Posts Tagged Susie Essman

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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My Synchronicitous Meeting With Larry David

People often tell me I know everyone in comedy.

If you watch this little video, you’ll hear Nick Kroll and Paul Provenza telling me exactly that, and until a few days ago my answer was always, ” Yeh, but I don’t know Larry David.”

For whatever reason, in all my years in the comedy world, our paths have never crossed, but I’m a huge fan and I always wanted to meet him.

So I’m at LaGuardia Airport , flying to Florida and who do I run into, … Larry David.  And he was alone.   And I was nervous to approach him, and I didn’t know what to say!

I turned into a little girl!   Only knowing his cantankerous ( I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before! LOL) character on Curb, I was reluctant to go over and introduce myself, not knowing what kind of response to expect.

I had been trying to reach him as recently as October 23rd to request a video message to Susie Essman, because I was producing a gala in her honor as part of the Gold Coast International Film Festival for which I was named “Head of Live Comedy Programming”,  and had gotten funny video messages from Richard Lewis, (which for a joke, we filmed in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club), Mario Cantone, and D.L. Hughley, but I couldn’t get to Larry.  I even have a friend who’s close to him but even he was reluctant to approach Larry, which made me even more nervous!

In D.L. Hughley’s interview, we made up to say something like, I tried to get J.B. Smoove and The Wayans Brothers but D.L. was the only one available.

Jeffrey Gurian with D.L. Hughely after D.L.'s show at Gotham Comedy Club!

Jeffrey Gurian with D.L. Hughely after D.L.’s show at Gotham Comedy Club!

 

Jeffrey Gurian with J.B. Smoove on the red carpet of Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars, holding Jeffrey's book ""Make 'Em Laugh" , with an intro by Chris Rock!

Jeffrey Gurian with J.B. Smoove on the red carpet of Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars, holding Jeffrey’s book “”Make ‘Em Laugh” , with an intro by Chris Rock!

 

Jeffrey Gurian bacjstage with Jeff Garlin at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian backstage with Jeff Garlin at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC!

 

But I realized that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.    I had to do it despite my nervousness.  What’s the worst he could say?   It felt like an episode of “Curb!”

To add to the tension, I was running out of time because he was walking towards his gate, with papers in his hand.  There was a terrible fog and everyone’s flights had been delayed for several hours.  I could tell by the look on his face that he was troubled which added to the tension of me approaching him.

Do I tell him that Jerry Seinfeld is in my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” that has an intro by Chris Rock?

Do I tell him I’m friends with Susie Essman, Richard Lewis, Jeff Garlin and J.B. Smoove, or will I just look like a name-dropper?

I realized I would have to do what I had been doing for most of my life, …. confronting my fear and doing something I was nervous to do.  It’s how I finally got up on stage to perform.

I knew that if I waited too long debating on what to say, I might miss the opportunity all together and never forgive myself, so I tapped him on the shoulder, which for whatever reason is where most people usually tap each other, when they want to get another person’s attention, and I said ” Hey Larry, I’m Jeffrey Gurian a comedy writer from NY and we have a lot of mutual friends!”

He was very friendly, gracious, and open and went and sat down while I stood in front of him talking to him.  The whole entire time, I kept wondering whether I was overstaying my welcome.  I got to tell him about the gala I produced in honor of Susie Essman, the video with Richard Lewis, how J.B. Smoove took a photo holding my book, that Jerry Seinfeld gave me an interview for, and he took it all in.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry's interview for the book "Make 'Em Laugh."

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry’s interview for the book “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

I told him the book has interviews with Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock, Judah Friedlander, and about 50 more big stars that started  at The Comic Strip, several of whom talk about Larry!

And I told him the story that Comic Strip owner Richie Tienken always told me about Larry.  There were times in Larry’s early career when if he wasn’t happy on stage, either with his set or the audience, he’d throw the mic on the floor and storm off in the middle of his set.

Richie said that mics were expensive, so one night they played a trick on Larry, and glued the mic into the stand, and when he went to throw it he couldn’t get it out!  Larry smiled and said it was a good story, but he didn’t remember it.  Richie Tienken re-confirmed it for me when i got back to New York.

As I was about to leave, I thought of shaking his hand, but I had a feeling he wasn’t into shaking hands in general and to tell you the truth neither am I.  I actually wear a little bottle of Purell hanging from my belt at all times.   So I said to him, ” You don’t shake hands do you?  And he said, ” I prefer not to!”, at which point I pointed to my Purell and we had a good laugh.

I really wanted to ask for a photo but that’s where I drew the line.   Things were going so well I didn’t want to take the chance of him saying “No.”

However we did exchange contact info and I already sent him a copy of my book with a note that got delivered just yesterday, the date of  which will vary depending on when you read this Blog post! (LOL)

 

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Jeffrey Gurian Named Head of Live Comedy Programming for Third Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival

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When Peter Rosegarten from The Conversation Company called and asked me to get involved with the Gold Coast International Film Festival, on Long Island, I was open to it right away because of who the request came from.  Peter and Rory are legends in the comedy world, and I was proud that they thought to call me.

I met with Aviva Miller the head of events and planning and we decided to work together.  They wanted to honor a big comedy star with the Artist of Distinction Award in Comedy so I called my friend Susie Essman and she accepted the invitation to be honored.

Susie Essman and Jeffrey Gurian at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC.

Susie Essman and Jeffrey Gurian at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC.

 

We are holding the event in a gorgeous new theatre called “The Space at Westbury”, that can accommodate 800 people.

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Aviva Miller, Head of Events for  GCIFF, and Jeffrey Gurian in the lobby of the new "Space at Westbury."

Aviva Miller, Head of Events for GCIFF, and Jeffrey Gurian in the lobby of the new “Space at Westbury.”

Susie just got back from starring in 8 sold out shows in London’s famed Soho Theatre and headlines in major venues all across the country.

We will be showing a little video at the event where I got some funny video messages from friends of Susie like Mario Cantone, D.L. Hughley, and Richard Lewis, also from Curb, who shot his video in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club.

I knew he was in there but in my excitement in finding him, I couldn’t wait till he was finished doing his business. He didn’t seem all that happy to see me!

 

Richard Lewis on the toilet in the Men's Room of The Friars Club.

Richard Lewis on the toilet in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club.

I got him to calm down by showing him an article about myself in the Friars Club Epistle.

 

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Lewis in the Men's Room of The Friars Club, reading an article about Jeffrey in the Friars Epistle.

Jeffrey Gurian with Richard Lewis in the Men’s Room of The Friars Club, reading an article about Jeffrey in the Friars Epistle.

 

This is a little video I shot with Susie recently when she hosted AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live at the Gotham Comedy Club in NYC.

The evening will also be honoring actor Paul Sorvino with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Paul has been in 140 movies, 6 television series, 2 operas, 3 Broadway plays, numerous musicals on Broadway and has performed at major theaters across the country … and that’s just a part of his tremendous resume.

The festival will be presenting  a special screening of his new film “How Sweet It Is,” followed by a Q&A with the legendary actor on Tuesday October 22 at the Soundview Theater in Port Washington.

 

Jeffrey Gurian, socialite/philanthropist Karen Koeningsberg, and Paul Sorvino celebrating Karen's birthday at The Dream Hotel PHD, Meatpacking District, NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian, socialite/philanthropist Karen Koeningsberg, and Paul Sorvino celebrating Karen’s birthday at The Dream Hotel PHD, Meatpacking District, NYC!

For tickets and information go to http://tinyurl.com/GCIFF-HowSweet.

For sponsorship information and tickets to the Gala, visit: http://www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org/gala

And finally the Mindel Family will be honored with the Honorary Founders Award.  They own several hotels through their company named  Samar Hospitality, which is a combination of the names Sam and Mary.

The Mindel Family has been a loyal supporter of the Great Neck Arts Center for many years, and through their company Samar Hospitality, they own and built The Inn At Great Neck, as well as other hotels like the Viana Hotel and Spa.

Sam and Mary Mindel were Holocaust Survivors that raised their children, Joseph, Marlene and Alan in Great Neck.  They believed strongly in supporting their community and instilled that in their children.

When they built the Inn at Great Neck, the realization of a long time family dream, incorporating an artistic touch was a must.  You can see their love of art throughout the Hotel; from the hand painted mural of the roaring 20’s to the gorgeous paintings in the restaurant.

Artistic design elements can also be found in the other Samar Hospitality hotels as well.

Most recently when the Viana Hotel and Spa was built, their son Alan incorporated the use of the ancient art of Feng Shui and specially commissioned art pieces to make the hotel a unique and stunning facility.

The Mindel Family has not only hosted many events for the Great Neck Arts Center at the Inn at Great Neck but has also catered events at the Center itself.  Alan and his wife Kara have brought their children there over the years to help continue their family legacy of love for the arts.

The Mindels are absolutely thrilled to be associated with and honored by the Great Neck Arts Center. 

We’ve done several media events leading up to the festival and all have been really fun!

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Sen. Alfonse Damato, Jeffrey Gurian and Aviva Miller at Oheka Castle in Hungtington, Long Island.

Jeffrey Gurian with Congressman Steve Israel in the Owner's Box at Citi Field.

Jeffrey Gurian with Congressman Steve Israel in the Owner’s Box at Citi Field.

 

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Producer Emily Conner, Jeffrey Gurian, and Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling at Citi Field.

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WPIX news anchor Tamsen Fadal with Jeffrey Gurian in the owner’s box at Citi Field.

Singer/entertainer Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin with Jeffrey Gurian at the GCIFF press conference in Manhasset, Long Island.

Singer/entertainer Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin with Jeffrey Gurian at the GCIFF press conference in Manhasset, Long Island.

Regina Gil founded the Great Neck Arts Center more than 20 years ago and has worked tirelessly with her team of Aviva, Gala Coordinator Ronni Berger, Assoc. Director Caroline Sorokoff, Coordinator of the Furman Film Series Katie Mancher, Gala Chair Bonnie Zarabi, and Honorary Gala Co-Chairs Jill and Michael T. Lamoretti to make this third annual film festival the great success it will be.

 

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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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"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)

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Rick Newman Has The Comedy Midas Touch!

It’s always a good feeling when you can be happy for a friend’s success, and when your friend happens to be Rick Newman, you could literally be happy all the time! (LOL)

Rick and I go back a long way, as we were reminiscing on the phone the other day, and he was kind enough to give me a very special scoop which I will share with you Comedy Matters guys!

Rick Newman and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Friars Roast of Pat Cooper in 2007!

Rick and his partner, Peter Martin, have undertaken a complete overhaul of what was The Triad Theatre on West 72nd Street, (which has been owned by Peter for the last 16 years!), to come up with a place “non pareil” in New York nightlife, (in other words, that can not be compared to, for you non-linguists), which will tentatively be called “Variety 72 Theatre.”

A photo of the new, completely refurbished Triad Theatre, NY home of Celebrity Autobiography, on West 72nd Street. set to re-launch this coming November!

This is the former space where once a month, on Monday evenings, for the last four years, Rick has been offering his international hit “Celebrity Autobiography”, where celebs come in and read other celebs autobiographies, and audiences go crazy for it.

Some of the New York regulars who appear are Susie Essman, Joy Behar, Matthew Broderick, John Leguizamo, Martin Short, Brooke Shields, Mario Cantone, Sherri Shepherd, Alan Zweibel, Rachel Dratch, and Kristen Wiig! It’s like a Who’s Who of showbiz! And I hear there’s actually a waiting list of celebs who would like to appear.

This new expensively overhauled theatre is set to be re-launched this coming November, right in time to run a week of shows during Caroline Hirsch’s New York Comedy Festival. As a matter of fact, the entire month of November will feature new “avant garde” productions in comedy, music, one person shows, plays, and seminars, and right now I’m thinking about what I could present in that one-of-a-kind space! According to Rick, “there’s no other place quite like it”, and he should know!

They even installed a complete state-of-art projection unit for screenings plus a luxury green-room. Rick has always stayed current with trends so part of the transformation of the theater “is to make it flexible and be able to use as a studio for the Internet”, he said.

“It’s a natural extension of what Peter and I have been doing for many years … providing new platforms and exposure for new writers, musicians, comediennes, comedians, bands, original plays, one person shows, animation, short films,etc. We are hoping to be able to provide new original programming for the Internet and for fresh talent and their ideas.”

And it will be nice not to have to run all the way downtown for this experience, as many art houses are down in Tribeca. This is great because it’s on the Upper West Side! I can’t wait to take him up on his offer to give me a private tour!

And now with Rick’s collaboration with longtime friend Orin Wolf of Off Broadway Booking, (which is a hot beautique agency that takes successful Off-Broadway shows on the road), Celebrity Autobiography will be touring internationally as well. They always wanted to do something together and I think that this definitely falls into that category! (LOL)

As a Broadway producer Orin is involved with the new hit “Once” which opened to rave reviews on Sunday, March 18, 2012. A national tour will begin in the summer of 2013, and the cast recently appeared on The View.

ONCE has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was recently named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, the Outer Critic Circle and the Lucille Lortel Awards. In addition, the production has been nominated for three Drama League Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.

And the story of how Rick came to be involved with Celebrity Autobiography is also a great story. Four years ago, our mutual friend Susie Essman, star of HBO’s hit “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, called Rick all excited and told him he needed to come and see her in this show Celebrity Autobiography. He went, and was hooked from the first night.

Rick Newman, Susie Essman, and Richie Tienken the day we did Rick and Susie’s interviews at The Comic Strip for the new book on the 35 year history of The Strip called “Make ‘Em Laugh”!

The four producers at the time, Peter Martin, Angelo Fraboni, Eugene Pack, and Dayle Reyfel, were seeking a fifth producer, and Rick became that producer, but with his own billing. It’s Peter Martin, Angelo Fraboni, Eugene Pack, and Dayle Reyfel in association with Rick Newman! That’s very cool!

The final part of this exclusive Rick Newman scoop is that on top of everything else, he is the Exec. Producer of a new online series for Comedy Central called “Thirty Seconds Over Washington” and it’s an updated version of a show he did 16 years ago for HBO, with Dennis Miller and Bill Maher.

It consists of political commercials with comics doing analyses and comedic commentary before and after the commercial. I love stuff like that because it’s so fun and so easy to poke fun at these pompous buffoons who take themselves so seriously, while making decisions that affect the course of all of our lives. This is a show I can’t wait to see. I’m not particularly political, but you don’t have to be Mort Sahl in order to see the humor in this type of stuff.

Rick appears in my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh- 35 Years of The Comic Strip, The Greatest Comedy Club Of All Time”, a book I wrote with Richie Tienken the owner and founder of The Comic Strip. What is especially nice about having Rick in the book is that at the end of 1972, Rick opened up the second big comedy club in New York City called “Catch A Rising Star”. The Strip opened in 1976.

Before that it was just Budd Friedman’s “Improv” which opened in 1963. Catch had regulars like Larry David, Robert Klein, David Brenner, and Billy Crystal. Richie Tienken was present when I did Rick’s interview at The Strip and Richie had the opportunity to tell Rick that he was his idol and the inspiration for The Comic Strip. That was a very special moment in comedy history and I felt privileged to be present for that, … with these two lions of comedy!

Rick Newman and Richie Tienken, the two “lions” of comedy at The Comic Strip, for the book I wrote with Richie called “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

When I launched Comedy Matters back in 1999, Rick was one of the first, if not THE first one-on-one interview I did, because I never wanted to just focus on the talent. I wanted Comedy Matters to also be about the people who made things happen in the comedy world, and Rick has always been one of those people.

Rick Newman being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian for Jeffrey’s new column at the time called “Comedy Matters”, circa 1999. We both had darker hair and matching moustaches!

On top of everything else he does, Rick runs the Activities and Entertainment Committee at The Friars Club with Prior Stewie Stone, and plans special events for the club.

Rick Newman and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Friars Club back in 2006!

We wish Rick lots of luck in all of his many endeavors!

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Susie Essman in Cindy Adams' Column-NY Post

Susie Essman got most of Cindy Adam’s column this past Tuesday, and she deserves it. Truth be told she deserves the whole, entire column! Everybody loves Susie as Susie Greene on HBO’s Larry David hit, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” If I remember correctly, Larry saw Susie perform at the Friars Roast of Jerry Stiller and liked her so much, he cast her in “Curb.”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Susie Essman at The Comic Strip!

I have the exact details of that story in the interview I did with Susie for the book I’m writing on the history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, a club where she performed in her early days, but I’d have to look it up and I’m too lazy! I’m proud to say that Susie and I are friends for many years! We often joke that she and I have more photos together than she and her husband!

Jeffrey Gurian, Susie Essman, and Richie Tienken owner and founder of The Comic Strip after Susie's interview for the book on the 35 year history of The Strip!

I’m very happy for her that she and Jimmy Harder, a commercial real estate broker got married back in 2008. They got married at The Friars Club, and multiple Emmy-award winning writer/producer Tom Fontana who is one of the most talented and prolific TV writer/producers in the business, and who also happens to be a minister, officiated at the ceremony. Among other things, he wrote and produced such groundbreaking TV series as “Oz”, “St. Elsewhere”, and “Homicide: Life On The Street.” Tom is also an old friend, and was the Vice Pres. of the Writers Guild East where at least one of the photos below was taken!

Dean Winters, Jeffrey Gurian, and Tom Fontana at a party in NYC!

Jeffrey Gurian with Tom Fontana at the Writer's Guild Awards!

Susie’s TV husband Jeff Greene is played by the hysterically funny Jeff Garlin!

Jeffrey Gurian backstage at Carolines with Jeff Garlin from HBO's hot series, "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

I actually knew Susie’s Dad Leonard, who was a wonderful physician. He was an internist, ( which you would think all doctors were, since most of our organs are internal, right? LOL ), and he was partners with a doctor I went to. Once when my doctor was away, Susie’s Dad treated me, but in those days, I didn’t realize he was Susie’s Dad. He taught me something I never forgot. I had a pain in the back of my head, down into my neck, that wouldn’t go away, and he took his thumb and pressed really hard on something in the back of my head that made me see stars, but the pain went away. I have used that technique ever since!

Jeffrey Gurian with Susie Essman in Montreal at the Just for Laughs Festival posing with his book that she is in called "Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive."

Once when Susie was appearing at Carolines Comedy Club, she came down with some sort of eye infection and was afraid she’d have to cancel her gig. I wrote her a prescription for antibiotics, and according to her I saved the day, cause her eye cleared up right away and she was able to perform. How I was able to write her a prescription is a whole other story, but to keep it simple, I was and still am a doctor, and am licensed to write prescriptions!

Jeffrey Gurian and Susie Essman at an event at The Friars Club in NYC!

Susie will be headlining Carolines Comedy Club this coming week, and she doesn’t know it yet, but I’m planning on coming down to say “Hi!”. Please don’t tell her! I want it to be a surprise!

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Judah Friedlander Comes To The Comic Strip For Interview

On June 1, 1976 Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs opened the legendary comedy club called The Comic Strip.  It was at 1568 Second Avenue in Manhattan, between 81st and 82nd streets.  It’s still there and thriving.

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

On June 17th, 1976, barely two weeks after it opened, a young, unknown comic named Jerry Seinfeld came in to audition.  His sign-up sheet still hangs in the club.  It says ” Good.  Definitely put on Monday 6/21.”

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano and Jeffrey Gurian below Ray's old photo on the wall at The Comic Strip!

Not only did Seinfeld get his start there, but so did Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and many other huge stars who called that club their home.

Jeffrey Gurian, Susie Essman, and Richie Tienken after Susie's interview for the book!

Jim Gaffigan and Jeffrey after Jim's interview at The Strip. Richie must have been hiding!

Richie and Bob went on to manage Eddie Murphy for 11 years, from his SNL career through Beverly Hills Cop 2.  Richie also managed Adam Sandler, Tony Rock, and Colin Quinn.

Jeffrey Gurian, Tony Rock, and Richie Tienken after Tony's interview at The Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian, Judah Friedlander, and Richie Tienken under the photo taken BEFORE Judah was World Champion! ( over his left shoulder!)

I have been chosen by Richie, to write the book on the history of the club, and so far have interviewed about 26 of the biggest names that have come out of the club, including Seinfeld, Larry Miller, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Colin Quinn, Ray Romano, and Chris Rock.

Recently Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock fame, and The World Champion, came to the club to sit down with Richie and I to reminisce about his beginnings, and his memories of the club in the early days of his career.  This is a little video excerpt of the interview.

Jeffrey Gurian Interviews Judah Friedlander at The Comic Strip

I hope you’ll like it enough to send it around to your friends!!!

 

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