Posts Tagged SNL

Colin Jost Takes Over Weekend Update on SNL Tonight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colin Jost onstage at The Comic Strip!

Colin Jost onstage at The Comic Strip!

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

 

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Sasheer Zamata To Join SNL Jan. 18, 2014

Sasheer Zamata is so funny, so pretty, and so talented, and she will be the first Black female comic to be on SNL since Maya Rudolph left 6 years ago.  I feel so proud of her, and FOR her!

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 she was featured in and that he co-produced and appeared in called “The Business of Comedy”!

The first time I saw her perform was in a show out in Brooklyn.  I rarely go to Brooklyn because there are so many things for me to see right here in Manhattan, but I went out to Union Hall for what I thought was a party.  It was an invite from a young comic named Lisa Delarios, who is hilarious, (which sounds a lot like Delarios! LOL) and it invited me to The Party Machine’s Yacht Party on a Saturday night in April, and that sounded good to me.

I thought everyone would be dressed in white, and pictured a scene from The Hamptons.  I drove out with my assistant at the time, funny, funny girl Corinne Fisher from the comedy duo with Krystyna Hutchinson called “Sorry About Last Night”, to find a packed room, with everyone in black, not a white outfit in sight, and a very Brooklyn hipster crowd. Most of the men had unibomber-type beards, and looked like they lived in a cabin in the woods!  Lots of flannel! (LOL)  I fit right in, and blended in with the crowd as I always do! (LOL)

To make matters worse because I thought it was a party, we showed up fashionably late and missed part of the show!  The show was produced by Arden Myrin from Mad TV, and the aforementioned Lisa Delarios, who also produces shows around town, as well as producer Emily Kindler, related to the great comic Andy Kindler, known for his incredible “State of the Industry” speeches every year in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival, which everyone in the industry looks forward to and attends.

At this past one last July, John Mulaney introduced Andy and gave me a surprise shout out from the stage!  You can see it at the end of this little 3 minute video!

The invite also advertised “Yacht Passengers” Jessi Klein (SNL), Team Submarine (Just For Laughs, NPR) , Ben Kronberg (Jimmy Kimmel Live), Sara Schaefer (Jimmy Fallon), who went on to star in The Nikki and Sara Show on MTV, which I went to a couple of times, Lukas Kaiser (Spike TV), and Adira Amram (ECNY WINNER) so I thought it was a combination show and party and that they’d all be mingling in the crowd at the party! (LOL)

I felt like such a moron because there was no party.  That was just the name of the show.  I even wrote a blog post about how misinformed I was!

But that was the first time I saw Sasheer perform and I was struck by her presence.  There was something magical about her that I couldn’t get out of my mind!  I saw her again a short time later at The PIT, and was impressed yet again, so when Gary Licker and Scott Sobel came to me to appear in the documentary called “The Business of Comedy”, which just played on New Year’s Eve on WNET, Channel 13 at midnight, and I wound up becoming a co-producer on the project, I invited Sasheer to participate.

Gary Licker and Scott Sobel shooting Sasheer Zamata for the documentary The Business of Comedy in Jeffrey Gurian's apartment!

Gary Licker and Scott Sobel shooting Sasheer Zamata for the documentary The Business of Comedy in Jeffrey Gurian’s apartment!

We shot the scene at my apartment this past April and she was wonderful, and open, and forthright, and is featured prominently in the film which you can see on Hulu.

The promo card for "The Business of Comedy" a doc film co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian featuring Sasheer Zamata, pictured in the box right next to the producing credits.

The promo card for “The Business of Comedy” a doc film co-produced by Jeffrey Gurian featuring Sasheer Zamata, pictured in the box right next to the producing credits.

She talked about how much fun it is to get paid for doing comedy even though she’d do it for free just because she loves it so much.  She also lamented that she doesn’t see a lot of people who “look like her” doing comedy!  Maybe that’s because no one else looks like her! (LOL)

She has her own very unique look and it’s awesome!  Her eyes sparkle and her smile lights up a room!

And lots and lots of people will get to see her now, and all of her hard work will pay off.   And if being paid for doing comedy is fun, Sasheer should be having lots and lots of fun this year!

Congratulations Sasheer, can’t wait to see you on the show!

Jeffrey Gurian and Sasheer Zamata after the shoot for The Business of Comedy, shot in his "comedy museum"!

Jeffrey Gurian and Sasheer Zamata after the shoot for The Business of Comedy, shot in his “comedy museum”!

 

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Nat Geo Gets Into Comedy With Duck Quacks Don’t Echo

They always say that everyone wants to be in comedy, and now I’m sure it’s true.  Even Nat Geo is getting into the mix.  I attended a taping the other night in the AMV/Unitel studios on West 53rd Street in Manhattan, where Wendy Williams does her show, to see “Duck Quacks Don’t Echo” with three of my comedy friends starring in the show, Tom Papa, Michael Ian Black and Seth Herzog.

DuckQuacksLogo

I had just seen Tom kill it at The Village Underground, a beautiful venue recently taken over by Noam Dworman of The Comedy Cellar.   Noam is very proud of the space as he should be.  He put in great lighting and sound, and every show I’ve seen there so far has been super!

Tom Papa on stage at Noam Dworman's The Village Underground

Tom Papa on stage at Noam Dworman’s The Village Underground, now part of The Comedy Cellar

 

Last week Paul Provenza came in to do his new show Set List, and everyone is talking about Jim Norton’s performance, and how great he was doing it for the first time.

The reason it’s called Set List is because Paul gives each comic their “set list” when they hit the stage, and not a moment before.  They have no idea what it’s going to be, and it’s not topics like “Internet Dating” it’s more like “Anorexic Dog”, or “Penguin Sex Therapist” which one comic actually got stuck with, when I saw the show in Montreal this past summer at Just for Laughs.

So I ran into Tom Papa at The Underground, and he invited me to see his new show and two days later, before I even got a chance to make arrangements with him to attend I got an invite.

Duck Quacks Don’t Echo is a comedy/science show where each of the three stars gets to present weird, unusual and incredible facts. In addition to telling us the fact, they will each participate in an on-the-spot experiment proving each fact. It kind of reminded me of the stuff I used to do in science class to make the other students laugh when the instructor wasn’t looking.

On one occasion I mixed the wrong ingredients together and accidentally created poison gas, and they had to evacuate  not only my class, but the entire floor.

The fact that stuck with me was than you can’t hum while holding your nose.  It’s true.  We  tried humming Yankee Doodle, which was a very synchronicitous choice as I’ll explain in a moment, and then Tom instructed us to hold our collective noses and all the humming stopped.  Who know that humming comes through the nose?

Another thing they could not have known is that I’ve always been fascinated by humming and actually did my college thesis on Abe Bembelman, the man who invented humming, back in the day when Yankee Doodle was popular.  Before Bembelman people would hear a song they liked and have no way of recalling the tune.  Then Bembelman came along and changed the entire world.

Bembelman was actually English but moved to this country during Revolutionary times, and during the Revolutionary War he was responsible for teaching the English to hum when they went into battle.   Fortunately for us, the English hummed so loud that the American’s heard them coming, and that’s how we won the war, because basically you can’t sneak up on anyone while you’re humming!  As a result Abe Bembelman became an American national hero.  It’s in the history books!  Look it up!

So towards the end of “Duck Quacks Don’t Echo” the guys took a break for a costume change and I was wondering what was going on, until they came back in what turned out be motion detection outfits but what at first looked like a re-enactment of “Blue Man Group Attacked By Ping Pong Ball Gang.”

Tom Papa in his new look for the film " Attack of the Ping Pong Ball Men!"

Tom Papa in his new look for the film ” Attack of the Ping Pong Ball Men!”

 

(L-R) Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Seth Herzog in a very strange stance that goes perfectly with his outfit!

(L-R) Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Seth Herzog in a very strange stance that goes perfectly with his outfit!

Seth Herzog is used to wearing costumes as he’s been known to do when doing his popular Wonder Woman routine, so he took to this quite naturally, as you can see in the photo.  Seth is the warm up comic for Jimmy Fallon and plays all the hot clubs in the city.

He also has his own show called “Sweet” every Tuesday night at The Slipper Room on Orchard Street, in NYC, where I hope to perform one day!  It’s one of the few stages I haven’t been on.

What made the evening even more special was getting to re-connect with two guys I hadn’t seen for a long time.  Michael Ian Black and Duck Quack’s producer Jim Biederman.

Michael and I have history.  Back around 1992 Michael and I and Ben Garant wrote the first ever interactive film for Sony called “I’m Your Man.”  It was shown in the Sony Theatre on 19th Street and Broadway and the audience got to change the outcome of certain scenes by pressing buttons from their seats.  From what I recall Sony spent about half a million bucks on outfitting the theatre with the buttons that attached to the arm rest of each seat.

Michael Ian Black with Jeffrey Gurian at a Roast, possibly for The Naked Angels!

Michael Ian Black with Jeffrey Gurian at a Roast, possibly for The Naked Angels!

This was before Michael went on to co-create MTV’s The State and the sketch group Stella of which he was a founding member, along with Michael Showalter, and David Wain.  They performed together from 1997 through 2005.  The photo below was after one of the Stella’s performances at a place called Fez, which was their home base, and Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo both came by that night.

(L-R) David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ben Stiller at Fez, circa 1997.

(L-R) David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ben Stiller at Fez, circa 1997.

Duck Quacks producer Jim Biederman is the head of JimCo Productions and I hadn’t seen him in maybe 15-20 years.  Jim was at Lorne Michael’s company Broadway Video back in the day working with a guy named John Head, who as I recall was in charge of film acquisition, and I was making short, bizarre little films in those days.

I had been sent up to see Herb by another legend Jack Rollins, best known for managing Woody Allen and producing all of Woody’s movies, and in those days was also managing Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.   When I first met Herb he said he didn’t even have to look at my stuff because if Jack Rollins said I was funny, I was funny!

I was still a practicing Cosmetic Dentist in those days, which is why in the photo below Billy Crystal is pointing to his teeth.  Jack Rollins had wanted to do a sit-com based on a dentist in show biz and thought Billy would be great to play me!

Jeffrey Gurian with Woody Allen who he had met many years earlier through his mentor Jack Rollins!

Jeffrey Gurian with Woody Allen who he had met many years earlier through his mentor Jack Rollins!

 

Jeffrey Gurian with Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, referencing Jeffrey's history as a dentist!

Jeffrey Gurian with Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, referencing Jeffrey’s history as a dentist!

But Herb did look at my films and set me up with a meeting with Jim Biederman.   I was doing a comedy news broadcast at the time with stories like ” Several men were arrested for smearing creamcheese on the ankles of elderly women who wore their stockings rolled down like bagels”, and “The Masters of Disguise” which were two master criminals who disguised themselves as inanimate objects to commit their crimes.

It started with two men disguised as coats who robbed a hat store by coming in over the arms of two other men who claim they had no part in the crime.  I did an interview with one of the victims who gave his account of what happened, and said that one of the coats pulled a gun and said, ” Just act natural like we’re your coats and no one’ll get hurt!”   Police artists did a composite drawing of the perpetrators.  One man was described as  a tan trenchcoat, the other man was said to resemble an overcoat, possibly black, …  but could have been navy blue!

I had several crimes like that culminating in 250,000 men disguised as vests robbed a suit warehouse taking all 250,ooo suits and the police artists were going out on strike so as not to have to draw pictures of all 250,000 vests!   As I recall Jim set me up with a meeting with John Head who said ” I see no reason why you shouldn’t be doing films for SNL”, and the reason it didn’t happen is a story for another day.

Jim went on to produce  a ton of TV shows including “The Whitest Kids You Know” and the Onion News Network, and I went on to write a column for Weekly World News called “Gurian’s World of the Bizarre” which the guys from The Onion told me they were fans of.  So it all comes full circle!

And the wild stories I was writing also became part of a comedy news broadcast which I shot up at WPIX TV.  Check it out here:

It was great to see Jim again after all these years and I wish him luck with Duck Quacks!

 

 

 

 

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Jim Norton Closes Out Gotham Comedy Live’s First Season

Every Thursday night for about the last three months, Killer Bunny Entertainment has been filming a live comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club for Mark Cuban and Ryan Seacrest’s AXS TV channel!

Every week they have a great host and I’ve been down there to shoot videos for Comedy Matters TV with several of them like T.J. Miller, Susie Essman, and Carlos Mencia, but when I heard that Jim Norton would be hosting the last show of the season I was determined to get down there to see him!

Not only because he’s so funny but because I had been trying to set up an interview with Jim since the previous July when his last CD “Please Be Offended” first came out.

Jim Norton the final host of the first season on Gotham Comedy Live onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jonathan Brandstein’s office and I were working together to set it up, but Jim was so busy that it never happened. And then I ran into Jim in Montreal at the 30th annual Just for Laughs Festival where I was actually shooting for the festival, and it still didn’t happen. We ran past each other in the lobby where I was just able to yell out a quick “hello” and that I had been trying to get a hold of him. I shot 40 video interviews over those three days, but no Jim Norton.

Jim did a great show at Gotham, and the fun thing is that it’s live. For some comics that might be daunting, but Jim’s been on the radio with Opie and Anthony so long doing live stuff every day, that for him it’s nothing.

It’s also no holds barred. Anything goes. So Jim got to talk about one of his favorite subjects, … hookers! And how in Vegas when he called for a hooker they told him it would cost $3,000. And he was wondering how long she stayed for that, … forever? For three thousand dollars, does he get to cut off her head and keep it?

The always funny Jim Norton hosting the AXS TV special Gotham Comedy Live!

I don’t think that was really a desire of his, just a thought that briefly ran through his mind.

Jim’s observations are also right on, like when he said if you’re clearing your throat you sound like a liar. No matter what you’re saying, once you clear your throat in the middle of saying it, you automatically sound like a liar. In a way, and I mean this only as a compliment, he and Colin Quinn work very similarly. He actually imitated Colin’s voice and sounded just like him.

Drew Fraser warmed up the crowd and the man has a way of getting the audience really pumped. It’s a special talent to be able to host a show, and Drew’s got it!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Drew Fraser who not only warmed up the crowd, but heated them up to a boil! (LOL)

Louis Katz was first up on the show and was his usual funny self. He said he spent most of the day balding. He then went on to explain to the audience that with his look he can’t wear a hat, because with his glasses and a hat he’s a fake moustache away from looking like he’s in disguise!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Louis Katz right after he killed it on Gotham Comedy Live!

He talked about someone who had such bad breath he wanted to tell them, “You know there’s no such thing as street chocolate. You’ve been eating dog shit!”

Marina Franklin was up next and I love seeing Marina perform. Especially when she talks about coming from Chicago and wonders if she and not Michelle could have been The First Lady. But then reality kicks in and she realizes she ain’t no lady! She could have been the “First Ho!”

In talking about her dating life and her recent white boyfriend she said she doesn’t just date white guys exclusively, but the economy was bad!

Colin Jost, one of the head writers up at SNL was next, and he too is reliably funny. I always enjoy his performance and the tone with which he delivers his material, which is so important to a comic. He talked about song lyrics and how in one popular song they changed the lyrics to make them family friendly and have a guy apologizing to a girl by saying, ” I don’t mean to be rude but tonight I’m loving you!” He went on to explain that that’s nothing to apologize for. It’s one of the nicest things you can say to a person.

He also advised couples that if one of you loses a ton of weight you both better lose a ton of weight because it’s very awkward to see them and say, ” Mark, you look great, you must have lost 50 pounds! And Janet, ……………”

And closing the show was the always funny and sexy Lynne Koplitz, who openly says she’s 45 years old and it’s over! She calls herself Auntie Lynne and gives advice to the younger women in the audience like not to smile too much or you get laugh lines. Twenty years from now you’ll be asking yourself, what was so fuckin’ funny?

She goes for younger guys who she can control, and ruled out dating one older guy by saying ” You’re cute, but you probably have opinions!”

After the show, which got picked up for a second season, and which will be starting in May, I went down to the green room to have a long awaited chat with Jim Norton. It was well worth the wait, and here it is:

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Lisa Lampanelli Kills It At Westbury

Westbury Theatre out on Long Island holds about 2800 people. I know that because I co-produced a show there starring Kevin Hart back in 2010, and we filled the place. So did Lisa Lampanelli! I didn’t see an empty seat in the house.

A screenshot of Lisa Lampanelli on Jeffrey Ross’s show “The Burn”, which got mis-credited at the end as “The Bum”!

I had seen her the night before on Jeff Ross’s show on Comedy Central “The Burn”, and she was on with the very funny Anthony Jeselnik, whose new CD “Caligula”” just came out. It’s on my desk to be listened to the moment I have a free hour!(Does that even make sense, … the moment I have a free hour??? I might as well say ” The hour I have a free moment!!!”)

I TIVO’ed “The Burn” and at the end of the show, when it asks if you want to keep it or delete it, I noticed a typo on the credits! They called it “The Bum” instead of “The Burn”. I took pictures of it because I couldn’t believe it! See for yourself!

Tell me that doesn’t say “The Bum” with Jeff Ross! I have to Tweet this to Jeff!

I think she said it was her fifth time performing there, but it was her first time performing there as a thin woman! I’ll get into that later!

I drove out early so I could see her, and her husband Jimmy BB, before the show. Only really secure performers see people BEFORE the show! Most prefer to wait until after the show, but I think Lisa was leaving for another gig somewhere out of town the next day, and was leaving the theatre as soon as she was done, so she saw people before the show.

I went out there with my Chinese girlfriend Shu Lan, who Lisa would definitely call Ching Ping if she saw her in the audience, but in real life she would never say anything like that!

Shu Lan in the elevator on the way to see Lisa Lampanelli at Westbury!

For anyone who’s wondering, what Lisa does on stage does not match her offstage personna. She’s a sweet, loving person, but onstage she’s a human piranha who goes for blood! She lives up to her title, “The Loveable Queen of Mean!”

Lisa’s opening act is Mike Morse who’s very funny, and very easy going onstage. I guess people get used to performing for large crowds. The largest crowd I ever performed for was about 400 people, but I guess once you have enough experience, it doesn’t matter how many people are out there. Actually the more people, the more laughs you get, the louder it sounds, and the more it pumps you up!

The very funny Mike Morse, who opens for Lisa Lampanelli on the East Coast!

With 2800 people even if only 10% of them laughed at any particular joke, that’s still 280 people laughing which is a lot more people than you get in most comedy clubs!

Mike Morse made a lot of people laugh a lot of the time, with clever lines like, ” My wife and I decided we don’t want children. Unfortunately we already had two!”

Talking about how the people are in New Jersey he said he went to the hospital and told the nurse he wanted to give blood. She gave him a bucket and stabbed him in the neck!

On Chris Christie – A lot of people say he’s too fat to be President. I say he’s perfect for an oval office!

Talking about playing a club in Alabama where no one had teeth. He said one guy chewed on a potato chip for half an hour without breaking it!

And then he did an impression of his own penis when he has an orgasm. He said it looks like it has acid reflux, and then he acted it out! That was hysterical!

He ended on a really clever bit about a Martin Luther King Day commercial for used cars declaring things like ” Malcolm X-tra Savings”, and “We will overcome high prices”! He left the stage to huge applause.

Then Lisa came out and her audience was ready for her. You don’t go to a Lisa Lampanelli concert without knowing what you’re gonna get, unless you were brought there by friends who really should have prepared you!

The very thin Lisa Lampanelli performing to a sold-out crowd at Westbury! I have a feeling she doesn’t even know how thin she looks!

She saw an Asian woman in front and said ” Ching Ping, (which could have been my gf!), what kind of Gook are you???

She talked about her experiences on Celebrity Apprentice, especially with her best girlfriend Clay Aiken, who at one point took offense to some of her jokes about him, like the only thing “Aiken about him was his ass!”

She said that Lady Gaga was making a perfume that smelled like a combination of sperm and blood, and followed that up by saying, if she wanted to smell sperm and blood she’d punch Clay Aiken in the mouth! The audience howled with laughter at almost everything she said!

Luckily for her there was one Black guy in the front row, there with a white girl, and luckily for him, he had a great sense of humor! Lisa said there was a blackout in Connecticut, then added, ” Thank G-d they caught him!”

Lisa mentioned lots of people. Like Zsa Zsa Gabor, when she lost her leg, Lisa Tweeted, ” Zsa Zsa is selling her home. It’s 28,000 feet, which is 27,999 feet more than she has!” She claims that Zsa Zsa loved the joke!

She said she started sweating more than Jerry Sandusky at a cub scout meeting! In talking about “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, and about how badly he bombed at the Charlie Sheen Roast even though he thought he did well, she said he was as useless as a tampon at Betty White’s house!

Chaz Bono- She said most women get plastic surgery to look like eye candy. Chaz got plastic surgery to look like John Candy!

And she didn’t spare herself! When answering someone who asked about her dramatic weight loss of over 100 pounds she said,” I was lucky enough to get AIDS and cancer at the same time!” That’s so sick it’s funny, and the audience thought so too!

Actually she and her husband Jimmy both had weight-loss surgery. He told her to go first and if she survived he’d do it too. They look fantastic as you can see in this photo!

Lisa Lampanelli and husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, two little stringbeans, backstage at Westbury!

Lisa also did great impressions of Donald Trump, Lou Ferrigno and her Twitter enemy Dog The Bounty Hunter’s wife Beth.

Besides Shu Lan I also brought my new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” which Lisa is in bigtime! I had brought her a copy when I went to watch her rehearsal for the Broadway show she’s creating, but for some reason I didn’t get a photo with her that day. This night we took a couple!

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV holding Jeffrey’s new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” that Lisa is in with an in-depth interview about how she got her start!

When I asked for a second photo as a “safety” this is what I got! (LOLOL)

She’s an amazing talent and if you have not seen her yet, make sure you do! Just don’t bring your elderly parents! (LOL) (Unless they have a will, you’re the beneficiary, and you stand to get lots of money!!! LOLOL)

www.HyperSmash.com

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Lisa Lampanelli, "Loveable Queen of Mean" Comes To Westbury

In the comedy world where backbiting and jealousy are so rampant, its nice to be able to feel happy for someone’s success. With Lisa Lampanelli I get that opportunity all the time. Lisa is a comedy superstar, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years now.

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian at The Friars Club for Lisa’s singing debut!

I knew her when she was about 100 pounds heavier and as she lost weight over the years I sometimes worried that it might affect her career. If it did, it was only for the better, because now not only is she just hysterically funny, but she is also an inspiration for people who want to change their lives.

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian back in the day, circa 2002!

It doesn’t take much incentive to stay the way you are. Anyone can do that. But to take your current situation and decide that you’ve had enough of living like that, and decide to make a change is a rare and admirable trait. Most people don’t do it. I did it in my own life, as a former severe stutterer, whose speech could easily have kept me from accomplishing anything in my life that had to do with speaking, which is just about everything!

Instead I drew on some inner strength I didn’t know I had, and by focussing all of my energy, and refusing to continue my life as a stutterer, I was able to conquer that “disability”, and go on to do many things where I use my speech in public, like appearing on radio and TV, performing, and addressing large crowds of people, none of which I would ever have done as a stutterer.

Lisa did that by having the courage and determination to change her appearance into the rich, glamorous woman she is today, and I’m sure she’s still pleasantly surprised every time she looks in the mirror, which I hope is a lot these days! (LOL)

The new and improved Lisa Lampanelli, post weight-loss surgery! What an amazing transformation! Photo by Andrew Coppa.

She and her handsome husband Jimmy Cannizzaro, who has gone from looking like a building with clothes to just a garden apartment with clothes,
(and I mean that only in the best way!) (LOL) have done it together. It would have been too weird for just one of them to go through such a drastic change.

Jimmy Cannizzaro and Lisa Lampanelli at the Donald Trump Roast before they both went through their dramatic transformations!

Now her comedy is a whole other thing. She’s known as “The Loveable Queen of Mean”, which is a perfect title for her, as opposed to the “Queen of Mean” title that Leona Helmsley carried. It’s very fitting in Lisa’s case since in my mind she does a very important public service beyond making people laugh. She allows people to laugh at themselves before they laugh at each other.

Very few comics can do that, and the reason she can is because she comes from a place of love. You know that there’s no hatred in her heart for any ethnic group or sexual persuasion, which is why her comedy is so popular with every group. Russell Peters does something similar which is why I refer to him as “The Messiah of Comedy”. His audience is completely multi-ethnic, and within moments he has every group laughing at themselves and each other.

People can sense where you’re coming from when you say something and with Lisa they know it’s all in fun. This Friday, Jan, 18th she brings her unique talents to Westbury Theatre. I can’t wait to go and see her. When I spoke to her earlier this week she had this to say:

“I can’t wait to come back to Westbury Music Fair or whatever the f- that venue is calling itself today. Actually, when I play there, they should just call it the ‘T&A Theatre.’ No, that’s not short for ‘Tits & Ass.’ It’s short for Terrorizing and Antagonizing, which is what I do best! But for some reason people seem to be able to take it, and the people of Long Island are some of the best at that!”

The world needs Lisa Lampanelli. There’s too much Political Correctness and instead of bring people together, by making them respect each other, (which I think may have been the original intention), it’s actually divided people by making every group hypersensitive to the remarks of others. Lisa helps to break down those barriers and in doing so is doing a tremendous public service!

Lisa is also in my new book Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip” for which she gave me such a cool interview!

Jeffrey Gurian and Lisa Lampanelli the day Lisa did the interview for Jeffrey’s book ” Make ‘Em Laugh”!

She’s even part of my ” Dancing With Comedians” series of photos, of which very few comics have made the cut!

Jeffrey Gurian dancing with Lisa Lampanelli as part of his rare “Dancing With Comedians” photo series!

I can’t wait to see her at Westbury and then again at The Apollo at the end of the month! More on that to come!

For Westbury tickets, you can go to:

Ticketmaster — more specifically, http://concerts.livenation.com/event/00004957D54AC7A0?crosssite=TM_US:909543:141

Or you can get tickets on Lisa’s website, which is also cool to experience, at http://www.insultcomic.com

No matter how you do it, just do it and look for me there, and come say “Hi!” If you don’t see me, it just means I’m backstage taking photos! (LOL)

www.HyperSmash.com

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Dean Edwards Packs ‘Em In at Gotham Comedy Club

Dean Edwards is one of those rare guys who starts out strong and gets even stronger the longer he’s on stage. When most comics are winding down, he’s just getting started. Last night at Gotham, the room was so packed they almost had to put strangers at my table! (LOL) That’s packed!

Headliner Dean Edwards with Gotham owner Chris Mazzilli at the gorgeous Gotham Comedy Club!

And Dean greeted me warmly when I came in which made it even more special. Then he told me had had my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” and that made it even better, and then he topped that by telling me he was in Barry Katz’s office out in LA and when he walked in Barry had my book on his desk!

Barry is one of the co-creators of Last Comic Standing and one of the top comedy managers in the biz. Last July in Montreal we did a “two-hug interview” for my Comedy Matters TV, which you can see right here. A “two-hug” interview by the way, is a very rare occurrence! (LOL) This may be the only one in existence!

Dean and I will always have a special moment that we shared because I was standing with him in Montreal during the Just for Laughs Festival when he found out he had gotten SNL. It was very exciting for me, so I can only imagine how HE felt! (LOL)

Dean Edwards and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV outside the showroom at Gotham Comedy Club!

Karen Bergreen was the MC and Karen is always funny, and really knows how to warm up an audience! She mines her relationship with her two little boys for material, and she imitates them perfectly! Not that I know them, but for all intents and purposes, it sounds like she imitates them perfectly!

MC/comic Karen Bergreen onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

Like when they were riding in a cab where the driver was wearing a turban, and her little six year old son asked, ” Mommy, why is a genie driving our taxi?” That is hysterical! I’m sure the driver had no idea what that meant either! (LOL)

And when her older 8 year old son told her something he liked about her that was kind of a backhanded compliment she answered with, “And the only think I like about you more than your little brother is that your school day is longer!”

Harris Stanton came up next and he too is always a crowd pleaser. He was also very close to Patrice Oneal and was on Patrice’s last big show when he taped “Elephant in the Room” down at the Skirball Theatre. I used to see him a lot when I was hanging out at CB’s Comedy Club down on Macdougal Street!

Anyway he totally brought his A-game to the stage, and talked about how New York has changed him since he was a polite young man who came here from down South. Now he raced a woman to a seat on the subway!

Harris Stanton onstage, opening for Dean Edwards at Gotham Comedy Club!

And I like when he does a bit about how people shouldn’t complain if they get hurt being someplace they’re not supposed to be, and he directed this remark mostly to white people. Like if a guy gets bit by a shark. Harris is like, “Where were you when it happened? In the ocean? Well you see that’s the problem. You were in the shark’s home. If you got bit by a shark in the supermarket, I’d feel bad for you, but if you go into the ocean where you don’t belong, you gotta expect that to happen.

Or when guys get lost climbing a mountain. Another white guy thing! You don’t read about Black guys getting lost in an avalanche, or being attacked by a shark while surfing. Only white guys do stuff like that!

Rich Francese always has great lines and he was up next. He said he thought his wife was cheating on him, because the other day he caught her belittling another man! That’s really funny!

Rich “The Bouncer” Francese killing it onstage at Gotham Comedy Club!

He also said he didn’t get the concept of an ‘intervention”. At an intervention the alcoholic or drug addict is surrounded by his parents, relatives and loved ones. Aren’t those the people who made you drink and take drugs in the first place?”

Dean’s audience was waiting for him, and he hit the stage to resounding applause. He talked about lots of different things. Like people who read the NY Times always want you to know they read the NY Times! “Like, … I saw this article in the NY Times, …”

Personally the NY Times makes me nervous. Especially the Sunday edition. I always feel like I’m gonna have to cut out articles and summarize them for the next day as “Current Events” homework! I still hate Sundays because of that memory!

If you take a moment to watch this you’ll see a little film I made some years ago as part of The “Men Who” Series, about men who do very unusual things. It’s called “Men Who Dance In Traffic With The Sunday Edition of the NY Times.” That’s about all it’s good for! (LOL)

In talking about women, Dean says he wants a woman so fine that when she enters a room, she has her own theme music, and it plays automatically!

He did a masterful piece which got an applause break about being the only Black guy on a flight to Russia, where they thought he was Kobe Bryant, and he imitated the Russian accent like it was a Grinch song backwards.

Dean Edwards showing lots of expression during his sold out headlining gig at Gotham!

Accents and impressions are a real strongpoint for Dean, and his Eddie Murphy is only surpassed by his Denzel Washington which he used to close the show the night I saw him.

In talking about Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian he said that never in this country have Black men been so supportive of the KKK! And that Kim Kardashian has taken out more Black men than Sickle Cell Anemia! That is HYSTERICAL!

On comparing his Associates Degree education to that of his wife who is a professional, with a Post-Graduate degree, he said an associates degree is like a receipt that you were in the building, … nothing more! Nothing to brag about!

He even does impressions of animals! When he described Beyonce as being so fine she was like a stallion, he pranced around the stage clip-clopping like a horse.

But ending on introducing his wife to Denzel Washington was the piece-de-resistance, that proves what an “artiste” Dean Edwards is! Plus he’s the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet!

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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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Mark Malkoff’s Bill Murray Show

When I first met Mark Malkoff I had no idea how much we’d have in common. He’s a very interesting guy! (That’s not what we have in common! LOL) He sets himself a difficult goal and then puts all his energy into making that happen.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Mark Malkoff of The Bill Murray Show on My Damn Channel!

Mark hosts The Bill Murray Show on My Damn Channel, and the sole purpose of the show is to get Bill Murray to come to Mark’s house in Queens and have dinner with him and his beautiful wife Christine. If I was Bill I’d go. When I went for the taping, Christine made me a great meal, and the two of them were so nice, and really fun!

So when I was asked to appear and talk about my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, and my experiences with Bill Murray of which I had four to speak of, I was very excited to do so! Also because I love My Damn Channel and Rob Barnett rocks! (He’s the guy who created My Damn Channel, just so you know I’m not giving a shout-out to some random guy! LOL)

Grace Helbig’s “Daily Grace” on MDC is amazing and she gets millions, and millions of hits! I just saw her doing her version of “Gangnam Style” and she’s adorable, and does it so well. She must have gone to dancing school as a little girl in Korea!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the ebullient Grace Helbig from “Daily Grace” on My Damn Channel at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal!

I actually got to interview both Grace and Rob up at Montreal this past July during the Just for Laughs Festival! ( See Grace’s interview above, and Rob’s interview right here!)

So basically all the My Damn Channel stuff is super and I was psyched to be on.

The reason I relate so much to Mark is that Mark sets out to do things that appeal to him, even if they’re unusual. When I looked him up, I realized I had read about some of his exploits without realizing it had been him.

He’s a former “Colbert Report” staffer, who also visited 171 Starbucks locations in Manhattan in less than 24 hours, moved into a Paramus, N.J., IKEA for a week, and convinced New Yorkers to carry him 9.4 miles.

If I had known that I would have told him about my film I made years ago as part of the “Men Who” Series. It was part of a series of short films about men who go to work in unusual ways entitled “Men Who Insist On Being Carried To Work”! You can actually see it on my website at http://www.jeffreygurian.com, where you will also see Peter Dinklage star of HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones” starring in a film called ” Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” and he gets arrested for dancing in a “No Dancing” zone!

So the Bill Murray thing really resonated with me because when I was in my 20’s, before I knew anyone in show biz, there were only three people I ever wanted to meet, and they were Salvador Dali, Woody Allen, and The Beach Boys, and I got to meet and spend an evening with each one of them. I actually made that happen!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Woody Allen in a much more recent photo than when I first met him! I made him laugh by saying, ” Hi Woody, I’m a very close friend of yours!”

And that’s when I realized that if I could lose my self-consciousness, expand my comfort zone, and not be embarrassed to go out and try things, I could basically accomplish anything I wanted, and meet whoever I set out to meet!

Each of those three events is a story in it’s own, but when I realize what I was able to manifest in those days, it’s not unlike what Mark has set out to do. And if you want something bad enough there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.

I live in Manhattan and Mark lives in Queens so ordinarily I would drive, but just that day Pres. Obama came to town, specifically to mess up traffic, so I did something I never did before! I went to Queens by train! Mark gave me great directions and it wasn’t even that bad.

We had a great time and Mark speaks comedy! The guy is a fund of knowledge about comedy and was able to speak to me knowledgeably about people that were way before his time, and people that I knew well like Milton Berle, who was was my original sponsor in the LA Friars Club, Henny Youngman,Jack Rollins, Charlie Joffe, and Alan Zweibel to name just a few!

Also there was My Damn Channel’s Jesse Cowell, the Exec. Director of Original Content, who oversees 30 new series, ( not 10, or 20, but THIRTY!) that will be debuting on My Damn Channel.

Jesse was very low key but is also a lightweight karate champ and when I watched his You Tube videos of him kicking butt, I was like, … this guy’s no lightweight! (LOL) When you’re that well versed in martial arts, you can afford to be low key. It takes great discipline to get that far, and it was always one of my dreams to be that accomplished in Tae Kwon Do. One of my very few unrealized dreams!

In my interview which will air tomorrow, Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012 and will be posted on the My Damn Channel website (http://www.mydamnchannel.com), besides talking about my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh”, you’ll hear me telling my stories of my experiences with Bill Murray:

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bill Murray at The Four Seasons Hotel in NYC! ( No, we weren’t staying there together! LOL)

1. How we originally met up at SNL in the early years!
2. How Bill Murray tried to repair my car one night during the 90’s.
3. Me and Bill Murray at a press conference for his film “Get Low”.
4. A screenplay I wrote, with Bill Murray specifically in mind for the lead called “Searching For Ed Zintz”, where as the result of a practical joke gone wrong, Hollywood winds up honoring a guy who doesn’t exist, it becomes the hottest ticket in town, people are fighting for tickets, and Bill Murray, a failed comedian, gets hired to play the guy “Ed Zintz”! But because of my ADD, I got so confused that while I was with Bill Murray, in his company, alone and right next to him, I forgot to tell him about it!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in yet a second photo with Bill Murray just to prove to myself I was actually there!

Well, if he comes to Mark’s house for dinner, maybe Mark or Christine would be kind enough to mention it, and then we can all make the movie together!

And then I think my next goal after that is to get my own show on My Damn Channel, and have Rob Barnett come to MY house for dinner!

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Saturday Night Live Comes To The Comic Strip

The cast members and writers of SNL seem to have found a home at the legendary club called The Comic Strip, in NYC. This year is the 35th year that it’s open and still going strong. SNL made it’s debut in 1975!

The Strip opened June 1st of 1976, and on June 17th Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition. The reason we know this is that his original sign-up sheet is still on the wall. It’s also in the book that will be out Oct. 1, 2012, called “Make ‘Em Laugh” written by myself and owner/founder Richie Tienken.

Make “Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock will be out on Oct. 1st but is available right now for pre-order at a big discount on Amazon.com!

Recently D.L. Hughley filmed a Comedy Central special there because of it’s history with Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock. Richie was Eddie’s manager for the first eleven years of his career, from his SNL days through Beverly Hills Cop 2, so lots of big comics today grew up dreaming of someday being on that very same stage.

D.L. Hughley with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage at The Comic Strip for DL’s Comedy Central taping!

SNL writer Colin Jost is a regular performer at The Strip and he’s been bringing his buddies from SNL, writers and cast members to do shows at The Strip. Recently one went down on Sunday night. The MC was Danny McDermott, currently working with Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs as his managers.

Danny McDermott MC’ing the SNL show at The Comic Strip!

The packed crowd got to see a hilarious show, with an opening set by Teddy Smith who is always hysterically funny.

Teddy Smith killin’ it onstage at The Strip!

New featured player Kate McKinnon was there and her strength is character work, which is the only way you can get on SNL. I believe her first time on the show she did a sketch with Sofia Vergara, who was the host that week, and it was a faux Pantene commercial where she played Penelope Cruz.

Sofia got all the easy words and Kate as Penelope got all the impossibly difficult scientific words to try and pronounce in her Spanish accent! It was hysterical. This night at The Strip Kate put on a bee hat with little antennaes and discussed the mating habits of bees!

SNL cast member Kate McKinnon showing very unusual but effective mic technique onstage at The Comic Strip!

Mike O’Brien came up, who is in his third year of writing for the show. He is also the host of the very funny Hulu internet show called ” Seven Minutes in Heaven” which he created with another SNL writer Rob Klein! He takes celebs into a closet and tries to make out with them! I always thought only the kids I went to school with knew that game. I had no idea it was real and that other kids knew it too!

Mike also created the sketch “Kickspit Underground Rock Festival”, where they advertise things like spraying viruses on the crowd, and a band named Mrs. Potato Dick. That sketch he wrote with Colin Jost, while both were suffering from sleep deprivation! The part I liked best was that everyone who attended got a pitchfork!

That reminded me of a short film I made several years ago called ” Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, which was part of my “Men Who” Series, including “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and “Men Who Dance In Traffic With The Sunday Edition of the New York Times!” Watch it here if you dare!

SNL writer Mike O’Brien, host of Hulu’s “Seven Minutes in Heaven” onstage at The Strip!

I did a video with Colin recently for Comedy Matters TV which will be up soon. We kept passing each other in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival last month,and we kept saying we had to sit for an interview but it never happened. I knew I’d see him in NY though so we caught up backstage at The Strip one night and got it done!

Colin Jost with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in the luxurious, uncluttered private office of The Comic Strip!

I thought he was kidding when he announced from the stage that his parents were in the audience, because his material at the moment was not particularly parent-friendly, having focussed mostly on bj’s, but he was serious. So afterwards I told him of the first time I met Chelsea Handler, when she was performing and doing BJ jokes and her Dad was in the audience.

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

In the interview I did with Chelsea in Montreal recently I reminded her of that and she said she takes every opportunity she can to torture her father! That video will also be ready very soon!

And cast member Vanessa Bayer also performed at The Strip, and she’s adorable, and very funny! We all hung out backstage while they were waiting to go on. Her celeb impressions on the show include Kourtney Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, (although now she’ll need a short blonde wig for that one!), and Hillary Clinton!

SNL performer Vanessa Bayer onstage at The Comic Strip!

The last SNL performer to go on was Jay Pharaoah. His Denzel Washington is so killer! He and Colin Jost are both in my “Make ‘Em Laugh”, and when I saw him in Montreal at the Just for Laughs festival, he read out loud from the intro written by Chris Rock, in Chris Rock’s voice which was absolutely hysterical.

Jay Pharoah of SNL, the man of so many voices, onstage at The Comic Strip!

We were all just chillin’ in the lobby with JB Smoove, his manager Rick Dorfman, JB’s wife Shahida Omar, Lou Wallach past head of Comedy Central and a bunch of other people, when Jay took the book and started reading as Chris. I filmed it and the video will be ready for you guys very soon! Jay said when Chris sees it he’ll probably just “nod his head like he usually does when he sees my ass!”

Finishing up the show were Gary Gulman, who can take one concept and run with it for an extended period of time. Like when he examines the history of Greece and how they fell as a culture. They went from one of the most educated and sophisticated cultures in the world, to focussing on salad. One day in modern times they decided to put all their efforts into salad, and they knocked it out of the park!

Gary Gulman, an expert in Greek Salad, making people laugh at The Comic Strip!

Last up was Phil Nee, one of the original Asian comedians whose parents were so avant-garde, they were Asian before it was even popular! You can always count on Phil as a strong closing act, and that’s exactly what he did. It was a great night at The Comic Strip!

Phil Nee doing what he does best, onstage at The Comic Strip!

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