Comic Strip in the Friars Film Festival
Charlie Prince is an amazing guy. At the risk of being pulled offstage by a big hook, he’s what you might even call a “Prince” of a guy.
He’s an entertainment lawyer, who with his team of people including Susannah Gora, Eric Johnson, Sue Constantine, and Jor Law, to name just a few, produced the 2nd annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, and did a smashing job.
The man obviously does not need sleep because he was at every event I attended, and people who know me know I attend events that haven’t even happened yet.
We were honored to have the trailer for the documentary film we are doing on The Comic Strip , called “Eat, Drink, Laugh”chosen to be shown in the festival, and I went with Bob Wachs, and Richie Tienken, owners and founders of The Strip, along with filmmakers Brent Sterling Nemetz and Abby Russell. We are all co-producing, and Chris Rock is the Exec. Producer .
The film was to show on Thursday night, but when we arrived we were told that for some reason our DVD was damaged, and we had to cancel at the very last minute. Unfortunately, our team had no back-up DVD, so Charlie Prince being the gentleman that he is gave us two showings the following week to make up for it. He didn’t have to do that, but he did.
The last showing was right before the final film of the festival, which basically guaranteed us a full house.
I went to see Tom Arnold’s new film Brother’s Justice, a hysterically funny film about a guy who knows nothing about martial arts who wants to be a martial arts action hero. It’s starring Dax Shephard, who has such a comedic energy about him. He’s a perfect character for comedy, and especially for this role. Just the expressions on his face make you want to laugh, before he even says anything.
Besides Tom Arnold, they got Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, and Jon Favreau to be in the film. Dax, who was there with Nate Tuck, is as cool in person as he is in the film. And Nate was so cool, that when Dax and I took our photos, he asked Nate to take them. I thought Nate was his assistant. I didn’t know he was co-starring in the film. You MUST check it out.
Norway Comes To The Strip
Aksel Kolstad is a big star in Norway, and all over Europe. Now he’s ready to conquer the USA, starting with a debut at Carnegie Hall. He’s a classical pianist and comedian, sort of like “ a hip Victor Borge.”
Working with Susan Blond P.R. is a good way to get known, so thru Susan I got invited to meet him, and see him perform. I was so impressed, and we got along so well, that I brought him to The Strip to prepare for his Carnegie Hall debut, and he KILLED!
We rehearsed over at my place, and I coached him on American-style comedy. He came out in a loud plaid suit, did his material and ended by playing an unusual instrument called a Melodica. The audience loved him and three days later he sold out at Carnegie Hall. More to come!
A Sheriff in 2010 ???
Mike Saudino is running for Sheriff of Bergen County, New Jersey and his campaign manager set up a comedy fundraiser for him with talent from The Comic Strip.
It was at The Fiesta in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey and the place was packed with about 400 supporters. Richie Tienken did me the honor of asking me to host the show featuring WKTU’s afternoon host Goumba Johnny, Sherrod Small from VH1, and the new TBS show “Are We There Yet?”, national headliner, the Latin Lunatic J.J. Ramirez, and the always hysterical, radio/TV star Chuck Nice.
I opened with a little mini-Roast I wrote about Mike, asking him, “So if you win this one Mike, what’s next for you, Nottingham Forest? Who runs for Sheriff in 2010? Who’s your running mate, Marshall Dillon?
Cindy Vero the co-host of KTU’s morning show with Cubby Bryant, was in the audience, and came over to congratulate me afterwards cause she said she enjoyed my performance! That felt really good!
Fortunately Mike had a great sense of humor, which I made sure to check out before. He’s the Chief of Police of Emerson. Who would be stupid enough to make fun of the Chief of Police without making sure he had a good sense of humor first!
Back To The Friars Festival
During the day, the Friars Festival offered great panels like the one I attended from Collegehumor.com. It was a super bunch of funny guys, and a very informative panel, and I think we all learned a lot about how they work and create the funny stuff they put out.
I even ran into Ron Bennington , the co-host of the Ron and Fez Show on XM Satellite Radio, a great, fun guy if there ever was one! He was on a panel discussing the late Bill Hicks, as a prelude to the showing of the doc. film American: The Bill Hicks Story which I saw later that night.
I’m looking forward to possibly doing something with College Humor. They all knew my buddy Brett Eidman who’s been working with them lately, acting in some of their short films.
Ernie Schimizzi was there from Hamptons TV, filming at The Friars Club, and did a great funny interview with me, that I am looking forward to seeing. Now that I’m back doing stand-up, interviews are always so much more fun, cause my material is always ready.
There are very few great open mikes in the city, where you can really get a good experience and even feedback if you want. Gladys Simon does one, and Yonah Grossman does a great one at Gotham on Thursdays. Even pros like Joe Devito come there to work out new stuff.
That’s the cool thing about pros. Any audience is a good audience for them. They don’t care, even if it ‘s filled with bitter comics, all thinking they are so much funnier than the guy on stage. All stage time is good.
At Gotham you can do a five minute set and leave two minutes for feedback, or seven minutes with no feedback. The only feedback I got was from the mike! (LOL)
It was a very supportive group and I plan to be a regular. Last time I went there the highly inventive Jason Taylor was filling in for Yonah, but didn’t try to pass himself off as Yonah. He stayed in character as Jason, which is not always easy!
With some comics, they just have a buzz in the industry where you know they’re headed for big things. Amy Schumer is one of those comics. Whether she’s on the red carpet at a Comedy Central event, co-starring in an all women’s show at The Skirball Center, or headlining at Gotham, she always brings it.
She already had a very successful, highly rated half hour special on Comedy Central already, and is currently the co-host of the new music/talk show on The Fuse Network, “ A Different Spin, With Mark Hoppus.”
She’s reliably funny, and inventive, and adds a little touch of outrageousness, mixed with sexy, that makes audiences love her. It’s only a matter of time till she breaks out BIG!!!
Night of Too Many Stars
Comedy Central does an incredible event to raise money to educate people about Autism, focused around Robert Smigel AKA Triumph The Insult Comic Dog.
I was on the red carpet at The Beacon Theatre for an assortment of stars matched by no other event, thanks in part to people’s genuine love for Robert Smigel and also due to the talents of Comedy Central’s Aileen Budow.
Hosted by Jon Stewart, I also got to chat with Tracy Morgan, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, John Oliver, Lewis Black, Ricky Gervais, and Jim Gaffigan on the red carpet, and if I hadn’t had to run off to another event, I might have also seen Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, and almost every big comedy star you could think of.
Sarah Silverman looked so adorable. She’s the quintessential woman-child, and she actually interrupted her Comedy Central interview with red carpet host Julian McCullough to say “Hi” to me. I even got it on video, which you can see in the new documentary film about me on Vimeo, put together by a young filmmaker named Sean Mannion.
I also got to tell John Oliver how funny he was when I saw him at the South Beach Comedy Festival last January. I didn’t get a chance to see him after the show, and I knew our paths would cross again which they did. Not only is he really funny, but he’s a genuinely humble, and really nice guy.
I finished off by turning the tables on Julian McCullough, who was chosen by Comedy Central to interview all the celebs, by interviewing HIM, and inviting him to do a set at The Strip.
He said very humbly, (and incorrectly, I might add!) that he had no business being there, but that Comedy Central knew he was very good at making people feel awkward in public so they asked him to host. He said, “ I’ve never seen so many rich people up close! It’s very exciting.”
I was standing near him the whole time watching, and I can attest to the fact that he did an excellent job, and lived up to Comedy Central’s expectations! Everyone he interviewed left feeling very awkward! (LOL)
Comedy Matters Shorts
Tribute to Greg Giraldo
We lost another great one. Greg Giraldo left us too soon. Greg was loved and respected not only by the public, but also throughout the comedy community as evidenced by the huge turnout at his memorial service in Manhattan. I saw Jon Stewart, Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, and hundreds of other people who came out to pay respects to Greg’s family.
A fund has been set up to assist his three young sons with their support and future education. If you wish you can send a donation to Giraldo Children’s Fund, c/o MaryAnn McAlpin-Giraldo; P.O. Box 1827, New York, NY 10025, or you can donate by Pay Pal by clicking here.
A few days later Jon Fisch recorded several comics talking about Giraldo for his radio show either telling a favorite joke or story. I got to be part of that. My favorite Giraldo joke which I had just heard him do recently at Gotham was him in the subway hearing some guy yelling out to a girl on the opposite platform, “ Yo Monica, you got AIDS yo!” And I thought to myself, “ Is that how they tell you now?”
I also recalled sitting with his then wife MaryAnn back in 2002 at the Chevy Chase Roast and everyone being so nervous about how Greg was going to do. It may have been his first Friars Roast, and of course he killed, as he always did.
He will be missed by all who knew him.
Tribute to Mickey Freeman
I had the honor of spending a lot of time over the years with Mickey Freeman as a guest on The Joey Reynolds’ show where Mickey was a regular for years. Especially on the Friday night Jewish hour where Mickey certainly fit in.
Mickey was a comedy legend who was probably best known for his role as Pvt. Zimmerman on the Phil Silvers Show, which ran from 1955 to 1959, but is probably funnier than anything on TV today. Silvers played the ultimate con-man Ernie Bilko, and Mickey Freeman played one of the guys he always took advantage of.
When I co-produced the Hamptons Comedy Festival in 2004 with Abby Russell, Mickey Freeman was the guest of honor. He was a non-stop joke teller, and the night of the Festival there was a power problem, something with the lights or the mike, and Mickey got up and entertained the crowd with his hysterical jokes, until the problem was fixed. He was a real pro.
One joke I will never forget was, “ I hadda stop flying Virgin Airlines, cause they don’t go all the way!”
I still remember how excited I was so many years ago, when I realized that Mickey knew who I was. I was always proud to say that he was a good friend of mine, and I know he’s on a stage somewhere up in Heaven, entertaining everyone else! So long Mickey, you were one of the greats! Rest in Peace!
VIP Talent Connect at Carolines
Powerhouse Alycia Kaback, CEO and founder of VIP Talent Connect, and her host and colleague Robert Galinsky of the NY Reality TV School, put on an event at Carolines for a couple of hundred people, where they bring in mentors to help young people break into show biz without getting ripped off.
I was honored to be one of the mentors, amongst people like radio legend , and 5 time Billboard Magazine Award winner Valerie Smaldone, Broadway Producer of Promises, Promises Pat Addiss, Sopranos actor Robert Funaro, casting director for Gossip Girl, and films like “When In Rome” and “Date Night” with Steve Carrell, Marthe Reynolds VP of Island Def Jam records, 2 time Tony Award winner Katie Finneran, soap star Melissa Archer, and Robert Russell, currently casting Sony’s new version of The Gong Show.
It’s a full day from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. and it was a fantastic success. All the attendees were so excited as were the mentors who all gave great presentations. Can’t wait till the next one on Dec. 11th.
Autism Night at Carolines
It was a big month for Autism. Pat Cooper lent his celebrity to help raise money on behalf of the Nassau-Suffolk Chapter of the Autism Society of America. Ray Ellin was the host and Gilbert Gottfried dropped by with his wife Dara to lend his support as well as many other stars who were there at this well attended event.
CB’s Comedy Club
First it was Sal’s Comedy Hole, then it was Comedy Corner, but as of about 8 weeks ago, it’s now beautiful and it’s called CB’s Comedy Club. It’s at 89 MacDougal Street, right where MacDougal meets Bleecker, and it seats 75 very comfortably.
The owner, CB, is an incredibly accomplished woman who conquers one career after the next. We had dinner one night and I was enthralled by her story., and all that she’s been able to accomplish. She also owns/runs the restaurant attached to the comedy club, (or is it the other way around?) called Café del Mar, and you really have to go down there and experience the place. She gutted the old place and completely renovated it.
It’s drawing great comics, (booked by Wayne Rada), who get up to 20 minute spots, and they even offer “development spots”, for less established guys to get a chance to perform as well. Once you perform there you have to wait two weeks before you’re allowed back, because so many comics want to get up.
Judah Friedlander is at the forefront of big stars who are starting to hang out and perform there. The night I went I got to see Big Jay Oakerson, Harris Stanton, Peaches Rodriguez, and Patrice Oneal. When you go, tell CB I said “Hi!”.
Punchline Magazine Is Five
Believe it or not, Punchline is five years old already, and ready to go to kindergarten. Before you know it it’ll be in college! (LOL) That’s why I try and take pictures of Dylan Gadino every time I see him, cause they grow up so fast! (LOL)
Dylan is a great guy to work with, and I’m very happy to have my column, (which is ten years old already), in Punchline Magazine. He and his partner Bill Bergmann threw a great anniversary party at Comix, where I got to meet the new Comix partner George Katsimatides, who was sitting with Comix’s own powerhouse Kimberly Hannwacker. (Kim, send me the schedule already!)
There was a great array of talent starting with host Christian Finnegan, for whom the term “metrosexual” was coined. I knew him even before he lost the weight, and he was funny then too.
Myq Kaplan, who does what I call “real jokes”, killed as he always does, followed by Emmy Award-winning writer/comic Paul Mecurio, the hysterical Hannibal Buress who I had last seen in Montreal at JFL, and then there was Todd Barry.
I have seen Todd Barry so many times over the years and I always think he’s great, but this night he outdid himself. People in comedy rarely laugh out loud. It’s not that we don’t want to. We’re trained that way.
I remember as a young comedy writer giving comics the material I had just written, and watching them read it, and say with a perfectly straight face, “ That’s funny. That’s VERY funny. I’m HYSTERICAL! “ All without even cracking a smile.
A good comedian can do that. He knows what’s funny and what jokes would work for him just by reading them. Laughter is for “civilians.”
Well this night, Todd Barry made me laugh so loud, and so hard, I had tears running down my face. I wrote down some of the best lines, but writing them doesn’t do them justice so I guess it’s his delivery that does it. He’s a master of understatement.
Even his response to me was understated when I told him how good he was. He almost didn’t respond at all! (LOL)
Then one of everyone’s faves, Jim Gaffigan came out, explaining that he’s wearing black cause it’s easier than working out. He followed that with, “ You know what color looks really bad on me? Flesh color!”
He also wondered why if swimming makes you thin, then why are whales so fat? He actually did a lot of whale humor, listing the three main killers of whales, a. Man, b. A pelican with a machine gun, and c. A lion on a jet ski.
Closing the show was an old friend Michael Ian Black. If Todd Barry is a master of understatement, Michael is a master of sarcasm and enunciation. Michael has developed a very unique delivery, and tells long stories that actually have punchlines. He speaks slowly and deliberately as if he’s carefully choosing each and every word.
He’ll say something like “People in NY have no imagination. They’re always saying they can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Back in 1995, Michael and I and Ben Garant were co-writers of the very first inter-active film. It was called “I’m Your Man”, and was a Sony production in the theatre on 19th Street and Broadway. That was before Michael and Ben went on to found The State on MTV.
From what I recall Sony spent big bucks to outfit this theater with buttons on every seat where the audience could vote on what the actors should do next in the film. The votes were tallied immediately and majority ruled. The film switched over to whatever the audience had chosen. I remember it as being a very difficult thing to write as we had to write several versions to coincide with whatever the audience might choose.
It was conceived and directed by a genius of a guy named Bob Bejan, who had a company called Controlled Entropy. Michael and Ben went on to accomplish great things. If any of you find out what ever happened to me, send me an e-mail and let me know. I’m curious to find out!
Anyway, until next time, remember, …. COMEDY MATTERS!!!