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Book Reviews

The Making of “Make ‘Em Laugh”- 35 Years of The Comic Strip

Friday, May 1st, 2015

On June 15, 2008, I was at The Comic Strip with Ann Curry, and Gilbert Gottfried and we were giving Ann tips on how to do stand-up comedy for some kind of event she was preparing for. And despite the fact that I had been there for so many years, and had seen the walls before, I found myself transfixed by all the amazing memorabilia that I noticed that day.

Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken on the day that Jeffrey suggested doing a book on the iconic Comic Strip!

So I said to Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the club, “You know we should do a book on this club!”

I didn’t know that other people had suggested that to him before but for some reason he wound up not doing it with them. He came to my home for a meeting and ended by saying “You have more photos on your walls than I have at the club”, and he decided to trust me with telling his story, and the stories of all the huge stars that came out of the club.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken in the lobby of Jeffrey’s building after their meeting to agree on doing the book!

The club officially opened on June 1, 1976 with Billy Crystal as the opening act. On JUne 17th a young, and unknown Jerry Seinfeld walked in to audition. In those days people were graded on their auditions. Jerry was graded “Good”, and then someone wrote on his sheet, “Definitely put on Mon. 6/21!” Whoever that person was had a good eye for comedy! Jerry stayed at The Strip for four years until he left for LA in 1980. It was his home club.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Richie Tienken on the day of Jerry’s interview for the book!

In the book Jerry said he felt like he was born in 1976, because that’s when he began working at The Strip and that felt like the start of his life!

Eddie Murphy spent his early years at the club, and Richie Tienken was his manager for the years when Eddie was the biggest star in the world. That period of time spanned his days on SNL through Beverly Hills Cop 2.

The one night in 1986 Eddie came into The Strip and asked to see a Black comic. The only one around was a 19 year old Chris Rock who was setting up chairs in exchange for stage time, and had only performed for very small audiences at 2 or 3 A.M. Not wanting to disappoint Eddie, they put Chris up in front of a packed house on a Friday night, and Chris killed it in front of his idol.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip on the day we did Chris’ interview for the book!

That was the start of Chris’s rise to stardom. He hasn’t lost his gratitude for all that Richie did for him and wrote a fantastic, and funny introduction to the book.

He also came into the club and gave Richie and I a really super interview. Most of the big stars came into the club for their interviews because Richie and I felt that being surrounded by those four walls would bring back memories, and we were right.

Alan Colmes who many people don’t even know started his career as a stand-up comic came in wearing his 30 year old Comic Strip jacket that looked as if it was brand new.

Jeffrey Gurian with Alan Colmes wearing his original 30 year old Comic Strip jacket, which looked brand new!

In the middle of Paul Reiser’s interview he suddenly recalled what started the annual New Years Day brunch attended every Jan. 1, by himself, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Mark Schiff. There had even been a fifth member of the group, a friend named Michael Cain but he passed away very young.

Gilbert Gottfried and Lisa Lampanelli got interviewed outside the club, and Jeffrey Ross got interviewed inside the club with a dual book/documentary film video interview at the same time. That experience taught us never to do that again! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian, Gilbert Gottfried and Richie Tienken at lunch at Pastis where GIlbert spent most of his interview denying he had ever been at The Comic Strip. He did say they had good electricity though!

Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Gurian,(hidden behind the book! LOL) backstage at Westbury for Lisa’s recent sold-out performance

And then I flew out to LA to get an in office interview with Billy Crystal the first comic to hit the stage on opening night, back in 1976.

Other comics interviewed were Ray Romano, Susie Essman, Jim Gaffigan, Judah Friedlander, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Rick Overton, who has also gone on to have a very successful acting/film career, Jim Breuer, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, plus newer stars who frequent the club like Colin Jost and Jay Pharaoah from SNL.

Thanks to our agent J.L. Stermer from N.S. Bienstock, we got a deal with Skyhorse Publishing and the book is 250 pages down from the 500 I started out with. It took three years to get all of the interviews done and transcribed, because I did it myself by hand just by playing the interviews over and over again, and the fourth year was about editing and getting it down from 500 pages to the 250 that was needed. It was often a grueling process, but always a labor of love!

Since it came out, it’s gotten great reviews, tons of press, and lots of celeb attention as you can tell from the following photos.

The post The Making of "Make ‘Em Laugh"- 35 Years of The Comic Strip appeared first on Jeffrey Gurian.

D.L. Hughley Man of Many Talents to Host Gotham Comedy Live

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

When I heard that my man D.L. Hughley would be headlining Gotham I knew I’d be in for a treat so I made sure to get my butt down there to see him, in a joint interview not only for my Comedy Matters TV but also for Frank Holder’s amazing Humor Mill Magazine based out in LA, bringing you all the up-to-the minute news about the urban comedy/entertainment scene! (www.humormillmag.com)

The last time I saw D.L. was when we shot a little backstage interview at The Comic Strip, when he was there taping a Comedy Central special called “D.L. Hughley’s Endangered Species” about having the Black man added to the endangered species list! ( Sounds like Schindler’s List for Black folks? LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage at The Comic Strip with D.L. Hughley, after the taping of his Comedy Central special!

During the interview you’ll see below he told me that when he won the Peabody Award this past year they actually used my interview with him on the show! I had no idea but that is AMAZING! At the time we did it, his publicist said it was one of the best interviews she’s seen! I’ll let you guys judge!

D.L. is one of those multi-talented performers who does more things than a human being theoretically should be able to do! And he does them well! When I say something like that I always think of Sammy Davis Jr. who was always described as a “triple threat” performer, meaning he was accomplished at many things, like singing, dancing and acting.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the late, great Sammy Davis Jr. at a dinner in honor of Milton Berle, circa 1985!

D.L. is an actor, a stand-up comic, an author, and a political commentator to start, and was one of the four comedians featured in Spike Lee’s film “The Original Kings of Comedy”, along with Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer, and the late Bernie Mac, for whom he performed a touching eulogy at his funeral. Hard to believe that film was back in 2000.

D.L. wrote, produced, and starred in his eponymously named ABC/UPN show “The Hughleys” from 1996 through 2002, hosted Comic View on BET,and had roles on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Scrubs. He served as the guest moderator on The View for one day, was a correspondent for Jay Leno, and even competed on Dancing With the Stars, dancing with show regular Cheryl Burke!

When I saw him last year he had just come out with a book from Crown Archetype Press called ” I Want You To Shut The Fuck Up: How The Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America”. He has so much to say which is one of the reasons I enjoy talking to him so much.

I always respect intelligence and a point of view, which is also why I’m looking forward to his new radio show debuting later this month on 50 stations nationwide. Radio is a such a great medium to work in because you have time to develop your point of view and have a meaningful discussion. I absolutely LOVE radio and have had lots of experience as a guest on so many shows, so D.L.’s show is one show in particular that I can’t wait to appear on!

Needless to say he killed it at Gotham and I attended two shows cause I didn’t feel that one was enough! Steve Wilson a very funny comic out of LA opened for him, and then D.L. came up and hit it out of the park! ( Funny that I use a baseball reference when I’m not even a sports fan! LOL)

I went down with Evie Liu who’s starring my my new video ” Women Who Massage Fruit” divulging the ancient Chinese art of fruit massage. Many people don’t know that fruit is basically nervous and needs to be calmed down. That’s what she does! I’ll be posting that video very soon on my Comedy Matters TV channel.

Jeffrey and Evie at Gotham Comedy Club to see D.L. Hughley do this thing!

On the Friday night show D.L. wore a bright red jacket that matched the power of his personality and stage presence!

Jeffrey Gurian and D.L. Hughley in a candid shot at Gotham Comedy Club!

So the second night, I wore a jacket that he said outdid his. He was just being kind. The man has style. I came across a photo of us from back in 2009 when he was wearing such a beautiful scarf, that it stuck out in my mind all this time!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with D.L. Hughley at Comix back in 2009. Awesome scarf! A man of style and grace!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love scarves. It just adds that little flair to whatever you’re wearing, and I’ve been wearing them for about 20 years cause once I start to do something I like, I don’t know how to stop!

The second night I was excited to be able to give him a copy of my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with a hilarious introduction by Chris Rock, about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip” written with owner/founder Richie Tienken.

Jeffrey Gurian with D.L. Hughley holding Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh" with a great intro by Chris Rock!

After the second show we went outside to hang with D.L. and Jimmy Cannizzaro, who just happens to be married to Lisa Lampanelli, and since his weightloss surgery looks more and more like a movie star every time I see him. He and D.L. smoked a couple of special cigars, while D.L. alternated in accomodating every single fan who asked him for a photo.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jimmy Cannizzaro, and Evelyn Liu outside of Gotham Comedy Club!

Then owner Chris Mazzilli came out and asked D.L. to host one of the upcoming AXS TV specials, which they do every Thursday night. They’re shooting the second season now and I’m sure they’ll get picked up for a third season. It was just me, D.L. and Chris and it was exciting to hear D.L. both get offered and accept the hosting gig!

Then we went downstairs and just before he had to go back and do his third show of the night, we shot the fun interview you can see right here:

Rita Cosby’s “Quiet Hero”; Bestseller and Masterpiece of Emotion

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

I go to a lot of events. Some stand out more than others. Such was the case with Rita Cosby’s event for her bestselling book “Quiet Hero”, the touching story of her Dad, Ryszard (Richard) Kossobudzki (Cosby), who had been a Polish Resistance Fighter during World War II against The Nazis.

It wasn’t just that he had been a resistance fighter, it was that Rita and her brother and Mom never knew the whole story of his painful background until recent years. It seems that her Dad left the family with no explanation, while she was just a teenager, and she hadn’t seen him for many years.

In the meantime she had grown up to become an award-winning journalist, known internationally for her work and her interviews with celebrities and Heads of State. Needless to say it had always bothered her, as it would any child, to have been estranged from a parent, and when her Mom passed away she was forced to go through her Mom’s personal belongings.

That’s when she discovered a long forgotten, battered old suitcase, that had belonged to her Dad. Upon opening it she made a discovery that would change all of their lives from that day on. The items in that suitcase identified her father as having been a prisoner of war in a Nazi dentention camp known as Stalag IV-B. That explained not only the obvious scars on his body, but the internal scars on his psyche and his spirit.

He had never been the kind of man who opened up. The family knew he had been through hard times, but they had no idea of the extent. Rita used her journalistic skills to track down her Dad to where he was living in Washington,D.C.

She called him up and began to re-establish a relationship with the man she missed so much. In time they traveled back to Poland together to work on this book and a documentary film, and as this progressed the ice around his heart began to melt. It was only there as a form of self-preservation, not because he lacked the capacity to love.

He went back to Poland with Rita, for the first time in 65 years, but he went back as the hero he was, and was welcomed by no less than the President of Poland. Several times during Rita’s presentation, I was moved to tears, as were others around me, thinking of her Dad as a young boy, risking his life to try and save his country, when so many of his friends had been killed by The Nazis.

Three million Polish Jews were killed along with 3 million non-Polish Jews. Growing up, that was a thought that haunted me. That so many people were killed solely for their belief. How could that happen? How could people be that cruel? How could the world just watch, and let that happen? I’ve never been totally comfortable in life since learning of The Holocaust as a child.

Just the thought of what happened haunts me, to know that people are capable of such extreme cruelty. Man’s inhumanity to man! I believe in G-d, but I could certainly understand how The Holocaust could make you question your Faith!

Thank G-d there were heroes like Riszard Kossobudzki who even as a child fought back against evil, and risked his life to save others. What a story.

The well-attended event was held at the Heyman Auditorium which turned out to be in a Synagogue on East 85th Street, where I ran into several people I knew including Dr. Shireen Fernandez and Alex Harris of Society’s Choice. There were also members of our Armed Forces present adding to the power of the evening.

Shu-Lan and Kyoko bonding at the "Quiet hero" event!

Dr. Shireen Fernandez and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

And to make the evening even more special, Rita’s husband Tomascek sang two beautiful patriotic songs, the national anthem and America The Beautiful, which if I remember correctly, he sang directly to the American flag. They both thanked me sincerely for coming but I felt honored to have been there!

Tomasczek performing for the "Quiet Hero" audience!

I had planned to give her a copy of my new book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, so we took a photo together of each of us holding the other’s book!

Award-winning journalist Rita Cosby with Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV each holding the other's book in a show of mutual support! (LOL)

It was an incredibly moving and enlightening evening, and I can’t wait to read her book which is available at all bookstores and on Amazon.com!

HyperSmash

Richard Lewis, (aka “Lon Chaney’s Undertaker”), and Jeffrey Gurian on Nick and Artie

Friday, December 7th, 2012

The logo and opening shot of "Nick and Artie", seen nightly Mon-Fri, 10 P.M. to 1 A.M.on Sirius Radio and DirecTV!

I was really psyched to do the “Nick and Artie” Show and talk about my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock, after Artie invited me to come on one night when he was judging The Lottery Show at The Comic Strip. The book is about the 35 year history of The Strip and is written with Richie Tienken the owner and founder of the club.

The promo for Jeffrey Gurian on the "Nick and Artie Show"!

Then I ran into Artie a few days later when he performed at a memorial show for Patrice O’Neal at Gotham Comedy Club, and he invited me again.

Patrice and I were very close and he honored me my making me his co-host along with Dante Nero, when he hosted The Black Phillip Show on Sirius Radio. We always had fun, and I always made sure to bring lots of hot models with me, cause nothing is more fun than mixing comedy with beautiful girls!

This is a phone call from Patrice that I will always treasure, inviting me to do our own show together! Unfortunately that never came to fruition, and will always be one of the great disappointments of my life!

patrice phone call_1-2

(L-R) Dante Nero, Drew Boogie, Jeffrey Gurian, Carlotta Butler, Patrice Oneal, and in back Kathy and Dawn Leak, AKA "The Leak Sisters!"

So I make my arrangements to come on the show with Liz Canavan of “Twinsanity”, and I went down there with my buddy from L.A. Nathan Oventhal who starred in my film “Men Who Take A Fish To Work”, the newest addition of The “Men Who Series!”

Nathan Oventhal holding a fish with nightlife impresario Wass Stevens on the set of " Men Who Take A Fish To Work"!

Liz greeted us and brought us to the green room, where I see that Richard Lewis is a guest on the show. Richard is not only a dear friend, but he also wrote a blurb that’s on the back cover if “Make ‘Em Laugh” and I hadn’t had the chance yet to give him a copy.

Luckily I had an extra one with me, so I told Liz to tell Richard I was here. Next thing I know I hear someone calling my name, and it was him. I hadn’t seen him since the year before when we did a private Comedy Matters TV interview at The Friars Club, and it was so great to see him again!

Richard Lewis being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Friars Club in NYC!

He said he was really excited about the book, and congratulated me on bringing it to life after four years of work. And the timing was so cool that I had one to sign and to give him. He wrote a hilarious blurb that said:

The hilarious blurb sent to me my my great pal Richard Lewis!

Richard has always been a favorite of mine in many ways. To my detriment I relate so much to his personna!(LOL) Back around 1997 when he was starring in the movie “Drunks”, I got the bright idea that I should be writing for him, although I knew he always writes his own stuff. But it was my dream, like when I got a chance to show my earliest material to Woody Allen, expecting him to leave what he was doing and run off and write films with me! (LOL)

That didn’t happen by the way! This is as close as I got to that!

The night I made Woody Allen laugh by saying, " Hi Woody, I'm a very close friend of yours!" You can see how absolutely hysterical he is in this photo!

I did however make some films he encouraged me to make called “The ‘Men Who’ Series” about men who do very unusual things, like “Men Who Take A Pitchfork To The Movies”, “Men Who Enjoy Latin Dancing With Tools”, and one special one in particular called “Men Who Swim To Work” starring Mike Bochetti, currently the side-kick on Nick and Artie, which airs on both Sirius radio and DirecTV!

Mike Bochetti as he appears today in 2012, with Jeffrey Guiran on the set of "Nick and Artie" where he is a regular!

And if you watch ” Men Who Dance Where They’re Not Supposed To” you’ll see award winning actor Peter Dinklage, star of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” getting arrested for dancing in a “No Dancing” zone!

So I wrote up some material for Richard which I called his “Born To Be Nervous” Tour, and brought it with me to the theatre. For whatever reason I arrived late, and tried to bypass a long line of people waiting to get in, by running down a staircase which turned out to be leading to the Men’s Room! And who comes out walking towards me but Richard himself and he says, “What are you doing here?” To which I responded my handing him a manila envelope filled with neatly typed jokes.

These were some of them: My family are firm believers in the power of negative thinking. They feel you can ruin almost anything, if you really put your mind to it.

Low self esteem goes back in my family to the beginning of time. I actually had an uncle who was supposedly the first man to walk erect. But he couldn’t hold it. He’d take a few steps, and just slump over.

ALTERNATIVE – …. I actually had an uncle who was supposedly the first man to walk erect, but nobody noticed.

My shrink was also treating me for feelings of loneliness. At one point, I was so lonely, I tried to develop a split personality, just for the company.
I once knew a guy from group therapy who had a split personality. He dated a girl who also had a split personality. They used to double date.
He fell in love with her other personality, and she fell in love with his other personality. They got married, accused each other of cheating with themselves, and the marriage fell apart.

Anyway less than an hour after I got home, I got this message from Richard on my answering machine. Another message that I treasure:

Richard Lewis Phone Call

So as I reminisced with Richard about the video we shot at The Friars, Richard commented that it was a great interview but that he thought he looked like Lon Chaney’s undertaker, which we all thought was hysterical! I think he looked great! See what you think! (This is part 1. Part 2 is on the Comedy Matters You Tube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork)

Richard is in town headlining Carolines on Broadway this weekend through Sunday night. If you can still get a seat, go down and see him. It’s always a treat to see Richard perform.

So going on the show with Nick and Artie was exciting and they made me feel right at home. Appearing with two powerhouse comics like that can be intimidating, but they were very generous, and made it easy for me to tell my stories about the history of The Comic Strip and all the huge stars that came out of there, … although I really wanted to have time to do my one of my special GNN news reports which I often do on radio.

GNN (Gurian News Network) are unusual stories missed by mainstream media, like “Man Robs Bank With His Chin”, “College Professor Fired For Casually Removing His Spine in Class”, and “Hunter Lost in Wilderness Saved By His Moustache!”. These are the kind of stories I wrote for the legendary Weekly World News in my own column called “Gurian’s World of the Bizarre!”

There was the story ” Rare Virus Sweeps Japan, Victims Too Weak To Bow” about two men hurt in a bowing accident, and “Man Impaled On Spike, Still Shows Up For Work On Time!”, which is kind of self-explanatory! Hence GNN is known as your source for ” All The News That’s Fit To Dance To!”

Four of the stories, including “Man With Infant’s Head Sues For Discrimination”, and “George Washington Wore Wooden Pants” got made into animated films and wound up in the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

But with Nick and Artie, I got to tell some cool stories from Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock and also got to discuss my days writing for Rodney and some other fun people.

We also talked about the synchronicity of events in life and Artie told me that two days after getting out of rehab, during a quite stressful and confusing time of his life, Nick called and asked him to be his co-host on the show. Talk about synchronicity. I hope Artie knows how much he is loved,by his fans and the public in general.

I’ll never forget the reaction to Artie when he came out onstage one night at Town Hall, I think it was, to a standing ovation before he even said a word. I had never remembered seeing a reaction like that to any comic before. And he gave Mike Bochetti the great opportunity to open for him. That’s the kind of great guy that Artie is. I remember very clearly going backstage to congratulate him. I don’t recall 100% where it was, but it was a huge venue and it was sold out!

So I’m so happy for him that he gets to do this great show five nights a week with his good friend Nick!

Nick DiPaolo on camera on his fantastic "Nick and Artie" show!

Their set is also incredible. It’s like the ultimate man-cave, complete with Foosball, ping-pong, big screen TV’s all over, a photo booth, a full size kitchen and as they pointed out to me, pull out beds. Ohhh, and I forgot to mention two beautiful blonde twins Liz and Marie Canavan known as “Twinsanity”!

Artie Lange onscreen during the broadcast of the Nick and Artie Show, on Sirius and DirecTV, Mon-Fri. from 10 P.M. till 1 A.M.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in a "Twinsanity" sandwich with Liz on the left, and Marie on the right! (If you're facing the screen!)

Part of the great "Nick and Artie" set where guests come to chat!

The photo booth on the set of "Nick and Artie" where I came out looking like Lon Chaney's undertaker!" Only models who are already gorgeous come out good in those photos! (LOL)

It’s a total party, I had a great time, and I really hope they ask me back!

Nick DiPaolo, Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV and Artie Lange on the set of "Nick and Artie" , on Mon-Friday from 10 P.M. until 1 A.M.! Make sure to tune in!

“Make ‘Em Laugh” With An Intro By Chris Rock

Friday, November 30th, 2012

After four years of work, my book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with Richie Tienken, owner/founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip finally came out, and is in bookstores all across the country.

The front cover of "Make 'Em Laugh" with an intro. by Chris Rock, and interviews with Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Billy Crystal, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman and tons more!

It’s about the 35 year history of the club which Richie opened on June 1, 1976, and which is still going strong. I got the idea for it back in 2008 while at the club one afternoon with Ann Curry and Gilbert Gottfried, coaching Ann on how to do stand-up comedy for some event she was doing, and I suggested to Richie that we do a book on the club.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Ann Curry, PR guru Ryan McCormick, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken, owner/founder of The Strip!

It took three years to get all the interviews and transcribe them from the digital audio recordings, because I did it all by myself. Every word. Every single word. It takes a long time to listen to an hour long conversation, which most of them were, if not longer, and transcribe every single word, by constantly pressing “Repeat” and playing each sentence over and over again to make sure you got it correctly.

That first summer, I went up to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and got the first three interviews with Larry Miller, George Wallace and Paul Provenza.

Larry Miller with Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with George Wallace at Just for Laughs in Montreal, the biggest comedy festival in the world!

At the end besides having a killer, hilarious introduction from Chris Rock, I had interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Paul Provenza, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Lisa Lampanelli and many more! A book filled with stories from comedy legends on how they got their start and wound up at The Comic Strip.

Jeffrey Gurian, Jerry Seinfeld and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip after Jerry's interview for the book!

Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Comic Strip after Ray's interview for the book " Make 'Em Laugh!"

Although Gilbert Gottfried claimed he had never actually been there and just showed up to the interview for a free lunch! He did admit to having heard rumours around 1974 that a club would be opening so he stood in that spot for years waiting for it to open, and he heard it did eventually open and had electricity. He also heard that many comics came there for dessert, at which point he started yelling out to no one in particular that he wanted a Peach Melba!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken trying to get Gilbert to admit he had ever performed at The Comic Strip!

This was as Richie Tienken was getting nauseous after having paid $50. to park, and was picking up the tab for lunch, to hear Gilbert say he had never been to the club. Needless to say, the interview was pure Gilbert, and hysterically funny.

I flew to LA to interview Billy Crystal, and that was really a treat. I hadn’t seen him in many years, and we got to reminisce about the days when I was a dentist and his manager at the time, the legendary Jack Rollins, who also managed Woody Allen and Robin Williams, wanted him to play me in a sit-com about a dentist in show biz.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in his offices in Beverly Hills! Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey's former life as a dentist!

Most of the interviews were done at The Comic Strip because Richie and I felt it would be advantageous for the comics to be in that environment because it would help to bring back memories and it did.

We got to hear great stories like how Chris Rock was discovered by Eddie Murphy in 1986 when Eddie was considered the biggest star in the world and was being managed by Richie at the time. Or how Ray Romano started his career under the name “Jackie Roberts” for the first two or three months.

Then he “bombed” one night and experienced stage fright, so he quit and went back to selling futons for his best friend, which became an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond!” Two years later he returned to comedy at The Comic Strip under the name Ray Romano and the rest is history!

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Comic Strip after Chris' interview for the book " Make 'Em Laugh!"

Interestingly enough, he even delivered a futon to Larry David who was already well known and true to character, was not happy with the futon, and made Ray take it back.

We have Jerry Seinfeld’s first sign-up sheet on the night he auditioned to perform at The Strip on June 17th, 1976. In those days you were rated, and Jerry was rated “Good” and then someone wrote, ” Definitely put on Monday, 6/21.” That person was smart!

And blurbs! You wanna see blurbs? I got so many celeb blurbs they almost had to use a separate page. I got blurbs from Judd Apatow the king of Hollywood comedies, Richard Lewis, Charles Grodin, Nick Kroll, (whose new “Kroll Show” comes out on Comedy Central in January with me on it!), Bob Saget, (who was kind enough to write: “No matter how many years pass, I can never say no to Jeff Gurian. Hence this quote on his book’s back cover!”) Plus Tom Papa, Danny Aiello, Mike Birbiglia, DJ Cassidy and more!

Back cover of "Make 'Em Laugh" with blurbs from Judd Apatow, Richard Lewis, Tom Papa. Nick Kroll, Mike Birbiglia, Bob Saget and more!!!

Since the book came out we’ve been getting a lot of attention. Tons of press. A great review from Larry Getlen in the NY Post, an interview on NBC TV, Channel 4, 7 P.M. news with Roseanne Coletti, an interview with WPIX TV, Channel 11 with reporter Dan Mannarino, which will be airing the week of Dec. 10th, radio interviews with Judith Regan, and Ron Bennington of “Ron and Fez” on Sirius Radio, plus radio shows all over the country.

And the book is in the hands of lots of huge comedy stars like Chris Tucker, JB Smoove, Artie Lange, Colin Quinn, and Judah Friedlander to name a few!

Chris Tucker and Jeffrey Gurian up at Sirius Radio with Chris' copy of the book " Make 'Em Laugh"!

Jeffrey Gurian with Artie Lange at The Comic Strip with Artie's copy of the book " Make 'Em Laugh!"

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Richard Belzer at The Friars Club. Jeffrey is holding Richard's book, and Richard is holding his copy of Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh!"

The book is available in all Barnes and Noble stores in NYC, and on Amazon.com

Coming up, I’ll be doing a guest spot on Artie Lange’s new podcast with Nick DePaolo, talking about the book and all things comedy!

The Mark Malkoff’s Bill Murray Show, Ron and Fez, Patrice O’Neal, Curtis Sliwa Connection

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

I woke up to a message that my appearance on the Bill Murray Show with Mark Malkoff, on My Damn Channel was up! That was exciting in itself. It was accompanied by messages that people liked the Blog post I wrote about Rob Barnett’s My Damn Channel and the amazing amount of entertainment they provide.

Mark Malkoff's Bill Murray Show on My Damn Channel!

Up in Montreal, at the very end of July, at the Just for Laughs Festival, (the biggest comedy festival in the world), where I was honored to have been chosen as the official celeb interviewer this year, I shot 40 interviews, some of which are still being edited, as we speak! Two of them were with Rob Barnett and one of his MDC stars, Grace Helbig who does the “Daily Grace” Show and has become an internationally known internet star as a result!

The whole concept behind Mark’s show is that he wants to get Bill Murray to come to his house in Queens to have dinner with he and his wife Christine! It would be like me wanting to have Woody Allen over to my house for dinner. All I’d need to do is find out his favorite food, and then get a wife for myself! It would be too awkward if it were just me and Woody, and on top of that I served something he didn’t like!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his idol and inspiration, Woody Allen!

Mark reveres Bill Murray not only as a comedy icon, but I think also as a unique guy who can be counted on to do the unexpected.

Someone might ask for an autograph, and Bill might say “No” but instead will allow them to film him doing a “slow walk”! I get it! I used to travel around holding an iron, (for no particular reason, except that it’s easier to carry than a large appliance!), and sometimes during a conversation with a stranger, I’d ask them to hold my iron.

When I first started performing my comedy news broadcast, with my beautiful model co-anchor Sonya Gignac, I sat behind an ironing board instead of a desk, and I just noticed the connection as I’m writing this between the iron and the ironing board! Fascinating! They were years apart,that I did those things, and I never even realized it until this moment!

Jeffrey Gurian and his co-anchor Sonya Gignac seated behind an ironing board to do a Monty-Pythonesque news broadcast!

So I did the Bill Murray Show with Mark and it was complete and total fun! Check it out right here!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV and Mark Malkoff of My Damn Channel both holding Jeffrey's book " Make 'Em Laugh"!

At the same time I got the message that I was on The Bill Murray Show, I also got a message that my interview with Ron Bennington of the famous, long-running Ron and Fez Show on Sirius Radio was airing today at 1 P.M. Ron is a real student of comedy, and a student of human psychology. He’s a really smart, and intuitive guy! He interviewed me about my new book with Chris Rock called ” Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, written with owner/founder Richie Tienken!

(L-R) Fez Whatley, Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV holding his new book "Make 'Em Laugh" with Chris Rock, and Ron Bennington up at Sirius XM Radio!

Ron asked me questions with great understanding and insight into the human psyche, and I was so glad he brought up my friendship with the late Patrice O’Neal. Patrice and I had a very special friendship. He had been doing The Black Phillip Show with Dante Nero as his co-host, and when we met and connected on so many levels he honored me by asking me to join them as his third co-host, something that really thrilled me. It was truly one of the great honors of my career to get that respect from Patrice.

Patrice Oneal and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at an event Jeffrey produced at Gotham Comedy Club. Patrice was his featured speaker!

And this afternoon I got a message from his wife Von who happened to be in her car, turned on the radio and heard me being interviewed and speaking about Patrice. She thanked me for the way I described him as a “comedy philosopher” and for way I spoke about him. When I saw Patrice I would always smile, and we hugged each other, and it was real. There was no BS with Patrice. If he didn’t like you, you knew it, but if he did like you, he made it obvious!

(L-R) Jacqueline Beaulieu, Patrice O'Neal, Jeffrey Gurian, and Dante Nero up at Sirius Radio for the Black Phillip Show!

I’m waiting for the MP3 of the show and when I get it I’ll post it so you can hear it for yourselves! I did however also receive an MP3 of my appearance on the Curtis Sliwa radio show that I did last Friday.

Back when I was a dentist, I was the dentist for The Guardian Angels, and Curtis used to come up to my office. We always had the best time, while I was putting him back together, since he was always getting punched in the face, while making our city safe!

Recently I ran into him in the street, at a street fair, and when he heard about my new book he said he wanted me to come on the show one day to talk about it. Well the day after the Vice-Presidential debates when everyone was talking about Joe Biden’s whiter than white teeth, and his inability to control his laugh response, Curtis thought “teeth” and “laughing”, and the only person he thought could put those two things together was me. So we did a fun interview about my book and analyzing the debate, and Joe Biden’s teeth, and it was very cool!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with his old pal Curtis Sliwa, founder of The Guardian Angels!

So today was a special day, … not just for the non-stop press, but for the fact that it feels good to be acknowledged in a positive way, for trying to put positive energy out into The Universe, ’cause that’s what Comedy Matters is about! Putting out positive vibes!

If I see a show I don’t like, or someone’s set that didn’t go particularly well, I don’t write about it. I don’t write that I didn’t like it. I’m not a critic. I have an opinion, and if it’s good I’m willing to share it, but if it’s not, I keep it to myself.

I don’t put negative stuff out there, because I respect what it takes to get out on any stage and try to entertain people. It’s the hardest thing in the world, so I try and give props to the people who deserve it!

I’m out!

Joe De Rosa Takes On A “Friendly” Heckler at Broadway Comedy Club

Saturday, October 13th, 2012
Sometimes in the middle of a set, if a comic doesn’t think the joke they just told got enough of a response they mention it to the audience. Personally, I try and avoid it although I have been known to say, ” Thank you for obeying the “No Laughing” signs!” Joe De Rosa who is always funny and proved that long ago, was doing a bit in the main room of Broadway Comedy the other night about nurses, and about how some of them are not that attentive when you’re in the hospital. He was using his Mom’s recent hospital stay as a reference, and he happened to comment to the audience something along the lines of he felt he was losing them over this nursing material, when one woman in the audience became quite vocal in her response, that she wasn’t feeling the nurse material and said something to the effect, “I’m feeling your pain but you’re not rocking it right now!” Which was a strange remark on many levels. Mostly I wondered where she had learned the term “rocking it”, and I pictured her just waiting for any opportunity to use it. Here was her chance so she yelled it out right in the middle of Joe’s set. Granted he basically asked the audience for their opinion of the nurse material, but not all questions have to be answered. You take a chance when you do that. People mixed with alcohol, can lead to a noisy result, which is what happened here. Joe had also wondered where the concept of “hot nurses” came from, as they are often portrayed mostly in porn films, because the nurses he saw did not quite fit that bill. One of them said to him, ” Anything I can do for your Mom Mr. De Rosa?” And he said, ” Yeh, stay away from her wallet! You got a spider tattoo on your neck and I don’t trust you!” Because Joe has so much stage experience he chose to engage her, and she kept insisting that she was a “friend”, and “fan” of Joe’s, hence the “Friendly Heckler” title, and she said she liked him as a comic but felt the need to stand up for nurses. All this while the show was going on, … or not going on! Joe handled it well, but a lesser comic wouldn’t have been able to. He also said ” The President did badly in the debate because he ran out of lies. Politicians promise you things you like. You like water slides? If I’m elected, everyone will have a water slide!” It can’t be done. They know it but they promise it to you anyway! Joe’s got a new book out called Cheat: A Man’s Guide to Infidelity, from Simon and Schuster, that he wrote with Bill Burr, and Robert Kelly, and the book is a hit! You can get it on Amazon! Leah Bonnema was the host and she’s great at that. I also got to see Jason Salman who I had only seen doing five minute sets on some of my late night shows before that, but this night he did a 20 minute set and got lots of laughs with things like ” In Texas, ( where he’s from), we believe you can kill any animal for food, except a stork, because we consider that an abortion!” And growing up in Texas, he thought vegans and French people were fictional characters from literature! Neko White closed the show. Neko is very funny, and is only 19 years old, which is such a great time to be performing. I’ve performed with him many times and I see great things ahead for him. He’s one of those performers that the audience just loves to laugh at. He brings a strong comedic presence to the stage. He questions some of the things that Black people fought for in the past, for instance not having to sit in the back of the bus. He feels that’s the most comfortable place to sit on the bus, and he’s right! It’s less crowded, and the seats are bigger, but thankfully you won’t find Rosa Parks there! He talked about why he can’t be with “big girls”, cause he’s too thin and his bone density is not what it’s supposed to be. If a big girl layed down on him, he’s afraid his chest would pop like bubble wrap! It was an entertaining show just like always at Broadway Comedy!

“Make ‘Em Laugh” with Chris Rock Finally Hits The Bookstores

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

The Comic Strip opened on June 1st of 1976. It’s an iconic comedy club on the Upper East Side of NYC, that launched the careers of stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Gilbert Gottfried, Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, Lisa Lampanelli, and many more.

Richie Tienken, Chris Rock, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Chris' interview for the book "Make 'Em Laugh" for which Chris also write the hilarious intro!

One day,on June 16th of 2008 I was at The Strip with Ann Curry, Gilbert Gottfried, and PR powerhouse Ryan McCormick of Goldman/McCormick PR, and after looking at all the talent on the walls, I suggested to owner/founder Richie Tienken that we do a book on the history of the club. He came to my house to talk about it, and saw even more photos than HE had in the club (LOL), and decided to trust me to tell his story. That was the long and the short of it.

(L-R) Jeffrey Gurian, Ann Curry, Ryan McCormick, Gilbert Gottfried, and Richie Tienken all trying to figure out why Ann looks so surprised! Maybe she heard it would take four years to do the book, and couldn't believe it!

The front cover of "Make 'Em Laugh" by Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken with an intro. by Chris Rock!

That July, of 2008 I went up to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world, and did my first three digital audio interviews. First was with Larry Miller at his hotel, then George Wallace in a restaurant, and then Paul Provenza at the main hotel where the festival was being held.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Larry Miller at The Strip! Larry was the very first comic interviewed for the book!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with George Wallace at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008. George was the 2nd comic to be interviewed for the book!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Paul Provenza, at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, 2008. Paul was the the 3rd comic to be interviewed for the book!

From that point on, it took the next four years to see this book on a shelf in Barnes and Noble. I was on a quest to get every big star I could, who had come out of The Strip, to be interviewed for the book. And most of them came into the club to do it during the afternoon when we wouldn’t be disturbed. Richie and I would meet them there and sit casually in the showroom while we reminisced about the old days, into my recorder.

Jeffrey Gurian and Richie Tienken at The Comic Strip with Jerry Seinfeld after his interview for the book "Make 'Em Laugh"!

We felt it was helpful to do it in the club, because we thought, and rightly so, that being in the club would help bring back memories, and it did. During Paul Reiser’s interview, he claims to have suddenly remembered for the first time ever, what started the annual New Year’s day brunch that he has attended every year for the last 30 years or more with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller, and Mark Schiff. There was originally a fifth guy named Michael Cain, but unfortunately he passed away many years ago, way before his time.

(L-R) Richie Tienken, Ray Romano, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Comic Strip after Ray's interview for the book, " Make 'Em Laugh"!

So the book has cool stories from Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, who came in with his long-time manager Rory Rosegarten who he had met at The Strip, Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Paul Provenza, Lewis Black, Judah Friedlander, Jeffrey Ross, Tony Rock, Adam Ferrara, and so many more!

I even flew out to LA to interview Billy Crystal which was a very special one to me, since during the middle of the interview he realized he knew me from the legendary Jack Rollins, who managed him, Robin Williams, and Woody Allen, back in the day!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in his Beverly Hills office! Billy is pointing to his teeth referencing Jeffrey's rumored history as a former dentist! (LOL)

I wanted to do all the interviews before looking for an agent and a book deal, because I knew that agents would be skeptical of someone saying they could get this many interviews, with such big stars, and I wanted to be able to walk in with them already done.

After three painstaking years of doing interviews, and transcribing them by hand, my pal media powerhouse Judith Regan, introduced me to her agent at N.S. Bienstock, because she said for a celeb-filled book like this I need a powerful agent, and I spent most of the fourth year editing it down to the length that Skyhorse Publishing wanted it to be.

Media heavyweight Judith Regan and Jeffrey Gurian holding the book that she made possible, "Make 'Em Laugh"!

I started with about 500 pages, and had to whittle it down to about 250 pages. I have all the stories digitally recorded on a disk, so our next project will probably be a CD of the stories that didn’t make it into the book!

Then I had to get blurbs for the book’s back cover, so I went to some of my famous friends and contacts and asked them to read the galleys and to provide meaningful blurbs and I got amazing stuff from ten people; Barry Katz, co-creator of Last Comic Standing, Judd Apatow, the king of Hollywood comedies, Richard Lewis, Mike Birbiglia, Charles Grodin, Elayne Boosler the first woman ever to have a cable TV special, Danny Aiello, Michael Imperioli, Nick Kroll star of the upcoming The Kroll Show, on Comedy Central, Tom Papa, and even DJ Cassidy, the world famous DJ who is also the DJ for Russell Simmons’ show “The Ruckus” hosted by JB Smoove!

The back cover of "Make 'Em Laugh" with blurbs from Barry Katz, Richard Lewis, Mike Birbiglia, Charles Grodin, Elayne Boosler, Danny Aiello, Michael Imperioli, Nick Kroll, Tom Papa, Bob Saget, and DJ Cassidy!

Speaking of JB Smoove, this summer in Montreal, I was the official celeb interviewer and shot 40 interviews with stars like Chelsea Handler,Bob Saget, Joel McHale, JB Smoove, Marc Maron, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Adam Carolla, and Howie Mandel, …

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Chelsea Handler at Just for Laughs in Montreal!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bob Saget backstage at Bob's gala at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal!

… and one night I got Jay Pharoah from SNL reading Chris Rock’s intro from my book, in Chris Rock’s voice, to entertain JB Smoove and a bunch of comedy execs that were hanging out in the lobby! That you must see, and it’s right here:

So as of Monday, 10/1/12 the book is in Barnes and Noble and is available on their site and on Amazon.com All the stars in the book are helping to get the word out and even stars not in the book like Dave Chappelle are posing with the book!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Colin Quinn holding "Make 'Em Laugh", which Colin is in!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Judah Friedlander holding a copy of "Make 'Em Laugh" which he is in!

Dave Chappelle chillin' at the bar at The Comic Strip reading "Make 'Em Laugh" about the 35 year history of the club!

I hope you’ll all read it, enjoy it, and leave a positive comment somewhere where other people will see it! (LOLOL)

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