Posts Tagged Judah Friedlander

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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Ron and Fez Move To Raw Dog, Channel 99, And Bring Comedy Matters Radio with Them! (Sirius XM and Serious Comedy!)

After many years on the Opie and Anthony Channel on Sirius XM, Ron and Fez are moving over to Raw Dog to focus more on comedy.  Starting Monday, Jan. 6th, 2014 they will make the switch and get back to their comedic roots.  In line with that they are bringing me on to create Comedy Matters Radio for Ron and Fez, in which I will be inviting on well known comics to join us in studio to talk about comedy and whatever we want to talk about.

(L-R) Fez Whately, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ron Bennington in the Sirius XM studio on the next to last show before they moved to Raw Dog!

(L-R) Fez Whatley, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ron Bennington in the Sirius XM studio on the next to last show before they moved to Raw Dog!

The studio is a very relaxed hang, with the kind of atmosphere that makes people feel comfortable and open up!

My first guest is Colin Quinn and I chose Colin because we go way back, and I’m in awe of his talent.   He’s smart, he’s the consummate wordsmith, and I love that.  He takes things we all say and do and deconstructs them down down to their very essence.

I recently heard some young guys in comedy refer to him as the godfather of comedy in New York right now.

When I saw him last he was giving the keynote speech at the Just for Laughs Festival this past summer in Montreal, which is a HUGE honor.  It was hard for Colin to admit that because despite all he’s done and accomplished, he’s a very humble guy!

We sat down together and shot this little interview for Comedy Matters TV!

He’s also in my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” about the history of The Comic Strip, and he told me some great stories.  He was actually the bartender at The Comic Strip, and was constantly berated by manager Lucien Hold who constantly called him a “moron” and complained about the way he used the cash register!

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh" featuring an introduction with Chris Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh” featuring an introduction with Chris Rock!

Colin finally had to quit his job in order to perform at the club.  I think he’s glad he did, and so is everyone else who’s ever enjoyed him!

We’re planning specials like one on my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” which will hopefully include a lot of the big stars that are in it, and I will also be doing regular updates on what’s going on in the comedy world in both New York and L.A.

Jeffrey Gurian with Judah Friedlander holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh", which he is in!

Jeffrey Gurian with Judah Friedlander holding Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh”, which he is in!

Jeffrey Gurian with Susie Essman holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh" which she is in!

Jeffrey Gurian with Susie Essman holding Jeffrey’s book “Make ‘Em Laugh” which she is in!

Jeffrey Gurian with the new, skinny Lisa Lampanelli holding Jeffrey's book " Make 'Em Laugh", which she is in, and which is on HIM!

Jeffrey Gurian with the new, skinny Lisa Lampanelli holding Jeffrey’s book ” Make ‘Em Laugh”, which she is in, and which is on HIM!

I’ll be talking about who’s headlining what club, who got what TV show, and who’s doing what with whom, … comedy-wise!

For instance in New York, my old friend Michelle (Michy) Buteau scored a regular part on the new Fox sitcom “Enlisted” starting this Friday night, 1/10/14 at 9:30 P.M., my friend Sasheer Zamata just got cast on the new season of SNL and will be the first African-American female comic to be a regular on the show in 6 years since Maya Rudolph left, and LA’s Mark Schiff will be going on tour with his old friend Jerry Seinfeld!

Sasheer was featured in my new documentary film “The Business of Comedy” which just aired this past New Years Eve on Channel 13, WNET at midnight!  What a great way to start the new year!

Jeffrey Gurian with new SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata in his apartment, during the shoot for the documentary film he co-produced and appeared in called "The Business of Comedy"!

Jeffrey Gurian with new SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata in his apartment, during the shoot for the documentary film he co-produced and appeared in called “The Business of Comedy”!

Happy New Year to you all, and please tune in to listen to me on Ron and Fez!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Entertainment News, Jeffrey Gurian News, Radio Show, Stand-Up Comedy

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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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SNL Show to Benefit Victims of Sandy at The Comic Strip

This Sunday night,11/18, at 8:30 P.M. cast members from SNL plus Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock will be performing at The Comic Strip on 81st and 2nd to raise money to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The show will feature Saturday Night Live’s castmembers Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Bayer, Tim Robinson, and John Mulaney and writers Colin Jost (head writer) and Mike O’Brien. 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander will also be performing.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Shayna Farrow, Richie Tienken, Jay Pharoah at The Strip!

Vanessa Bayer on stage at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Mulaney of SNL after taping his comedy special at The Skirball Center!

Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock holding the book “Make ‘Em Laugh” on the history of The Comic Strip, with author Jeffrey Gurian!

Admission proceeds will be donated to New York Cares to help further the work they have done to aid victims in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent Nor’easter.

RAFFLE: We’ve received great product donations that will be raffled off to attendees at the benefit. Prizes include: Tickets to Late Night with David Letterman; Personal Training Sessions at Equinox; Restaurant Gift Cards; Beauty Makeover and Consultation with Celebrity Makeup Artist; Free Night at The Comic Strip, an autographed copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” the new book by me and Richie Tienken on the 35 year history of The Strip, with an intro by Chris Rock, and more.

In case you haven’t already seen it, this is a video of Jay Pharoah reading Chris Rock’s introduction in Chris Rock’s voice for JB Smoove and others at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal this past July.

Admission price is $50 plus a two-drink minimum per person. Reservations are required 212-861-9386. Tickets may be purchased at http://comicstriplive.com/

Let’s all come out for this fabulous show and opportunity to help out! This storm affected all of us whether directly or indirectly.

***If you are unable to attend the show, please consider donating: http://www.crowdrise.com/comicstriplive ***

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"Make ‘Em Laugh" with Chris Rock Finally Hits The Bookstores

The Comic Strip opened on June 1st of 1976. It’s an iconic comedy club on the Upper East Side of NYC, that launched the careers of stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Lisa Lampanelli, and many more.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris’ interview for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh” for which Chris also write the hilarious intro!

One day,on June 16th of 2008 I was at The Strip with Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and PR powerhouse Ryan McCormick of Goldman/McCormick PR, and after looking at all the talent on the walls, I suggested to owner/founder Richie Tienken that we do a book on the history of the club. He came to my house to talk about it, and saw even more photos than HE had in the club (LOL), and decided to trust me to tell his story. That was the long and the short of it.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Ryan McCormick, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken all trying to figure out why Ann looks so surprised! Maybe she heard it would take four years to do the book, and couldn’t believe it!

The front cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” by Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken with an intro. by Chris Rock!

That July, of 2008 I went up to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world, and did my first three digital audio interviews. First was with Larry Miller at his hotel, then George Wallace in a restaurant, and then Paul Provenza at the main hotel where the festival was being held.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Larry Miller at The Strip! Larry was the very first comic interviewed for the book!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with George Wallace at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008. George was the 2nd comic to be interviewed for the book!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Provenza, at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008. Paul was the the 3rd comic to be interviewed for the book!

From that point on, it took the next four years to see this book on a shelf in Barnes and Noble. I was on a quest to get every big star I could, who had come out of The Strip, to be interviewed for the book. And most of them came into the club to do it during the afternoon when we wouldn’t be disturbed. Richie and I would meet them there and sit casually in the showroom while we reminisced about the old days, into my recorder.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip with Jerry Seinfeld after his interview for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh”!

We felt it was helpful to do it in the club, because we thought, and rightly so, that being in the club would help bring back memories, and it did. During Paul Reiser’s interview, he claims to have suddenly remembered for the first time ever, what started the annual New Year’s day brunch that he has attended every year for the last 30 years or more with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and Mark Schiff. There was originally a fifth guy named Michael Cain, but unfortunately he passed away many years ago, way before his time.

(L-R) Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Ray’s interview for the book, ” Make ‘Em Laugh”!

So the book has cool stories from Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, who came in with his long-time manager Rory Rosegarten who he had met at The Strip, Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Paul Provenza, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Jeffrey Ross, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, and so many more!

I even flew out to LA to interview Billy Crystal which was a very special one to me, since during the middle of the interview he realized he knew me from the legendary Jack Rollins, who managed him, Robin Williams, and Woody Allen, back in the day!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in his Beverly Hills office! Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey’s rumored history as a former dentist! (LOL)

I wanted to do all the interviews before looking for an agent and a book deal, because I knew that agents would be skeptical of someone saying they could get this many interviews, with such big stars, and I wanted to be able to walk in with them already done.

After three painstaking years of doing interviews, and transcribing them by hand, my pal media powerhouse Judith Regan, introduced me to her agent at N.S. Bienstock, because she said for a celeb-filled book like this I need a powerful agent, and I spent most of the fourth year editing it down to the length that Skyhorse Publishing wanted it to be.

Media heavyweight Judith Regan and Jeffrey Gurian holding the book that she made possible, “Make ‘Em Laugh”!

I started with about 500 pages, and had to whittle it down to about 250 pages. I have all the stories digitally recorded on a disk, so our next project will probably be a CD of the stories that didn’t make it into the book!

Then I had to get blurbs for the book’s back cover, so I went to some of my famous friends and contacts and asked them to read the galleys and to provide meaningful blurbs and I got amazing stuff from ten people; Barry Katz, co-creator of Last Comic Standing, Judd Apatow, the king of Hollywood comedies, Richard Lewis, Mike Birbiglia, Charles Grodin, Elayne Boosler the first woman ever to have a cable TV special, Danny Aiello, Michael Imperioli, Nick Kroll star of the upcoming The Kroll Show, on Comedy Central, Tom Papa, and even DJ Cassidy, the world famous DJ who is also the DJ for Russell Simmons’ show “The Ruckus” hosted by JB Smoove!

The back cover of “Make ‘Em Laugh” with blurbs from Barry Katz, Richard Lewis, Mike Birbiglia, Charles Grodin, Elayne Boosler, Danny Aiello, Michael Imperioli, Nick Kroll, Tom Papa, Bob Saget, and DJ Cassidy!

Speaking of JB Smoove, this summer in Montreal, I was the official celeb interviewer and shot 40 interviews with stars like Chelsea Handler,Bob Saget, Joel McHale, JB Smoove, Marc Maron, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Adam Carolla, and Howie Mandel, …

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chelsea Handler at Just for Laughs in Montreal!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bob Saget backstage at Bob’s gala at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal!

… and one night I got Jay Pharoah from SNL reading Chris Rock’s intro from my book, in Chris Rock’s voice, to entertain JB Smoove and a bunch of comedy execs that were hanging out in the lobby! That you must see, and it’s right here:

So as of Monday, 10/1/12 the book is in Barnes and Noble and is available on their site and on Amazon.com All the stars in the book are helping to get the word out and even stars not in the book like Dave Chappelle are posing with the book!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Colin Quinn holding “Make ‘Em Laugh”, which Colin is in!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Judah Friedlander holding a copy of “Make ‘Em Laugh” which he is in!

Dave Chappelle chillin’ at the bar at The Comic Strip reading “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of the club!

I hope you’ll all read it, enjoy it, and leave a positive comment somewhere where other people will see it! (LOLOL)

Posted in: Book Reviews, Books, Breaking News, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Nightlife Events

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Fresh Fisch at The PIT with Tyler Fischer

Tyler Fischer is a funny young guy, who I look at as a young Jim Carrey. I get to see him perform on my latenight show at The Comic Strip, which I host on Sundays and Mondays and he’s very unpredictable. Predictably unpredictable!

Tyler Fischer in a rare moment standing still onstage at his Fresh Fisch show at The PIT!

You never know what he’s gonna do when he gets up there, or even if he’s going to come on stage the regular way, or maybe make his way to the stage through the whole audience.

Sometimes he may make believe he has an accent, or maybe turn his back to the audience, or do a scene from an old movie, but the one thing you can count on is that it’s never anything regular and I love that. I reminds me of things I used to do.

Tyler Fischer onstage at The PIT. He insists he will only perform under a green light!

The first time I was onstage at Carolines I walked out carrying an iron. I told the audience it had always been a dream of mine to come out on stage carrying an iron, because it was a thing in my family to always carry a small appliance with you.

It had something to do with an uncle of mine who made a huge fortune in the small appliance business, or a small fortune in the large appliance business! And I told them I always carried an iron with me wherever I went so please don’t be distracted by it.

The next night, I felt I couldn’t do the iron bit again, so I came out onstage carrying a bag of groceries, and apologized to the audience for not having had time to go home first and drop them off. Then I asked some guy in front to hold them for me. Just saying those things makes me want to do them again!

Anyway, Tyler often produces his own shows in Brooklyn but since I don’t often go out to Brooklyn, I was excited when I heard he was doing a show at The PIT, (People’s Improv Theatre) on East 24th Street called “Fresh Fisch”.

The highly stylized, and incredibly ornate sign announcing “Fresh Fisch” available at The PIT!

Ali Farahnakian built such a beautiful place, and it’s packed with comedy fans and comedians just hanging out! The energy is amazing. I forgot to check the Men’s Room to see if my photo was still hanging up like it was in the old PIT. Ali stopped me in the street one day and asked if he could take my photo. He said I had an interesting look!

I was cool with that, and then one night I went to The PIT, and was using the Men’s Room when I happened to glance next to me and saw me watching me do my thing! My photo was posted on the wall right next to where I was standing!

Photo of Jeffrey Gurian mounted on the wall of The Men’s Room at The PIT, by Ali Farahnakian personally!

As I walked in the show had already started, and Jermaine Fowler was onstage.

Jermaine Fowler onstage in Tyler Fischer’s show at The PIT! Watch for him in the new ” In Living Color”!

I hadn’t seen Jermaine in a while but I used to see him a lot at The Comic Strip in his early days, so it was great to see him again. I got to congratulate him on his being added to the cast of the new “In Living Color”. That is so awesome and well deserved.

When Shauna Garr and Keenen Ivory Wayans were in town casting the show, I helped them line up some talent to be auditioned. One of the people I sent was Tyler Fischer. I had heard that Jermaine did very well, and I guess he did cause he got it.

Jermaine Fowler and Tyler Fischer looking really surprised to see me at The PIT. I guess I should come around more often!

I also understand that my old friend Kali Hawk will be a cast member as well.

That is really exciting for me cause I know Kali for many years, from the days she hung out in comedy clubs watching from the sidelines.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comic/actress Kali Hawk in LA for a party for Jeffrey’s book “Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive.”

She went through a tremendous transformation and is one of the few true beauties in comedy! And she’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside! She could easily be a model, but she loves to make people laugh, as she did in Couples Retreat!

Anyway, when I saw Jermaine was already onstage, I didn’t know where to sit. Tyler guided me to a seat right in the front row, and in the middle of his act Jermaine was like, ” What’s up Jeff?” Which I thought was very cool. And then every comic who followed including Tyler did the same thing. They were all like, ” What’s up Jeff?” It was hysterical, as I accidentally became part of the show! (LOL)

Kevin Barnett onstage at Tyler Fischer’s show at The PIT!

I also got to see a young guy named Kevin Barnett who I also thought was very funny, and then Judah Friedlander closed the show. There may have also been someone on the show with a beard, which seems to be sort of a prerequisite to perform these days, especially if you want to be well received in Brooklyn.

The World Champion, onstage at Tyler Fischer’s show at The PIT!

The thing seems to be to look sort of like a woodsman, or a guy who lives alone in a cabin, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, with kind of like a Unabomber type of look.

Judah Friedlander has a beard but his doesn’t strike me that way. He doesn’t wear it on 30 Rock, but when he’s not filming the show he grows it back.

He explained to me that the beard fits the macho character of The World Champion and he’s right. The World Champion should have the longest, fullest beard in the world. It should be kind of like a Methuselah type beard, preferably one that swings like a pendulum! Because girls like that!

Judah Friedlander showing Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV one of his amazing karate punches from his book ” How To Beat Up Anybody!”

Judah is great because he is so committed. He’s out performing somewhere every night, and is happy to perform for young talented guys like Tyler. You can see how much pleasure he gets out of entertaining. I love when he talks about working out and says he lifts weightlifters while they’re lifting weights! What a great visual!

He was very excited when I told him that my book on the 35 year history of The Comic Strip was coming out very soon and had turned up on Page 6 in the NY Post, a couple of weeks back.

Chris Rock wrote the funniest intro for the book, and it’s got interviews with Seinfeld, Larry Miller, Ray Romano. Colin Quinn, Susie Essman, Jim Breuer, and lots of other big stars that came out of that club. Including Judah Friedlander!

Anyway, Tyler Fischer will be doing his Fresh Fisch show at The PIT once a month so come down and check it out! Even if you’re from Brooklyn and don’t come into Manhattan much, make the effort. It’s worth it!

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Next Generation of Stars At The Comic Strip

Well, after four years of hard work the final manuscript on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, that I wrote with owner/founder Richie Tienken was handed in, and should be coming out in October of this year from Skyhorse Publishing. Chris Rock is writing the introduction.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip.

Since The Strip is like a family, I broke down the chapters into things like “The Parents”, which were Richie and Bob Wachs, “The Older Kids” who were like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and Ray Romano, “The Younger Kids” who were like Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Gaffigan, and Judah Friedlander, and a chapter called “The Next Generation”, kind of like the grand-children, the up and comers, who will be the next stars of tomorrow coming out of The Strip.

These are names you may or may not know, but all have impressive credits and are on their way. There’s Marina Franklin, who was chosen as one of Jay Leno’s comedy correspondents, has been on Craig Ferguson,and Last Comic Standing; Ted Alexandro who’s been on Letterman, Conan, and Louis CK’s show “Louie”; Jon Fisch who’s been on Letterman, Last Comic Standing, and Celebrity Apprentice; Brian Scott McFadden who’s been on Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and in the Ice Age films with Ray Romano, and “Robots” with Robin Williams; Mike Vecchione, who had his own ( as opposed to someone elses? LOL) half hour Comedy Central special, and was seen on Leno, as a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing, and on Russell Simmons special “Stand-Up at the El Rey.

Jeffrey Gurian with Marina Franklin whose “home” is at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian and Ted Alexandro in Jeffrey’s “Dancing With Comedians” Series!

Jeffrey Gurian and Mike Vecchione hanging out casually backstage at The Strip! (LOL)

Then there’s a group of really young comics who work out regularly at The Strip, like Pete Davidson who’s 18, lost his firefighter Dad Scott on 9/11, and has been taken under the wing of Nick Cannon, who he now tours with and opens for; Nore Davis, also a “young ‘un” who’s been taken under the wing of Tracy Morgan, (not only birds have wings, “angels” have wings too!), and has appeared on Russell Simmons “The Ruckus” with J.B. Smoove; and Jordan Rock, just turned 21, who hosts late shows at The Strip on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and is the latest in line in the Rock comedy dynasty along with his brothers Tony and Chris.

Pete Davidson and Jordan Rock chillin’ backstage while waiting to go on at The Strip!

Then there’s two young guys who are already on TV, and happen to be on the very same show. Colin Jost is a senior writer on SNL, but as a stand-up has been seen on Jimmy Fallon and was featured at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, and Jay Pharoah, who drops by The Strip very often to work out new material is a regular cast member on SNL. He’s an incredible impressionist, and will soon be seen in the upcoming films “Lola Versus” with indie favorite Greta Gerwig, and CBS Films’ “Get A Job”.

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Jost from SNL, a regular at The Strip!

Richie Tienken, Jay Pharoah from SNL, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip!

With this kind of talent calling The Strip “home” you can be sure it will be around for many, many more years!

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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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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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Reel Works 10th Anniversary with Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Fisher Stevens, Reggie Watts, Hannibal Buress

Comedy Central invited me to cover a very special event where several of the celebs just happened to be friends of mine, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s still always tense and exciting wondering what will go down on the red carpet, knowing you have to keep it flowing and keep it funny and interesting!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Steve Buscemi star of HBO's hit Boardwalk Empire and co-host of Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration!

Reel Works is a youth-oriented filmmaking initiative that provides high school students with the mentoring, training, and support to finish high school and then go on to college, and find job training careers in NYC’s film and television industry.

The event was at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and I was there with my assistant and DP Tristan Griffin. Reel Works is the only youth filmmaking program that matches each student one-on-one with a professional filmmaker mentor. I wish they had something like that when I went to school!

The event was MC’ed by the hilarious Hannibal Buress who was voted one of Variety’s 10 Top Comics To Watch in Montreal last year, 2010, at the Just For Laughs Festival, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world. Hannibal has also written for NBC’s 30 Rock and SNL!

Reggie Watts and Hannibal Buress at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary Celebration!

The co-hosts were Steve Buscemi, star of HBO’s hit show Boardwalk Empire and his filmmaker wife Jo Andres!

Steve Buscemi and his wife and co-host Jo Andres, for the event honoring the 10th anniversary of Reel Works, a youth filmmaking initiative!

The honoree was Fisher Stevens who won an Academy Award for his film “The Cove”,and is currently directing John Leguizamo in his latest hit Broadway show, Ghetto Clown, which Fisher told me is about to begin a world tour! Fisher was being presented with the award by John Leguizamo, who for whatever reason was not available to do any press that night, which is unusual for John because he always makes himself available, and is ALWAYS very gracious with his time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with John Leguizamo at a press event for his film "The Babysitters."

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens, the honoree at the Reel Works 10th anniversary celebration!

Plus there was a very special musical/comedy performance by an incredibly talented guy and another friend of mine, Reggie Watts, who is the opening act for Conan O’Brien’s ” The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award. I had just seen Reggie in Montreal at THIS year’s Just For Laughs Festival where he performed in a show with Bo Burnham!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Reggie Watts who was performing at the Reel Works 10th Anniversary celebration honoring Fisher Stevens! ( He makes my hair look normal! Actually he makes me look totally bald! )

These are just some stills from the event. Wait till you see the videos coming soon!

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