SEARCHING FOR JERRY SEINFELD
As many of you know, I’ve spent the better part of the last year, working with Comic Strip owner Richie Tienken on a book about the history of the club that launched the careers of superstars like Chris Rock, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Lewis Black, Paul Reiser and Jerry Seinfeld— to name just a few.
We’re aiming for the book to come out in time for the 35th anniversary of the club next June. So far we’ve been able to interview over 25 of the top stars including the ones mentioned, all except for Jerry Seinfeld. For some unknown reason, we haven’t been able to reach Jerry, although we’ve tried through at least five of his best friends, all to no avail.
No one says why, but Jerry doesn’t get in touch, despite the fact that he’s been in other books during this time, and The Strip was Jerry’s “home club” where he got his start, and where hung out all the time.
Tienken was starting to worry that Jerry had some reason he didn’t want to take part in the project, or had something against him or the club, until he read a very recent newspaper article about a new book where 75 celebs tell about their “Favorite Place On Earth.”
Seinfeld’s quote was, “When I first moved to Manhattan from Long Island as a young man, I worked mostly at The Comic Strip. The club had a softball team. We played in Central Park at Heckscher Field. It was such a fantasy! First to be a comedian, and to be a part of this nightclub. Second we were playing in Central Park.”
As a matter of fact, when I interviewed George Wallace for the book, George remembered that it was Tienken himself who took both George and Jerry, (who were always best friends and inseparable in those days,) to their very first Yankees game.
Tienken, who has undergone a severe health crisis recently, very much wants Seinfeld to be part of this book, since so much of it is about him anyway. So if any of you know Jerry, or are in touch with him, please let him know that Richie would welcome a call from him, if nothing else than to reminisce about old times.
A deal with producers Abby Russell, and Brent Sterling Nemetz of Letterbox Pictures, was also just signed for us to do a documentary film, in conjunction with the book, also on the history of The Strip. More on that in an upcoming column.
I walked into The Strip one night, went into Richie’s little private office and who was there but Fetteroff Colin, Eddie Murphy’s assistant, and a great, great guy. He introduces me to a guy he’s with named Taimak, and I almost hit the floor.
Taimak is a martial arts expert and actor who starred in Berry Gordy’s hit martial arts film The Last Dragon back in the 80’s. That’s when I first met him with my dear friend High Voltage, the Energy Queen, and fitness guru to the stars.
I hadn’t seen him in that many years, but I was so impressed with him that I used his name in a screenplay I wrote called Men of Violence, which is currently being read by producers all over the world, thanks to the magic of the Cannes Film festival. It was amazing to meet him again, and to be able to tell him about the script. It would be even more amazing if it gets made and he winds up being in it. More on that later!
Lots of action at Gotham, but nothing unusual about that. I went down to see Colin Quinn, who is an old friend and who I absolutely love, (not that way!), and was thrilled to see him looking so healthy. He must have lost 40 pounds since I saw him last, and just like Artie Lange, the weight loss agrees with him; plus he was funnier than ever.
Ryan Reese was the reliable MC, reliable in the sense that he’s always funny, and good at warming up the crowd. Then Jim Mendrinos came out and did his thing, and Jim not only heads up the NYC Underground Comedy Festival, but is very highly respected amongst other comics, like Chris Rock. Chris referenced Mendrinos in a complimentary way many times during his interview for the book, and it was completely unsolicited. Maureen Langan also performed, and was honest enough to say, “I don’t care if a woman is prettier or thinner than me, but she shouldn’t be both!” Great line.
Colin who is a master of examining the most mundane things, and boiling them down to their essence, asked if you ever had the experience of telling someone something you thought was very important, and right in the middle they ask you something totally unrelated to what you’re telling them.
He said Jim Norton once did that to him. He was telling him something personal and Jim interrupted with ‘Do you still have a pool in your building?’ When he told him he was rude, Norton said he just wanted to get back into his swimming routine, and seeing Colin reminded him of that! Colin on reality TV shows like Ice Road Truckers: “people come home from work, turn on the TV and watch other people work!”
I went back a week later to catch Greg Giraldo. He had Marion Grodin and Jesse Joyce on the bill with him, both of whom I think are very talented.
Greg tells the story of being on the subway and hearing some guy on one side of the platform yell out to a girl on the other side of the platform, ‘Yo Monica, you got AIDS,’ and wondering, “Is that how they tell you? They hire some Puerto Rican kid to yell out to you. Yo Greg, your cholesterol is high son!” “Thanks Edgar!”
And in thinking about our kids and the problems they face today he wonders, “When did the peanut become the most dangerous substance known to man?”
I popped in one night to see the great Irish comic Tommy Tiernan who came with his very own Letterman booker, Eddie Brill. Eddie is so careful about who gets on Letterman, and what they do when they’re on there, that he goes with the act to see the set they are planning on doing. That’s real dedication to your job!
Then I went to catch LA comic Gabriel Iglesias, who I hadn’t seen since the Latino Comedy Festival in LA. That must have been a year and a half ago, and the first thing he said when he saw me was, “You still have your big pen?”
I couldn’t believe he remembered that. I guess it’s more shocking than I thought! The big 12” pen was a gift from someone special and I carry it with me all the time. Girls often ask me, “Where did you pull that out of?” No one can believe it fits into my jacket pocket. Personally, I think it’s important for a writer to have a big pen. I’ll leave it at that!
Gabriel is the nicest guy in the world, and I’m really happy for all of his “fluffy” success. Just on being introduced, he got such incredible applause. The audience loves him. Like when Artie Lange gets a standing “O” just for coming out on stage.
Gabriel described the five levels of fatness, and came up with a sixth. There’s big, healthy, husky, fluffy (his level!), and “Damn!!!” The newest one is “ Hell no!” which is accompanied by a roar like you’d get from a T-Rex. Gabriel has a girlfriend with a 10-year old stepson, and he and Gabriel are very close. The little boy said to him one day, “I want my last name to be Iglesias” at which point the girlfriend popped her head into the room and said, “Me too!”
Opening for him were two other comics of Mexican descent. Martin Moreno and Noe Gonzalez, both of whom were hysterical. Noe had one of the best observations I ever heard. Talking about ethnic groups and their pets he said, “I never saw a black guy with a cat.” “Yo Boots, get over here!”
COMEDY MATTERS QUICKIES
Brett Eidman’s one man show, which I co-wrote and directed, entitled Brett Eidman: One Angry Man opened for two sold out previews at the Roy Arias Theatre on West 43rd Street, and we are examining the DVD’s to see what needs tweaking before moving it to a larger venue.
Meanwhile, it got a nice review on the David Letterman show website, which you can see here. The reviewer was in the audience and we didn’t even know! That’s a nice surprise!
I popped into Kelly (Real Housewives of New York) Bensimon’s birthday party at Danny Kane’s new hot club “The Gates.” I brought Ken Salaz with me, who is half of The Unseen, a new two man mentalist group I first saw at Gotham, and am crazy about. The other half is Oz Pearlman. I thought Ken would astonish Kelly, and then I’d call Richard Johnson from Page 6 and tell him all about it. Imagine my surprise to walk in and find Richard actually at the party! Everyone wants Richard to attend their parties, but it’s very rare to actually see him anywhere.
I brought Ken over to meet him, and had him blow Richard and his wife away with impossible things for about 15 minutes. The kicker was it didn’t wind up on Page 6, which just goes to show you that even if Richard is with you, it’s still hard to get on Page 6. I don’t know who’s power is more astonishing, The Unseen, or Richard Johnson. The Unseen can make things disappear. Richard can make a person “appear,” … just by being in his column! I’m grateful for every Page 6 mention I’ve ever had.
The Unseen were recently on both NBC and CBS’s Early Show. On CBS, in one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, Ken asked host Erica Hill, to think of something she liked to drink. He took out a pad and drew a bottle of red wine. She was duly astonished. Then he took it a step further, and drew the exact type of red wine, and then took it miles further when he crumpled up the paper and out of it came the actual bottle of red wine she was thinking about.
I saw him do it the day before in Central Park when NBC producer Julie Mayes was shooting them for a segment, and he manifested a bottle of Strawberry Snapple out of thin air. It’s not even possible, but he did it! The Unseen can be seen on June 25th in a big show in the main room at Gotham. Call (212) 367-9000 for tickets!
The last short piece is about an event I attended with Joey “Pants” Pantoliano, possibly known best for playing psychopathic killer Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos. When he grabbed me by the throat I thought he was re-enacting a scene from The Sopranos. Imagine my surprise when I saw the photo and realized he was just giving me a kiss! I’m lucky it wasn’t “the kiss of death”!
I GO TO CANNES
Every so often I challenge myself to make sure I can do things the rest of the world can do. Going to the South of France to attend the Cannes Film Festival was one of those special challenges, made a little bit easier by the fact that my new short animated comedy film, All The News That’s Fit To Dance To was being shown in the Cannes Short Film Corner.
ATNTFTDT includes four separate news stories, “Smithsonian Displays George Washington’s Wooden Pants”, “Man With Infant’s Head Sues For Discrimination”, “Man Robs Bank With His Chin”, and that classic, “College Professor Fired For Casually Removing His Spine.” The operative word there is “casual” because you just can’t do that. You can’t remove your spine at will. Especially not in class, and expect the students to help reinsert it.
So unsurprisingly, Cannes was amazing. I met tons of producers from all over the world, (they weigh producers by the ton in Europe!), who are willing to read my scripts, which is a wonderful thing, plus I got to go to special parties and meet pretty girls! I had never been to a party before so that was pretty exciting for me! Honestly, I did go to a party once before. It was the night I stayed out late, and I swore I’d never do that again!
At a private club called Terrazza Martini I got to meet the all girl rock band Jameerah that’s currently taking Europe by storm, (which is a strange way to take anyplace!) Each girl comes from another country. Jasmine is from The Netherlands, Elisa is from Italy, Nelly is from Germany, and Tanja is from Belgium. I came directly from my room! You can check them out at jameerah.com.
JESSICA BIEL MIXES BEAUTY WITH HUMOR
You don’t have to do stand-up comedy to be considered funny, especially if you look like Jessica Biel. But beauty and comedy are usually hard to come by combined in the same person. Not in Jessica’s case! I, like many others, fell for Jessica in The Illusionist. You’ll feel the same way when you see her in Easy Virtue, her newest film with Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Ben Barnes. As Larita, she brings a comedic lightness to her part that just automatically draws you to her. She marries into a family where the mother-in-law, (Thomas) is a stuck-up old biddy, and hates Jessica for her warm, fun-loving personality. At the end, Jessica leaves her young “momma’s-boy” husband, (Barnes), and winds up with his Dad, (Firth) which felt just perfect to me!
Jessica says she could never do stand-up, but she played a sexy lawyer in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” with Adam Sandler and Kevin James, and recently finished a starring role in a new comedy called “Nailed” with Jake Gyllenhaal, about a waitress who accidentally gets a nail lodged in her head causing unpredictable sexual behavior.
Sounds like an interesting premise, and adds new meaning to the phrase “she got nailed!” And with all due respect, I know plenty of guys besides Justin Timberlake who would like to “nail” her!
Anyway, until next time, remember, … COMEDY MATTERS!!!