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Comedy Matters Club Roundup with Nick Kroll, Ike Barinholtz, Richard Kind, Chris Distefano, Jiaoying Summers and lots more!!!



We lost two icons in the world of comedy within one day of each other. They had been friends for more than 40 years and passed away one day apart! Richard was in France at the castle he bought with the money he got from when Hulk Hogan dropped him on his head on live TV! (See it on You Tube!) And Rick, the founder of Catch a Rising Star, had been living in LA.

My friendship with Belz went back to the beginning of SNL in the mid 70’s when he was guest hosting, and in those days they had assigned seating. I arrived to find Arnold Schwarzenegger sitting in my seat and I had to ask him to move! Very politely I might add! (LOL) True story! He was very gracious, he apologized, we exchanged information (pre-cellphones), and I wound up writing jokes for him to do on the Mike Douglas Show when he was promoting Pumping Iron.

In 1992 Belz agreed to star in a little short futuristic comedy film I made for Playboy TV, called “The Bar Channel”, which predicted video-dating many years before it actually happened. It starred Belz and Phoebe Legere!

When I did the book “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the history of The Comic Strip with an intro by Chris Rock I invited Rick Newman to be in the book. Comic Strip founder Richie Tienken was good with it because when he opened The Strip in 1976, which was only a few blocks from Catch a Rising Star, he and Rick became friends and helped each other out sharing comics.

When Rick came to The Strip for the interview they hadn’t seen each other in years and now both had white hair and Richie was able to tell Rick that he had been his idol and inspiration, and I got a photo with both of them together. It was a very special moment. Hard to believe they’re both gone!

With Rick Newman and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip-2010


I love walking up to a venue where a friend of mine is performing and seeing the marquee say “SOLD OUT.” That must be such an exciting thing for a performer to experience. That was the case when I went to see Mike Cannon headline to over 400 people. I think that’s the biggest audience I ever performed for.

His opener was Casey Balsham who told the audience she was 40, was 8 months pregnant and did a bunch of funny stuff about being a slut! She brought her A-game and did a really strong half hour.

Then Mike came out and killed it for a smooth hour talking about being a fairly new Dad, and lots of family stuff, and afterwards we all hung out in the green room before the big after party. It was all of Mike’s buddies from New York Comedy Club, like Mike Feeney his co-host on their podcast The Irish Goodbye, Brendan Sagalow, Adam Gilbert, Phil From Chico and Matt Pavich, plus his manager , and owner of NY Comedy Club Emilio Savone, who needless to say was very proud of Mike!


Then I got to ask Mike how he felt about all those people coming out just to see him!

A lot of the people backstage also showed up to celebrate James Mattern’s birthday at comic Joe DeRosa’s amazing sandwich place called Joey Roses on Rivington Street, and Joe also catered Mike Cannon’s green room and the after-party! Good to see Adam Gold there of Adam Gold Management. James, who is one of the best hosts in NY, has been touring and opening for Chris Distefano! More on that later!!!



Being on the cover of Sutton Place Magazine had it’s perks and one of them was that I got invited to attend the showing of a 6400 square foot, 5 bedroom, $6 million dollar apartment on Sutton Place being shown by Ryan Serhant formerly of Million Dollar Listing, and his team led by Jamin Jamming!

The place was amazing as you might expect and it was announced that there would be a celebrity guest! Who did it turn out to be? None other than Jiaoying Summers, who came in from Cali to do a new hour at the beautiful venue Le Poisson Rouge, known more for doing large music events like Rockers on Broadway than doing comedy! Although I did go there once to see The Impractical Jokers!

It was so great to see her again. She was there with her brother Derrick, and You Tube star/comedian Mario Adrion. Her show was that very night and so Jamin who is new in comedy and I made plans to go, and needless to say, the show was amazing!

Julia Kastner did a cold open, then Mario Adrion took over as host, followed by Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, Alyce Chan, and Andre Kim, he of the very deep voice who I’ve performed with several times before and then Jiaoying came out and slayed the crowd.

Mario is very funny, had great stage presence, and was a great host. Andre, being Korean, was forced to admit he does not know Kim Jong-Un, and Alyce Chan said she had two pregnancy scares. One just turned 9 and the other turned 6!

Jiaoying came out to HUGE applause, and claims she’s not worried about being cancelled because no one can pronounce her name! I actually love the way she speaks. It’s not a typical Chinese accent! It’s like a hybrid and she pronounces her words in a very exact way. Maybe because she went to college in Kentucky, … which I always thought was a made-up place! (LOL) It always struck me funny that no one even HAD an accent until they left the country where they were born and went somewhere else. Suddenly they developed an accent! (LOL)

She did a flawless hour ending in crowd work and left the stage to resounding applause as you can see in this video! My favorite line is when she says ” My sister is getting married, but she’s way too young. She’s actually older than me but her name is Way Too Young!” That is HILARIOUS!!! She even has her own stylist, Vita Horowitz who gets mentioned a lot on stage, especially by Mario!

Kosha Dillz and I had been planning to meet up after connecting on social media, so it was great to hear his story about he got to be on Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out! He was just rapping in the street as he is prone to do, outside of MSG when Fat Joe came along and joined him. Dillz’s gf, Miranda Lapides of The Shabbat Drop, filmed it and the video went viral leading to a video audition, and the rest is history. He wound up doing season 19 and 20 and has 11 episodes coming out! So awesome! I LOVE stories like that because you never know where a break will come from, but you have to be putting yourself out there in order to get it!


Emilio and NY Comedy Club are doing all kinds of special events. In this one Holly J. Salerno a very talented artist hand drew 100 different comedians over a period of 100 days, and their pictures were posted on the wall of The Foley Gallery on the Lower East Side. I looked very, very closely but I wasn’t up there! But she promised me I’d be 101! (LOL)


The exhibit was followed by a kick-ass comedy show hosted by the very funny Phil Duckett, with Katie Boyle and her lovely Irish accent, my old friend Aminah Imani who said that Phil was channeling his inner Steve Harvey, Mike Cannon who laughingly said he has two older sisters so he has a history of hitting women, another old friend Calise Hawkins, who shouted me out from the stage as a “comedy aficionado” but had trouble saying “aficionado” which can be a hard word at times, Ashley Austin-Morris, newly engaged who told a man in the audience not to worry that another male comedian would be out in a minute, James Mattern who is just so quick it’s amazing, and what makes him a great host and warm-up comic, and then the ever-classy and hilarious Chuck Nice who wondered why he was the only comedian asked to pose in the nude, and then had clothes painted on for the final result!

And this event inspired me to bring back my Comedy Matters Girls of the Month piece featuring three special women who love and support live comedy, … just by coming out!!!


When 92NY lets me know they’re having a comedy show I always show up because they have good taste in comedy and get great shows. This time it was a showcase performance show on the first night of Purim which is one of the happier Jewish holidays. It commemorates another time when the Jewish people avoided being wiped out thanks to the bravery of a woman known as Queen Esther.

I have no photos of her because it was a long time ago, but it seems that she was a very smart and brave Jewish woman who was married to a king, Ahashverosh, which is a name you don’t hear a lot these days. When Esther learned that Haman, who worked for the king, was plotting against the Jews, she summoned the courage to tell the king about Haman’s evil plan and saved her people. And now we eat “Hamantashen” which are triangular pastries somehow named after the evil Haman. Not sure why! I’ll have to ask my Rabbi!

The show was in a little secret room I had never seen before and it was produced by Michelle Slonim. I got there late from another event, but just in time to see Pamela Rae Schuller who is always funny, and does a lot for disabled people, and Matthew Broussard who was the headliner and who I was shocked to find out was Jewish. He’s Cajun and Jewish, grew up down South, and was hilarious! And I don’t use that term lightly.

He described himself as sounding like a weatherman, and the reason why Mitt Romney lost. And he described Moses as a famous union leader. He also referred to Sodom and Gomorrah as “SoGo”! #veryclever He lost his Dad but he said his Mom is bipolar so it still feels like he has two parents. I really enjoyed his set! And I will be back at the 92Y later in this column!


I could say “Joyface” all day. And I could listen to Chris Distefano all day, so you put those two things together and you have a winning combination. Chris is hosting a new show on VICE TV and the premiere party was at a place called Joyface. He was there with his team, The Homeless Pimp and V who were busy filming most of the night!

I couldn’t wait to get there. It’s a show that reminisces about stuff from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and as Exec. Producer Ryan Ling put it, ” It’s funny stuff that would have gone viral, but it was before the internet!” Ryan knows funny because he created both Girl Code and Guy Code for MTV both of which Chris was on! Chris made me feel very welcome even though he found out about me and his Mom!!! (LOL)


Jimmy Kimmel is also an Exec. Producer but was not at the party. Mike Cannon who’s showing up everywhere these days was listed as a producer and told me he’s also a writer. The first panel was Roy Wood Jr., Ricky Cobb, Chris Gethard, and Napoleon Emil. Napoleon did show up for the party. If the others came it would have been after I left. Really fun time!



I can only imagine how excited Nick Kroll was when he got the call from Mel Brooks asking him to Exec. Produce History of the World Part 2, 40 years after History of the World Part 1. Nick says that Mel was his idol.

I can relate in some way since I grew watching Milton Berle on TV, never in my wildest dreams thinking I would ever know him and when he became a friend and my sponsor in The Friars Club, every time I was on the phone with him I’d be thinking, ” I’m on the phone with Milton Berle, and he actually knows he’s talking to me!” And then when I got to write for him and heard him saying my words it was a whole other level.

So for Nick Kroll and Ike Barinholtz to have the honor of being asked by Mel Brooks to carry on the tradition of something he started 40 years ago, it had to be an amazing feeling. And they talked about it at the premiere of History of the World Part 2 at 92NY in a talk moderated by legendary actor Richard Kind.

Nick said that the first place they took the project to was Hulu. He described their meeting with Hulu execs as Mel at 96 years old, dressed in a sharp blazer with a red handkerchief and at the end of the pitch meeting he says to the execs, ” Just so you know, everyone in town wants this show, so buy it now or lose your chance!” And the 92NY audience erupted in laughter!

Ike said that Mel told him that the only reason he decided to do the show is because he needs healthcare! Ike also whispered something to Richard Kind, and Nick disclosed that he asked Richard to mention that he won Celebrity Jeopardy!

Mel warned them that they’d get some letters and he said that was good, meaning that they’d “ruffle some feathers”, which Nick said showed that Mel still had faith in the postal system! (LOL)

Nick also said that Mel’s jokes are sprinkled throughout and there was one he had been wanting to get in somewhere for 50 years. Robert E. Lee is sitting with General Grant at Appomattox signing documents ending the Civil War, and as he gets up his sword accidentally hits three of his soldiers in the balls!

Richard asked very insightful and funny questions and Ike said it was the first time the moderator was more famous that the people he was interviewing. It was a very special night and I was so glad to be able to go back after the show to congratulate them all on such a fun event!


That’s it for this issue but the next one will be coming soon because Comedy Matters TV is back with a vengeance!!! (LOL) Follow Jeffrey on IG at @jeffreygurian and on You Tube at

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So I’m sitting at a table at The Stand catching up with Dan LaMorte who I hadn’t seen in a while, and who is exactly the opposite of his name. His last name might translate to mean “the death” in Italian, but Dan is all about life, having lost 190 pounds since I first met him.

We first met years ago when he opened for me at a gig in Altoona, PA, and we met to have breakfast the next day. I was so impressed with his work ethic because as I recall he was making his way across the United States in his own car, doing gigs in every state.

When he was 23 his doctor told him he had a fatty liver, which sounds like it’s not a good thing to have at any age, and he took control of his life and started running and eating right and lost the 190.

Now he’s engaged to comic Natalie Cuomo, with probable marital plans for 2024, totally tatted up as is she, and they have about 800,000 followers between them. They also tour together so they get to spend lots of time together on the road. Maybe some day he’ll let me open for HIM!!!

Anyway, while we’re chatting he mentions to me that David Spade is about to go on downstairs in the main showroom. I hadn’t seen David in many years, so of course I went down to check it out. We met originally up at SNL when I was writing for Phil Hartman. I used to go up there a lot in those days.

Needless to say David was killing it and the audience loved him. I shot a few seconds of him talking because I never post anyone saying their jokes but just to show he was there. It was his first time at The Stand, but I’m sure not the last. The manager told me his assistant called about a half hour before and said that David was in town and would like to come by and do a spot. The power of stardom!!!

When he finished his set he left the club so fast I only had time to say hello and didn’t have a chance to tell him I had a feature script I wanted him to star in. Maybe he’ll read this???

See the reaction he got in the video below!


Up at the bar I ran into Tara Cannistraci and Tracey Carnazzo who does all the “Trash Talk” podcasts reviewing what goes on on the reality shows Teen Mom, 90 Day Fiance, and Catfish. She was with her co-host Noelle Winters, and they are besties since they were kids. They used to review the shows amongst themselves and decided they should do them as a podcast!


Tracey’s got a lot coming up. She’s opening for Adrienne Iapalucci from April 13-15th at the new, revised Yonkers Comedy Club which I’m glad to hear just re-opened under the guidance of Jeff Pichardo. Congrats to Jeff on that!!! Adrienne recently opened for Louis CK at Madison Square Garden. That had to be crazy!!!

In March from the 8th to the 11th she’ll be opening for Luis J Gomez also at Yonkers, and she’s real excited about opening for Hannah Berner on April 16th at The Palladium. There’s always a lot of action around the bar at The Stand. Hannah Berner will also be at City Winery on March 3rd and 4th along with Joe List from Louis CK’s movie “The 4th of July”, and “Dice” opener Eleanor Kerrigan.


If you haven’t yet been to the City Winery off the West Side Highway you have to check it out. It’s around 15th or 16th street and there’s two rooms for comedy, a main room and “The Loft.” Nick Kroll and John Mulaney play the main room and then showcase shows play The Loft.

A week or so ago, while I was jumping around, I popped by to see a bunch of my friends all on the same show. It was T.J. Miller, Anthony Devito, Mark Normand, Rachel Feinstein, Usama Siddiquee, who was hosting, and a very funny new friend Sydney Castillo, who also writes for TV. What a powerful line-up!

They had held a seat for me but it’s always more fun for me to go backstage to see what people are up to, and then go out to watch the performances. That’s what “jumping around” is all about!

TJ’s You Tube special is very special. It’s called Dear Jonah and it’s dedicated to and named after an audience member who seemed to have special needs and was very excited to participate in TJ’s taping. I recall watching it when it first came out. I had run into TJ at The Comic Strip and he sent me an early copy to watch. To his credit TJ encouraged Jonah to participate and did not treat him like a heckler, which showed so much kindness on TJ’s part.

I have to say that TJ is one of the most creative, loosest, most relaxed performers on stage that I have ever seen. You never know what he will do from playing the nose whistle to handing out things to the audience, to doing karaoke in the middle of his act! He’s been a friend for a long time but what I didn’t know is that he has a line of hot sauce, PLUS a line of peanut butter that comes in 3 different flavors like CHOCOLATE COCONUT ALMOND PEANUT BUTTER! All available on Amazon with his picture on the label!

It’s always good memories when I see Anthony Devito because in his very early days he performed on my late show at The Comic Strip paying his comedy dues. Now he’s playing all over the country. Jordan Rock and I were given the honor of being the only two comics to ever host late night. That honor was bestowed upon us by the late Richie Tienken, the owner and founder of The Strip. So many of the comics from that show are doing great like Sam Morril, Pete Davidson, and Subhah Agarwal!

Anthony also has a You Tube special called Brain Noise which he taped at the Acme in Minneapolis, and which he said is one of his favorite venues, and he got engaged too which is awesome! Congrats to Anthony!

Mark Normand will be taping a new special at the Vic Theatre in Chicago on March 18th. The Vic holds about 1,000 people, which makes it hard to invite everyone back to your room after the show. He said he’s done that room before and loved it. The special will be called “From Soup to Nuts” which is perfect because the show he produced in NY was called “Hot Soup” so I guess he has a thing for soup.

I know he has a thing for comic Mae Planert because he married her! They even performed together at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. All this good news, watching these guys grow up! (LOL) In the meantime he’s touring every weekend and is repped by UTA!

Mark is such a clever writer, and I respect that so much. Writing jokes is such a distinct art form and very difficult and he’s one of the best. I can’t help but quote this line, … he said that the perfect name for a lesbian bar would be Clitz, because men could never find it! #hilarious

Rachel Feinstein is taping a special on April 7th and 8th, unnamed as yet and it will be taped at the Midnight Theatre. And I got to meet the producers of this show, and in Comedy Matters TV I always like to not only show the people performing in the show, but also the people who make the show happen. Without them there is no show! Congrats to Jack Fink and Julie Ray!

Producers Jack Fink and Julie Ray


I always love finding something new or someone new to me. That’s how I felt when I went down to Sour Mouse a venue on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side. I had gotten an e-mail about it but had no idea what to expect! I walked in and went down the stairs to find a huge room packed with about 250 people on a Sunday night. It was a very downtown crowd, and if you know New York you know what I mean. People look and dress differently in every part of town. The show is produced and hosted by Ashley Gavin. I had heard her name but had never seen her perform before.

She’s a powerhouse of energy and talent, with a great resonant voice and she’s constantly, … jokingly… chastising the audience for not responding even more forcefully than they already were. The show is about a year old, blew up on the internet, and draws that size crowd every week.

It’s a very diverse crowd as Ashley described it , “a lot of Black dudes and White lesbians!” Ashley said she loves being gay, and said of herself that her name is Ashley Gavin but that she dresses more like a guy named Gavin! When she talked about abortion she categorized babies as “inside babies and outside babies!”

She doesn’t know this but when she was taping her set on her phone, about 20 minutes in, an audience member accidentally bumped into the tripod and knocked it over. It was on it’s way down when I grabbed it and set it upright again. #hero

It was a great line-up with every comic doing 12-15 minute sets, which is a nice amount of time to be given. I had never seen any of the other comics before but they were all good. She told one comic named Yemi that he added to the diversity of the show, not because he was Black but because he was straight!

Kate Willett was very clever and had a really laid back delivery. She came out in a dress, declared herself bisexual and said she’s been doing 3-ways with married couples and just once she’d like to be involved in something where there’s not a 3rd person crying!

Ashley told me she’s planning on shooting a special in a few weeks that will be on You Tube! I plan to go back and really diversify the room! (LOL)



Paul has developed quite a following and it’s a very big deal to headline the 300 seat Gotham Comedy Club and sell it out which is what Paul did. Twice!!! He was the first headline act of 2023 and was very excited to be doing it.

I always get to the show early to take my table which is Table 69. That’s the table that owner Chris Mazzilli gave me so it would be easier for me to take photos. It’s the only table that doesn’t have a number on it because people keep stealing it. This night that table was taken. I didn’t know by whom till after the show when we were all in the green room. It was Paul’s wife Stacey and his agent.

Paul totally crushed the show I was at and he has a really loyal following. All fans! People came out not just to see a comedy show but to see HIM!!! He did a particularly funny bit on why there are no Italian astronauts, and paces the stage like a tiger while he’s performing. Lots of nice family stuff cause he’s the ultimate family man who you can tell really enjoys being a Dad to his son Lucas and daughter Sofia.

Paul got a lot of experience playing for big audiences in his days opening for Bill Burr, and I recall back in 2017 attending the taping of what I believe was Paul’s first special for Comedy Central at the Tarrytown Music Hall. It was called “I’ll Say This” and it was produced by Bill Burr and Pete Davidson.

Paul has a new Netflix special called “Nocturnal Emissions”, he’ll be seen in a couple of scenes in the season finale of Bupkis, Pete Davidson’s upcoming show, and recently did Chazz Palminteri’s show at Chazz’s home in Westchester, after Chazz saw his Netflix special and reached out to him.

Richie Redding hosted the show, and Rich headlined the new beautiful Grisly Pear club on Feb. 23rd, owned by Kenny Warren and Gabe Dorado. Also on the bill were Ariel Elias, and Tyler Horvath who was hosting a show in Madison, WI when he met Paul and Paul invited him to open for him.

I myself got the opportunity to open for Paul one night up at Levity Live and it was really so fun. Paul is a great guy. He also came to the Comedy Matters TV crib once so we could tape an episode of his podcast “The Virzi Effect.”

After the show I asked Paul what his message would be to the world from the material he does on stage and he said ” Don’t take things so seriously. Enjoy your family and enjoy your life” which he seems to do. Paul’s on his way to doing very big things! So glad he’s my friend!


Emilio Savone, Scott Lindner and new partner Jim Panels are killing it in the race to see who can own the most clubs! They just opened their 5th club in Stamford, CT and it’s really huge and beautiful. It’s the 3rd in the NYCC series and they have one in Atlantic City and one in Fairfield, CT where I once performed with Artie Lange. Emilio contacted me and said it wouldn’t be official if I wasn’t there (#sonice) so I drove out and was so glad I did.

When I got there there were already lines of people waiting to get in and the signage was blasting! I had to take out my phone and film it because the excitement was palpable. There was a woman beside me who was also filming and it wasn’t until later backstage that I found out it was Emilio’s Mom! (LOL)


The line-up was crazy! James Mattern, one of the best hosts in town and who opens for Chris Distefano was the host for the evening and really got the crowd warmed up. It was Ashley Austin Morris, Subhah Agarwal, Chuck Nice, Beecher, and Paul Virzi from the previous paragraph, (LOL)!

Chris Distefano who is handled by ComicAccess the management team of Emilio, Scott and Jim will be the first headliner which will have happened by the time you read this! This past weekend it was Andrew Schulz, totally sold out and no surprise on that!!! The club is huge, like 4500 square feet and replaced a burger joint that closed due to the pandemic.

The green room is the size of some comedy clubs and has comfortable couches like in a fancy doctor’s waiting room, and a whole area for hair and make-up plus a pool table so comics have a really comfortable space to just chill before they go on.

It was great to see Subhah again who was one of the comics who started on my late night show at The Comic Strip. Now she’s performing all over, moved to LA, and just got married three months ago to a normie, … meaning a guy who’s not in comedy! In March she’ll be doing two shows at the Arcade Theatre in Pittsburgh for her 3rd time at that venue! (That means they like her!!!)

And it was great to catch up with my old friend Chuck Nice definitely one of the classiest and funniest guys in the business. I always tell him that one of the things that impresses me the most about his performance is how he switches seamlessly from street to eloquent, and it’s just so smooth.

He’s the host of Brain Games on Disney+ and he told the audience he doesn’t care if they watch it, as long as they turn it on! (LOL) And for the last 11 years he’s been the co-host of Star Talk on You Tube, with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I have such talented friends!!!

During the writing of this column Emilio texted me to tell me that they’ve been selling out without even having a headliner, just with showcase shows, and the place holds over 200 people. Stamford hasn’t had a comedy club for 30 years and they are so happy to be able to laugh again! The night I was there it was so crowded they had to set up a special seat for me on the aisle just so I could move around and get my photos!

So major congrats to Emilio, Scott and Jim and also to booker Candi Clare!!!


And that seems to be it for this column. Just like summer, it goes so fast! See you real soon for more Comedy Matters news on what’s happening in the New York comedy scene!

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With Marc Maron, Nick Kroll, Jeff Ross, Chris Distefano, Jiaoying Summers, Pauly Shore, NY Comedy Fest, and so much more!!!

Due to public demand Comedy Matters is back on the scene!!!

It’s been very gratifying to see how many people and clubs have asked me to cover what they’re doing, so I’m back jumping around again like before. Not EXACTLY like before, because nothing is really like it was before, but as close to before as possible.

There are so many things to write about I’m not sure whether to try and do them in chronological order, grouping them by category, or what but what I do know is that this will be a long-ass column. I may even have to do it in two parts. These are the comedy highlights from recent months!!!



Very excited to announce the creation of an indie TV pilot called “The Raw Side of Comedy” that will be filmed at the great 300 seat Gotham Comedy Club in the next few weeks. Despite the fact that they tend to say there’s nothing new in comedy, this will be kind of new. It’s a competition/reality show, and I’ve been scouting talent for the last few months as one of the Exec. Producers on the show along with Gotham owner and founder Chris Mazzilli, Fawziyya Fox, Marlisa Patterson, Sherry Patterson and Darvin Milligan.

Some of the talent I chose will be Pedro Gonzalez, Drew Dunn, Rich Aronovich, Tony Dabas, Max May, Tommy Brennan, Elon Altman, Ryan Joseph and Talent Harris Jr. More to be revealed very shortly!!!


Not just an alliteration but a real thing, … Marc Maron had a 92Y talk at one of the most famous museums in the world, The Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street in Manhattan. Very prestigious. Packed crowd. It was to highlight the premiere of his first HBO special premiering the next night called “From Bleak to Dark” in which he talks about things like aging, antisemitism, grief, and other topics that only Marc Maron can make funny.

Moderated by MTV News’ Josh Horowitz, Marc had previously done Josh’s Happy, Sad, Confused podcast where hit on a lot of the same topics including reuniting with his Dad, why cats are better than kids, stories from WTF and things that Marc’s fans expect him to talk about. Marc of course being the acknowledged “King of Candidness and Introspection.”

Knowing Marc as long as I do I can honestly say that I think Marc changed the game with his one man show Scorching The Earth. I attended that show at 45 Bleecker, a theatre down in the Village and to this day I recall my own personal shock at his honesty and what he was willing to share with the audience. Especially concerning the break-up with his second wife Mishna who I happened to know at the time.

Since that time, others have tried to copy Marc but I do believe he was the first to have the courage to go so deep and reveal himself to the audience in that way.

It affected me because I’m not sure I have the ability to share things so honestly, but Marc went where no other human had gone before to share something, … which I think may be a quote from Star Trek. The audience loved it and since that time other comedians have tried to bare their souls on stage but I truly believe that Marc was the first.

Embarrassment is just a thought after all. If I share something that’s hard for me to say, I’m the only one who blushes, and who’s hands sweat. No one ever had to stay home from work the next day from anything I shared.


Who would ever expect to have the opportunity to see Nick Kroll in a relatively small, intimate show after selling out Carnegie Hall? ( Redundant question!) When I got the e-mail that Nick would be performing at Kol Ami Temple in White Plains I thought it might be a misprint. It seems it was a retirement event for a Rabbi named Tom Wiener and Nick had been a student of his and went with him on a trip to Israel. (Not just the two of them! It was with a whole group! LOL)

I hadn’t seen Nick since that magical night when he sold out Carnegie Hall, and Covid restrictions were so strict that they wouldn’t even let his family backstage to visit him, but for some reason they let me in.

I expected a big crowd backstage but it was just Nick, his super-agemt Mike Berkowitz from WME and celeb photographer Marcus Russell Price who happened to be stationed right by the door, and caught the action right as I came in to hysterical laughter from both Nick and Mike who couldn’t believe they blocked Nick’s family but let ME in! I was actually embarrassed! Nick immediately took out his phone and posted it on Instagram.

I brought my daughters to meet Nick and called him before to ask if I could see him after the show to take a photo and introduce him to my daughters Elizabeth and Kathryn. He’s always the best!

Chrissy D and The Podcast/Radio Scene

Last summer when I was in Montreal at JFL’s 40th anniversary I found myself hanging with NY Comedy Club owner Emilio Savone, Chris DiStefano, Nimesh Patel, and Adam Gilbert at one of the raucous parties that is part of that scene. Chrissy D invited me to come on his Chrissy Chaos podcast and that actually happened.

I drove out to Staten Island to his beautiful studio, overlooking the water, and was greeted by his team led by his producer who goes by the name of The Homeless Pimp! You gotta respect that choice! I found out his real name but I’m not gonna share it in case he does’t want people to know!

Needless to say we had a blast! Chrissy is a riot as you all know. I brought the jacket that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney made for me for their “Oh, Hello” Show on Broadway and Chrissy wore the red beret cause I don’t do hats, … cause of the hair! I know you get it!!! (LOL)

This jacket is one of my greatest treasures!!!

He invited me back to do the pod he does with Sal Vulcano, and I’m really looking forward to that. I think he posted my episode on his Patreon. And a day or two later they posted that my heart attack story got over 1 million views! It’ a rough way to get views but I hope it gets me back there again!

And as I was leaving, Sam Morril came in to do another episode. Sam is one of the young comics that used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip back in the day, and it’s so great to see him getting the recognition he deserves. I always knew he was very unique and now he’s killing it all over the country. Most of those guys from that late night show went on to do very well.

Gary Vaynerchuk better known to his millions of fans as Gary Vee had a podcast coming out of his studios in Hudson Yards. So I’m at 3 different events and three different employees of his tell me separately that I’d be a great guest on Gary Vee’s podcast. Now I’m totally psyched because I had wanted to connect with Gary in the past as so many people tell me we should know each other. Now it was gonna happen. Except it didn’t.

The first girl totally flaked. The second guy was a comic himself, Sean Millea who actually did bring me down to tape a podcast in Gary’s studio in the One37 part of Vayner Media. We waited weeks to set it up and when I finally got there it went superb. Really great stuff and it never got posted. Don’t know if it even ever got edited. The podcast was told to close up shop. But it was really fun for me to see the world of Vayner Media. Literally hundreds of Gen Z’s working in cubicles , and I got the tour so I saw it for myself. Amazing!!!

A big shout out to Xen Sams for her wonderful top-rated radio show ” A Moment of Xen” on iHeart Radio on Saturday nights from 9-10 P.M. Xen is a fund of knowledge about everything and has a great love for comedy. which is why we get along so well. I hadn’t seen her in a while till I ran into her at The Friars Club on one of the rare occasions that it was open. We decided we had to do something cool together and she invited me on twice so far. A really cool, funny, innovative show and Xen is the best.

And Paul Chamberlain is back! You might remember him as having produced the Maui Comedy Fest8val, and then the Crapshoot Comedy festival in Vegas which I attended. I was shooting videos with all the stars for a company named “Be Terrific” who hired me get all the interviews and run the red carpet.

Paul has a fascinating story and one that’s very admirable. After Vegas, and I’m not spilling any secrets, because he’s very open about it, despite all of his hard work, he had a very hard time emotionally because of a lot of stuff that went down. It took him out for a while but now he regrouped and is doing amazingly well again.

He contacted me to tell me he always appreciated my support because he knew I love supporting talented hard working people and I became a guest on his “Smart, Funny Tortured Podcast” which was an emotionally cleansing thing for both of us. So glad to hear he’s doing great and has some big plans for the future involving comedy.

And no column would be complete in talking about radio and podcasts without mentioning the great Frank Morano who has the top rated overnight show on WABC Radio called “The Other Side of Midnight.” He’s on all week from 1-5 A.M. and fills the time slot with fun and interesting segments because he’s another fund of knowledge who also loves comedy and is funny in his own right. Radio funny!

There’a big difference between radio funny and comedy club funny because radio is basically straight improv. Not easy to fill four hours every night but Frank does it and he does his homework and is very gracious to his guests in the way he treats them on air.

I always have the best time and besides speaking about my Happiness books I also get to tell stories from GNN ( Gurian News Network) and from my book “Man Robs Bank With His Chin – And Other Unusual Stories Missed by Mainstream Media.”

Stories like ” Man Displays Uncanny Ability To Pick Up Heavy Things With His Eye”, and “Man Paints Replica of the Cistine Chapel With His Beard.”, which is really fun for me, and the reason that GNN is your source for All The News That’s Fit To Dance To.” We laugh away the hour together, and it always goes really fast.

On April 19, 2023 at the New York Botanical Gardens, the National Psoriasis Foundation will be honoring Frank Morano for his dedication and support in helping to find a cure for psoriatic disease patients. And I will be there for sure!!!



I was so happy to hear that Pauly was bringing his one man show “Stick to the Dancing- Stories From My Childhood” to The Asylum. The Asylum is an art house on Manhattan’s West Side, and the old UCB space, and Pauly’s show was part of the 18th annual New York Comedy Festival produced by Caroline Hirsch of Carolines on Broadway, which alas closed down on Dec. 31st after 30 years in that same location. We’ll get to that in another section of this column.

Pauly has an amazing story growing up in LA’s Comedy Store owned by his parents Mitzi Shore, and Sammy Shore a funny comedian I had met several times, but first through Milton Berle, my sponsor in The Friars Club!

How Pauly survived is a miracle having Sam Kinison as a babysitter, and the show goes through Pauly’s years on MTV, making movies like Biodome, Son-In-Law, his days as The Weasel and his catch phrase Hey, BU-DDY, and I was touched by his genuine humility and gratitude for all the good things he’s experienced as well as all the painful things he’s experienced.

I know him a long time, since the late 90’s and he seems like a truly changed man. He was very grateful to the audience and very gracious to people after the show. It was very touching and I really enjoyed it.



For the last 18 years Caroline Hirsch and her amazing team like Louis Faranda, and Greg Charles, plus relative newbies like Carolyn Gitomer and Jonny Moran have put on the New York Comedy Festival, the biggest and most prestigious comedy festival in the US. Hundreds of shows in every possible venue throughout the boroughs!

At the time in November, I don’t think people were aware that Carolines would be closing on Dec. 31st in it’s Times Square location after 30 years in the same spot. It was described in the news as a rent dispute. The landlord had to be pretty dumb or just very greedy to lose the jewel of Times Square. Jeff Ross and I got to talk about it on FOX TV.

The main hangout for the fest was The Hard Rock Hotel in Times Square. It was a constant party and several of the shows were in the hotel. I actually got to see some new talent and drew a few names from one of the shows for my new show Raw Side, where Chris Mazzilli and Rick Dorfman were two of the judges. Always good to see Reg Thomas, and Daniel Simonsen who I’ve had on a couple of my own self-produced shows.

Also great to see my man Cipha Sounds DJ’ing and doing comedy opening Mo Amer’s sold out show at Manhattan Community College way downtown. Now that I’m jumping around again I go everywhere!!!


My history with Carolines goes back to the 80’s when she first opened in a much smaller space on 26th and 8th. I clearly recall the night I first met Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser there. They were both pretty new, and both on the same show and I remember being so impressed with them that I went over to introduce myself and offered to introduce them to my manager at the time, David Jonas, probably best known for managing Freddie Prinze.

When Carolines moved to The Seaport, I did too, very often to see my buddy Gilbert Gottfried, who used to make me laugh so hard in those early days I recall once begging him to stop because I couldn’t take the pain of laughing anymore! And then I brought Jackie Mason down there one night to see a comedy group I thought would be perfect for a movie I was writing for him called “The Detective” which was set in a fictional “tough Jewish neighborhood.” He played a Jewish version of a bumbling Detective Clouseau.

Anyway, every comic wanted to be on that stage before it closed and I was lucky enough to do two spots there that month, one on Jeff Ross’s last headline show on Sunday, Dec. 18th. A night to remember for me! Jeff has always been very gracious and we have shared some special moments, like the time in Montreal when he and I were having lunch together, and a man came over to tell him that he won the award for his film “Patriot Act.” A very special moment to be shared!

Carolines made a touching speech to Jeff on stage about how long he had been at the club, and afterwards we hung out backstage and she said that Carolines isn’t going anywhere and would be back bigger and better than ever, And knowing Caroline I can’t wait to see her next move!!!



I had been hearing so much about this Cali based comedian Jiaoying Summers, so I was so glad to finally be able to meet her at The Stand one night. I was so impressed with her story and how she managed to escape the one-child policy in China at the time she was born, where the “one-child” that everyone was allowed to keep was a boy. And boy are they paying for that now!

I love her story , I love the way she speaks English with such perfection, and I especially love when she says she would be considered ugly in China because that is certainly not the case here. She came to the Comedy Matters offices where we shot some fun videos and she got to connect to a photo of her idol Phyllis Diller. She couldn’t believe I knew her. I will try and post the video for you to see how quick she is, how funny, and how far from ugly she is in any country! (LOL)

Since then we’ve become friends and I’ve seen her perform at Carolines, The Stand and other clubs as well. We even shot a couple of fun videos together at the Comedy Matters TV crib!

Then L.A. comic Kiki Yeung, the founder of “Crazy, Woke Asians”, who’s also one of the parents on the ABC show Parent Test came to town to host her own show as part of the NY Comedy Festival. The show was down at Alex Carabano’s St. Marks Comedy Club.

She was kind enough to let me know she was coming to town, so I made sure to make it down there. The funny part was that the show was called “Kiki Funny Mama’s Night Out”, so I didn’t realize till half way through that all the comedians were Asian by choice. Somehow I thought it was just a coincidence! (LOL) ‘The Parent Test’ is on Thursday nights on ABC and streams on Hulu the next day.

Kiki Yeung at St. Marks Comedy Club

And lastly, she’s not blonde but she’s back in town! It’s Kilara Sen back from Japan. I first met Kilara playing the clubs around town, and was struck by how good she was especially performing in a language that was not her native tongue!

In 2019 I went to Japan alone, and she was kind enough to meet me at my hotel the night I landed which made my trip an amazing experience because it’s pretty weird getting to another country alone where the culture is so different.

We ran around and shot some fun videos there and she told me her dream was to one day move back to The States, and now she’s here performing again! She’s really funny, … not blond as you can see, … but really funny!


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Comedy Matters Round-Up with Nick Kroll, D.L. Hughley, Colin Quinn, Amy Schumer, Sam Morril, Ron Bennington, Tim Dillon, NY Comedy Festival and More!!!

Comedy Matters Round-Up with Nick Kroll, D.L. Hughley, Colin Quinn, Amy Schumer, Sam Morril, Ron Bennington, Tim Dillon, NY Comedy Festival and More!!!

What better time than holiday time to catch up on what’s been going on in the comedy scene? ( Rhetorical question – no answer required! LOL) Spoiler alert – it’s going to be a long one!!!

Thanks to Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox of Carolines on Broadway, the NY Comedy Festival was back big-time this year, and I went to a bunch of great shows.

In no particular order, I gotta start with Nick Kroll who was making his Carnegie Hall debut, which he said had been his dream for many years. Nice to see someone fulfilling a dream.

Nick Kroll by the door of his backstage dressing room at Carnegie Hall!

I purposely didn’t let Nick know I was coming because I wanted to surprise him. The deal was I was supposed to meet Carolines long-term GM Louis Faranda and assistant Carolyn Gitomer at the backstage entrance to get our seats.

Being that I am a master at self-sabotage, … like the time I left my microphone home when covering the red carpet at MSG for Rory Rosegarten’s Garden of Laughs, and John Mulaney made fun of me…

halfway over to Carnegie Hall I realized I had forgotten my wallet with my vax card and had to go back home to get it.
Good thing I did because the Covid restrictions were very tight. People lined up outside had to show their vax card and I.D. and get a bracelet to wear inside that was actually put on your wrist by the people working the line.

Backstage is always a fun hang and I had a chance to catch up with my old friend Louis Faranda which was a real treat, and then he walked me to my seat to make sure I was taken care of.
Louis and I spoke so long that I missed Nick’s opening act Emmy Blotnick , but I got to my seat in time to see Nick hit the stage wearing a sharp brown suit with white sneaks that looked a lot like the Nike Airs I was wearing.

Carnegie Hall holds roughly 3600 people, all of whom had to wear their masks during the whole entire show, and believe me it’s not that easy to laugh so much while wearing a mask. But thanks to Nick’s talent people managed to laugh a lot. No surprise there.

Nick did voices and characters, and told stories about his life starting from his childhood, leading up to meeting his wife Lily Kwong, when he realized that she was his person! That was a moving story.

And then having their 2 month old son, who he considered naming Kilometer Kroll because he’s a big fan of the metric system. After the show my intention was to go and congratulate Nick on his sold-out incredible performance but I didn’t know how to get to his room.

A kindly usher saw my dilemma and offered to guide me through the masses yelling out “Move to the right, move to the right” as we navigated the hallways, through the crowds, and into an elevator that took me to Nick’s floor.

I was confronted with two closed doors with Nick’s name on the outside. I was expecting a huge crowd inside, so I knocked very tentatively as I didn’t want to disturb anyone. Nick yelled out “Come in” and at the exact second as I opened the door I was greeted by the flash of celeb-photog Marcus Russell-Price’s camera and hysterical laughter from both Nick and his agent, or should I say SUPER-agent Mike Berkowitz from WME.

Caught by the camera of Marcus Russell Price exactly as I entered Nick Kroll’s dressing room. Mike Berkowitz is laughing already!

Nick was laughing so hard because he said that his own family wasn’t able to get in to see him because the Covid restrictions were so strict, ” but this man was able to get in” and he took out his phone to film me. It’s the photo that wound up on the cover of The Interrobang.

Nick Kroll filming my entrance to his dressing room at Carnegie Hall when no one else was allowed in, with uber-agent Mike Berkowitz laughing hysterically off to the side!

I actually felt embarrassed for being the only one let in, but was relieved a few minutes later when they let Nick’s wife Lily in to congratulate him and we all stepped outside to give them a moment.
Then we all left together and Nick was swarmed by fans outside and graciously took photos and gave autographs to all who asked. It was a very special night and I was so glad I was there to participate.

The Stand was a hot bed of performances during the festival and I made sure to catch Ron Bennington’s “Unmasked” with Tim Dillon who has risen to astronomical heights with his podcast The Tim Dillon Show.

Tim Dillon and Ron Bennington outside The Stand after taping Unmasked for Sirius XM Radio

All Unmaskeds are very special and this was the same, with the hour flying by before you knew it as there is never any dead space when Ron does his thing. Tim identifies as a gay Republican and credits Joe Rogan with helping to put him on the map.

I’ve known Tim for quite a while and always admired his humor and his willingness to be open about who he is and his beliefs, so it was really great to see him again. Obviously a lot of other people agree with me because his Patreon page takes in almost 200 K per month! He was headlining The Beacon Theatre the very next night!

With my man Ron Bennington of The Bennington Show on Sirius XM

Before I left The Stand that night I went over to the owner’s table to visit with owner Chris Italia and who did I find there but the ever-shrinking Dan Lamorte, who actually lost around 200 pounds and is running marathons now when he isn’t on stage.

I literally almost didn’t recognize him except for the frontiersman’s beard that fit better when he weighed around 350, which is where he was when I first met him, and he opened for me at a headlining gig in PA. Now I’d like to open for HIM! Way to go Dan!

The Ever-Shrinking Dan LaMorte

It always feels great to be back at my usual table 69 at Gotham Comedy Club, and to be warmly greeted by owner Chris Mazzilli and the staff like Billy Hayes and Rich who do security, and manager Andrew Schwartztol.

I went to catch H. Foley and Kevin Ryan’s live version of their hit podcast Are You Garbage and the place was PACKED with his fans. Literally not a seat to be had!

He had a fun line-up and at the end as he left the stage I went to congratulate him on such a successful show and he was very gracious in thanking me for coming. There are just so many choices in the NY Comedy Festival that it’s basically impossible to see everything you want to see and the comedians know that.

But Foley is a classy guy and even followed up his verbal thank you with a personal e-mail the next day thanking me for coming to support, which I really appreciated.

Foley Wants To Know, … Are You Garbage???

New York Comedy Club is always packed no matter which venue you go to, but I went to the 24th Street location for James Mattern’s album release party for his album Check Spot and it was wall to wall peeps. James is known for being one of the best hosts in town.

With Two Of The Hottest Girls In The Game-Corinne Fisher and Katie ( T-Spoon) Haller

He also had a great line-up with one of my faves Corinne Fisher, Nathan Macintosh, and Jon Laster. As I came in I was greeted by owner Emilio who always makes me feel at home, and we took this pic which he so kindly posted on IG!

With James Mattern, Adrian Minkowitz, and NYCC Owner Emilio Savone!

I popped in to the Gramercy Theatre one night to catch Sam Morril’s show. I’ve always been a fan of Sam’s since he used to do my late night show at The Comic Strip when he was pretty new at the game. It was always obvious that he was a great writer and had a very unique delivery.

The Gramercy not only required a vax card they also searched you and patted you down before you went in. I guess Sam draws a rough crowd! (LOL)

Sam has done 3 specials for Comedy Central and was named one of Comedy Central’s Comics To Watch back in 2011. When he’s not touring he’s usually performing at The Comedy Cellar which are several reasons why The Gramercy was packed.

I felt bad that I couldn’t stay to go backstage and congratulate him cause I had to get down to the Lucille Lortel Theatre to catch Colin Quinn in his new one man show The Last Beast Hope. Seeing two shows back to back in different parts of town is not easy in NYC. But at least I was able to get a shot of the Sam Morril marquee!

I didn’t get to see Sam but at least I got a shot of the marquee! (LOL)

The parking gods were with me and I managed to get a spot and race into the theatre on time. Watching Colin work is like watching one of the old masters create a masterpiece on canvas, which usually describes Colin’s shows.

He’s one of the very few comics besides Mike Birbiglia to consistently create one-man shows. I know I have a one man show in me too, if I could only figure out who that one man should be! I always wanted to do a multi-media show cause I have so much memorabilia! Maybe one day!!!

Anyway it’s always so great to see Colin perform because he breaks it all down in a way that only Colin can do. We’ve been friends since the days he was on Remote Control on MTV, and I still get excited seeing him work.

He was my very first guest when I was bringing my favorite comics on Sirius XM’s Ron and Fez show with Ron Bennington and the great Fez Whatley, who we lost so sadly at only 57 years old this past August.

The Day I Brought Colin Quinn on Sirius XM With Ron and Fez As My Guest-1/9/14

I didn’t tell Colin I was coming either. I like to surprise people.

After it was over Colin came out to greet the fans that were waiting in the theatre. Lucille Lortel doesn’t really have a backstage area for shmoozing, but we did a good job of it in the theatre itself. He told me he’s been working on the concepts for the show for about two years.

With Colin Quinn at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. I like to think we look the same as we did in 2014!

Leading into the NY Comedy Festival, I had the honor of judging an all women’s comedy festival called “Ladies Night.”

Produced by Robin Siegel-Laikin and Nancy Levine, both of whom performed, it was held at Broadway Comedy Club. Two hundred women applied. Forty-five were chosen. I judged for two shows along with comedy stalwarts like Jodi Lieberman, and longtime agent Roger Paul, and boy what a variety of women hit the stage. One of my faves was a girl named Amber Joy Lane. Hope I get to do it again next year!

(L-R) Robin Siegel-Laikin, two performers and Nancy Levine at Ladies Night!

Amy Schumer premiered her new film Humans, now in theatres and streaming on Showtime, at the 92Y which prides itself on bringing in great comedy talent and rightly so! But this is not a comedy. It’s an interesting ensemble piece.

After the screening there was a panel discussion led by Sirius XM’s Jessica Shaw with co-stars Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, Richard Jenkins and Jayne Houdyshell. Amy’s three-episode docu-series “Expecting Amy”, which she partly shot with her husband Chris on their cell phones is currently showing on HBO Max.

The panel from Humans with Jessica Shaw and Jayne Houdyshell, Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun and Beanie Feldstein at the 92Y. 

Any time I get to spend with my buddy D.L. Hughley is always special so when I heard he was headlining Carolines on Broadway for the Thanksgiving weekend I knew I had to be there. And I was. For Saturday and Sunday.

The first night I got there around 9 so I could catch him in between shows. It was great to see Eric Singer running the room as I made my way through the kitchen to come out near the green room.

Derek his security guy was on guard as always and ushered me in to see “The King,” as he is referred to with reverence by A.G. White who came in to do an opening spot.

Barry Ribs also came in a bit later and also did an opening spot, while I got to catch up with D.L. and his daughter Tyler and one of the biggest dogs I had ever seen, an Akita named Charlie, named after D.L.’s late Dad.

The dog was the size of a small bear, and had the nicest face matched by the nicest disposition. He was able to find a place for himself in the crowded VIP room and just plopped down on the floor. Barry Ribs almost got trapped and couldn’t get up because the dog layed down across his feet!

The first night I made the mistake of wearing a summery outfit which D.L. got a kick out of. I promised to come back the next night wearing winter type clothing and D.L. predicted I would be wearing a maroon jacket, which by the way he had no idea that I owned.

D.L. dressed for winter while J.G. is still dressed for summer!!!

Needless to say the show was amazing. D.L. hits all the bases and talks about everything that’s going on in the world with the D.L. spin.

After he came offstage to thunderous applause we talked about his performance as we usually do, and I told him that it’s great to watch him guide the audience exactly where he wants them to go. He totally owns the stage when he’s out there. It’s like watching an orchestra leader guiding the musicians. Then we filmed the little video below.

D.L. actually predicted I would wear a maroon jacket, … so I had to!!!

So the next night I wore a jacket that was as close to maroon as I could get, and showed up around 9 again so we could have a good laugh before the show. D.L. hangs with friends literally until the minute it’s time for him to go onstage.

I told him the only person I know in comedy as relaxed as him before they go out on stage is Sebastian Maniscalco who held a party between his 3rd and 4th shows at MSG with 20,000 people at each show.

D.L. didn’t seem totally shocked that I had a maroon jacket! (LOL) But I was!!!

And Sunny Hostin from The View came back with her husband Manny, the orthopedic surgeon to congratulate D.L. on another magnificent performance, and the four of us got to exchange child raising tips! It was an amazing weekend for sure, and D.L. and I have some interesting plans that I hope to be able to share with you very soon!

I’m sure this is one of the longest columns I’ve written in a while because thanks to Covid I’m just not out as much as I always was, but I thought you’d enjoy seeing what’s been going on in the comedy world!

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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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"Make Em Laugh" on WPIX TV Morning News with Dan Mannarino

Hurricane Sandy affected everyone in NYC either directly or indirectly. Luckily for me I didn’t lose power or have any flooding, but I did have several TV shoots cancelled, in which I was supposed to talk about my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip.

My co-author is owner and founder of the club Richie Tienken!

One of them was with WPIX TV, and it had something to do with their bus being out of service. When I heard the word “bus” I was thinking of something small like the little yellow school buses we see around the city. How wrong I was!

When we re-scheduled, WPIX reporter Dan Mannarino showed up at The Comic Strip in a block long custom made WPIX bus sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts! The thing was huge but outfitted inside like a limo, or a private jet. Very spacious and elegant!

We started the interview in the club with me and owner/founder Richie Tienken on the stage of the club telling stories from the book, then I took Dan on a tour of the club, and finished by going on the bus and doing more if the interview on there!

It was really fun and the interview is airing this coming Monday morning, Dec. 10, 2012, between 8 and 9 A.M. on the WPIX Morning News! Check it out!

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Marc Maron, Bobby Lee, Dov Davidoff at The Comedy Store in LA

I was heading out to LA to do my third guest spot on Nick Kroll’s Comedy Central hit Kroll Show, in which I’d be playing myself in a red carpet sketch during a Pub-LIZ-ity sketch with Nick as Liz G.

I love ALL of Nick’s sketches but Pub-LIZ-ity is really one of my faves so I was doubly exicted. But since I’m not a great traveler, I don’t like to fly across the country for one or two days, so I decided to go out out a few days earlier and stay a few days afterwards to visit some friends and check out the LA comedy scene.

My first night in town I went right to The Comedy Store to see my buddy Tommy Morris, who runs the place, and give him a copy of the documentary film I recently co-produced with Exec. Producers Scott Sobel and Gary Licker who also directed the film.

It was called “The Business of Comedy” and featured interviews with comedy icons like Budd Friedman, who opened the world’s first comedy club, The Improv, in NYC in 1963, Rick Newman who opened Catch A Rising Star in 1972, Richie Tienken who opened The Comic Strip in 1976, and comics like George Wallace, Robert Klein, Tom Dreesen, and newcomer Sasheer Zamata, all talking about the business end of the comedy world.

I wanted to bring Tommy his copy personally, and as you can see from the photo, … I did!

There’s always a star-studded show at The Store, and that night I ran into my old friend Marc Maron, with Cort McCown, who I had met on the Kandy Kruise where he was performing for 500 guys and even more important, 16500 girls from Maxim, Playboy, and Penthouse.

I also ran into Bobby Lee, and then I got to see Chris D’elia from Whitney, and Dov Davidoff who I just saw again headlining Gotham in NYC this past weekend. These guys go back and forth like it’s nothing!

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Jimmy "J.J." Walker at Broadway Comedy Club

If you were around in the 70’s, 1973-1979 to be exact, then you were aware of Jimmy “J.J.” Walker who played J.J. Evans in the Norman Lear, CBS hit “Good Times”, with Esther Rolle who played JJ’s mom Florida Evans, and John Amos who played his dad Michael Evans.

Interestingly enough, Good Times was a spin-off of Maude, which was itself a spin-off of All in the Family along with The Jeffersons. And it was co-created by Mike Evans, who portrayed Lionel Jefferson on the Norman Lear-produced series All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

JImmy “J.J” Walker onstage at Broadway Comedy Club without a floppy hat, but making one of his signature faces!

At the time that JJ was on the show he played so much younger than he actually was that John Amos who played his Dad was only 8 years older than him!

JJ’s signature phrase was “Dyn-O-Mite!” which follows him to this day. And in my interview with him recently at Broadway Comedy Club where he showed up with his agent and my old friend Roger Paul, he said he was grateful for that tag, “Dyn-O-Mite”! Very few performers have something that sticks for so long. Like Rodney Dangerfield will always be associated with the phrase “No Respect.” In comedy having an identity like that is magical!

The main room downstairs was packed, wall to wall, and JJ went up on stage and knocked it out of the park. He talked about the economy being so bad that when you rent an apartment they want the first month’s rent and the last month’s rent. JJ was like, ” I wasn’t even here last month! Why do I gotta pay that guy’s rent?”

Jimmy “J.J.” Walker killing it onstage at Broadway Comedy Club! The audience loved him!

In talking about doing drug testing of post office employees, he said, “The one drug you won’t find is speed!”

And in talking about crime, he told of a 21 year old man who tried to rob a Toys ‘R Us with a toy gun. He was shot by a 5 year old with a real gun!

And he said, ” As crowded as jails are these days, they always seem to have room for Black people!”

He was just filled with funny lines. He said that Kim Kardashian is like Kryptonite for Black men, and that they tried to do a Real Housewives of San Francisco, but they couldn’t find any.

He even acted out scenes from a fictional Maury Povich show where the Black characters were named what sounded to me like Aquaneshia and Tyquarius, and he called “Cops” a Black reality show with a three tattoo minimum and a 4 tooth maximum.

I was so glad to see him being so funny after all these years. And he was so kind to his audience. He stayed afterwards to greet people who wanted to take photos and buy his merchandise.

Jimmy “J.J.” Walker and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club!

It just goes to show you that being funny is like riding a bike. You never lose it, and if you fall off the end of the stage you get right back up and start telling jokes again!

Check out the cool video interview we did after the show!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Comedy Videos, Nightlife Events

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