Comic Strip Talent Branches Out
Ray Ellin hosts lots of shows at The Strip and that in itself is a great talent. Hosting a show is so difficult because you have to have a lot of material, and you have to be likable, and Ray excels at both.
I wasn’t surprised to see that he was tapped as the host of Radio Chick Leslie Gold’s live stage version of The Gong Show at B.B. Kings on West 42nd Street. Leslie parlayed a successful business career into an even more successful radio career, where she ruled the airwaves on 92.3 FM and then Sirius before moving to internet radio.
I thought the show was great, and got to hang out backstage with the hopefuls, including one of my own, the co-host of my show, “Uncle Nat’s Traveling Peep Show”, “Uncle Snappy, … the Man Of Many Hats.”
Snappy was performing that night under his original name JoJo Bananas. If you want to see Uncle Snappy in action go to the website http://www.unclenats.net He’s the guy holding one orange balloon. In his day job he delivers balloons, but only one at a time. He’s a balloon delivery man, which is a very rare field.
The other judges were the hilarious Dan Naturman, often found performing at The Strip as well as major venues around the country , and the always funny and charming Chuck Nice, who can often be found hanging at The Strip bar schmoozing with the other comics while waiting to go on and destroy the crowd.
Dan was wearing his ubiquitous rabbit ears, which he’s been showing up with a lot lately at different gigs, but refuses to explain why. I thought he just wore them for Halloween, but I heard he wears them all the time now.
Bill McCarty’s Hellgig
Bill McCarty’s been performing at The Strip almost since it opened in 1976. He was one of the first, and now with his partner/wife Patricia Randell has crafted his first play called Hellgig, based on his experiences on the road, staying in “comedy condos” which I believe started with Richie Tienken’s condo in Florida, when he had the club in Ft. Lauderdale.
Richie tells the story that many years ago, Eddie Murphy was lounging by the pool there when he got the call that he got SNL, and he liked hanging out at the pool so much that he didn’t want to leave to go back to NY.
This was a reading of Hellgig at the Abingdon Theatre, and it was a sold out event. I went with Bob Wachs, co-owner and co-founder of The Strip and co-manager of Eddie Murphy during the years when he was the biggest star in the world.
I have to say that it was a very true-to-life reflection of the comedy world and what comics have to go through on their often uncomfortable journey to success, playing gigs in questionable conditions, wherever they can manage to get booked.
And I was glad to see my old pal actor Ned Eisenberg, one of the founding members of The Naked Angels, playing the very scary role of Joey Rotunno all too well, as only he can do. Ned is in the cast photo in the back on the right.
Tony Rock Rocks The House
Tony Rock was at one time also managed by Richie Tienken, and when we interviewed Tony for the book on The Strip he was overwhelmed by emotion when thinking of how much Richie did for him, and how grateful he was to the club.
Tony is a great guy and a great talent, who stops by the club to perform whenever he’s in town. He was the featured performer when I co-produced Kevin Hart at Westbury last February.
This particular night, I saw him down at Gotham where he was one of the stars of Anthony Anderson’s mixtape show, that really fun, fantastic show that I try to cover as often as I can.
Anthony wasn’t in town the night I went, but 98.7 star Talent took over for him and did an outstanding job.
Tony had a great line about “white trash” saying that they’re the worst. If you’re white trash, that’s like admitting that “even being white didn’t work for you!”
Nick Cannon Tour de Force
I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Nick Cannon. I knew him as an actor/music performer/producer, host of America’s Got Talent, husband of Mariah Carey, and Chairman of TeenNick, but I hadn’t yet seen him perform comedy. I brought two women with me just in case the show turned out to be boring!
I was in for a pleasant surprise, cause he blew the doors off the room, (which is a very strange expression, and makes him sound more like a terrorist than a comedian!)
The reliably funny Ryan Reiss opened the show, followed by Hugh Moore who questioned that in this country the Eagle is considered to be the defender of truth. “The only way that could happen is if an eagle attacked you every time you tell a lie.”
Great visual, and he was very funny.
Kase Glenn came out as “Pastor Kase” to Rick Ross’s Blowin’ Money Fast, which is a song I can’t get out of my head. If you’re a hip-hop nut like I am, with OCD to boot, once I get a song like that in my head, I’m humming it for days. ( Maybe weeks!)
He did a difficult thing by staying in character through his whole set. Really hard to do. He said, “ If Jesus was Black it would make sense. That’s why it’s taking him so long to get back!” Kase was very funny with a unique delivery and funny physical humor as well.
Then quadruple threat Nick Cannon took the stage to great applause. What struck me even before his humor was how humble and self-effacing he was. He willingly admitted that on his wedding day, the thought occurred to him, “ I’m about to have sex with Mariah Carey. Wet dreams do come true!”
He said he was afraid to invite Kanye to his wedding, cause he couldn’t take the chance that right in the middle of his speech, Kanye might grab the mike and say,
“Hey Nick, I’m really happy for you, and I’m gonna let you finish, … but Jay and Beyonce had the most incredible wedding of all time!”
He does great accents, impressions , and fantastic character work, ranging from Adam Sandler, and Dave Chappelle, to a masterful impression of Denzel Washington giving him advice on how not to lose his “mojo” with women even though he’s married.
As far as I’m concerned, (and no one really knows how far that is!) Nick Cannon is in a class of his own. Very few performers are that accomplished in so many areas, but he still has to answer to his wife. If he comes in late, Mariah may greet him with” Negro, where have you been?” And he says, “I was out trying to make you some money,” … to which she just laughs!
Tony Rock did a guest spot on that show too, and when we left, Tony jumped in my car, and came with me, Michelle and Jacquee to do a set at The Strip.
Vos Headlines The Strip
Rich Vos is a very funny guy. If you don’t believe me, ask him. I think he would agree. And if you don’t believe both of us, ask Bonnie McFarlane. She’s usually very objective!
I was glad to see a full house at Rich’s show at Gotham. I think a lot of his fans from Opie and Anthony showed up. Barry Weintraub MC’ed and he’s always good, followed by a favorite of mine, Marina Franklin, who if she doesn’t still use the name “ Sexy Fairy” , should start using it again. It fits her perfectly.
Sixth Annual Andy Kaufman Awards
This year was the first year that the Andy Kaufman Awards were held at Gotham, and it’s a big honor. It’s the 6th annual award show, and it honors a comic who they feel is as original and creative as Andy was, who believe it or not, is gone over 25 years already.
In past years, I would see George Shapiro, Andy’s manager, along with his pal Stanley Kaufman, Andy’s dad. Neither of them were able to attend this year, but Andy’s brother Michael was there as a judge. One of the other judges was Eddie Brill from the Letterman Show. The winner this year was Harrison Greenbaum and he won $2500. for his efforts.
Comedy Matters Quickies
T.V. producer/documentarian Gayle Kirschenbaum did a film about her nose that had a showing at the JCC in Manhattan. Sounds like a story for GNN, “ All The News That’s Fit To Dance To,” but it’s real. Called “My Nose” its the story of her mother’s quest to talk her into a nose job. Very entertaining, as is Gayle. And just for the record, she didn’t do it, and she looks great as she is.
Rockstar juggler/comedian Marcus Monroe did an outstanding show at the 47th Street Theatre, and if you have a chance to see him, go for it. The show was presented by Lucy Arnaz, and he’s been seen on Letterman, MTV’s TRL, and CBS’s Secret Talents of the Stars.
He’s unique, funny, and really one of a kind. He did a silly line, but it was the kind I like. He introduced the audience to his “step ladder.” According to him, he never met his “real ladder!” Plus he’s the only guy I ever saw who can juggle while doing long division in his head!
John Fugelsang, former host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, who replaced Bob Saget, did a show produced by comic Tom Ragu at the Metropolitan Room, which is the site of the old Gotham Comedy Club.
His co-star was the wonderful, and talented Vanessa Hollingshead, and it was a great show. So glad I made time to go. John is featured in the new little doc film made about me by Sean Mannion, which you can see on Vimeo if you go to http://www.Vimeo.com and put in my name. John is just so quick, and so sharp, his observations never cease to amaze me.
I drove out to Connecticut to see Judith Regan tape the pilot for her new TV show, and if anyone could explain why it’s necessary to have a silent “C” in the name of that state, I’d be very grateful. Silent letters are weird in the first place. What happens if you leave one out? Does that make the word too loud???
I was treated so well by her TV staff. They announced my name and took me to my seat. Unfortunately my seat was in the parking lot, outside the theatre, but that’s a whole other thing! Actually I sat right up front in the first row.
Judith is a powerhouse. Kind of like a white Oprah, or a white Martha Stewart! She’s been super-successful in many fields, and published many huge books including Howard Stern’s Private Parts and Miss America, but that doesn’t stop her from also being really, really nice. We went out to lunch and I got to see a very real, caring, down-to-earth side of her. And she’s a proud Mom!
Cringe Humor Roast for Jim Florentine
Cringe Humor roasted Jim Florentine in a comedy fundraiser at Comix for Greg Giraldo’s kids, and as you might expect it was sold out. Rich Vos was the Roast master, and did a great job. It’s really such a hard thing to do. Much harder than just hosting a regular show and having to introduce a long line-up of people. At a Roast every line has to be a killer.
Some of the Roasters on the dais were Jim Norton, Joe Matarese, Bonnie McFarlane, and Rev. Bob Levy who left the Stern show to do internet radio.
Geno Bisconte, who got three separate applause breaks for his material, said about Levy leaving Stern, “That was the greatest career move since Mel Gibson bought his girlfriend an answering machine.” That was one of the applause breaks!
I missed the first part of it. I heard that Jesse Joyce who used to write for Greg, did great. I was there on time, but as I was pulling into a parking space directly in front of the club, a taxi hit my car, and I had to stand outside the club waiting for the police to come.
Very frustrating to be right outside the club where you came to see a show and not be able to go in. Paul Italia from Cringe came out to commiserate with me.
When I went to the police station to get the report, the cops happened to be comedy fans, and I found myself hanging out with a bunch of fun cops on the steps of the precinct, trading jokes.
Laura Spaeth did a show called “Vice Broads” at Broadway Comedy, and I stopped by to enjoy her set, ( which I did!), and to see my old friend Bonnie Marsh kick comedic butt on stage. Bonnie and I go way back and it’s great to see her taking her acting skills and putting them to use doing comedy. And she’s also VERY sexy, which can make doing comedy more difficult, but she uses it to her advantage.
Pat Cooper Book Party at The Friars
I probably know Pat Cooper for more than 25 years. The man keeps getting younger and younger. He should be known as Pat “ Benjamin Button” Cooper.
Back in the 90’s, as a tremendous favor to me, he starred in a short film I made for Playboy TV called “Sexual Harassment” where he played a boss who harasses prospective employees until one of them decides to get even. She surreptitiously puts his tie in his fax machine, presses the start button and watches it ride up his tie. Then she presses the stop button and it crashes down on his foot! Director Frank Chindamo figured out how to make that happen.
Aside from being a star in his own right, Pat has worked with some of the biggest in the biz, including Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, George Burns, Bobby Darin, and Tony Bennett. He has a fascinating new book out called “How Dare You Say How Dare Me”, which he wrote with Rich Herschlag and Steve Garrin.
Pat is the original angry man, and the book is filled with stories of him telling the truth about a lot of people we thought we knew, and telling off a lot of people in the way we all wish we could do. Pat has always been fearless no matter what the cost to him personally or professionally. The man lives by principles.
He was feted at The Friars Club, where he admitted to being 80, and joked about being ready to die. I hope he was joking, cause there’s only one Pat Cooper and I’m proud to say he’s my friend.
Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to do radio. I like radio more than TV. It’s freer, and you generally get more time to say the things you want to say. So I was really excited to have the opportunity to have appeared on three shows to talk about all kinds of different things.
I went on Michaela Radio on urbanlatinoradio.com, where the lovely Michaela Davies does a weekly show on Monday nights, along with her beautiful co-host Ashlee K., and they dedicated one show to Comedy and Healing, calling it “Laughter Is The Best Medicine.”
I was a guest along with James Bort of Slaphouse Radio, and comic Carlos Gonzales, among others. We got to talk about all sorts of things, including my being featured on the NPR DVD, “Walking Through The Storm” as an authority on comedy and healing, and also my technique for curing stuttering, which I used to cure myself and which I’m always grateful to be able to discuss. The important thing we established is that comedy can be used as a Healing force.
Then I had a treat by doing Valerie Smaldone’s new show on www.wor710.com called Valerie’s New York. Valerie is a five-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and has spent many years doing radio, which you can tell from her mellifluous voice. I could listen to her all day. I was supposed to do a 15 minute spot, but once we started talking, Valerie was kind enough to ask me to stay for the whole hour.
I got to talk about the new Men’s Room I recently opened, that has a separate section just for loitering. And I got to talk about my inventions, such as the flashlight that works during the day, so now people can see where they’re going during the day also, and the 24 hour stapler, which allows you to staple things no matter what time it is, even if your regular stapler stops working at midnight!
I also got to see Valerie in a funny off-Broadway show called “Girl Talk” in which she acted, sang and danced for the first time in a long time, and she did really well.
And then I did a repeat performance on Danny Lobell’s show Comical Radio, where Danny tried out some of his new material on ME, instead of it being the other way around. I think I shocked him when in answer to some questions I thought were too personal, I told him it was none of his business. The amazing thing was he agreed. He said no one had ever said that to him before!
It’s always fun to do Danny’s show. He gets major stars to come on, and he even has guys like me! He says he wants me to come back on soon to do some of my GNN news stories.
Patrice Oneal at Skirball
I’m guessing that NYU’s Skirball Center is named for someone who had to go through life with the name Skirball. Do you think there’s any chance that growing up any kids in his neighborhood called him “Screwball?” Probably not. Kids would never be that cruel!
Anyway, as part of the NY Comedy Festival Patrice Oneal taped a one hour special for Comedy Central at The Skirball Center. I was happy to be able to go, cause I love Patrice. We used to do his radio show together called “The Black Philip Show” on Sirius Radio, and he asked me to be his co-host along with the very funny Dante Nero.
Not only did Patrice and I have great chemistry together, but he said I was the only white man he ever met who knew all the words to the song “ Bitch Betta Have My Money”, which was done by AMG back in 1991. It was a favorite of mine and just happened to be his theme song.
Harris Stanton opened for Patrice and it was a packed house. Harris is funny every time I see him perform, and I saw him not too long ago down at CB’s Comedy Club.
Patrice did a masterful performance. He comes out so relaxed, and just kind of controls the room in such an easy way. Patrice is a modern day philosopher, and he did something which I really respect. He made the choice to tone down his act for Comedy Central. He still got out everything he needed to say. He just did it in a little kinder way, and he was hysterical.
Sometimes people get the mistaken idea that he’s a misogynist, which I don’t think could be further from the truth. He LOVES women. What he’s against is when they misuse their power, and act like they can get away with behaving poorly, or rudely, just because they’re beautiful.
I recently had an example of that when I invited someone to a show, and without telling me ahead of time, she decided to leave right afterwards to go meet some people. I guess she could tell by the look on my face that I wasn’t happy and when she asked if I was angry, I said, “ No, but I will NEVER see or speak to you again, because if you think that is acceptable behavior, then I have no room for you in my life.” And I left her standing there and walked away. I think Patrice would have been proud of me! I know I was!
Afterwards, when I went backstage to congratulate Patrice, I got to see his beautiful longtime girlfriend Vondecarlo Brown, who is living proof that Patrice loves women. She wouldn’t settle for anything less!
Adam Ferrara On The History Channel
There’s a very small group of comics who have managed to parlay their comedy careers into a regular acting career. Adam Ferrara is one of them. As a stand-up he’s in a class of his own, which is why he gets to be handled by Peter Rosegarten of The Conversation Company.
Denis Leary loves Adam and took him from playing Tommy Manetti on his show “The Job”, to playing Chief “Needles” Nelson, once again opposite Leary on his hit FX show Rescue Me.
Now he’s one of three hosts on a new show on The History Channel based on a hit show out of the U.K. called “Top Gear,” where they do crazy stunts with hot cars. In the premiere Adam drives a Lambo on a track at 180 mph. I guess when you’ve had to face drunken Saturday night crowds to do your stand-up nothing scares you anymore!
The show is Sunday nights at 10 P.M. I watched the premiere and it was awesome!
I met Adam years ago out in LA, through actor Scott Baio, when I wrote a movie with Scott called “Face to Face”, which was based on a story created by Adam. We’ve been friends ever since.
I’m so happy for Adam that he’s engaged to Allie Tyler. When he went to buy her a ring he didn’t know her ring size. They told him to look at the size of her hand. He said he looked and he was shocked. Her left hand looked so big, he was afraid he’d go broke buying her a ring that would be fitting for that size hand. He said she had a hand like a Fiddler Crab. I went to visit them backstage at Gotham when Adam headlined there to a sold-out room. The audience LOVED the Fiddler Crab line.
Adam and Allie make a great couple and he calls her his “I.T. expert”. She was explaining to me how to post my short films on Twitter, and why it was important for me to do so. She’s really sharp, and model-beautiful, and everything a partner should be. And she even showed me scenes from his new show on her I-pad. That’s loyalty!
Anyway, until next time, remember … COMEDY MATTERS!