There’s only one Barry Sobel and those of you who know him know what I mean. In a world of unique characters, like you find in the world of comedy, Barry Sobel stands out. Barry claims he’s back to save The Universe with a brand new type of entertainment, Barry Sobel’s “The Skype Show.”
He’s hosting a live stand-up comedy show mixed with special appearances by comedians from all around the world SKYPING IN, so grab your Firewire cables and hold onto your seats for an inter-galactic ride, with Barry Sobel as the Mission Commander!
The first one is coming up this Saturday, June 30th at 9 P.M. at Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery, only $10. in advance and $15. at the door! In this economy, it only makes sense to do it in advance!
The Skype Show, this Saturday June 30th at Bowery Electric!
John Fugelsang, a dear old friend of mine, whose CD on I-Tunes is currently numero uno,(#1 for all of you who are not fluent in Espanol!) performs onstage at Bowery. And comedy powerhouse Brandon Wardell, SKYPES IN, from his basement in DC. ( Where he’s been hiding for years! LOLOL) Plus many more! As Barry describes it, each show will be “an amazing one-time only experience!”
This will be the premiere show for Barry, who is an “Artist in Residence” in the new comedy room at Bowery Electric, which I think means he lives there! (LOL) Future dates will be added.
Barry currently stars on “The 3 Minute Talk Show with Barry Sobel.” Created by Barry and produced by Tom Hanks and Playtone, it is everything you have ever seen in a late night talk show, all in three minutes. It can be seen on Hulu.
Barry has had a fascinating background with tons of credits. Originally emerging from the San Francisco comedy scene, he was a favorite of rock impresario Bill Graham who invited him to perform at “The US Festival,” making Barry, at the time, the comedian to perform in front of the largest live audience in the history of comedy.(There were at least 6 or 7 people there! LOL)
Barry changed the face of stand-up comedy, ( like a comedic plastic surgeon!) with his ‘Beastie Boys’ Rap, and his homage to James Brown and Bruce Springsteen, “I Can’t Do No More!”
Introduced at “Showtime at the Apollo,” by hosts The Beastie Boys and Run DMC, Barry was the first comedian to ever rap onstage…and he received a standing ovation. (If it had been a Jewish audience he would have received a “standing oy-vation! LOL)
Barry Sobel killing it onstage way back in 2010! ( He still looks exactly the same!)
But it was Barry’s career breaking performances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” that made him a force to be reckoned with, to use an expression from The Old West!
Barry has appeared on HBO with Rodney Dangerfield, (the first major star I ever wrote for back in 1810), Eddie Murphy, John Candy and Tom Hanks, and has starred in his own HBO special, “I CAN’T DO NO MORE.”
Barry became sort of a pop culture icon when he joined up with the “Nerds” starring and rapping in “Revenge of the Nerds II.” NBC President Brandon Tartikoff championed Barry’s career and cast him on the NBC hit sitcom “227.”
Barry has appeared in many movies, including “Blind Date,” “Doc Hollywood,” “I Love Trouble,” and “BAPS,” and starred in the cult classic “Martians Go Home.” He was handpicked to work on the movie “Punchline,” the film where Tom Hanks tried out some of his material at The Comic Strip, and he actually wrote Tom’s material and coached him on how to perform. They’ve been close ever since.
Barry’s TV career started with an appearance on “Family Ties” and went to include “The Ellen Burstyn Show,” “Bridges to Cross,” and “VH1’s Vinyl Justice.” He has had recurring roles on “Dave’s World,” “The Parenthood,” and wrote for and did voices for the acclaimed cartoon, “The Boondocks.”
He even wound up playing himself on an episode of “21 Jump Street.” ( I just did that on Nick Kroll’s new show for Comedy Central, and it’s really fun, and a great honor!)
Barry guest VJ’d for years on MTV, and has been in many shows on Comedy Central having appeared on “Dr. Katz,” “The A-List,” “Comics Only,” and “The Chocolate News.” He even starred in his own Comedy Central commercial with his Mom.
He’s appeared on numerous talk shows, including “The Tonight Show,” “Oprah,” “Regis,” and “The Today Show” and if you hurry down to Bowery Electric you’ll be able to verify all this for yourselves by cornering him and asking him a million questions!
As a writer, his credits include “The MTV Movie Awards,” “The MTV VMAs,” “The Boondocks,” “Nick Swardson’s Funtime,” and Saturday Night Live, for which he received an Emmy nomination. Barry has worked for years with Jimmy Fallon, who made his first TV appearance on “The Barry Sobel Show” on Comedy Central.
Barry is currently in pre-production on season two of “The 3 Minute Talk Show,” and is developing an animated project with Tom Hanks, Cartoon03.
For a sneak preview of Cartoon03 click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/cartoon03
– “Top Secret03”
Then on Thursdays at 9, starting this Thursday, June 28th Barry is doing a show called “These Jokes Aren’t 4 Everybody-Just The Sexy People” and it will be at Revision Lounge and Gallery! (Comedy just isn’t funny unless there’s a gallery! That is at 219 Avenue B in NYC in case you plan on coming in from Europe or Asia for this event!
I know I’ll be there and I hope to see you there as well! Then I can get some more photos to add to this column! (LOL)
It seems like just yesterday that we were at The Comic Strip 34th annual holiday party, and here it was again! Most people said this year’s was one of the most fun parties The Strip ever had. The food was great, the place was packed and the show ran like clockwork, except for one comedy video by Modi which we never got to see due to technological problems.
Jeffrey Gurian interviewing owner Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip Holiday party!
Jeffrey Gurian interviewing owner Bob Wachs at the 35th annual Holiday party at The Comic Strip!
I was proud to co-host the party along with owners Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs, and got lots of cool video interviews for Comedy Matters TV with people like Judah Friedlander, Kyle Grooms, Howard Feller who told about being Jon Stewart’s sidekick on an unsuccessful show before Jon got The Daily Show, Dante Nero, Diane Passage from the new reality show “Wall Street Wives”, one of my oldest and dearest friends High Voltage, who talked about her “Energy Up” nutritional/self-esteem program for inner city high school girls, Greer Barnes, Dan Naturman, Eddie Brill, Marina Franklin, Scott Blakeman, Kristen J. Eddy who produces Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show, Barry Weintraub, Sherrod Small, and so many more!
World Champion Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock, asking Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV to punch him in the fist as hard as he could to show how he’s impervious to pain! Gurian had to be rushed to the hospital. He said, ” It was like punching a brick wall!”
Howard Feller being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian for Comedy Matters TV!
“Sexy Fairy” Marina Franklin sharing a laugh with Jeffrey Gurian for Comedy Matters TV!
Producer Kristen J. Eddy at The Comic Strip, talking to Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV about Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show!
The beautiful Diane Passage at The Comic Strip telling Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV about her new reality show, “Wall Street Wives.”
Energy Queen High Voltage at The Comic Strip reminiscing with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!
The highlight of the party was the show. Shauna Lane opened and closed the show with a musical number. There were a couple of fun videos made by the comics, and then host Ray Ellin, introduced a take-off on Latenight, with a comic named Sean P. Darr playing me as the host, since I host Latenight on Sunday and Monday nights!
It was weird hearing Ray announce, ” And now the Late Show. Please put your hands together for your host Jeffrey Gurian”, … and then another guy came out!
Sean P. Darr as Jeffrey Gurian, onstage “hosting” The Late Show!
I had heard it was going to be done, and was nervous at first as to how I would be portrayed, but everyone told me it was an honor for people to imitate you. And then I realized that it’s also an honor to be Roasted, and this wasn’t going to necessarily be a Roast, just an impression.
Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken interviewing Jeffrey’s doppelganger Sean P. Darr backstage at The Comic Strip!
Sean came out in this wild wig, and dark glasses, which he took off too quickly! But he left them on long enough for me to get a photo of him! He even wore a scarf and a sport jacket just like me! Most of the time I wear three scarves, but I wouldn’t expect him to do that, or even to have that many scarves! (LOL)
He opened with a bunch of my jokes and started out really strong, having memorized them pretty well! I thought it was HILARIOUS, as you’ll see in the video! One comic, Mark Thomas did a great imitation of Adam Cozens, one of the Strip regulars, Sean the bartender did a great Modi from “the hood” which was fantastic because Sean has a lot more pigment than Modi! No one knew that Sean could be so funny. I guess Modi’s act works no matter who does it! (LOL)
Then Jordan Rock came out doing his brother Chris and the audience absolutely loved it. He chose to do the thing about Black people being more racist than White people, because the things that White people don’t like about Black people, Black people don’t like either! And then he went on a diatribe about the difference between Black people and the plural of the “N” word! (LOLOL! You can say it in your mind, as long as you don’t repeat it to anyone!!!)
Jordan Rock capturing the essence of his brother Chris Rock during the Holiday show at The Comic Strip!
The highlight for me was when Andy Pitz came out as Rodney Dangerfield. That was a thrill for me because I loved Rodney and Andy looked and sounded just like him. Rodney was the first big star I ever wrote for and he used to do my jokes on the Tonight Show and in his act. One of the first jokes I ever wrote for him was on his album “No Respect.”
Andy Pitz killing it as Rodney Dangerfield during the holiday party at The Comic Strip!
He said, ” I only get ugly girls. I went out with one girl who was so ugly, I bent down to pet her cat, it was the hair on her legs! She was a very ugly girl.”
Then I wrote jokes for his act. “You know my doctor, Dr. Vinnie Boombotz! I told him my ankles were swollen. He told me to build up my calf muscles and no one would notice! “
“My brother was tough. He was so tough, he got a job in a gas station, … as a jack!”
I remember being so excited when he used one of my lines as his opener with Johnny Carson. His standard opening was ” I’m alright now but last week was rough. Then he followed it up with my line: “I bought one of those whirlpools for my bathtub! The first night I used it I lost three of my best ships!”
Writing for Rodney was one of the most fun times of my life. We used to hang out together in his dressing room at the club. He would usually be in his bathrobe and pajamas which is how he liked to hang out at the club. And not a particularly fancy bathrobe either! He’d say things to me like, ” Hey Jeff, you know the difference between Italians and Jews?” I’d be like, ” No Rodney, what’s the difference?” He said, ” They both take a leak in the sink, but the Jews take the dishes out first!” He was always so hysterical!
Anyway, Andy nailed it. If you closed your eyes, you would have thought Rodney was there. That’s how good he was! Ray Ellin told him to stop wasting his time doing his own act!
The videos I shot will also be used for the documentary film being made on The Strip! Watch the action right here!
Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV shooting a promo in front of The Comic Strip right before the 35th annual Holiday party!
Richie and Jeannie Tienken having the best time at The Comic Strip’s 35th annual Holiday party!
This is a brief compilation of my recent trip to L.A. featuring my interviews with Billy Crystal, the first comic to ever set foot on stage at The Comic Strip on June 1, 1976, and Russell Peters, one of the only comics to be able to fill stadiums, as he did in Vancouver when 18,000 people came out two nights in a row to see this dude!
Jeffrey Gurian with Billy Crystal in Billy's Beverly Hills office, Face Productions!
As I told Kal Penn when I interviewed him for Comedy Matters, ” there was a time, and not too long ago, when no one knew that Indian people could be funny!” And Kal cracked up because he knew it was true. Kal stars in the Harold and Kumar films and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Indian people can be funny. Russell Peters takes it ten steps further!
Jeffrey Gurian with Kal Penn for the release of a new harold and Kumar film!
Born in Canada, and speaking perfect English with no accent at all, Russell says he identifies more with being Canadian than with being an Indian man. He’s Indian in his DNA, and his skin color, so when he looks in the mirror he’s aware that he’s Indian, but that’s about it.
He sees himself as he is, and sees the humor in seeing everyone for what they are. What I love about him, besides just about everything he does, is that he has almost singlehandedly destroyed a stereotype, which is very hard to do. He has broken the stereotype of the humorless Indian man. To be able to see yourself as you believe others see you, and to make it funny is pure genius.
Russell Peters is not only “hip”, he’s too hip for the room! And that’s at a time when everyone is striving to be “hip.” The legendary Rodney Dangerfield who was the first big star I ever wrote for once told me, ” Jeff, you know who’s hip?” I’m like, ” No Rodney, who’s hip?” He’s like, ” Two guys in the Village.” And we all fell down laughing cause he was right. Everybody is so caught up in being “hip” when almost no one is, … except for these two elusive guys in The Village!
Jeffrey Gurian, jus' chillin' with Russell Peters at Russell's home in L.A.
Russell is a rare talent and I call him “The Messiah of Comedy.” All you have to do is attend one of his shows, to see the multi-cultural background of his audience. There are people there in turbans and traditional Indian dress and they’re laughing their asses off! I teach at NYU where the majority of students seem to be Indian females and almost all of them bust out laughing at just the mention of Russell Peters’ name. The man is a phenomenon!
He brings all ethnicities together and in a clever way makes fun of everyone, but he comes from such a good place that no one could ever be offended. He has the ability to see things clearly that other people miss. True artists are like that. And people love when you can imitate an accent. I don’t think I can think of one accent that Russell can’t do. But when he does the Indian accent, people are crying from laughing so hard. Not only does he do the accent but the facial expressions, the head movements and the hand and finger movements. He’s a genius at physical comedy. I am truly amazed at Russell Peters.
Jeffrey Gurian and Russell Peters checkout out the munitions artwork that adorns Russell's walls!
I wish I could do a Chinese accent. I talk about it in my act but it would be better if I could do it!
The only accent I can do is like a Greek accent or some kind of Eastern European accent, like when two guys meet in the street and one guy says, ” Hello my friend, how are you today?” And the other guy answers, ” Five thank you, how are you?”. First guy – ” Not too good, I feel a little six!” Second Guy – “Really, you don’t look six at all. You look just five to me!” And they go on through this conversation using numbers instead of the right words, until the end when the first guy says, ” I have to go now. Nice threeing you again!” and the second guy says, ” Nice threeing you two!” That’s the extent of my accent work, and it absolutely “kills”, … around my apartment!
I’ve never actually done it on stage, because I haven’t hated myself enough yet to try it out, ( just in case it doesn’t work!), … but maybe someday???
So anyway, I’m in LA and I call Russell ’cause his brother Clayton, who is a great guy and also his manager, left me a message that if I come to LA, Russell would make time to see me, and hang out. I had only a few priorities on my trip. The first was to interview Billy Crystal, the second was to hang out and interview Russell, and third was to perform in the clubs in LA cause I had never set foot on a stage in Los Angeles, and that was a hurdle I was ready to take on.
I wound up performing on Kevin Nealon’s show at Jamie Masada’s Laugh Factory. I happen to know Kevin back from his SNL days cause I was friendly with him, and Dana Carvey, and Jon Lovitz, and especially Phil Hartman. Listen to this weird synchronicity! When I packed to go to LA, I grabbed a small leather case that I used to carry my comedy material in, without looking at what was inside. When I got to LA and opened it up, I saw that it was material I had written for Kevin Nealon for the Friars Roast of Chevy Chase back in 1990. This was at least 3 days before I knew I’d be performing on Kevin’s show! Coincidence? I think not! (LOL)
Jeffrey Gurian with Kevin Nealon at Jamie Masada's Laugh Factory!
So I get the call that I’m on Kevin’s show and that after my set we’ll do an onstage interview. I’m like, ” Cool.” I hadn’t seen Kevin in a long time and I figured he’d be surprised to see my name on his show roster. I was told I’d be on third at 8:40. I got to the club a little after 8, while Kevin was on stage warming up the crowd, … not with jokes, with blankets and hugs! He was literally warming up the crowd because they felt chilly from the air conditioning! ( I’m just being silly!)
So he’s warming up the audience when he suddenly says, ” We have a great show for you tonight. Let’s see who’s on the list, and he starts reading names and when he comes to mine he says, ” Jeffrey Gurian? is Jeffrey Gurian here?”
And I was in the back of the room, so I answered that I was there. He was like, ” Jeffrey Gurian is here. He’s funny! Let’s put him on first. Give a warm welcome to Jeffrey Gurian.” And the crowd started applauding, and I couldn’t say anything, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, ” I thought Kevin liked me. Why is he putting me on first?” Turns out he did me the biggest favor in the world because I had no time to get nervous, I went right up and if I have to say so myself, I killed!
Kevin Nealon on stage at The Laugh Factory hosting his weekly show!
Fortunately I was not alone in that assessment! Kevin said so, and so did owner Jamie Masada who was there and saw the set. Jamie said I could perform there anytime I was in town. Not only that, he told me to call the club the next day and tell the booker that Jamie said to put me on Tom Arnold’s show the next night.
I was so psyched, because Tom is a friend and I had e-mailed him a few days before telling him I was going to be in LA to see if he had time to hang out. He wrote me back saying he was doing a lot of filming including a thing on “Sons of Anarchy” and probably wouldn’t have time for us to get together.
Jeffrey Gurian with Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, AFTER Jeffrey's set in front of the Laugh Factory logo!
So when Jamie told me I’d be on Tom’s show I was thrilled, cause I knew he’d be surprised to see me there, and I’d kill the proverbial two birds with one stone. Who by the way, was ever killing birds with a stone? Where did that expression start? And not only one bird but two birds with the same stone? They must have been very slow moving birds. Who does that anyway? Killing birds with a stone. Very bizarre! So I’m psyched to do Tom’s show, and impress him with my comedic talent (LOL), and at the last minute Tom has to cancel because he’s stuck on the set of ” Sons of Anarchy.” It just goes to show that you can not micro-manipulate The Universe. Things only happen when they’re supposed to.
Kevin by the way sent me this really nice e-mail in response to my thank you e-mail to him, saying : “Great seeing you again, too. You always crack me up. Hope to see you again down the road.” How nice is that that Kevin Nealon says I always crack him up?
Jamie happens to be a very kind man. I remember being out in LA one Christmas and Jamie does this thing where he feeds people all Christmas day from the club. Non-stop! Homeless people, and comics both, … and sometimes they’re the same thing! (LOL) The way most comics dress, they ALL look homeless! (LOL)
So I didn’t get to perform for Tom Arnold, but but I DID get the Friday night show at The Improv thanks to booker Emilie Laford, who put me on the 10 P.M. show with Ralph Figueroa as the host. It was also a very successful show and Ralph sent me a really nice e-mail telling me that I did an “awesome” set and that he hoped to work with me again! Thanks Ralph, the feeling is mutual!
Jeffrey Gurian with show host/comic Ralph Figueroa at The Improv in Hollywood!
Plus, I got to go on stage right before my good friend Helen Hong, who I know from New York and who can definitely do the Chinese accent! Maybe if I ask nicely she’ll teach me! Helen is always so funny! Prease Heren, would you teach me???
Jeffrey Gurian with Helen Hong at The Improv in L.A.!
Anyway, back to Russell Peters! ( I feel like I’m all over the place with this post! )
Russell invited me to his house and I expected something special but it was even better. I got to meet his wife Monica, who he married in August of 2010, and his new little daughter Crystianna, who was so cute I tried to take her with me when I left, but he caught me and made me give her back! He was like, ” What’s that lump under your jacket?” And I was like, ” OK, you caught me. I’m sorry. Here. You can have your baby back!” She was really that cute!
Jeffrey Gurian reclining in Russell Peters' screening room with wall to wall TV!
Russell has a screening room, with reclining chairs where you can just lay back and chill, and watch this huge screen TV that covers the entire wall.
Then there’s the entertainment room with the pinball games.
But my favorite toy of his was his new Rolls Royce, which I’m pretty sure he called a Phantom Drophead Coupe, or Dropdead Coupe, or something like that. ( There’s supposed to be an accent mark over the last “e” in Coupe, but my computer only speaks English so I don’t have an “accent egout” which is what I think they called it in French class when I wasn’t paying attention! LOL)
They only started making this model in 2007, and Russell was too humble to tell me it’s the most expensive Rolls Royce they make. It’s got like a stainless steel hood, what Russell referred to as “suicide doors” that open backwards towards the back of the car, and which you can open and close remotely, and believe it or not the exterior is available in more than 44,000 color combinations. I didn’t even know there WERE more than 44,000 color combinations. My crayon box has about 108 colors and I thought that about maxed it out.
Jeffrey Gurian and Russell Peters in his new Drophead Dropdead Rolls, with the stainless steel hood, just in case you want to cook lunch on the top of your car!
So Russell and I were chillin’ in the Rolls and I felt I had to remind him that you were supposed to get these things like a gorgeous home and Rolls Royce BEFORE you’re married not after! We had a good laugh about that! And I think that was when he discovered I had his baby! (LOL)
Who wouldn't be smiling driving a car like this???
And before I left his house, with his “man-servant”, or assistant who he referred to as “Homeless Matt”, I happened to tell him that I was going to interview Billy Crystal the next day. That’s when he told me that he and Billy were doing a movie together and that I should send Billy his best, cause Billy was his boy!
Billy was as nice as could be. We met at his offices in Beverly HIlls, thanks to Bob Wachs, the co-founder of The Comic Strip in NYC, and Billy’s lawyer in the early days, and Billy graciously gave me about an hour of his time. We reminisced about how we first met through Jack Rollins who is currently 96 years old, G-d Bless him,( I’m becoming my own grandmother! ) and how Jack had wanted Billy to play me in a proposed sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show business. He even remembered calling me “the funny dentist” and how Alan King referred to me the same way.
Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, referencing the rumour that Jeffrey Gurian used to be a dentist!
And he shared with me a little gem that Jack Rollins had told him after seeing his early stand-up. He said, ” You did great, and your act was fine, but ” you didn’t leave a tip!” You didn’t leave the audience with anything to remember you by! ” And that message stuck with Billy all these years and changed the way he performed on stage from that day forth! He always remembered to share a little bit extra of himself with his audience, and always left them a tip!
I did remember to send Billy Russell’s regards, and Billy echoed what Chris Rock said about Russell, who ranked #9 on Forbes list of highest earning comedians, ” Russell Peters, … he’s the most famous comedian that no one ever heard of.” I have a feeling that all that will change very soon! ( My words, not Billy’s!)
In summary, … anytime you have an opportunity to see Russell perform, make sure you go, because it’s really a treat! So check out the little video interview I did with Russell. There will be a longer version coming up soon, but I’m getting ready to go and see him perform in Montreal next week at the Just for Laughs Festival where he will be hosting his own show, with his own hand-picked comedians like Dom Irrera, and Jeremy Hotz, and it was all I could do to get this short version ready for the public before I left.