Posts Tagged Mark Normand

COMEDY MATTERS ROUNDUP WITH PATRICE O’NEAL BENEFIT AND AFTER-PARTY, BILL BURR, GARDEN OF LAUGHS, TRACY MORGAN, JIM GAFFIGAN, SAM MORRIL, AND SO MUCH MORE!!!

WITH THE AMAZING BILL BURR AT THE STAND

THE LOVE FOR PATRICE GOES ON

Nov. 29, 2011 is the day that Patrice O’Neal left us and left a big void in the comedy world. Especially for me. I had a very unique relationship with Patrice and was honored to be named by him as the 3rd co-host on The Black Phillip Show, on Sirius XM radio. It was Patrice, Dante Nero and me!

The first night we did the show together, he called me and left this message at 4:05 in the morning. He couldn’t wait to call me. Patrice didn’t get excited about a lot of things, but if you listen to this phone message which I have kept all these years, you’ll hear that he wanted to do a show just the two of us. He and I. Me and Patrice. Just the two of us.

Unfortunately like many things in show biz it never happened, but just the fact that he offered meant the world to me. Patrice didn’t say things just to be polite. We just had a real understanding, a real love and respect for each other. Von confirmed that with me at his funeral.

For the past 11 years, leaving out two years for the pandemic, comedy exec. Maureen Taran and Bill Burr have produced a benefit for Patrice’s family at City Center. Sells out every year. All the comics perform for free and all the money goes to Patrice’s family. His wonderful Mom, Georgia usually comes every year but she was not able to attend this year. But approximately 2300 other people were.

Rich Vos emceed as usual and did the great job he always does. He’s perfect for this event. I always think I should be performing but when I see the show I know my comedy doesn’t fit in. Cipha Sounds was on the ones and twos, also as usual, and brought Vos out to hip hop music, which made everyone laugh. Vos was dressed like Stallone from Rocky 3 and I believe it was he who said about Patrice, ” If he wasn’t so big he’d be rolling over in his grave.” And that set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Reggie Conquest was up first and came out to NInja Turtles music, as compared to Vos who came out to Meek Mill. Cipha has a good sense of humor! Reggie did great and Vos said about him that he had to go on first because ” his ankle bracelet goes off at 9 P.M.”

Then they announced a surprise guest and when Jim Gaffigan came out the place erupted! People went wild. Jim is beloved. He must have lost 6o pounds, and said about himself that he was “formerly a fat guy and how he’s just arrogant!” Wait till you hear the stories about Jim on the red carpet at Garden of Laughs, the very next day, … a few paragraphs down!

I hadn’t seen Marcello Hernandez from SNL perform before, so I was pleasantly surprised at how strong he was on stage. The guy is a beast. Bill Burr told me that Marcello has better material than he does! He came out wearing what looked like gym clothes which was fitting for the way he worked out on stage. Amazing! I actually laughed out loud, which is very rare for me. He was just so clever and did a thing comparing Meringue, Salsa and Bachata! (Three different Latin dances for you gringos!!!)

Bonnie McFarlane is one of the best writers in the biz and always so funny and clever. She came out to Back That Ass Up, and declared that if Patrice was still alive he’d probably be trans and married to Jim Norton. And speaking of her husband Vos she said, two or three years in to the marriage she realized he’s not playing the dumb guy character! No one could be that good an actor! (LOL)

Another surprise to me was Robert Powell who Vos mistakenly introduced as Robert Palmer. which the other comics kidded him about all night! The guy was hilarious! Absolutely hilarious!

Then they announced another surprise guest and it was Dan Soder who also got HUGE applause. In talking about Patrice, Dan mentioned The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip where Patrice along with guys like Bobby Kelly and Paul Mercurio would judge new comics to see if they could perform at The Strip. I often sat there with owner/founder Richie Tienken watching and laughing at the action, and Patrice was usually particularly brutal, but in a way you’d have to laugh. I just happen to have a video of one of those shows with Patrice, Bobby and Paul. And yes that’s a young Jordan Rock in the corner as the DJ!

Then Michael Che came out and said he hadn’t done stand up in a while which is understandable since his work load at SNL is so huge. He said he turned 40 and is starting to feel old. He also said he had a relative who was a runaway slave and became a clown. I think he said that was his inspiration to go into comedy, but I could be wrong! Not about the slave/clown thing but whether it inspired him or not.

And lastly like in baseball which I know nothing about, Bill Burr came out as the clean-up hitter and wrapped up the show. Bill is not only fun to listen to he’s fun to watch. And he’s a really great guy! We always have so much fun on any red carpet I see him on. I have photos of him hugging me from the time he had red hair till now! (Sometimes we switch sides!)

And the same as every year the after party was held at The Stand . Cris and Paul Italia go all out and serve great food and the place is packed with fun people and good vibes.

I got to hang with Ken Feder otherwise known as Club Soda Kenny who I first met thru Dice because he always does security for Dice, but he also does security for Bill Burr and other big stars. He’s always on the job and didn’t let Bill out of his sight for a minute. Even while we were talking and catching up, he had his eye on Bill. No one fucks with Kenny. Ex-NYPD and a big dude.

WITH A VERY SERIOUS LOOKING KEN FEDER

Bill actually wrote and directed a little film that Kenny stars in with Bobby Lee called “Soda” in which he plays a cop, … very realistically I might add! It’s on You Tube. Check it out!!!

GARDEN OF LAUGHS INSANITY

It had been a few years since the Garden of Laughs was held due to the pandemic and people’s fears of large gatherings but thanks to the Mazzilli brothers it was time to have it again! As usual I was covering the red carpet and it was a blast!

Jim Gaffigan was in a rare mood. He was joking around the whole time and I think it was connected to his dramatic weight loss. When I told him how good he looked he reminded me that he was married. He also said he was very good looking despite the fact that he has no pigment! At one point he pulled GOL host Steve Schirripa away while I was still talking to him, and made believe he was the reporter from People Magazine, and then he took my mic and was double fisting them until I reminded him he was married! (LOL) Jim is truly amazing, a true superstar, with 5 beautiful kids, the youngest of whom is now 11!

Chris Distefano was also a hoot because Garden of Laughs is a charity that raises money for disadvantaged snd underprivileged children, so when he came to talk to me I had to remind him that he himself has underprivileged children, which made him laugh and agree that he does indeed have underprivileged children! It’s on my Instgram Reels if you want to see it @jeffreygurian.

Also on the red carpet I got to re-connect with Sam Morril who I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Sam and I reminisced a bit about how he started out years ago on my late night show at The Comic Strip where he said he’d sometimes sit for four hours waiting to go on. I told him he had 650,000 followers on IG, but Sam is so humble he said he wasn’t aware of that, but that it sounded like a good thing! (LOL)

WITH SAM MORRIL

And I got to see my old buddy Tracy Morgan. The publicists were being very choosy about who the stars spoke with but when Tracy saw me he told the guy we go way back, and he came over to chat about how lucky we both were to survive what we’ve been through. Tracy is very aware of how lucky he was to survive the terrible accident he was in, and I was lucky to survive a heart attack and a hospitalization with Covid Double Pneumonia. That video will be forthcoming along with Sam Morril’s.

WITH MY PAL TRACY MORGAN

LAUGHING BUDDHA FEST FOR $2,000.

Jeff Lawrence’s Laughing Buddha has everything you could want if you want to be in the comedy world. They offer workshops, classes, even a boot camp and he and Daryn Stephanie Passarello work tirelessly to inspire and help young comics to develop. I’ve had the honor of performing on some of their shows at various clubs around the city. They’re at The Stand, Eastville, Rodney’s and just about anywhere that comedy is offered.

WITH DARYN PASSARELLO AND JEFF LAWRENCE AT THE TRIAD

So I was especially honored when they asked me to be a judge at their second annual comedy festival which was held at the beautiful Triad Theater on West 72nd Street. What really impressed me was the $2,000. prize they were giving away for the winner. That is truly a generous prize. The 2nd and 3rd runner-ups also got a few hundred bucksl

The winner was Eric Walsh, a funny comic I had seen before when I was judging a contest at Stand Up New York, who opens by declaring that his family has regular size necks, which only makes sense if you’ve seen him because he happens to be the proud owner of a very long neck! Second place went to Chris Tos and third went to Brendan Smith.

JEFF LAWRENCE WITH THE CONTESTANTS AND TED BARTON RIGHT OUT FRONT TO HIS LEFT

And I got to meet the famous Bad Slava guy whose co-judged with me, and whose name is really Slava. He’s a comic named Slava Yaryshkin and I had been hearing his name for years. Any time someone wants to know where the open mics are located all around the city people would say ” Go to BadSlava.com and you’ll see all the mics in existence! But I had no idea it was named after a real guy! So I was really glad to meet him and spend a couple of hours together. And without consulting each other at all, we picked the same names as winners. I was hoping Ted Barton would win as he’s in my new pilot “The Raw Side of Comedy.” It was very close!

Jeff told me the goal for next year’s festival is to give away $5,000. to the winner. For a chance at 5K, I just might enter!!! (LOL)

BIG COMEDIC HUGS FOR ISRAEL

Avi Liberman is an LA comic who came to NY to produce a show called “Comedy Hug – A Benefit for Healing In Israel”. He did it at Gotham which was no surprise because the Mazzilli’s are always open to good causes and do many, many charity shows during the course of the year.

I wished I was on the show but I was glad to just be there covering it. And what a line-up they had. In no particular order it was Avi who hosted, and Gina Brillon, Jim Gaffigan, Mark Normand, Dean Edwards, Eli from Eli Comedy, and Dan Naturman who closed out the show but got there early and watched the whole thing.

I always like when someone does that. A lot of comics just show up for their spot, or don’t watch the other comics. To me it’s a sign of respect when you show interest in what your fellow comics are doing. Anyway it was a sold out show as you might expect with that line-up and I hope to be on the next one! Especially for such a worthy cause.

I also ran into Dan shortly after, at a great event called “Stand Up For Passion” produced and created by French comedian Arnaud Collery. It’s like an abbreviated Ted Talk event, but each speaker only gets 7 minutes and it’s always a fascinating show! One of his speakers was a French astronaut named Thomas Pesquet. And of course Dan is a co-host on the Comedy Cellar podcast which is always fun and an honor to do.

BEN CARSON IS A HERO IN MY BOOK

This has nothing to do with comedy but I was very excited to meet the great Ben Carson at a P.A.L. luncheon sponsored by John and Margo Catsimatidis at the Harvard Club! Ben is a retired neurosurgeon, who had 15,000 surgeries under his belt, to use a phrase from 1810, and was the very first neurosurgeon to separate Siamese or conjoined twins who were connected at the head. And he did it twice! Not on the same twins, … on other conjoined twins!

What makes it even more amazing is that he came from extreme poverty growing up with a single Mom with only a third grade education. But she stressed that her sons should be educated and Ben’s brother became a rocket scientist. A neurosurgeon and a rocket scientist. Pretty good for that situation, …which just goes to show you what you can accomplish in this country if you work hard. I was truly honored to meet him.

And he happens to have a great sense of humor and was very funny in his speech, so maybe this DOES have something to do with comedy!!! John Cats always gets great guests for his P.A.L. luncheons and on his show on WABC radio which he owns! John told me it’s now in, … I think, … 170 countries and all 50 states! What an accomplishment!

COMEDY BENEFIT FOR MENTAL ILLNESS

A few years ago I flew to Chicago to perform at a meeting of AATH, which stands for the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, which is a community of people who believe humor can help to regain health. I’m on the Board of a group called Laugh M.D. which brings comedy to people in hospitals and people in recovery founded by Frank Chindamo in L.A. the founder of Fun Little Movies, one of the very first to put entertainment on mobile phones.

AATH members include wellness professionals and people who use humor as a wellness strategy, and researchers who study the science of humor. While there I met Joan Accolla , a powerhouse and the founder of Healing Headbands a charitable foundation that also believes in using humor to heal. She and her partner Barbara Grapstein partnered up with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and they’re doing a major fundraiser for mental illness on Thursday May 23rd out on Long Island.

I have the honor of hosting and also on the show are Felicia Madison, booker and talent developer from West Side Comedy Club, and comic and Broadway star Rick Younger as well as local Long Island comic James Lennon. Hope you will come out and join us for a fun evening of food, music and laughter.

This is the site for tickets: https://www.healingheadbands.com/hhp-comedy-show-2024

Hope to see you there and hope to see you again next month when the next Comedy Matters Roundup comes out! In the meantime when you have a moment follow us on Instagram at @jeffreygurian

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Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Patrice O’Neal 7th Annual Benefit Smash Success

Every year for the last 7 years without fail, Bill Burr and comedy exec. Maureen Taran organize a special tribute to the late, great Patrice O’Neal. It’s truly amazing the respect that Patrice still gets. He left us on Nov. 29, 2011, and the love is still there.

It had a lot to do with the man himself, because other comedians have transitioned to that other plane, but people don’t talk about them as much, or do annual benefits in their honor. I always say that Patrice was much more than just a comedian. He was a comedy philosopher. He had a well thought out point of view, on many things, especially on how men should act around women.

And as I said the love for Patrice is just as strong as ever. I personally come across it, without exaggerating, probably on a weekly basis. People write to me by e-mail, or on FB or even stop me in the street and give me props for what we did on The Black Phillip Show. I’m always surprised because it was back in 2008, but people say that what we did changed their lives. That’s heavy for a radio show. And it was one of the greatest honors of my career to have been Patrice’s co-host on that show. We had a very unique relationship and one that his wife Vondecarlo could attest to.

You can hear it yourself in this rare phone call from Patrice to me the first night we did the Black Phillip Show together. it took a lot to get Patrice excited and he was not known for just throwing around compliments but he called me at 4:05 A.M. because he couldn’t wait till the morning to tell me how much he liked what we did together.

Anyway, Bill and Maureen hold the show at City Center, a venue in the heart of Manhattan which according to Google holds 2750 people, and every one of those 2750 people were there last night to see an incredible line-up of talent.  Rich Vos MC’ed a show that Patrice would have been proud of.

Although Rich said that it if had been a benefit for him all these years, … maybe Patrice would have shown up, … one year.  And then Rich brought up Joe List who ( and I’m sure it wasn’t for me) happened to do a lot of dental oriented material which is not a common theme. He even said that in root canal you take out the roots and throw them away and I meant to tell him that it’s the nerves they take out not the roots, but hopefully he’ll read this and find out.

Aussie comic Brendan Burns made the mistake of making fun of Vos, and Vos came back with nuclear weapons. He did that with every comic that made jokes at his expense, which was just about every one of them. And later at the after-party, his wife comic Bonnie McFarlane told me she was backstage with Rich and offered suggestions to him for the comebacks!

At the after party over hors-d’oeuvres I told Vos that he was like President Trump (not anything political), who doesn’t let anyone say anything about him without clapping back twice as hard. No one gets away with anything.

Mark Normand had some good advice for the audience.  He said it was ok to be offended, just shut up and keep it to yourself. Michele Wolf made fun of Vos’ foot size and he made fun of her voice. She also talked about otters raping baby seals, which she swore to be true, and white women’s privilege, which she also swore was true, and as she left the stage Vos asked for a big hand for Michael Rappaport.

Gary Gulman showed his prowess as a wordsmith as usual by deconstructing the word “ruthless” as having no ruth, like “Buzzi” or “Bader Ginsberg”, and went on to use words like hijinx, and tomfoolery. Writing these notes in the dark by the way was very difficult. I could hardly read my writing. And photos were out of the question. They had everyone place their phones in Yondr bags which in case you don’t know is a special bag that locks the phone inside of it until you leave. They literally leave you holding the bag!

After mine was locked I was worried that I had left the ringer on and that I’d get a call during the show and wouldn’t be able to turn off my phone  because it was locked in that stupid bag, but I didn’t want to leave to have it checked.

The music was hot and was supplied by Cipha Sounds who I had just seen the night before at Chelsea Music Hall where he performed on Ryan Ling’s Bird Brain Comedy Show, but this night he was spinning hip-hop in between acts.

And then it was Chris Redd from SNL followed by Bill Burr who closed the amazing show. Everybody killed. No surprise there.

And then it was off to the after-party at a place called Esther and Carol’s down on Broome Street. It’s the lounge of the Soho Hotel and it was arranged by the owners of The Stand who host the after-party every year. Unfortunately they are still waiting for their new two-level club to be finished down on West 16th Street, so in the meantime they’ve been doing pop-up shows in this cool lounge.

I walked in early and Bill was there talking to Maureen, and he saw me out of the corner of his eye and because he takes pleasure in torturing me, made sure to say something very loud like, “I sure hope that guy Jeffrey Gurian doesn’t come”.  I laughed and told him it was too late that I had already snuck in.

They had the whole staff there including owner Cris Italia, Joe Harary, and the always lovely Adele Carollo, and they had good food and drinks.  All of the comics who performed were there, as well as Ronny Chieng, Joe Bartnick who opens for Bill, Luisa Diez, Bonnie McFarlane who I spoke to the longest of anyone, and Krystyna Hutchinson who was also celebrating her birthday and came in with Wendi Starling, whose hair is now short and dark and I almost didn’t recognize her.

Joe List “the dental expert”, with Mark Normand and Michelle Wolf

But the highlight of the party for me was when I heard someone calling out my name and I turned to see Patrice’s Mom Georgia calling me over to say hello. She was sitting in the balcony with her daughter Zinder, because she made it down this long flight of stairs which was not easy for her, and they wanted her to sit in a safe place.

She’s always so gracious and we reminisced about Patrice and how great he was, and I told her how many times people contact me about Black Phillip and she said he always loved that show so much.  Then we took the photo you see above and for me that was the highlight of the evening.

I didn’t get a photo with Bill because I never know how to approach the man! (LOL) When he was getting ready to leave I walked over to say goodnight and he was talking with Ronny Chieng but he stopped his conversation to yell out, ” Jeffrey you have to stop crashing parties”, and I was concerned that Ronny didn’t know he was kidding!

So I decided to post some of the many photos that Bill and I have taken over the years, starting back in 2005. Great job Bill! Hope to sneak into #8 next year too!

With Bill Burr back in 2005

 

With Bill Burr in Montreal at Just for Laughs

With Bill Burr at West Side Comedy Club in 2018

With Bill Burr at the taping of Paul Virzi’s special 

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