Posts Tagged Colin Quinn

"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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Red Carpet Video of Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards 2012 Plus Winners

I was covering the red carpet of the 2nd annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards Show 2012, and it was a star-studded event, with comedy legends like Robin Williams and Don Rickles, plus acting legends like Robert DeNiro, who presented Don Rickles with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence.

From Julie Klausner who hosted the red carpet to Colin Quinn, John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, Randall from The Honeybadger film that got 43 million hits, The Gregory Brothers, (including Sarah, the hottest of the Gregory Brothers), Jessica Williams, the new “hot cutie”,and youngest correspondent on The Daily Show, Jim O’Heir from Parks and Recreation, Hannibal Buress, and so many more, plus private scenes from the press room, it’s all here in the following video!

So check it out right here:

Louis CK was the evening’s big winner with 4 trophies, including the awards for Best Sketch/Alternative Series,Best Stand-Up Tour and Best Comedy Special of the Year. Robin Williams was presented with the Stand-Up Icon Award by Patton Oswalt, and Don Rickles received the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence from Robert DeNiro.

The complete list of winners is here:
Comedy Special Of The Year: Louis C.K., Louis C.K.: Live At The Beacon Theater
Stand-Up Tour: Louis C.K.
Sketch/Alternative Comedy Series: Louie
Comedy Directing, TV: Louie
Comedy Series: Parks and Recreation
Comedy Film: Bridesmaids
Animated Comedy Series: Archer
Late-Night Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Comedy Writing, TV: 30 Rock
Comedy Actor, TV: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Comedy Actress, TV: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Comedy Actress, Film: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Comedy Director, Film: Paul Feig, Bridesmaids
Comedy Screenplay: Bridesmaids
Club Comic: Hannibal Buress
Viral Original: Songify This, “Winning- A Song By Charlie Sheen”
Stand-Up Icon: Robin Williams
The Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence: Don Rickles

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Patrice O’Neal Goes Home

The comedy world is still in shock from the passing of the great Patrice O’Neal. I attended the services for Patrice yesterday at the Park Avenue Christian Church, on 85th Street and Park Avenue in New York City. I purposely did not use the word “funeral” because the program for the service was entitled “Going Home Services” for Patrice O’Neal.

Plus “funeral” is such a sad word, and as sad as it was to think of Patrice no longer being with us, the comedians who honored Patrice made it more into a “Fun-eral”! If it was possible to put the “fun” into “Funeral” they did it.

The Reverend spoke beautifully, and there were two world class singers. The first was Michael Wheeler who sang, ” I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”, and then the beautiful Antonique Smith sang ” Let It Be.” Their voices were like angels. Powerful angels! But I could almost see Patrice sneaking out, because I knew him as a humble man, (when he wasn’t on stage), and the attention, and having everything be all about him might have made him uncomfortable!

Jim Norton read the Obituary, which chronicled Patrice’s life and career, starting from when he was born in New York City and raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts, (where he led Roxbury High School to a football state championship in his senior year), to his recent first CD entitled “Mr.P”, which sadly will be released posthumously.

Patrice was a huge man in every way. At 6’5″ and 300 pounds he was a commanding presence, but not imposing when you were a friend. From the first time I met him, and told him I thought we should be roommates so we could save money and share clothing, I think he got a kick out of me! He laughed out loud at that one!

Standing side by side we couldn’t have been more different, but we were so much alike. And he knew that. And that was a Blessing to me. Patrice got me. He knew who I was, and welcomed me into his world.

Jeffrey Gurian with Patrice O’Neal at a comedy event for which Jeffrey was honored as part of Black History Month!

Whenever I saw him, I was compelled to hug him. There was just something about him, as big as he was, that just drew me to him. I can’t explain it in words, but he understood it, because when we were on the radio together and he would explain to his audience who I was, and why he had me on with him, he did it with love and affection. I told him if we ever did TV together he should walk out holding me in his arms like a baby! He laughed at that too!

(I also once told the head of the Hell’s Angels, who was about the same size as Patrice, that if anyone ever bothered him to let me know! I like doing that to really huge men. It makes them feel relaxed when they can have a good laugh!)

Many comics said he was harsh with them, or put them down in some way. I can honestly say I NEVER had that experience with Patrice. Patrice never ridiculed me, or gave me a hard time, as comics often like to do to each other. It seems to be some strange right of passage. I actually have tapes of us on air that I treasure, where Patrice said I was “amazing”, and that he was “envious” of me! I have it here, and it’s right at the beginning!

Our ideas of how to meet beautiful women couldn’t have been more opposite. I could NEVER get away with saying the things he said to women, and he could NEVER get away with saying the things I said, nor would he want to. He knew you had to be who you were. It had to come naturally from the heart! You couldn’t fake it.

That’s why to people who thought he was a misogynist, I say, you had no idea what he was about. He truly loved women. He just didn’t like what men had to go through to get them. How a woman’s power could reduce men to being such bumbling jerks!

Patrice could imitate a little girl’s voice on stage and you would see his gentle side come out. It was easy for him to expose that side of himself, because Patrice had nothing to hide. He was comfortable with who he was.

There was nothing you could say to embarrass Patrice, and there was nothing he wouldn’t say either on stage or in a personal conversation. One of my most treasured memories of Patrice is the excited phone call he made to me at 4 A.M. after one of our episodes of The Black Phillip Show on Sirius Radio. He was so happy with how it went that he wanted to call me that night, and suggest we do a show together, but he was so humble that he said he didn’t want to “assume” anything, … as if I might not want to do it! I jumped at the chance, but unfortunately it never developed. Shortly afterwards he went on the road, and like what happens with so many good ideas, it never came to fruition. Now it never will!

If you listen to it right here, you can hear the enthusiasm in his voice!

Patrice-Our Own Show

I write a lot about people in the comedy world who I’ve known over the many years I’ve been in it, and there’s a tendency when you do that to make it seem like it’s about you. How this person was to you. I wrote about ten drafts of this post trying not to do that.

I hope this post comes across as me attempting to explain how Patrice made me feel. If Patrice genuinely liked you, you felt validated. In terms of my comedy, a lot of people have no idea what I do. He took the time to find out.

In the obituary that Norton read, when he was talking about Patrice on “Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn”, he said that “many fans saw Patrice as the shows most controversial and obstinate performer, although only on the subjects of race, religion, gender, relationships, social status, and foreign policy! (LOLOLOL) Patrice was so smart. as I’ve described him before, he was not just a comedian, he was a comedy philosopher!

To some degree all comedians are comedy philosophers, giving you their world view. But Patrice was lightyears ahead in that respect. By the time he left the stage, and very often, he’d stay up there for a while, because he could pontificate, … you really felt you knew him. He made it very clear how he felt on certain subjects.

Several of Patrice’s closest friends got to give him a tribute. Robert Kelly, Wil Sylvince, Colin Quinn, Kevin Hart, and Rich Vos all spoke about the man we were there to honor.

Colin gave a heartfelt tribute, and also made us laugh, first by commenting on Robert Kelly’s opening with a fat joke about himself, and then with his stories of Patrice on Tough Crowd, how Patrice could go on for 20 minutes essentially taking over the whole show, and then say, “Sorry Colin, what do you think? After all, it’s your show!”

Robert Kelly was moved to tears during his tribute as was Kevin Hart. Wil Sylvince who had been Patrice’s roommate at one time said that Patrice spoke “Wil” and was able to translate when people didn’t understand what Wil was saying due to his speech impediment, … which I always thought was just a strong Haitian accent! (LOL)

By the time Rich Vos got up to speak, there had already been lots of laughter, which I know Patrice would have appreciated, especially when Vos told the crowd he’d be selling his CD after the service! I’m sure everyone there had a favorite Patrice story. I’m grateful that I get to give my tribute here!

Then Patrice’s beautiful stepdaughter Aymilyon got up to speak, read a prayer and talked about how “Mr. P.” which is what she called him, had added so much to her life in the seven years he was with her Mom Von. Von is Vondecarlo Brown, Patrice’s wife, and a talented singer/songwriter as well who wrote the song “Cool Ride” for Patrice’s recent one hour Comedy Central special “Elephant In The Room”. It was at that taping that Patrice brought me backstage to introduce me to his Mom, Gloria. You feel proud when someone does that.

It’s like dating someone and they decide it’s time for you to meet their parents! It’s an honor.

I got to the chapel an hour early hoping to see Von so I could express my personal condolences. I hadn’t seen her for a while, but she if anyone, knew what Patrice and I meant to each other. She was in a back room closed off for family so I just made sure I got a good seat and waited for the service to start along with everyone else. So many people came out to honor Patrice. Chris Rock was there, Dave Attell, Bill Burr, Gary Gulman, Ben Bailey, Jay Oakerson, Todd Barry, Keith Robinson, Wanda Sykes, and many more. Several people called and texted me that they were so sorry they were out of town. Macio was in Florida and Wayne Rada was very upset that his plane was delayed coming from Florida, and that he missed it. He and Patrice had a lot of history.

I was sitting on an aisle with Sherrod Small and his girlfriend Marisa. As the family procession came down the center aisle, I saw Von and was nervous to try and get her attention, because those kinds of situations can be very awkward. But as she passed me, she looked into my eyes and I threw her a kiss and touched my heart, and she got it.

After the service when everyone was leaving, I went into the back and was able to see her for a moment. We embraced, and I was able to tell her how sorry I was for her loss. She knew how much I loved Patrice, and as I tried to explain the bond we had, she said she knew, and that made me feel good. Even with his passing, it was important for me to know that Patrice felt the same way about me! And in the midst of her sadness, she did me the kindness of saying, “I was happy to see your face when I was walking down the aisle.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes!

R.I.P. Patrice! You were a one-of-a-kind, and much loved!

Jeffrey Gurian in his last photo with Patrice O’Neal taken at The Comic Strip on 9/27/11!

P.S. As a sick perfectionist, more than once I asked Patrice the proper way to spell his last name, either with an apostrophe or without, and he told me whichever way I wanted was ok, which I never really understood. On the program it was spelled with an apostrophe!

See the previous Comedy Matters post “Pray For Patrice O’Neal” –
http://wp.me/p1pHIm-Aj

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Cringe Humor Tribute To Mike DeStefano

Sometimes people say the comedy world is a cold world filled with backbiting and people getting screwed over. Cris and Paul Italia, and Patrick Milligan of Cringe Humor proved that to be false. As part of the NY Comedy Festival, they held a tribute to Mike DeStefano, a talented comic they were working with who left us much too young.

The event was held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and it was a packed house. That was a tribute to them as well as to Mike, cause it’s not easy to get people to show up for anything in New York, when there are always so many other things to choose from.

Poster for the Cringe Humor Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Mike DeStefano after one of his shows at Gotham!

Cringe was producing Mike’s one-man show originally called “Drugs, Disease, and Death, – A Comedy”, which got changed to be the more “user-friendly” name ” A Cherry Tree In The Bronx!” It was Mike’s story of living with HIV, losing his wife to AIDS, and carrying the message of recovery to sick and suffering alcoholics and drug addicts which was part of his past, and a very important focus of his life. Mike was about helping people, as well as making them laugh in the process!

It could have been a somber event, but thanks to MC Rich Vos, who can make any event funny, and a line-up that included Bonnie McFarlane,Eugene Mirman,Robert Kelly,Kurt Metzger, Mike Vecchione, and Colin Quinn, it was a raucous laughfest! Mike would have been happy. His look-alike brother Joe was there, and the likeness is astonishing.

(L-R) Rich Vos, Colin Quinn, and Richie Tienken at the Cringe Humor Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Eugene Mirman onstage at the Cringe Humor Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Robert Kelly at a previous comedy show!

I went with Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip where Mike was a regular, although it didn’t start out that way. When Mike’s Uncle Pete asked Richie to give Mike a shot, he did, but Mike was so dirty that Richie didn’t get it. Two years later, he came to perform for Richie again, and when Richie saw how much the audience liked Mike, he made him a regular. Mike hung out at The Strip a lot, before he did Last Comic Standing and afterwards as well.

So the comedy world may be a dysfunctional family, but it’s a family nevertheless!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Cris Italia of Cringe Humor and the producer of the Tribute to Mike DeStefano!

Check out the video below for an exclusive interview with Cris Italia from Cringe Humor!

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Patrice Oneal and Robert Kelly Guest Judges in The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip

Every Tuesday night at 10:30 at the legendary comedy club in NYC, The Comic Strip, there’s a fun, live, streaming reality type show called “The Lottery Show.” Created by club manager JR, along with owner/founder Richie Tienken, young comics try their hand at passing to perform at the club, and are judged, … very honestly I might add,… by seasoned comedians.

(L-R) Robert Kelly, Patrice Oneal, Paul Mecurio, Richie TIenken and JR judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip!

The Comic Strip opened on June 1, 1976 and is still going as strong as ever after 35 years. It launched the careers of people like Jerry Seinfeld,Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Larry Miller, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and many many more!

The past few weeks has seen stars like Artie Lange, Tony Rock and Colin Quinn come in to be Lottery Show judges, and the show is quickly gaining popularity as a “hip” thing to do in the comedy world.

Jeffrey Gurian with Artie Lange backstage after a show in 2009!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Tony Rock, the night he was a judge on The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip!

This past week the three judges were Robert Kelly from HBO’s Tourgasm with Dane Cook, Patrice Oneal, one of my favorites, and a guy who pushes the proverbial envelope today the way Lenny Bruce did way back when, and Emmy award winning national headliner Paul Mecurio! The judges change but the host stays the same, and that position is filled by VH1’s Sherrod Small who’s due to break huge any day now.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his exact look-alike Patrice Oneal, after Patrice was a judge on The Lottery Show!

Sherrod is not only hysterical, but he controls the audience in a way that few comics can. And his bit about thanking certain segments of the audience after almost every joke, is a real crowd pleaser! And Jordan Rock is keepin’ it down on the ones and twos!

Sherrod Small and his longtime muse, … the lovely Marisa!

In this week’s show, which I will be providing a video of very shortly, you will see Patrice go off the way only Patrice can do. The judges were arguing very loudly over a call on whether a certain comic was funny or not, and why, and during what almost sounded like a street fight, a show broke out!

I will always be honored by the fact that Patrice chose me to be his co-host on his Sirius radio show, “The Black Phillip Show”. A couple of them are still up on the internet. This is one of them where Patrice is absolutely fascinated by the “hot” girls I’m with!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Patrice Oneal all the way back in 2001!

Can’t wait to finish editing the video tape of The Lottery Show so I can post it. Stay tuned for that!

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29th Annual Just For Laughs Festival In Montreal

It was the 29th annual Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and as you might imagine, everyone in comedy was there. I literally shot 20 video interviews with people like Garry Shandling, Ken Jeong, Bo Burnham, Bill Burr, Paul Provenza, Kenny Hotz, Russell Peters, Steve Levitan who created Modern Family and won an award for Best Comedy Writer, Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik and not only people LIKE those people, but the actual people themselves! ( LOL – Do I really need the LOL or would you have known??? )

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Ken Jeong from The Hangover movies, in Montreal at the Just For Laughs Festival. Ken had just won the award for Breakout Comedy Star of the Year, at the Comedy Confference!

I’ve been coming up to the festival probably for well over 20 years, and for many of those years there was absolutely nothing scheduled for during the day! In recent years they created something called The Comedy Conference which is FANTASTIC! It’s a chance to meet and interact with people doing things in comedy, on the internet making web series, short films, and attending conferences where people speak on their particular specialty. You get to listen to and meet the movers and shakers in the comedy world, including people from You Tube, Google, Barely Political,The Onion, and Rob Barnett’s “My Damn Channel.”

This year at a special luncheon, awards were given to Garry Shandling, Ken Jeong, Steve Levitan, and Louis CK among others. I interviewed several of them, which you can see right here.

I started meeting people the moment I got off the plane with my trusty DP Sean Mannion. We shared a shuttle to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which is the home base of the festival, with Kurt Braunohler, (who I mistakenly wrote about previously as “Braunholer”, a great observation if I was Roasting him!), then walked into the hotel and ran right into Russell Peters, who finalized my plans to come and see him that night, then ran into Kenny Hotz on the way to my room, who is the only Canadian talent to have two shows on American TV at the same time, and as soon as I changed and got my camera ready I ran into Bo Burnham, and did my first interview of the weekend.

Jeffrey Gurian with Kurt Braunohler at the airport in Montreal on the way to the Hyatt Regency Hotel!

See Kenny Hotz’s video interview right here. Kenny is a great guy and has so many loyal fans. Whatever I post about him goes through the roof!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with a self-described "disheveled Bo Burnham" at the Just for Laughs Festival!

Everything Bo does goes viral. Bo is grateful that antibiotics have no effect on a virus, so there is virtually no cure for what he does! (LOL) He was performing on the Amp’ed show along with Reggie Watts and others who mix comedy and music, and we had a cool, fun interview. He introduced himself on camera as “the disheveled Bo Burnham” as is everyone in Montreal. There’s not much “stylin'” in the comedy world. People are just chillin’ and having a good time networking, and meeting their peers!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with a distinctly non-disheveled Reggie Watts!

At Russell’s show that night called “Best Night Ever” I went backstage with Russell for some exclusive footage, in which I actually got him dancing to some hip-hop beats, and he looked great in a custom gray striped suit and brand new white sneakers! That video is down towards the bottom of this column!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with Russell Peters, in his custom suit, at his show in Montreal!

I also got to interview Russell backstage at Paul Provenza’s taping of The Green Room for Showtime. Paul taped two shows for the second season of his hit show, and he and Barbara Romen his co-producer, along with Christopher Barrett made sure I got to see whoever I needed to see.

Jeffrey Gurian interviewing the legendary Tony Clifton and his date Felicia backstage at Paul Provenza's Green Room taping for Showtime!

We were in “the green room of The Green Room” and I interviewed the legendary Tony Clifton, Andy Kaufman’s best friend, who was kind enough to introduce me to his date’s breasts, and watched intently as I interviewed them. They were kind of quiet on camera, but off camera they wouldn’t shut up!

Tony Clifton introducing Jeffrey Gurian to his date's boobs!

I also spoke to Bill Burr, who laughingly chastised me for mentioning Tony Clifton and Bob Zmuda in the same sentence, and then I interviewed Colin Quinn, who was ticked off that they weren’t told what they were going to talk about so no one could prepare but Paul!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the receiving end of a bear-hug from an affectionate Bill Burr!

Watch all that in the Bill Burr video interview right here:

And then Colin Quinn’s interview right here:

I missed Eddie Izzard at The Green Room but caught up with him at the airport when we shared a flight back home to New York. He was doing a guest appearance on CBS’s The Good Wife!

Jeffrey Gurian and Eddie Izzard waiting to fly back to New York after the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal!

I caught up with SNL’s John Mulaney, who is also Nick Kroll’s writing partner, and we had a fun interview after the Variety party. I also got to see John taping his really funny Comedy Central special, “John Mulaney Live”, a short time afterwards back in New York at NYU’s Skirball Center, where Comedy Central tapes many of their specials.

Jeffrey Gurian with SNL's John Mulaney after the Variety party at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal!

Check out John Mulaney’s Comedy Matters interview right here:


John swears he and Nick Kroll will not make another “Oh Hello” video without having me in it. That probably means he’s not going to be making any more “Oh Hello” videos! (LOL)

Also caught up with two rising young stars Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik, bot of whom you will see this Monday on Comedy Central’s Roast of Charlie Sheen!

But I would have to say my most fun and rewarding interview was with Andy Nulman, the head of Just For Laughs and one of the founders of the festival 29 years ago. He had left for a while to run his telecommunications company which he recently sold for about 15 or 20 dollars, ( add about a hundred million to that! ), and is now back running the show.

Jeffrey Gurian with an absolutely HUGE Andy Nulman who had to crouch down to even be seen in the photo!

I got a hold of him backstage at Russell Peters show where I also ran into my old friends Alan Schwartz, and “Big Bill” who run security for the festival, and who range in size from about 6’6” to somewhere near 7’ tall. I have an amazing photo of me somewhere suspended between them hanging from their shoulders. It’s really funny, and I just found it so here it is!

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV suspended between Alan Schwartz, and Bill Bill backstage at one of the galas of the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal! ( They both know they can call me in case anyone bothers them!)

This is the really fun video of Russell Peters getting down backstage at his show in Montreal!

Anyway, Andy gave me this fantastic interview in which he says, “ If I wanna know what went on at my own festival, I read Jeffrey Gurian’s Comedy Matters, because he knows everyone, he covers everything, plus he really gives a s**t! That’s why when I say ‘This is Andy Nulman and you’re watching Comedy Matters’, it really means something!”

The video you see here is a compilation of everything that went on at JFL 2011! It’s all right here in the video so check it out!!!

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Bill Burr on Comedy Matters TV at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal

I caught up with Bill Burr backstage at the Showtime taping of Paul Provenza’s second season of The Green Room, a show where Paul gathers famous comics like Garry Shandling, Russell Peters, Caroline Rhea, Colin Quinn, ( and Bill Burr! ) and they just hang out and talk in a very real, unscripted, unedited way about very real things. Paul has that magical ability to bring that comfort level out in people.

The poster for Paul Provenza's hit Showtime show, "The Green Room!"

Paul Provenza applying the Krav Maga technique, otherwise known as "The Jewish Death Squeeze" to the face of Jeffrey Gurian, for no particular reason other than that he was happy to see him!

Fortunately for me, he says the same thing about me, in remarking how many huge stars appear in my column and Vlog! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian holding Paul Provenza's book Satiristas, and Paul Provenza holding Jeffrey Gurian's book for which he wrote the foreward, "Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive!"

Paul wrote the forward to my book, ” Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive” which was a book of celebs favorite filthy jokes, based on my years of writing for the famed Friars Roasts. I had jokes from over 250 celebs including Drew Carey, Jason Alexander, Richard Belzer, Chris Elliott, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, Gilbert Gottfried, Robert Smigel and Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, and about 240 others.

Paul Provenza showing Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV some love, while Jamie Kilstein looks on bravely trying to ignore the situation!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with an exuberant Bill Burr backstage at The Green Room taping in Montreal!

So I got to go backstage and get exclusive footage of the stars and guests on Paul’s show like Bill Burr, Russell Peters, Colin Quinn, Tony Clifton, Greg Proops, and even producers Barbara Romen, and Christopher Barrett.

Bill Burr tours all over the country and is a regular on the hit radio show Opie and Anthony, on Sirius Satellite Radio. He and comic Joe DeRosa (another favorite of mine), have their own show on XM radio called “Uninformed.”

Bill also did a one hour special for Comedy Central entitled “Why Do I Do This” a question that many, if not most comedians ask themselves at least once a week! Bill is one of the few white comedians often featured on “urban” shows, since his days as a regular on the second season of the Chapelle show. Bill makes being white hip again! (LOL)

He’s also a regular on Letterman, and had his own half hour special on HBO, ( as opposed to having someone else’s half hour! LOL )

You can read more about Bill on his website at http://www.billburr.com which is a very appropriate name for his website. The next time I see him I must remember to ask him how he chose that name!

This little video is of me interviewing Bill Burr in the green room of “The Green Room.” Check it out here!

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Flying With Eddie Izzard

I was in Montreal last weekend for the 29th annual Just For Laughs Festival, the biggest comedy festival in the world. One of the special events was the debut of Paul Provenza’s great show on Showtime, The Green Room. Paul is a good friend and hooked me up with an “All Access” backstage pass so I could interview everyone for my Comedy Matters Vlog and column. I was the only one back there shooting video and I got some great stuff, which you will see in an upcoming post.

Paul Provenza earlier this month in NYC kissing Jeffrey Gurian shamelessly while Jamie Kilstein looks on casually, as if nothing unusual was happening!

Paul produces the show with Barbara Romen, and gets tons of huge comedy stars to appear on it with him. It’s a totally unplanned, unscripted, unprepared talk show. As Colin Quinn told me backstage, the only one who knows what’s going on is Paul. He said ” Paul looks good and we all look like schmucks!”

Jeffrey Gurian and Colin Quinn on Broadway at Colin's Show "Long Story Short" directed by Jerry Seinfeld!

Paul was taping the last two shows of the season at the Mainline Theatre on St. Laurent Street as part of the festival. The first show had Colin Quinn, Russell Peters, Paul of course as host, Caroline Rhea, Lizz Winstead, and Bill Burr on the panel, and in the audience was Greg Proops, and Vegas lounge singer Tony Clifton who some of you may recall was Andy Kaufman’s best friend!

Bill Burr showing Jeffrey Gurian some love backstage at the taping of The Green Room in Montreal at The Just For Laughs Festival!

Jeffrey Gurian, with Greg Proops and a moose at the taping of Paul Provenza's Green Room in Montreal. The Moose used Greg's name to get in, although he claimed they had never met before!

Things got hot and heavy when Tony began yelling out very inappropriate remarks even for cable, and at first people thought it was a joke, but he wouldn’t stop and kept interrupting the comedians while they were speaking. Paul eventually had to have security throw him out. No one knew if it was real or not, but it was.

I even thought it was planned until the security team literally wrestled Tony to the ground and he fell on the glass table where Paul and the panel were sitting. They wouldn’t have done that for a joke. I have it on video which I will post in a separate Vlog. He just got carried away. I had interviewed him and his lady friend before the show and he had me do a separate interview with her boobs. That’s on the video too!

The second show included Eddie Izzard who I also wanted to film, but the show started late and I still had to pack and get up very early to fly back to The States the next day. While I was waiting for Eddie to arrive, I was warned that he often didn’t like to be interviewed and that I should definitely ask first. That seemed strange to me since that’s the only way I work. I would never just start filming someone without their permission. But I recalled hearing that Eddie could be touchy at times. The truth is, who isn’t???

Anyway, I had to leave before I got to see him or I would have had to stay until the show was over about 2 A.M. Next day on the plane back to New York, who’s sitting right near me but Eddie Izzard. I’m two rows in front of him. I went to say hello and told him that I had just missed him last night, and went back to my seat.

Suddenly a guy comes over to him and asks him if he would change seats with him so he could sit with his girlfriend. I was expecting a scene, but Eddie couldn’t have been nicer and more accomodating. As a matter of fact, he was the one who went over to the girl, tapped her on the shoulder and said, ” Either that guy is your boyfriend, or he’s got a great pick-up line.” So now he wound up two rows in front of me.

When the plane landed in NYC, for some reason his overhead bag was right above me, and mine was right above him, because the overhead space above my seat had been filled, so I put it two rows in front. I gave him his bag and he gave me mine.

Turned out he was in New York to do an episode of CBS’s “The Good Wife” with Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth. He’s playing Abbott Thrush, an English barrister, … or a lawyer to those who have no idea what a “barrister” is!
Jeffrey Gurian and Eddie Izzard waiting for their bags at baggage claim at La Guardia airport in NYC!

The end result of this story is that Eddie Izzard is a heck of a nice guy. I saw how he treated the people on the plane when they asked him to move his seat, and I saw how he treated me. I didn’t get to do my video interview but we did take a couple of stills at baggage claim while waiting for our bags to come around.

And next time I see him we’ll get the video, and I do have a feeling I’ll be seeing him again!

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Jeffrey Gurian Teaches Comedy Writing For The Learning Annex On USTREAM

I was honored to be asked to create a series of comedy writing classes for the internationally known adult education source, The Learning Annex, and it’s being offered on the internet through USTREAM. Just click on this link to see it!

Jeffrey Gurian with Lewis Black on the red carpet at a Comedy Central Night of Too Many Stars!

Jeffrey Gurian with Colin Quinn backstage at Colin's Broadway show, "Long Story Short"!

Jeffrey Gurian with Ray Romano at The Comic Strip holding a photo of him with Ray and Michael Bolton, when Jeffrey brought Michael to the set of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Jeffrey Gurian with Jerry Seinfeld at a party at the Time Warner Center!

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris' interview for the book that Jeffrey is writing about The Strip!

It’s free to my readers so check it out!

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