The Comic Strip hosted the 6th Annual NY’s Funniest Reporter Show, which was produced as always by Ryan McCormick and Mark Goldman of Goldman McCormick PR, and it was a super successful event.
The contestants were Jane Velez-Mitchell from Headline News, (who I think is such a great person! ) Greg Mocker from WPIX 11, Wendy Diamond from Animal Fair Magazine, Julia Melim from Hollywood TV, Adam Shapiro from Fox Business News, Marlaina Schiavo from HLN’s Nancy Grace show, writer Abby Ellin, and the Fox News Channel’s Entertainment Reporter Courtney Friel who I had the honor of mentoring.
Courtney and I had lots of fun rehearsing for her husband Carter, a reporter from CNN, and her baby Cash, who didn’t actually understand the jokes but served as the subject for quite a few!
The judges were TJ Walker of the Daily National, Jeff Kreiner from CBS, editor Tasha Harris, talk show host and writer Diana Falzone, and The Comic Strip’s own JR Ravitz! You can tell it wasn’t fixed because Courtney didn’t win! She came in third but got a HUGE response from the audience. Everyone thought she had won, but the prize went to Marlaina Schiavo, who was also very funny!
Last year’s winner, currently an anchor on News 12, Lauren Sivan gave a great performance while the judges were tallying up their votes. Our MC was Comic Strip regular Ray Ellin and I wonder if by some chance he is related to Abby Ellin? I won’t have to wonder long because I see him every few minutes, so I’ll probably ask him tonight, when I host the new latenight show at The Comic Strip!
I was honored to be named the first official host for Sundays and Mondays with Jordan Rock doing the honors on Wed. and Thursdays. Come out and see us! Comedy Matters readers get in free with half price drinks!
Ray, by the way, broke in a very believable two man act one night with Elon Gold, totally spontaneous but they were very funny together!
The Lottery Show, streaming live every Tuesday night, hosted by Sherrod Small and starting at around 10:30, is really gaining strength. In the last couple of weeks, guest judges have been Tony Rock, Artie Lange, and Colin Quinn. I hear first-hand that Comedy Central is interested in taking a look!
The Boston Comedy Festival held its finals at The Comic Strip and once again I was proud to be one of the judges. Louis Ramey was the host and was hysterical as always. The unanimous winner was David Foster, followed by Comic Strip regular Joe Machi, and Dave Williamson. Watch out for all three of these guys! Very funny indeed! ( Indeed??? Who says that??? )
Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape Show is ALWAYS amazing, but this month was his birthday show so he really went all out. He and his partner Royale Watkins put together a fantastic show which I attended with Ecuadorian model Sylvia O. who I had recently purchased from the new Ecuadorian Models Department at Target. (See below)
She comes with a great warranty, and a liberal return policy. For the money you really can’t beat it!
And to top it off, at the end of the show Anthony called me up onstage with Sylvia to thank me for my support and to wish her a Happy Birthday also. I think he just wanted to get a better look at Sylvia! (LOLOL)
Nick Cannon brought his great New Faces show to Gotham again produced by his Program Director on 92.3 Now, Rob Wagman. The show featured Pete Davidson, Andrew Schwartztol, Mick Diflo, Ted Alexandro, and Jessica Kirson. Read all about it in my blog.
Bobby (The Pitbull) Slayton told me he was headlining Gotham when I saw him in Montreal at the Just For Laughs Festival. He also told me that Jimmy Fallon would be making a rare club appearance on the same show. Very exciting! I knew I couldn’t miss that, and I didn’t.
I sent Jimmy an e-mail telling him I was coming and hoped to do a quick video interview with him. He was only doing one performance each night of Bobby’s shows, so I thought I’d go catch it on Friday night. We set it up, but on Friday after the show, Jimmy had to leave unexpectedly right away, so I wound up interviewing myself! (LOL)
The next day I got an e-mail asking if I’d be around that night to do the interview. I enjoyed the Slayton/Fallon ticket so much I certainly didn’t mind seeing it twice, but because The Universe always throws you a curve ball, my DP wasn’t able to show up to film it.
There was no way I could cancel out because it was a rare opportunity, and I knew that Jimmy was expecting me, so I went now knowing how I would pull this off, doing a video interview with Jimmy, and be in the shot, while shooting it myself.
At the end of the show, Jimmy ushers me downstairs to the green room backstage, and it’s just me, him and his wife Nancy. When I told him how much I enjoyed his show, he was so humble, he almost looked embarrassed at the compliment. He’s one of the nicest most genuine guys around. People often compare his talent to Phil Hartman who was a good friend of mine.
Jimmy and the show are up for three Emmy awards. His impressions of comics alone range from Jerry Seinfeld, to Chris Rock, Robin Williams, (who was actually there to hear him do it and came down to congratulate Jimmy before the show), Steven Wright, Adam Sandler and my favorite and his too, Gilbert Gottfried. When he did Gilbert, I closed my eyes and I could swear Gilbert was in the room.
His singing impressions of Neil Young and Bob Dylan were also on the money and he did some of them for me in my interview.
I also loved the faux commercial he did for a drug I think was named “ Levardavan” in which the pitchman says,” Do you ever feel tired? Are you ever thirsty? Do you ever wake up in the morning? If so, you need Levardavan!” Hysterical!
Anyway, when I told Jimmy about my DP problem, and that I had no one to shoot our interview, he told me that his wife Nancy was a TV producer, and the next thing I knew she had offered to shoot it for me. How’s that for turning a negative into a positive? Needless to say it came out great! ( It may have been needless to say, but I said it anyway! )
Comedy Matters Quickies
Russell Simmons shot three new episodes of “Russell Simmons Presents NY Stand Up” featuring JB Smoove as the host/MC, and DJ Cassidy on the ones and twos!
( Only the very hippest of you out there will know that expression! LOL ) It was shot at the Edison Ballroom, and seating and arrangements were expertly handled by Samantha Black of The Black List, as usual.
It needs to be said that JB Smoove is so funny he just has to show up for people to get hysterical. He doesn’t even have to say anything. His physicality is as funny as what he says. I have met so many legends in comedy that it usually doesn’t even phase me any more, but I remember being so excited to meet him in Montreal last year.
I was even gladder to find out he’s been repped for the last 7 years by my old friend Rick Dorfman of Rain Management Group, who I saw at the taping. Not only did I see him but he was kind enough to take the photo you see below! (Photo credit Rick Dorfman! LOL )
The first night I went I saw Dov Davidoff, Damn Fool, Tony Rock who I had come to support, Earthquake, Tiffany Haddish who I had met many years ago out in LA when she was just starting out at The Laugh Factory, and Wil Sylvince who was the MC in the Kevin Hart show I co-produced last year at Westbury Theatre.
The second night I got to see Kareem Green, Owen Smith who I had seen opening for my buddy Russell Peters in NYC, and a real favorite of mine Capone, the hardcore gangster of comedy!
Plus it’s ALWAYS fun to see my man DJ Cassidy spinning the best tunes. It really makes a difference to the audience and gets them in the mood when the right music is played before and during the show. Comedy and hip-hop definitely works as Russell Peters figured out long ago!
Director John Gallagher came up with a great idea and was nice enough to include me in it! He shot a short film called “I Love You” with 75 people simply saying “ I Love You” into the camera, with slight variations depending on the person’s mood saying the line. It’s already in four festivals, Oldenberg in Germany, Atlantic City, Orlando, and Soho International. I brought Sylvia O. with me and she was in it too!
John is Exec. Producer on a film called Placebo, and is getting ready to direct the horror film “Digger 3D” in Nova Scotia. Can’t wait for him to direct my film “Men of Violence.” Good luck John! Can’t wait to attend the “ I Love You” premiere!
I know Tanya Young-Williams to be a very spiritual woman, so it was very difficult for her to put up with some of the behavior on VH1’s Basketball Wives LA. She had a beautiful event for the premiere of the show at Tian on the Waterfront, which I believe was produced in part by Andy Diaz, but several times had to distance herself from the insanity on screen.
She is very involved in charity work especially with victims of domestic violence, and is very open about her own history of having to sleep with a knife in her bed while married to Jayson Williams, NBA Star currently in prison for murder. Tanya was joined by her brother Norwood, and her Mom, plus a room full of beautiful people and I was glad to attend! Congrats Tanya, and hope to see you soon!
Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival
It was the 29th annual Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and as you might imagine, everyone in comedy was there. I literally shot 20 video interviews with people like Garry Shandling, Ken Jeong, Bo Burnham, Bill Burr, Paul Provenza, Kenny Hotz, Russell Peters, Steve Levitan who created Modern Family and won an award for Best Comedy Writer, Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik and not only people LIKE those, but the actual people themselves!
I started meeting people the moment I got off the plane with my trusty DP Sean Mannion. We shared a shuttle to the Hyatt Regency Hotel with Kurt Braunholer, then walked into the hotel and ran right into Russell Peters, who finalized my plans to come and see him that night, then ran into Kenny Hotz on the way to my room, who is the only Canadian talent to have two shows on American TV at the same time, and as soon as I changed and got my camera ready I ran into Bo Burnham, and did my first interview of the weekend.
Everything Bo does goes viral. Bo is grateful that antibiotics have no effect on a virus, so there is virtually no cure for what he does! (LOL) He was performing on the Amp’ed show along with Reggie Watts and others who mix comedy and music, and we had a cool, fun interview. He introduced himself on camera as “the disheveled Bo Burnham” as is everyone in Montreal. People are just chillin’ and having a good time networking, and meeting their peers!
At Russell’s show that night called “Best Night Ever” I went backstage with Russell for some exclusive footage, in which I actually got him dancing to some hip-hop beats, and he looked great in a custom suit and brand new white sneakers!
I also got to interview Russell backstage at Paul Provenza’s taping of The Green Room for Showtime. He taped two shows for the second season of his hit show, and he and Barbara Romen his co-producer, along with Christopher Barrett made sure I got to see whoever I needed to see.
We were in “the green room of The Green Room” and I interviewed the legendary Tony Clifton, Andy Kaufman’s best friend who was kind enough to introduce me to his date’s breasts, and watched as I interviewed them. They were kind of quiet!
I also spoke to Bill Burr, who laughingly chastised me for mentioning Tony Clifton and Bob Zmuda in the same sentence, and Colin Quinn, who was ticked off that they weren’t told what they were going to talk about so no one could prepare but Paul!
Watch all that in the videos right here:
I caught up with SNL’s John Mulaney, who is also Nick Kroll’s writing partner, and we had a fun interview after the Variety party. I also got to see John taping his really funny Comedy Central special, “John Mulaney Live”, a short time afterwards back in New York at NYU’s Skirball Center, where Comedy Central tapes many of their specials.
John swears he and Nick Kroll will not make another “Oh Hello” video without having me in it. That probably means he’s not going to be making any more “Oh Hello” videos! (LOL)
I would have to say my most fun and rewarding interview was with Andy Nulman, the head of Just For Laughs and one of the founders of the festival 29 years ago. He had left for a while to run his telecommunications company which he recently sold for about 15 or 20 dollars, ( add about a hundred million to that! ), and is now back running the show.
I got a hold of him backstage at Russell Simmons show where I also ran into my old friends Alan Schwartz, and Big Bill who run security for the festival, and who range in size from about 6’6” to somewhere near 7’ tall. I have an amazing photo of me somewhere suspended between them hanging from their shoulders. It’s really funny!
Anyway, Andy gave me this fantastic interview in which he says, “ If I wanna know what went on at my own festival, I read Jeffrey Gurian’s Comedy Matters, because he knows everyone, he covers everything, plus he really gives a s**t! That’s why when I say ‘This is Andy Nulman and you’re watching Comedy Matters’, it really means something!”
Next year’s 30th anniversary should be something REALLY special! In the meantime, remember, … Comedy Matters!!!