Posts Tagged “John Levenstein”

The Phenomenon That Is Nick Kroll

Papi Steenbergen, Aspen Bruckheimer, Gil Faizon, Fabrice Fabrice, C-Czar, Dr. Armond, Bobby Bottleservice, AKA Bobby Bruschia, AKA Bobby B., … these are only a handful of the many colorful characters emanating from the mind and talent of what I call “The Phenomenon that is Nick Kroll.”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bobby Bottleservice, AKA Bobby Bruschia, AKA Bobby B at a promotional event at The Hundreds in NYC, back in 2011!

And what I think is most amazing is that when I see him inhabiting the body of all of these characters there are times I can not tell you who the real Nick Kroll is. I’ll try and explain that.

To the best of my ability I would identify the guy on my right, (your left) as Nick Kroll, and the guy on the other side of me as John Mulaney, but who really knows??? It could be Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland posing as them!

When Nick is in character as Gil Faizon it’s obvious that he’s in costume, but his body language and facial features seem to actually change along with the character he’s doing to the point where I no longer can tell what he really looks like. At the beginning of each episode he seems to appear as himself, in a Nick Kroll type of monologue, but even knowing him as I do, I’m still not 100% sure that’s him without any make-up. I couldn’t really tell you how he wears his hair.

And my background as a former cosmetic dentist made me very observant of detail. He so becomes the character he’s doing that he truly gets lost in it. When he’s Gil Faizon or Bobby B. it seems effortless to him to inhabit the facial movements, the tone of voice, the cadence of speech. It’s truly amazing. In all my years of comedy I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with the ability to do so many characters, and do them well.

Quite a few years ago, around 1990, the first time we at The Friars Club roasted Chevy Chase, I was working with the producer of the Roasts at the time, as kind of the official writer for The Friars Club, and wound up working with the SNL crew who was going to appear at a Roast for the first time.

Most young guys had never done a Roast in those days, so it was up to me to guide them through the process. I had been writing for the Roasts for 12 years previously with legends like Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, and Pat Cooper, and became kind of a liaison between the older comics and the younger comics, since I was friendly with both. In those days a Roast was kind of a secret art form.

Jeffrey Gurian, now of Comedy Matters TV and Phil Hartman in Jeffrey's apartment rehearsing for the first Chevy Chase Roast, Oct. 1990!

As I recall I had to work with my old friend Phil Hartman, who I’m pretty sure appeared as Donald Trump, Kevin Nealon, who I think appeared as Mr. Subliminal, and who I recently saw when I appeared on his show at The Laugh Factory in LA, and Dana Carvey who may or may not have appeared as Church Lady. I saw first hand how hard it is to be able to stay in character for an entire set. Nick makes it look effortless.

Dana Carvey, Jeffrey Gurian, and Phil Hartman after a rehearsal up at SNL, circa 1990!

Needless to say, people were very excited about the prospect of “Kroll Show” before it came out. A year ago February, I got a call from Inman Young, Nick’s producer in LA, asking if I’d like to come out to LA to be in some sketches with Nick. I packed my bags when I got off the phone even though I wasn’t going until the next month. That’s how excited I was to do it! (LOL)

I went out last March and shot two sketches. One was with Nick, and his writing partner and friend John Mulaney another super talent loved by all who know him, in an “Oh, Hello” sketch, and another in a Woody Allen like party scene with Nick, John, and award-winning actress Karen Black.

On the Kroll Show set with Jeffrey Gurian, Gil Faizon, Karen Black, and George St. Geegland! They were all wearing costumes! (LOL)

I had the time of my life out there with Nick and his friends like Ed Helms, Jason Mantzoukas, Joe Mande, and Jon Daly, who is not only a producer on the show but also an actor who also does several characters like Wendy Shawn, Nick’s partner in Rich Dicks.

The show is literally filled with Jons/Johns including Jon Krisel the director also co-creator of Portlandia starring Fred Armisen, and producer John Levenstein, previously from Arrested Development.

I often say there’s no more two man teams out there like you used to see with Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, or Jackie Gleason and Ed Norton who were hysterical together, but Nick and John Mulaney, or Nick and Jon Daly are two teams that could wind up in that category.

The lunch table on set was representative of the level of talent that Nick brings in. All of his friends were on other shows as well.

Nick Kroll and friends from Kroll Show on lunch break. They're all there except for Ed Helms who had to make a call! He's in the next photo!

Jeffrey Gurian on the set of Kroll Show in LA with Ed Helms!

Jeffrey Gurian on the set of Kroll Show in LA with Jason Mantzoukas!

In the Comedy Matters TV interview I did with Nick and John after the shoot they were still in character and I made the mistake of trying to interview them as Nick and John because it’s confusing sitting with people in character as to how to address them, … as themselves or as their character. Well, let me clarify that. It was confusing to ME, not to them as you’ll see in this video!

George St. Geegland as he really looks when he's not playing John Mulaney, Jeffrey Gurian as he looks when he is and is not playing himself, and Gil Faizon as he looks when he's not playing Nick Kroll!

Months before the show came out as “Kroll Show” people were already excited to see it, and buzz was building for what was originally going to be called “The Nick Show Kroll”. As a matter of fact in the early e-mails I received from the LA office, the “Subject” line all said ” Nick Show Kroll” which I promptly corrected, thinking I was being helpful, to “Nick Kroll Show.” After about the third one, I realized that it was I who was the moron, and that no one on the staff was making a consistent typo, but that it was meant to be called “The Nick Show Kroll”!

In the intervening months while people were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the show, the public had to be satisfied for their Kroll fix by enjoying Nick as Ruxin on FX’s “The League” with his pals Paul Sheer, Jon Lajoie, Stephen Rannazzisi, Mark Duplass and Katie Aselton, (husband and wife in real life!), and in his other personal appearances.

By the time it came out in January simply as “Kroll Show” the buzz was loud and Nick knocked it out of the proverbial park. The show got renewed on Comedy Central after only the first three episodes. My first sketch was in Too Much Tuna, where Nick and John do their best to prank me with a much too large tuna sandwich, but as you’ll see in this clip, I wasn’t having any part of it!

The extremely large tuna fish sandwich meant to prank Jeffrey Gurian on "Kroll Show"!

They told me if the show got picked up they’d ask me back for the 2nd season. As a precautionary measure, I’m not leaving the house until they do, just in case my voicemail doesn’t work when they call!

Check out Kroll Show, every Wednesday night at 10:30 ET/9C on Comedy Central, and be ready to laugh your ass off! And don’t forget to tell Nick I sent you!

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Kroll Show Gets Renewed After Three Episodes, … and I'm On It!!!

Nick Kroll is a comedic genius. It’s just that simple. He’s a master of character work as evidenced by the way a ” nice Jewish boy” like Nick manages to morph into a Jersey-shore type “Bobby Bottleservice”, the upper West-side, … I don’t even know what to call him Gil Faizon, or the flamboyant Fabrice Fabrice, craft services coordinator for a show called “That’s So Raven.”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bobby Bottleservice at a social event with lots of internet ladies!

Nick brought me out to LA last year to be in some sketches with him and his writing partner John Mulaney from SNL. It was easily one of the most fun times of my life and I have had A LOT of fun times! One sketch was with Nick and John as the “Oh Hello” boys with Nick playing Gil Faizon and John playing George St. Geegland. It takes place in a diner where they spot me and say, “Oh look, it’s our dear, dear friend Jeffrey Gurian!” I actually get to play myself, which is beyond cool!

They even did a promo shot of my GNN site, Gurian News Network, your source for “All The News That’s Fit To Dance To!”

Jeffrey Gurian playing himself with George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon having lunch in a diner! Jeffrey doesn’t know it, but he’s about to be pranked with a HUGE tuna fish sandwich!

I remember when I got to the set they sent someone over from hair and make-up and she tried to touch my hair. I recoiled and she realized that she better let me do it myself!

Nick once signed a Bobby Bottleservice poster for me and wrote: ” To Jeffrey, you are the only person with better hair than me!” Bobby B.

They try and prank me with a HUGE tuna fish sandwich in a sketch they call “Too Much Tuna!” As a matter of fact the name on my trailer door said “Tuna Jeff!” I won’t tell you what happens but hopefully you’ll tune in tonight and watch. It’s on Comedy Central at 10:30/9:30 Central time.

The HUGE tuna fish sandwich that they use to try and prank Jeffrey Gurian!

Does anyone actually know anyone who goes by Central Time??? I don’t even know where that is!!!

“Kroll Show” is so popular that it already got picked up for a second season after only three episodes. That is a rarity but Comedy Central knows a hit when it sees one!

I will also be on again on Wed., Feb. 27th with Karen Black in a parody of a Woody Allen movie scene! I’m think I’m bound to get at least ten new followers on Twitter from that alone!!!

Jeffrey Gurian, Gil Faizon, Karen Black, and George St. Geegland on the L.A. set of Kroll Show!

And make sure to check out Nick and Jon Daly as “Rich Dicks” in the show. Jon is a powerhouse of comedy energy and he and Nick are the funniest duo to come down the pike in a long time! (Did I really just say ” Come down the pike??? What am I living in 1810??? Pioneers thought that expression was old-school! LOL)

(L-R) Jon Daly, Jeffrey Gurian, Nick Kroll( holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh", and Kroll Show producer John Levenstein at Comic Con 2012!

Anyway, make sure to watch Kroll Show every Wed. night at 10:30, and in LA I think it’s at 10:30 as well! But better yet, you can watch my Too Much Tuna scene right here, right now!

Let me know what you think! And as a special treat for being so nice, here’s another fun video for you to see!

www.HyperSmash.com

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Nick Kroll, Jon Daly, and John Levenstein at Comic Con 2012 for Kroll Show

Comic Con New York is such a huge event it’s hard to describe unless you’ve actually experienced it. Literally thousands upon thousands of people show up, many in costume, dressed like their favorite comic book characters. But it’s not only about comics and comic books, it’s also about new TV shows, and tons of celebs show up to meet their fans.

Comedy Central was debuting three new shows, one of them being “Kroll Show” starring Nick Kroll, debuting Jan. 30th, 2013, so I knew I had to cover that press conference for Comedy Matters TV.

Nick Kroll, star of "Kroll Show" coming up on Comedy Central 1/30/13, at Comic Con!

I’m not big on comparing people to others, because Nick is his own man, but in a sense I think Nick is the Phil Hartman of his generation. Phil was a very dear friend of mine, and so respected in “the business” for his amazing character work on SNL. Nick exhibits that kind of diversity going from a flamboyant (code for “gay”! LOL) character like “Fabrice Fabrice” Craft Services Coordinator for the sitcom ” That’s So Raven”, to Bobby Bottleservice a guy who out-Jersey-Shores, the Jersey Shore guys! When he addresses all the beautiful internet ladies out there in his perfect Bobby Bottleservice voice,by saying ” Do you date me?”, and ” No offense, but you’re very beautiful”, I need oxygen from laughing so hard!

When I showed up at the press conference I got an unexpected treat. Not only was it Nick, but also Jon Daly, who is an actor and supervising producer on the show,along with John Levenstein, an executive producer and writer on the show! The whole triumvirate was there! The only one missing was Jon Krisel who’s directing the show and created Fred Armisen’s Portlandia!

I think it helps to be named some form of “Jon” to get involved with the show. Maybe just the letter “J” is what they’re looking for, cause that would explain how I got on! LOL

I got to know Jon and John, and Jon when Nick called me out to be in some sketches for the new “Kroll Show”, which I shot last March. I got to do one sketch with Nick and John Mulaney, Nick’s pal from SNL, who is one of the hottest stand-ups on the scene today, and one sketch which was like a Woody Allen parody, with famed actress Karen Black, who gave me the onscreen name of Galvani, in an on-the-spot inspiration! I’ve been calling myself that ever since! (LOL) Galvani Gurian! It has quite a ring to it!

Jeffrey Gurian, Nick (Gil Faison) Kroll, Karen Black, and John (George St. Geegland) Mulaney on the set of "Kroll Show" in LA. I'm the only one wearing my own clothes!

I had such a good time on that set, and was there for the filming of another sketch called “Sex and The City For Dudes” which involved so many of Nick’s friends who are on TV shows, it was crazy. It was Ed Helms, Jason Mantzoukas, Owen Burke, Jon Daly, Seth Morris, John Mulaney, Joe Mande, and everyone you see seated at the table below where we were having lunch.

Nick Kroll's TV star friends on the set of "Kroll Show" to film "Sex In The City For Dudes"!

Seth Morris and Owen Burke on the set of Kroll Show in LA for the sketch "Sex In The City For Dudes"!

That’s where I got to see what a great guy Ed Helms was. I got to lunch late and everyone was already eating at a packed table so I just said ” Hi” to everyone and sat down at another table by myself, which didn’t bother me. But it was in the hot LA sun, and the next thing I knew, Ed called me over and moved people’s chairs to make room for me to sit next to him, and I thought that was such a nice gesture. Everyone on the set made me feel so at home.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ed (Hangover) Helms on the LA set of Kroll Show, which at the time had the working title of "The Nick Show Kroll"!

I think John Levenstein may have been the first person I met after I got to my trailer. John is known for his work on the hit show Arrested Development, where he wrote 6 episodes, and acted as consulting and co-executive producer for 39 episodes. That’s a pretty cool credit for your resume! John is the nicest guy and made me feel “part of” right away, so I was really glad to see him at Comic Con.

Jon Daly from “Happy Endings” and “Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time” is Nick’s partner in crime in sketches like “The Ed Hardy Boyz” where he plays a character known as Peter Paparazzo to Nick Kroll’s Bobby Bottleservice, and they solve mysteries for Christian Audigier, king of the Ed Hardy fashion empire.

He’s also the other half of “Rich Dicks” two rich and wild guys. Nick plays Aspen Bruckheimer, son of Jerry, and Jon plays a guy named Wendy (short for Wendell). Both are rich and act like dicks! When they get kidnapped by Mexican gangsters, … you just gotta see it for yourselves!

These guys are so funny together in a time where comedy teams are extremely rare. (I wanted to say ” rare as hen’s teeth”, but I suddenly became overwhelmed with sadness at the realization that I even knew that expression, so I changed my mind!)

I remember teams like Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and The Marx Brothers, who are still hysterical today, but probably couldn’t get representation! But that’s a whole other story!

Again in my reluctance to compare, they kind of remind me of Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd’s two wild and crazy guys, in the sense that the way Martin/Aykroyd became a phenomenon, or Belushi and Aykroyd became the phenomenon known as “The Blues Brothers”, that’s what I think will happen with Nick and Jon. I think as long as you’re comparing people favorably with legends, they won’t mind!

Watch the video. Nick and Jon give me props for my performance!


And we also took photos with my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, and Nick was kind enough to write a blurb on the back cover!

(L-R) Jon Daly, Jeffrey Gurian, Nick Kroll holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh" with an intro by Chris Rock, and blurb from Nick Kroll,(LOL), and John Leventstein at Comic Con 2012!

And then tune in for Jan. 30th. I don’t care if it’s only October! Set your TIVO’s in advance. You’re not gonna wanna miss this! Kroll Show! It rocks!!!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on set in LA with Nick Kroll in character as Gil Faison, of the "Oh Hello" boys!

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My Excellent LA Adventure With Nick Kroll and John Mulaney

Some years ago at one of the many Friars Roasts I had written for, someone told this joke, ” Someone broke into the William Morris office this past weekend and stole a million promises!” Now it didn’t necessarily have to be the William Morris office. It could have been any agency, or entertainment group. The point was that in “the biz” people make a lot of promises they don’t keep.

Nick Kroll, Jeffrey Gurian, and John Mulaney! What we look like when we're not in character! (LOL)

Not so with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Both had been telling me for quite a while that they wanted me to be in their “Oh, Hello” sketches. These guys have been friends since college at Georgetown,when John who was a Freshman when Nick was a senior, had to audition for Nick to be in the campus Improv group. They’ve been friends and writing partners ever since. It would be hard to find two nicer and more talented guys!

So anyway, one day I’m at home working with my assistants when the phone rings and it’s Inman Young, the producer of Nick’s upcoming show on Comedy Central, “The Nick Show Kroll”, which is due to come out this summer. He says, Nick asked him to call me and invite me to be in some “Oh, Hello” sketches, and would I be interested! Of course I told him “No”,and that I was insulted that he asked! (LOL)

Producer Inman Young, with Jeffrey Gurian on the set of "The Nick Show Kroll!"

What I actually told him was that I’d pay HIM to do those sketches, and how soon did he need me to be out in LA???

The funny thing was when I started getting e-mails from the production people who were handling the details, the e-mails were labeled ” The Nick Show Kroll” and I corrected the first couple thinking the person just had A.D.H.D. and switched the words around. No one said anything, but when they kept coming like that, I checked and found out that I was the moron and that the show WAS actually called ” The Nick Show Kroll.”

First day on the set was very exciting. They were kind enough to send someone to pick me up which was very nice and took away the fear that I wouldn’t find the location and I’d miss the shoot! That someone turned out to be Peter Moses, a guy working his way up in production.

My guide and driver Peter Moses on the set of "The Nick Show Kroll!"

When I arrived Inman was there to greet me, and was very accommodating. He has a ton of credits in producing comedy, from Mad TV, to the new film High Road, with Lizzy Caplan, to The Comedians of Comedy with Zach Galifianakis, and Brian Posehn.

They took me to my trailer at the base camp, (Yes, I actually had a room in a trailer!) where I could change and relax while waiting to go on set. Stage Manager Toby Burge made sure I had everything I needed, including a made to order sandwich before it was officially time to eat!

And both Louis Tocchet the 1st A.D., and Giselle Gurza Junco, the 2nd A.D., went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable at all times! Thanks guys!!!

This was a huge, major production, with a tremendous crew, and tons of locations. Most projects are happy to have a director at all! This one had a 1st and 2nd A.D.! (LOL) It all spoke to how much Comedy Central thinks of Nick Kroll.

Nick has such a great team behind him. I got to meet producer John Levenstein, who had been a writer, consulting producer, and co-executive producer for the hit show Arrested Development.

Then the hair and make-up people came over to say hello, and quickly realized they had nothing to do. I did let one girl touch my hair a little bit, but when I told her she was making me nervous, she said she understood and left! (LOL)

Then wardrobe came over, looked at the clothing I had brought, and quickly agreed that I did not need their services! (LOL) After all I was playing myself, so it behooved me to look as much like myself as possible.

I had actually met myself once, ( many years before!), and kind of remembered what I looked like, so it was easier for me to try and re-create that look than it was for anyone else to attempt it!

At one point I told John I had to go to my trailer and get into costume, and he said, ” Aren’t you already in costume?” And I had to admit that I had something a little more fun in mind. A nice pink jacket I had brought from New York!

Nick is so talented, I would actually put him in the category of my old friend Phil Hartman who was one of the most respected character performers in the business. Everyone on SNL always respected Phil as one of the best. I think with characters like Bobby Bottleservice, Fabrice Fabrice, and Gil Faizon, Nick will be seen the same way.

Phil Hartman and Jeffrey Gurian at Jeffrey's piano in his living room, circa 1992, The Year of the Moustache!

I can not divulge anything about what the sketches were about, except to say they were “Oh, Hello” sketches, but I was in them not only with Nick, (Gil Faizon), and John, (George St. Geegland), but also with celebrated actress Karen Black, who was once up for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress. She was so much fun to work with as well, and as the Director Jon Krisel, who created and directs IFC’s Portlandia with SNL’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, allowed us to improvise a bit, she wound up calling me “Galvani”, and in doing so afforded me an extended bit in the sketch we were doing.

Jeffrey (Galvani) Gurian, Gil Faizon, Karen Black, and George St. Geegland on the set of The Nick Show Kroll!

Jeffrey Gurian with director Jon Krisel, who also co-created and directs Portlandia with Fred Armisen, on the IFC Channel!

The second day of the shoot, I got there in time for lunch and was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the company of Ed Helms, of The Hangover movies and his newest one just released, ” Jeff, Who Lives At Home”, by Mark and Jay Duplass. In an earlier Comedy Matters TV video,at Comedy Central’s First Annual Comedy Awards, Mark promised me a part in “Jeff” although it had already been shot, edited and wrapped! (LOL)

Also on set was Jason Mantzoukas, who plays Rafi in FX’s The League, and will soon be co-starring in the new Sacha Baron Cohen film “The Dictator” which everyone is excitedly waiting to see, Adam Pally who plays Adam Blum in ABC’s Happy Endings, Jon Daly from the UCB group Mr. A$$, who is also a producer on Nick’s show, and all around “macher”, ( which is a very technical term! LOL), Owen Burke from UCB, Seth Morris a comic/sketch guy from TV and films, who also writes for this new Nick Kroll show, and Brian Huskey who plays Chet on Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, and is a regular on the Onion News Network.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ed Helms, from The Hangover movies and Jeff, Who Lives At Home!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Jason Mantzoukas of The Mantzoukas Brothers, and The League on FX! ( Wait till he hears about the battery-operated beard I invented! He's gonna love it!) )

Most of these guys, ( if not all!), are UCB guys, who know and like each other and happen to be on the “hippest”, most cutting-edge shows on the air. It was quite a crew, and they all made me feel very at home. As a matter of fact, I can’t tell you how many people on Nick’s team did their homework on me, and were familiar with things I have done. Ed Helms in particular was very kind and generous, and shared a very cool story with me which will be for a future post.

The reason I say he was kind and generous is when we broke for lunch, the entire table was filled with all the guys, so I sat down at an adjoining table by myself, which happened to be in the direct sun! In LA that’s HOT!!!

It almost felt like high school again in the cafeteria when you were hoping to sit with the cool kids, but there was no room. I’m older now and more grounded,( hopefully! LOL) so it wasn’t exactly the same, but Ed looked over and said, ” Jeff, you’re gonna melt over there. Come and join us!”, and he moved over and made room for me next to him. That is the sign of a kind, caring, and gracious person! It may seem like a small thing but it was a HUGE kindness! Thank you Ed!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ed Helms on the set of Nick Kroll's new show on Comedy Central!

Seth Morris and Owen Burke on the set of The Nick Show Kroll!

Lunch with the boys, (L-R) Brian Huskey, John Mulaney, Adam Pally, Jon Daley, Joe Mande, Jeffrey Gurian, Jon Krisel, Nick Kroll, Jason Mantzoukas, and Owen Burke! Ed Helms had to take a call!

All I’ll say about the second day of shooting was that it involved a lot of tuna fish, and I personally came away smelling not too good, unless you’re the kind of guy who likes the scent of tuna fish!

In my sketch, I also had to try and keep up with Nick and John which was hard because they’ve been bouncing stuff off each other for years, and have so many inside jokes. We got good feedback from the people present, so I think, (and HOPE!) it came off well!

After the shoot, we shot a little video for Comedy Matters TV with Nick and John in character as Gil and George and it was HILARIOUS! It will be posted as soon as it’s edited, so stay tuned!

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