COMEDY MATTERS ROUNDUP AT THE PATRICE BENEFIT AND AFTER-PARTY WITH “THE DICEMAN”, BILL BURR, RONNY CHIENG, MO AMER, RICKY VELEZ, CIPHA SOUNDS, AND SO MUCH MORE!!!
10TH ANNUAL PATRICE O’NEAL BENEFIT
Thanks to Bill Burr and comedy exec./producer Maureen Taran, who works tirelessly to make this event happen, the 10th annual Patrice O’Neal benefit came off bigger and better than ever! I’m actually writing this at 6:30 A.M. after having gotten to bed at 2, because I’m so jazzed up about the show and after-party! I literally couldn’t sleep!!!
Rich Vos took the reins as the host for the 10th year in a row wearing a different hat each year, with Cipha Sounds on the ones and two’s. Vos opened with a funny story of being blocked by the TSA for trying to bring a container of egg salad on a plane, and came out as a big defender of women’s rights, by saying, … with tongue firmly planted in cheek, … “If a woman does all her chores, once a week she should have the right to wear slacks!” #Hilarious
Occasionally he would shpritz people in the audience like when he told two men, ” You look like you should be on an island in a Bugs Bunny cartoon!”
I had 3rd row seats and sat with Steve Stevenson, the guy who runs the Patrice O’Neal Facebook group “The Cult of Black Phillip” which has over 600 members and proves that the love for Patrice goes on after all these years.
Even in Japan! I had just gotten off stage after performing at a show in Japan when this guy named Devin approached me all excited and told me he was a big fan from Black Phillip! I couldn’t believe I actually had a fan in Japan, so we took a picture as I always do when someone from another country approaches me about Black Phillip.
As the 3rd co-host of the legendary Black Phillip Show I can attest to the ongoing love for Patrice, as I still, to this day, get messages from guys telling me they loved what we did, and some say it changed their lives. As a matter of fact I still keep this rare voicemail message from Patrice on my phone.
I woke up to find that I had received it at 4:05 A.M. the night we did our first show together. This phone call recording, is one of my proudest possessions, and is accompanied by rare photos of Patrice and I going back to 2002!
Shane Gillis hit the stage first to tremendous applause. People love Shane and he didn’t disappoint! He shared a hilarious story about having to deal with the fact that he just found out that his girlfriend’s ex was a Navy Seal! A real challenge to live up to! And btw, he does a GREAT Trump impression!!!
Ordinarily I’d be posting photos of each comic as they appeared on stage but we had to lock our phones in Yondr bags, .. which didn’t keep me from continuously reaching for my phone out of habit, as each comic came out!
Only celeb photog Marcus Russell Price, who shoots all the major comedy events, and Matthew Salacuse who shot a lot of the final days of Carolines, and me as well when I performed on Jeffrey Ross’s last show, had the ability to shoot photos during the show. Marcus shot photos at the amazing after-party at The Stand which I will get to below.
Next up was the very funny Eleanor Kerrigan, who’s been opening for Dice for years. She came out to music with seductive moves like a stripper, leading Vos to comment after she was done by saying ” I fucked her!” Vos usually has something nice to say about each comic as they finish! (LOL)
Cipha Sounds took the stage next and left his turntable in order to perform. Vos was supposed to turn off the music but couldn’t figure out what to press, so Ciph guided him from center stage. I’ve watched Ciph morph from just a DJ with a good sense of humor, who was always funny on the radio, to a really accomplished comedian over the years, who was the very first comic to be signed by Jay-Z to his Roc Nation entertainment company.
I recall his early days performing at Carolines when he told me he didn’t really feel like a comedian, but that was a long time ago! He said that it was actually Patrice that convinced him to do do comedy! Which gave Vos the opportunity to say, ” So THAT”S who we blame!” He totally killed with a bit about air-dropping dick pics on the subway to unsuspecting passengers.
Mo Amer came out next wearing a really great and stylish outfit , as opposed to all the other comics who dressed like they just either came from, or were on their way to the gym! (LOL) I had last seen Mo at his sold-out show during the NY Comedy Festival, again with Cipha Sounds as the DJ.
Mo identified himself as a Palestinian Arab but said for about 3 months after 911 he told people he was Italian! So funny! At the after-party at The Stand he told me he’s working on Season 2 of his Netflix show “Mo” co-created with fellow Palestinian Ramy Youssef, and which just got renewed in January.
When Vos, who’s Jewish, did a joke about Jews and Palestinians Mo jokingly stormed back out on stage, leading Vos to say, “I didn’t know he was still here!” Too bad the rest of the world doesn’t have that kind of sense of humor where all people can get along!
And nobody ever seems to mention this but Mo’s last name is the first 4 letters of America! I wonder if that’s his real name! Mo America!!! Sounds very patriotic!!! He could have used that after 9/11 identifying himself as Mo America, and would have been totally safe!!! Who’s gonna fuck with Mo America!!!
Keith Robinson was next and it was so great to see him come out despite having had a second stroke. He’s probably the only comic with a file of stroke humor! They always say talk about what you know! Vos, in his inimitably kind way, introduced him as being most likely to have the next benefit for. He walked out slowly using a cane, but was really sharp and spoke clearly when he got to the mic.
He said his stroke is finally starting to annoy him, but sometimes he forgets and makes fun of other handicapped people! He also said that crossing NY streets with that timed countdown is a bitch, especially when he finds himself racing an old woman on a walker! One thing the stroke didn’t affect was his sense of humor!
When he left the stage to huge applause Vos said Keith was full of shit using the cane, cause he saw him playing hacky sack backstage!
Jim Norton was up next and declared that if it was any of them that had died, Patrice might have come to one event, maybe two max, but that was it! He mentioned a new girlfriend that he had, and I could be wrong, but it sounded like he said she had a big dick.
He also said she thinks she’s connected to British royalty because she has good posture, which made me laugh out loud, as did the line about the royal servant whose job it was to make sure the Queen’s horse’s foreskin didn’t have any pebbles in it! Jimmy didn’t come to the after-party, probably because he has an early gig on the radio, on the Jim and Sam Show on Sirius XM. Bill Burr was scheduled to appear!
And then the special surprise guest was announced! No one knew who it was because as Maureen Taran told me his name wasn’t on any list. It was Andrew “Dice” Clay, and I thought the walls would collapse from the thunderous applause. People went insane!
And Dice came out pacing the stage like a tiger as he often does, and didn’t say a word. I don’t think there’s any other comic in the business, who can come out on stage and not say anything for as long as Dice does and sustain the applause, and the excitement.
He takes out a cigarette, puts it between his lips and continues to pace until he finally gets to the mic, and simply says ” I know!” and the audience roars with laughter. We laughed about that together at the after-party but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dice and I go back to 1998 when I was out in LA writing for Pauly Shore and other comics and met Dice at The Comedy Store. That first night we stood in the street talking till 4 A.M. I remember it being chilly and feeling cold but I wouldn’t even think of leaving and missing a moment of hanging with Dice.
A few days later we were sitting in Mel’s Diner on Sunset talking about material when he suddenly got a headache and that’s when we got the photo below. He didn’t know that taking away headaches was a specialty of mine!
Dice did Dice for his allotted time and was very PC, even talking about kids playing “cowboys and Native Americans”! He left the stage to as huge an applause as when he came out, if not more, and I noticed that he was the only one that Vos did not make fun of! Not a word!
There were lots of stars on the show but I think that Dice is considered like comedy royalty, which is how his long-time friend and bodyguard Ken Feder, AKA “Club Soda Kenny” kindly referred to yours truly!
Dice was followed by Ricky Velez who I hadn’t seen in too long. I realized how long it was when I asked about his “baby” and he told me his baby is already 4 years old!
I’ve watched Ricky progress from his earliest days when I wondered how anyone could wear their pants that low, to the comedy star he truly is. Later on at the after-party when I asked him what he has coming up, he said just tell people that Ricky Velez says “End Racism” which is not a particularly controversial point of view, … unless you have a Confederate flag in your office, and a sign that says ” The South will rise again!”, which is exactly what one of the instructors had who tortured me when I went to Dental School!
When Ricky left the stage another special guest was announced and it was Dave Attell, who also got HUGE applause and who always has a fun way of describing himself. This time he said he knows he looks like he teaches a gun safety class. And this time he did NOT wear his backpack on the stage.
He described the backstage scene with all the comics hanging out as not so much a fun scene, but more accurately feeling like a fibromyalgia commercial! Always such unique references!
And because someone had been talking about the Royal family it reminded Dave of being in a Burger King in The Bronx when the Queen died, and all the customers were so upset they ripped off their crowns, which I have to admit made me laugh out loud again at the visual, and one guy was so distraught he pistol whipped the cashier yelling ” Mo’ ketchups! Mo’ ketchups!” which again caused me to laugh out loud involuntarily.
I always take note of that because it’s a rare occurrence for me. So when I laugh out loud involuntarily I feel the need to share the experience!
To show you how amazing this show was, Dave was followed by yet another special guest, this time Jon Stewart, who came out dressed exactly like Dave Attell. I don’t know if it was planned, but they could have been twins! Jon talked a lot about aging and how humbling it is, to the point where he needs his reading glasses just to masturbate!
He made a good point when he said that $130,000. sounded too little in this day and age with inflation, to have paid Stormy Daniels. It sounded like the amount that Calvin Coolidge might have been accused of paying if he wanted to silence someone in 1923. Great reference!!!
And then Bill Burr came out to close the show to crazy applause and excitement. Cipha Sounds who chose the music for each comic played Bill out to some hokey Irish music, which gave Bill his opening joke having something to do with a leprechaun, which is a weird word when you think about it, and an even harder word to spell!
Sometimes Bill even makes himself laugh when he hears the things he says, and for me that’s my favorite part, watching him react to his own words. Like when he decided to share his “racist” thoughts which of course were not really racist! He’s married to a Black woman, which he did NOT do just to prove he’s not racist!
He’s one of the only comics who can tackle so-called “controversial topics” but he’s so smart that he presents both sides in such a funny way that even people who might be offended have to laugh!
He said that every topic had already been touched and there was nothing left to say, so let’s talk about Dementia!
It’s not easy taking notes in the dark, but one of the things I think he said was concerning how his grandma aided the resistance in World War 2 by having a sign in her window that said “Knock It Off Nazis!”
Then all the comics came out on stage for a group photo by Marcus Russell Price and Matthew Salacuse, who could easily leave out the Matthew and just go by Sal Acuse if he wanted to! (LOL)
And in one of the funniest moments of the evening for me at least, Vos held up his phone and asked everyone in the audience, on a count of three, to say hello to Georgina, Patrice’s Mom. The only problem is that after 10 years of doing this event, Vos didn’t know that Patrice’s Mom’s name is not Georgina, it’s Georgia, which prompted Bill Burr to name Vos “the stupidest person in the world!”
And then it was time for the after-party which is always at The Stand. I went home to get my car, and was thinking of changing into something more casual, but then I realized that Bill Burr likes to make fun of my style of dress, so I decided to stay the way I was, and it worked out perfectly as I’ll explain below.
Stand owners Cris and Paul Italia are the ultimate hosts. They put out an amazing spread in the small upstairs performance space, and it’s always just a great hang!
As I entered I was immediately stopped by manager Adele’s crew, and outfitted with a VIP bracelet. Not sure what it allowed me to do but I wore it proudly! (LOL) I also immediately ran into one of my favorite people Bonnie McFarlane, ( Mrs. Vos) who was with comic Maddy Smith, from Wild ‘N Out, who graciously congratulated me on my Sutton Place Magazine cover, and Patrice benefit producer, and dear friend Maureen Taran, who always makes sure I get what I need and am where I need to be.
To show you her level of kindness she even called me the next morning to make sure I had a good time and got what I needed for this column!
I looked over to where the owners usually sit and it was Bill, Vos and Keith Robinson. I went and stood behind Bill and put my hands on his shoulders. It took him a minute to turn around to see who it was, but as soon as he did he said, ” You look like you won Wimbledon in 1968, … with an all wooden tennis racket” which I took to mean he thought I looked like Billie Jean King! And I thought to myself, it was such a good idea not to change my clothes.
I love how quickly Bill can think of something funny to say about me! We all had a good laugh! I absolutely love that guy!!! He said we know each other so long that when we first met he had more hair than me!!!
So many comics were there, and my eyes were not adjusting well to the light but luckily I recognized my buddy Ronny Chieng. I really love Ronny as a comic and as a person. He’s a genuinely nice guy who was standing with Marcus Russell Price and when I invited him to be on a new show I’m producing in May, he told me he’ll be out of town shooting his own new show which he described as a dramedy for Hulu called Interior Chinatown, with Jimmy O. Yang, and directed by Taika Waititi! Ronny is definitely one of the funniest guys on stage today!
People would yell out “hello” and I literally couldn’t see who it was. Almost missed this group of 4 of my buddies all hanging out together. James Mattern, who opens for Chris Distefano and who I wrote about in my last column as one of the best hosts in town thought I was snubbing him, but I just couldn’t see! Also I reminded him that he never let me know he saw the column, and I thought he was snubbing ME!!! (LOL)
Derek Gaines had just come from working out some new material at The Cellar, Nathan Macintosh always so funny, looked like he was sporting a new haircut, and Louis Katz who I almost didn’t recognize because of the extensive facial hair, told me he’s been opening for Attell, headllning on his own, and finally hopes to finish his special which he started filming last May at The Comedy Fort in Fort Collins, Colorado, and most importantly just got engaged!
Then Neko White came along and told me he’s got a little thing in Pete Davidson’s new show Bupkis coming out on Peacock in May! Everyone’s waiting to see that! I know I am for sure!
My last personal event of the night was seeking out Dice. I couldn’t leave without seeing Dice. As I said earlier, we go back to 1998, and the last time he was at The Stand I was the only one he allowed backstage to see him!
When it comes to stardom Dice is on another level. The first comic to sell out MSG for two nights in a row! More recently he starred alongside Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, then there was his recurring role on the final season of Entourage, his amazing part on Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl and most recently his part as Lady Gaga’s character’s Dad Lorenzo, in the award winning hit, A Star Is Born.
That performance really sticks out in my mind. Very few comics have transferred their success on stage to the world of acting like Dice has done!
He was sitting in the back room with his beautiful girlfriend, and I know he won’t mind that compliment, whose name he told me is Sugahplum! (LOL) He even spelled it for me to make sure I got it right. He was eating and had been joined by Bill Burr and Cris and Paul Italia.
Club Soda Kenny was guarding the door, and guarding Dice’s privacy. No one fucks with Kenny! (LOL) He’s an ex-cop, and basically a building with clothes! (LOL) We’re friends for a long time so I stood at the door kibbitzing with him until Dice was finished eating,
I approached the table and told Dice I couldn’t leave without seeing him. He turned to Bill and started to tell him how long we knew each other, and then stopped and said to me, ” Tell Bill what you wrote for me!” And I got to tell Bill in Dice’s presence that I hold the honor of being one of the very few people who ever wrote for Dice, and that he liked what I wrote so much that he did it right off the paper on the stage of The Comedy Store.
I actually did the bit, which I can’t write here, and Bill said, ” You wrote that?” Bill said he never knew that, or that I had written for Rodney, Joan Rivers, Belzer, Gilbert, Phil Hartman, George Wallace and was the main writer for The Friars Roasts for 12 years.
A lot of big stars are reluctant to give credit to anyone else. Not Dice! When he was on Sirius XM with Ron Bennington which is where we had reconnected after many years, he was kind enough to shout me out three times during the hour about how I had written for him. A very kind thing to do!
We’ve shared phone calls at 3 A.M. and holiday greetings. As a matter of fact I just texted him “Happy Passover!” He even said he wanted me in a guest spot on “Dice” which was on Showtime. It never happened, … but just the fact that he said it made it special to me!
Sugahplum was kind enough to look up when Dice would be back in town in a show called “Andrew Dice Clay Live on Broadway” at Sony Hall on June 16th and 17th. I plan to be there for sure!
He’s really such a good guy and when I asked it we could take a pic before I left he wanted to do it himself. He took my phone and shot the photo that’s at the top of this unbelievably long column. But here it is again!
And just before I left he said in front of everyone that I should send him that material and maybe he could do it again at his upcoming shows. I left with a big smile feeling really special about being friends with a huge star like Dice. These are some more photos of us from the past!
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HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!