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!!!
NEW TV PILOT COMING FROM
GOTHAM COMEDY CLUB
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!!!
MARC MARON’S MOMA MOMENT
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.
NICK KROLL IN A SPECIAL SHOW
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)
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!!!
PAULY SHORE’S ONE MAN SHOW
AT NY COMEDY FEST
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.
18th ANNUAL NY COMEDY FEST
AND CAROLINES CLOSING
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!!!
ASIAN WOMEN TAKING OVER COMEDY
(ESPECIALLY BLOND ASIAN WOMEN)
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.
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!
AND I THINK THAT’S IT FOR THIS COLUMN! I HAVE A LOT MORE BUT I WILL FINISH IT UP IN MY NEXT COLUMN COMING VERY SOON! STAY TUNED FOR WHAT’S HAPPENING IN COMEDY ON THE COMEDY MATTERS BLOG/VLOG!
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