio, plus radio shows all over the country.

And the book is in the hands of lots of huge comedy stars like Chris Tucker, JB Smoove, Artie Lange, Colin Quinn, and Judah Friedlander to name a few!

Chris Tucker and Jeffrey Gurian up at Sirius Radio with Chris’ copy of the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh”!

Jeffrey Gurian with Artie Lange at The Comic Strip with Artie’s copy of the book ” Make ‘Em Laugh!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Richard Belzer at The Friars Club. Jeffrey is holding Richard’s book, and Richard is holding his copy of Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh!”

The book is available in all Barnes and Noble stores in NYC, and on Amazon.com

Coming up, I’ll be doing a guest spot on Artie Lange’s new podcast with Nick DePaolo, talking about the book and all things comedy!

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Red Carpet Video of Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards 2012 Plus Winners

I was covering the red carpet of the 2nd annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards Show 2012, and it was a star-studded event, with comedy legends like Robin Williams and Don Rickles, plus acting legends like Robert DeNiro, who presented Don Rickles with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence.

From Julie Klausner who hosted the red carpet to Colin Quinn, John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, Randall from The Honeybadger film that got 43 million hits, The Gregory Brothers, (including Sarah, the hottest of the Gregory Brothers), Jessica Williams, the new “hot cutie”,and youngest correspondent on The Daily Show, Jim O’Heir from Parks and Recreation, Hannibal Buress, and so many more, plus private scenes from the press room, it’s all here in the following video!

So check it out right here:

Louis CK was the evening’s big winner with 4 trophies, including the awards for Best Sketch/Alternative Series,Best Stand-Up Tour and Best Comedy Special of the Year. Robin Williams was presented with the Stand-Up Icon Award by Patton Oswalt, and Don Rickles received the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence from Robert DeNiro.

The complete list of winners is here:
Comedy Special Of The Year: Louis C.K., Louis C.K.: Live At The Beacon Theater
Stand-Up Tour: Louis C.K.
Sketch/Alternative Comedy Series: Louie
Comedy Directing, TV: Louie
Comedy Series: Parks and Recreation
Comedy Film: Bridesmaids
Animated Comedy Series: Archer
Late-Night Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Comedy Writing, TV: 30 Rock
Comedy Actor, TV: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Comedy Actress, TV: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Comedy Actress, Film: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Comedy Director, Film: Paul Feig, Bridesmaids
Comedy Screenplay: Bridesmaids
Club Comic: Hannibal Buress
Viral Original: Songify This, “Winning- A Song By Charlie Sheen”
Stand-Up Icon: Robin Williams
The Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence: Don Rickles

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Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation Wins For Best Comedy Series-Tonight at 9 on Comedy Central

I remember back around 1996, when UCB first came to New York, seeing them perform at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in the West Bank Cafe, on West 42nd Street, and it was Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh.

I understand the original group also included Ali Farahnakian, who went off on his own and opened The PIT, where my photo was hanging on the wall of the Men’s Room! One summer day, a guy who turned out to be Ali asked if he could take my photo, cause he thought I had “an interesting look!”

I didn’t think any more about it until one night I was at The PIT in the Men’s Room, standing there taking care of business, when all of a sudden I glanced to my right and saw myself smiling back at me! Right at eye level! It was shocking to say the least, … but funny!

It was the photo he had taken of me, in a line of other photos of people who he thought looked interesting, but mine was right in line with where I was standing, and it just struck me so funny.

The PIT has since moved to West 24th Street, and when I was there I forgot to check the Men’s Room to see if I was still up! (LOL)

Anyway, even in the earliest days, Amy Poehler stood out as a performer. Maybe it was because she was the only girl with three guys, and she was blonde, but I think it was something more than that. I think even in those earliest of days her talent stuck out. I think she may have even had a chipped front tooth in those days, (figures I’d notice that! LOL), but she went on to become one of the most successful women in TV, and that’s incredible. It makes the early memory that much more exciting!

Plus she married Will Arnett and looks fantastic now. Success tends to agree with people!

Anyway, her show, Parks and Recreation, was up for Best Comedy Series at the Comedy Central Comedy Awards 2012, airing tonight. Rob Riggle was the presenter, and it was up against 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Happy Endings, and Modern Family, … all heavy hitters, … and it won!

This little video clip is of the cast’s acceptance speech. Later in the week I’ll be posting more video of them in the press room, but it was Amy Poehler, creator Mike Schur, Adam Scott, Retta, and Jim O’Heir!

(L-R) Mike Schur, Amy Poehler, Retta, Adam Scott, Jim O’Heir accepting their award at Comedy Awards 2012!

Check it out right here and make sure to tune in tonight at 9 P.M. on Comedy Central to watch the show!

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Me and Arnold Schwartzenegger at SNL

I read an item about Arnold Schwartzenegger today on Page 6, something about him trying on a watch with a huge face, (which I’m sure he can handle),and then something about his recent shoulder surgery, but it made me think of one of the funniest stories of my career, when I met Arnold many years ago at SNL, and then wound up writing some jokes for him to do on the Mike Douglas show.

Growing up, I had always been a big fan of body building. I never had the genetics to succeed at it, but I read the magazines, and was fascinated by the sport. I was also fascinated by unusual names so when a friend told me about a young guy named Arnold Schwartzenegger, I thought it was a joke. I think his last name translates to mean something like ” Black-Black”!

I soon found out that it wasn’t a joke, and I became a big fan. He was absolutely immense and his nickname was “The Austrian Oak”! As time went on, I got married and I used to say to my wife, “Please don’t ever let Arnold Schwartzenegger insult you, because I’d hate to have to fight him.” It was kind of a standing joke between us.

A couple of years later, when SNL was new, I went to one of the early shows with a girl named Kathy Jonas, the daughter of famed comedy manager David Jonas, best known for managing Freddie Prinze Sr., and Alan Zweibel. As we walked in, in those days you had assigned seats. I don’t think they do that anymore. Anyway, we walked to our seats, and who was sitting in MY seat? None other than Arnold Schwartzenegger. I almost fell down. I was wishing my wife was there to share the experience with me. I recognized him from his photos in the magazines.

Anyway, I gathered up my courage, walked over to him and said ” Excuse me, aren’t you Arnold Schwartzenegger?” To which he said, “Yes.” I said, ” Well I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re in my seat!”

He jumped right up and was so apologetic. He was so kind and humble and apologized profusely. And I was thinking, “Life is so bizarre. (Or at least MY life is so bizarre!) I just asked Arnold Schwartzenegger to get out of my seat. And he did!!!

I told him I was a comedy writer and a big fan of his. I think Pumping Iron either just came out or was about to come out, and he said he needed some comedy material to do on the talk shows. We exchanged information, but didn’t connect for a while.

Then after Pumping Iron came out, I heard he was doing some kind of book signing at a bookstore in Westchester, not far from where I lived. I went over to see him, and we spoke again, and once again exchanged information, and this time I wound up writing for him for an appearance he did on the Mike Douglas Show.

Somewhere in my memorabilia, I still have a letter from him on his Golden Oak Productions letterhead. At least I think it was called Golden Oak. I have a feeling that was the precursor to Oak Productions which he created in 1985.

It’s going back a long ways! I wasn’t carrying a camera in those days like I do today, so I don’t have a photo of us together, because there was no such thing as small digital pocket cameras in those days. Cameras were huge, needed film, and lights, and definitely did not fit into anyone’s pocket. But even without a photo, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

It makes me want to search my house to find it, but that’s probably just because I’m in the midst of a huge project and my ADHD is telling me to divert my attention to something less important! (LOL)

In more recent years, I had another connection to Arnold. Back in 2004, David Pecker, the billionaire who owns American Media and many magazines and newspapers under that vast umbrella, bought Muscle and Fitness and Flex magazines, and went into an association with Arnold, who was supposed to be an advisor, and editorial contributor. I was asked to write some humorous remarks for David to say at a big press event entitled “The Arnold Classic”, announcing their association, and this was part of what I wrote for David to say, in which he was comparing himself to Arnold:

“And in terms of comparing our experience in the world of fitness. Basically, I am to the world of bodybuilding what the legendary Luciano Pavarotti is to the world of pole-vaulting.

I am to the world of fitness, what the great Mike Tyson is to the world of speed-reading, … what George Bush is to the world of cliff-diving, what Al Sharpton is to the world of modern dance, and what the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman is to the world of porno films.”

That’s all folks!

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Tracy Morgan Gives Young Comic Nore Davis A Shot

Tracy Morgan Gives Young Comic Nore Davis A Shot

Nore Davis is a funny young dude. We perform a lot together at The Comic Strip. I even did a cool interview with him in the Comic Strip 35th Annual Holiday Party film which you can see right here in this previous blog post!

http://wp.me/p1pHIm-Em

So when Nore told me that Tracy Morgan himself, one of the funniest dudes on the planet, asked him to be his “middle” at Carolines, I knew I had to stop by and check it out! I’ve seen Carolines crowded before, but not like this. If they could have stacked tables like bunk beds, they could have filled the place twice. (Bunk tables? I wonder if that would even work? LOL)

Nore Davis facing a packed house and then some for Tracy Morgan’s show at Carolines!

I got there in time to see Nore hit the stage, and he hit it really hard! Huge laughs and the audience absolutely loved him. For a young comic, he has great stage presence. I recently also saw him perform at Russell Simmons’ new stand-up TV show, “Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus”, which will be airing in February, with J.B. Smoove as the host, and he killed there too! It’s really something exciting to watch, when a big star gives a young comic a shot, and they do well!

Tracy Morgan doing what he does best, … making people laugh, … onstage at Carolines!

Needless to say, ( so if it’s needless to say, then why am I saying it??? LOL) Tracy gave everyone what they were looking for. An hour of hilarity of the kind that only Tracy can bring! Not necessarily the show you’d want to bring your parents to, but a show you’d definitely want to bring your friend or significant other to! They laughed from beginning to end!

Great to see Tracy back in good health again, and engaged to be married to Megan Wallover. We wish them all the best, and a lifetime of Happiness!

He’s definitely a family kind of guy and loves to talk about his kids. I think the first time I met him was back in 2002 up in Montreal at the Just For Laughs Festival.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with a moustachioed Tracy Morgan back in 2002 at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal!

I once went to visit him on the set of 30 Rock, during an episode where he was co-starring with a horse (LOL) and we had a great talk about the importance of family and kids!

Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock, back in ’07, with a guest-starring horse!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Tracy Morgan in his dressing room on the set of 30 Rock!

I was with him at the Writers Guild Awards one year –

Tracy Morgan, with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Writers Guild Awards!

And then again more recently, after he had his kidney surgery, at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape show at Gotham, where Tracy was a surprise performer!

Tracy Morgan and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Comedy Show at Gotham!

Last year I wanted to get him for the Diabetes comedy fund raiser I produced with a killer line-up at The Comic Strip. For whatever reason it didn’t work out, but there’s always this year! Are you listening Tracy!!!

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35th Annual Holiday Party At The Comic Strip

35th Annual Holiday Party At The Comic Strip

It seems like just yesterday that we were at The Comic Strip 34th annual holiday party, and here it was again! Most people said this year’s was one of the most fun parties The Strip ever had. The food was great, the place was packed and the show ran like clockwork, except for one comedy video by Modi which we never got to see due to technological problems.

Jeffrey Gurian interviewing owner Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip Holiday party!

Jeffrey Gurian interviewing owner Bob Wachs at the 35th annual Holiday party at The Comic Strip!

I was proud to co-host the party along with owners Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs, and got lots of cool video interviews for Comedy Matters TV with people like Judah Friedlander, Kyle Grooms, Howard Feller who told about being Jon Stewart’s sidekick on an unsuccessful show before Jon got The Daily Show, Dante Nero, Diane Passage from the new reality show “Wall Street Wives”, one of my oldest and dearest friends High Voltage, who talked about her “Energy Up” nutritional/self-esteem program for inner city high school girls, Greer Barnes, Dan Naturman, Eddie Brill, Marina Franklin, Scott Blakeman, Kristen J. Eddy who produces Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show, Barry Weintraub, Sherrod Small, and so many more!

World Champion Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock, asking Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV to punch him in the fist as hard as he could to show how he’s impervious to pain! Gurian had to be rushed to the hospital. He said, ” It was like punching a brick wall!”

Howard Feller being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian for Comedy Matters TV!

“Sexy Fairy” Marina Franklin sharing a laugh with Jeffrey Gurian for Comedy Matters TV!

Producer Kristen J. Eddy at The Comic Strip, talking to Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV about Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show!

The beautiful Diane Passage at The Comic Strip telling Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV about her new reality show, “Wall Street Wives.”

Energy Queen High Voltage at The Comic Strip reminiscing with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

The highlight of the party was the show. Shauna Lane opened and closed the show with a musical number. There were a couple of fun videos made by the comics, and then host Ray Ellin, introduced a take-off on Latenight, with a comic named Sean P. Darr playing me as the host, since I host Latenight on Sunday and Monday nights!

It was weird hearing Ray announce, ” And now the Late Show. Please put your hands together for your host Jeffrey Gurian”, … and then another guy came out!

Sean P. Darr as Jeffrey Gurian, onstage “hosting” The Late Show!

I had heard it was going to be done, and was nervous at first as to how I would be portrayed, but everyone told me it was an honor for people to imitate you. And then I realized that it’s also an honor to be Roasted, and this wasn’t going to necessarily be a Roast, just an impression.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken interviewing Jeffrey’s doppelganger Sean P. Darr backstage at The Comic Strip!

Sean came out in this wild wig, and dark glasses, which he took off too quickly! But he left them on long enough for me to get a photo of him! He even wore a scarf and a sport jacket just like me! Most of the time I wear three scarves, but I wouldn’t expect him to do that, or even to have that many scarves! (LOL)

He opened with a bunch of my jokes and started out really strong, having memorized them pretty well! I thought it was HILARIOUS, as you’ll see in the video! One comic, Mark Thomas did a great imitation of Adam Cozens, one of the Strip regulars, Sean the bartender did a great Modi from “the hood” which was fantastic because Sean has a lot more pigment than Modi! No one knew that Sean could be so funny. I guess Modi’s act works no matter who does it! (LOL)

Then Jordan Rock came out doing his brother Chris and the audience absolutely loved it. He chose to do the thing about Black people being more racist than White people, because the things that White people don’t like about Black people, Black people don’t like either! And then he went on a diatribe about the difference between Black people and the plural of the “N” word! (LOLOL! You can say it in your mind, as long as you don’t repeat it to anyone!!!)

Jordan Rock capturing the essence of his brother Chris Rock during the Holiday show at The Comic Strip!

The highlight for me was when Andy Pitz came out as Rodney Dangerfield. That was a thrill for me because I loved Rodney and Andy looked and sounded just like him. Rodney was the first big star I ever wrote for and he used to do my jokes on the Tonight Show and in his act. One of the first jokes I ever wrote for him was on his album “No Respect.”

Andy Pitz killing it as Rodney Dangerfield during the holiday party at The Comic Strip!

He said, ” I only get ugly girls. I went out with one girl who was so ugly, I bent down to pet her cat, it was the hair on her legs! She was a very ugly girl.”

Then I wrote jokes for his act. “You know my doctor, Dr. Vinnie Boombotz! I told him my ankles were swollen. He told me to build up my calf muscles and no one would notice! “

“My brother was tough. He was so tough, he got a job in a gas station, … as a jack!”

I remember being so excited when he used one of my lines as his opener with Johnny Carson. His standard opening was ” I’m alright now but last week was rough. Then he followed it up with my line: “I bought one of those whirlpools for my bathtub! The first night I used it I lost three of my best ships!”

Writing for Rodney was one of the most fun times of my life. We used to hang out together in his dressing room at the club. He would usually be in his bathrobe and pajamas which is how he liked to hang out at the club. And not a particularly fancy bathrobe either! He’d say things to me like, ” Hey Jeff, you know the difference between Italians and Jews?” I’d be like, ” No Rodney, what’s the difference?” He said, ” They both take a leak in the sink, but the Jews take the dishes out first!” He was always so hysterical!

Anyway, Andy nailed it. If you closed your eyes, you would have thought Rodney was there. That’s how good he was! Ray Ellin told him to stop wasting his time doing his own act!

The videos I shot will also be used for the documentary film being made on The Strip! Watch the action right here!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV shooting a promo in front of The Comic Strip right before the 35th annual Holiday party!

Richie and Jeannie Tienken having the best time at The Comic Strip’s 35th annual Holiday party!

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Tracy Morgan In A Serious Role – The Son Of No One

Most people in entertainment acknowledge that it’s harder to do comedy than drama. But when you’re used to being funny, sometimes it’s hard to be serious, or to be taken seriously. Richard Belzer crossed over successfully in his work on TV as Det. John Munch, a role he first brought to life on Tom Fontana’s “Homicide: Life On The Street”, and then carried over to Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, where he recently did his 300th episode.

Tracy Morgan does it in this Dito Montiel film, “The Son Of No One”, an exciting police drama with an all-star cast including Al Pacino, Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, and Juliette Binoche, that opened this past Friday, November 4th.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Tracy Morgan on the set of 30 Rock!

Channing Tatum plays a cop named Jon White, with a secret in his past that’s threatening to ruin his life. As a young kid of maybe 10 or 12 years old, he accidentally killed two low-life drug dealers in separate incidents. One incident was to save his own life, and the other looked to be just an accident in trying to save the life of his dog Charlie. But someone knew and waited all these years to expose him.

Now he gets transferred to a precinct in Staten Island to re-open this long closed “double murder” case, basically investigating his own crime. Someone is writing letters to a newspaper threatening to expose the killer. The columnist of the local paper who’s printing the letters is played by French actress Juliet Binoche.

Jon suspects his emotionally and mentally challenged childhood friend from the projects in which he lived, Vincent Carter, played as an adult by Tracy Morgan. Vincent had made a solemn promise never to tell what he had seen. The dynamic between the two old friends is very powerful, as is what transpires, leading to the ending of the film.

I obviously do not think like a critic since this movie was not reviewed well by Lou Lumenick of the NY Post. I don’t claim to be a critic, but I can say I thought the movie was riveting, and one that I enjoyed, if you can call being “nervous” for 90 minutes, enjoyable. I empathized with the lead character for having had such a rough childhood, and then having to face this ordeal. But that’s what a movie like this is meant to do. It’s meant to make you feel something, and I did. It’s also meant to be entertaining, and it is.

I often wonder if most critics have ever set foot on a stage or tried to entertain anyone. As a writer and entertainer myself, I give HUGE props to anyone who has the courage to create a piece of work, or put their “lives” on the line by stepping on to a stage to perform. (Especially with stand-up comedy which I consider to be the hardest thing to do in the world of entertainment, and which Tracy Morgan has mastered!)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his buddy Tracy Morgan at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show at Gotham Comedy Club!

That being said, it doesn’t mean that I think that every performance is good, or entertaining. I’ve seen performances where I had to walk out because I just couldn’t take it anymore. But the way some critics pick apart a film, makes me wonder what credentials you have to have to be a critic??? It’s very easy to find fault with everything, and everyone, but I think you have to look at the overall effect of the project! I really enjoyed this film, and Tracy’s work in it, and I can’t wait to see him so I can tell him.
(He even got one of the few positive comments from Lou Lumenick in the NY Post!)

So go and see this film and decide for yourself! I think you’ll like it!

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Steven Wright, Tom Papa, Judah Friedlander Star In Laugh For Sight at Gotham Comedy Club

Chris Mazzilli is a special kind of guy and a very charitable man. I don’t think it’s any accident that there are so many charitable events at Gotham Comedy Club. Laugh for Sight is a national charity which raises awareness and funding for Retinal Degenerative Eye Disease Research benefitting the Scheie Institute at the University of Pennyslyvania.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Gotham owner Chris Mazzilli at Laugh for Sight!

It was a very eclectic mix of performers at this packed event, with the always funny Dan Naturman as MC. Dan has a unique style and delivery all his own, which is the key to successful comedy. No one else should be able to take your jokes, if they are crafted towards your own comedy personna.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters Tv with MC Dan Naturman, at Gotham Comedy Club!

Dan says people on the internet lie about their age. He received a photo from one woman that had the Berlin wall in the background, … and it was under construction!

I also love his take-off on the TV commercial encouraging patients to ask their doctors about Previcid. In response to Dan’s Dr. telling him he has a condition that nothing can be done for, Dan asks, ” What about Previcid?” and then ponders, ” Shouldn’t HE know about Previcid? How is that MY job? “

First up was sight-impaired comic Brian Fischler and Nash, his canine companion, and Brian was very funny. Next was Jessica Kirson, a real crowd-pleaser, who is so animated, and takes impromptu breaks onstage in the middle of her act, to talk to herself, offering herself little bits of advice and encouragement like, ” You just have to realize that wheat bread is still bread!”

Jessica Kirson with Tom Papa who looks like he’s going into a swoon, waiting to perform at Gotham Comedy Club, at the benefit for “Laugh For Sight”!

Jess was followed by Tom Papa, TV and film star, and currently the host of Jerry Seinfeld’s NBC hit, The Marriage Ref. Tom says that men don’t care that much about getting married. That’s why there’s no Groom Magazine! Men don’t even wear their own clothes to get married in. They rent them.

And he opines on Wall Street guys who kill themselves after losing all their money. “They’d rather die than live like us!”

He talked about hating cliches, the way I do when during the summer, people who think they have a sense of humor ask ” Is it hot enough for you?” Those same creative geniuses can’t wait till Winter to switch to, ” Is it cold enough for you?” Those two “Bon-mots” can keep a guy with absolutely no personality going conversation-wise throughout the year!

Tom Papa killing it onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in a benefit for “Laugh For Sight!”

Tom’s example of an obnoxious cliche was, in answer to the simple question ” How are you?” ” Still about a million dollars away from being a millionnaire!”

Then Eddie Brill took the stage. Eddie is the consummate showman, and will be making his 10th appearance on Letterman very soon. Eddie also books the talent on Letterman which must have been very difficult for him trying to convince himself to put himself on! I heard he auditioned for himself several times before he agreed to let himself appear! (LOL)

A very thin Eddie Brill performing onstage at Gotham in a benefit for “Laugh For Sight!”

Actually Eddie can’t book himself. He’s too humble a guy to do that. I hear that Letterman himself is the one that requests that Eddie appears.

Judah Friedlander, star of NBC’s 30 Rock, is one of the funniest guys to come along in a long time. His “World Champion” hook is one that most comics only dream of. It’s a never-ending source of material for him. What’s cool about Judah though is that as famous and popular as he has become, he’s still totally approachable to his fans. He honors every request for photos and chats with fans after every show.

Judah Friedlander onstage at Gotham Comedy Club in a benefit for “Fight For Sight!” Judah’s look is his brand!

As World Champion of everything, Judah claims he’s been on Twitter since 1985, is an extra-dark Black belt in Karate, and weighlifts weighlifters while they’re lifting weights to keep in shape. He doesn’t even wait till they put the weights down, which he could conceivably do without anyone doubting his masculinity. But instead, he actually lifts them while they’re holding the weights which makes it much more difficult! Then again, he IS the World Champion!

Judah was standing behind where I was sitting when Steven Wright took the stage, and it was great to hear him laughing out loud at Steven’s rare and obscure observations like, ” It’s a good thing that other people speak foreign languages, otherwise those people would have no one to talk to.”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Judah Friedlander after his set at Gotham Comedy Club at a benefit for “Laugh For Sight”!

“In her spare time, she liked to waste time!” ” He majored in Calcium Anthropology – the study of milk men!” ” I have two pair of reading glasses, one for fiction and one for non-fiction!” ” The Earth is bi-polar!” ” Do you know what time it is?” “No, I’m not from around here!” ” A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn’t First Place!”

I think that Steven was probably an inspiration for comics like Mitch Hedberg, and maybe even Judah. I know he was an inspiration to me, and that Chris Mazzilli, who often leaves at the end of his long day, actually stuck around to see him!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with one of his most important comedy influences Steven Wright, at Gotham Comedy Club!

Judah Friedlander at Gotham Comedy Club with Steven Wright, after Judah and everyone else enjoyed Steven’s masterful performance!

Robert Klein brilliantly closed the show and followed Steven because he was probably the only one who could!

Robert Klein closed the “Laugh for Sight” benefit at Gotham Comedy Club!

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