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Jimmy “J.J.” Walker at Broadway Comedy Club

Friday, May 1st, 2015

If you were around in the 70’s, 1973-1979 to be exact, then you were aware of Jimmy “J.J.” Walker who played J.J. Evans in the Norman Lear, CBS hit “Good Times”, with Esther Rolle who played JJ’s mom Florida Evans, and John Amos who played his dad Michael Evans.

Interestingly enough, Good Times was a spin-off of Maude, which was itself a spin-off of All in the Family along with The Jeffersons. And it was co-created by Mike Evans, who portrayed Lionel Jefferson on the Norman Lear-produced series All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

JImmy “J.J” Walker onstage at Broadway Comedy Club without a floppy hat, but making one of his signature faces!

At the time that JJ was on the show he played so much younger than he actually was that John Amos who played his Dad was only 8 years older than him!

JJ’s signature phrase was “Dyn-O-Mite!” which follows him to this day. And in my interview with him recently at Broadway Comedy Club where he showed up with his agent and my old friend Roger Paul, he said he was grateful for that tag, “Dyn-O-Mite”! Very few performers have something that sticks for so long. Like Rodney Dangerfield will always be associated with the phrase “No Respect.” In comedy having an identity like that is magical!

The main room downstairs was packed, wall to wall, and JJ went up on stage and knocked it out of the park. He talked about the economy being so bad that when you rent an apartment they want the first month’s rent and the last month’s rent. JJ was like, ” I wasn’t even here last month! Why do I gotta pay that guy’s rent?”

Jimmy “J.J.” Walker killing it onstage at Broadway Comedy Club! The audience loved him!

In talking about doing drug testing of post office employees, he said, “The one drug you won’t find is speed!”

And in talking about crime, he told of a 21 year old man who tried to rob a Toys ‘R Us with a toy gun. He was shot by a 5 year old with a real gun!

And he said, ” As crowded as jails are these days, they always seem to have room for Black people!”

He was just filled with funny lines. He said that Kim Kardashian is like Kryptonite for Black men, and that they tried to do a Real Housewives of San Francisco, but they couldn’t find any.

He even acted out scenes from a fictional Maury Povich show where the Black characters were named what sounded to me like Aquaneshia and Tyquarius, and he called “Cops” a Black reality show with a three tattoo minimum and a 4 tooth maximum.

I was so glad to see him being so funny after all these years. And he was so kind to his audience. He stayed afterwards to greet people who wanted to take photos and buy his merchandise.

Jimmy “J.J.” Walker and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV at Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club!

It just goes to show you that being funny is like riding a bike. You never lose it, and if you fall off the end of the stage you get right back up and start telling jokes again!

Check out the cool video interview we did after the show!

The post Jimmy "J.J." Walker at Broadway Comedy Club appeared first on Jeffrey Gurian.

Amy Poehler, Nick Kroll, Michael Cera, Sarah Silverman and more at JFL Comedy Awards Show

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Out of all the amazing shows and panels at this year’s 31st annual Just for Laughs Festival, I think the most exciting event was the JFL Awards Show.

The Awards Show poster showing recipients Amy Poehler, Edgar Wright, Mitch Hurwitz, Nick Kroll, Michael Cera, and Mark Lonow and Budd Friedman.

The line-up of talent was fantastic. And I would be remiss for not thanking certain people who made my attendance at this year’s festival even more meaningful than ever, so special thanks to Paul Ronca the Director of the Comedy Pro-Conference, Zoe Friedman the Artistic Director of The Awards Show, Olivia Benaroche the Industry Coordinator and my Guardian Angel, and Emily Shore my other Guardian Angel borrowed from Andy Nulman, Pres. of JFL. Thank you all sincerely!

So the Award Show was spectacular. Amy Poehler received the Comedy Person of the Year Award, presented to her by Seth Meyers. This is the really fun interview I did with Amy, and Seth Meyers’ will be coming along soon!

Nick Kroll received the Breakout Comedy Star of the Year Award and it was presented to him by his old friend John Mulaney, which was a very meaningful experience for both of them, since they’re so close, and go back so far!

Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in their personnaes as George St. Geegland (L) and Gil Faison!

Nick Kroll as Bobby Bottleservice.

Nick Kroll as Dr. Armond, eminent canine plastic surgeon!

In a later interview alone with Nick, outside of the Variety party for the Top 10 Comics To Watch, he said something to the effect that John was a funny “new face” with a lot of potential, as if he was a newcomer! Then he busted out laughing! You’ll see it in the video when it’s finished being edited.

The hilarious Michael Cera, who takes nerdiness to new heights in most of his Judd Apatow helmed films and who is back on TV in the resurrected Arrested Development now on Netflix, won an award for Best Comedic Short Film for his 16 minute short, Brazzaville Teen-Ager. It was presented to him by Sarah Silverman who did something so funny on the red carpet.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the red carpet of the JFL Awards with winner of Best Short Comedy Film, Michael Cera!

I was positioned at the end of the red carpet where I often prefer to be so that people have time to talk to me and no one else is waiting. That works except when the event is running behind and the PR people rush the celebs along. But in this case it worked out fine.

I was in the middle of interviewing Michael Cera, and discussing our mutual friendship with the wild and wooly Kenny Hotz, when Michael asked if Kenny was what he was smelling.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV interviewing Michael Cera on the red carpet discussing their mutual friend Kenny Hotz!

A few seconds later with no pre-planning, strictly by coincidence, Nick Kroll came over and started sniffing Michael. Nick asked him if he uses fabric softener because he told him he smelled great.

Nick Kroll sniffing Michael Cera and telling him he smelled great!

Michael left and I continued interviewing Nick, when right in the middle, one of my all time favorites, the incredibly talented and beautiful Sarah Silverman jumped in and said she had skipped all the other press people to come and talk to me. Sarah has the most amazing smile!

Sarah Silverman joins Nick Kroll in an interview by Jeffrey Gurian for Comedy Matters TV!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Sarah Silverman at the JFL Comedy Awards!

Then she and Nick double-teamed me, and wound up interviewing me, and evaluating my outfit! It was very funny because Sarah was wearing such an unusual outfit, like a hoodie on top with a T-shirt, and a very hot lingerie looking combo from the waist down, with boots!

Sarah Silverman and Nick Kroll evaluating the outfit worn by Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the red carpet of the JFL Comedy Awards!

Sarah Silverman presenting the award to Michael Cera in her sexy thigh highs and boots, topped off with a T-shirt and hoodie!

It was hysterical and you can see it right here!

I shot 32 interviews over the four days I was up there with people like Amy Poehler, Seth Myers, Judah Friedlander, Paul Provenza, Colin Quinn, Bo Burnham, about 26 more, and we’ll be rolling them out as they’re done, so keep your eyes on my Comedy Matters TV You Tube channel at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork, and PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!

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

Letterman Auditions At The Comic Strip

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

With Eddie Brill no longer booking Letterman, it’s now being done by group decision. Alex, Ryan, and Kelly from the Letterman show recently came down to The Strip to watch a showcase that included a great line-up of comics. I’m leaving out their last names to protect their anonymity! (LOL)

Ryan, Alex and Kelly, the three bookers from Letterman at The Comic Strip!

The MC was Dean Obeidallah, always a favorite and a great MC. Jon Fisch warmed up the crowd as only he can do, and then the procession of ten minute sets started. Every comic did well. First was Mike Burton who opens his eyes so wide, he looked like the photo of my National Lampoon article entitled, “Man Displays Uncanny Ability to Lift Heavy Objects With His Eye.”

Dean Obeidallah, MC'ing the Letterman auditions at The Comic Strip!

Mike Burton attempting to open his eyes to their maximum capacity for the enjoyment of the crowd!

LeighAnn Lord said flying used to be like a date. You got dinner and a movie. Now it’s more like a one night stand. You slink away with your shoes in your hand, all humiliated, thinking I gotta stop doing this!”

LeighAnn Lord making people laugh, onstage at The Comic Strip!

Ross Bennett ends by asking the audience if they mind if he does a joke he used to do in his act and when they agree he says, ” How about that whole Watergate thing?” They love it and so did the Letterman people!

Ross Bennett with a very topical joke on Watergate onstage at The Comic Strip!

Teddy Smith said his mom never had any money even though she worked all day every day. He thought she was a slave! Which is a funny line even if you didn’t know that Teddy was black!

Teddy Smith wearing his gang colors onstage at The Comic Strip! (LOL) I'm guessing Bloods!

Colin Jost a writer from SNL did a really strong set and was also a favorite of the Letterman folk, and they plan to come back to see Brian Scott McFadden again as well as Mike Vecchione.

Colin Jost from SNL showing proper mic technique to the Letterman people at The Strip!

The Strip’s own Joe Machi did Fallon last night for the first time and totally killed it! Look out for Joe! He’s very unique and he’s going to do big things!

Letterman Auditions at Broadway Comedy

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

I went to check out the Letterman auditions at Broadway Comedy Club, and was very impressed by the level of the show. First of all the club is literally around the corner from the theatre where the Letterman Show is shot, so whoever gets picked can go right over, (although that’s not how it works! LOL)

Myq Kaplan hosting the Letterman auditions at Broadway Comedy Club!

Every person on the show could easily be seen on Letterman. Myq Kaplan was hosting and he’s always great!

When I came in, Kurt Braunholer was already on stage doing his thing. I hadn’t seen Kurt since we shared a shuttle from the airport in Montreal to our hotel at last year’s Just For Laughs Festival! if Kurt wasn’t such a nice guy, his name could be kind of scary! (LOL) Kurt Braunholer sounds like he could be one of the “elite guards” on the other side in World War 2! (LOL)

Kurt Braunholer on stage at Broadway Comedy Club!


Kurt does a lot of work with Kristen Schaal, another favorite of mine! They are very close friends!

Kurt Braunholer and Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV in Montreal at the Just For Laughs Festival!

As Kurt was finishing his set, I suddenly felt hungry so I went over to who I thought was a waitress and asked her for a menu, to which she replied, “JEFFREY!!!” And it was only then that I realized that the waitress was actually comic Liz Miele who was waiting to go on next. She was all dressed in black and was standing near where the servers stand, and in the dark I thought she was a waitress. We both thought it was funny, and she said I was the third person who asked her for food!

Liz says she often runs for exercise and while she’s running she fantasizes. On her last run she won four Grammys!

Liz Miele, not a waitress, even a little bit, ...but all dressed in black, onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

Lenny Marcus was on next and he never fails to kill! Lenny is just so funny in his calm, laid back manner. He tells the audience he knows that he looks like he’s there to fix someone’s printer.

Commenting on the use of the word “dude”, Lenny’s like “I’m no genius, but nothing intelligent has ever come after the word “Dude.” No one ever said, “Dude,scalpel!”

Comic/printer repairman Lenny Marcus onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

I like when Lenny talks about how hot his apartment is. One day his girlfriend came in complaining of how she couldn’t take the heat anymore, and that it was just too much for her. It was then that Lenny realized he didn’t have a girlfriend. It was so hot he was hallucinating!

I hadn’t seen Adrienne Iapalucci for a while, maybe since she auditioned for Montreal, or was it Last Comic Standing? I’ll have to ask Wayne Rada about that! Adrienne said she ran into an old friend she hadn’t seen in many years who told her she now had 3 kids and asked Adrienne what SHE had been up to. Adrienne shared that she’d gone through a whole tube of Chapstick!

Adrienne Iapalucci entertaining the crowd at Broadway Comedy Club!

Carmen Lynch is another favorite of mine. She’s 6 feet tall and complained that she moved in with two people who are 5’1″ and she can’t hear anything they’re saying!

A tall, young, and very much alive Carmen Lynch onstage at Broadway Comedy Club!

She also said she doesn’t expect to live too long cause you never see tall old ladies! That’s very funny! ( And hopefully not true! LOL)

Then I re-united with my old buddy Mike Sommerville who I really hadn’t crossed paths with in a while. He claims his grandmother is a bad drinker. She drank a whole bottle of gin and told him he looked familiar.

Mike Sommerville making people laugh at Broadway Comedy Club!


His best friend just got married and things just aren’t the same. Now his sheets match his curtains. In Mike’s place, his sheets ARE his curtains! That made me laugh out loud!

He waits as long as he can to do the laundry. Based on what’s in his closet now, he can either go swimming, or graduate from high school! How can you not love sitting in a comedy show with lines like that?

All in all, another great night at Broadway Comedy Club!

Mike Wallace Gone at 93

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I was shocked to see in the NY Post that Mike Wallace had passed away. I really thought he’d go on forever. The last time I saw him in person was in 2004 when he featured me in an episode of “60 Minutes” focussed on mentalist Marc Salem called ” How Did He Do That?”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with the late Mike Wallace at The Lyceum Theatre for a "60 Minutes" special on Marc Salem, in 2004!

At the time Mike was 86, and I marveled at how good he looked. As you can see in the photo, he was tan and fit and really sharp, and I thought he looked like he was in his 60′s.

Marc Salem is a “mentalist” who had a show called “Mind Games” that is really beyond description, and Mike Wallace was determined to find out if he was on the level. I was in the audience to observe and had been invited by some PR person, who was involved with the show.

I was with a beautiful model named Sonya Gignac, and we both unexpectedly became the focus of the show. I even wound up in the video promo, which aired leading up to the show, and people from all over the country were calling and asking me why I was going to be on “60 Minutes”

I was in the audience as a journalist, to cover the show for my Comedy Matters blog, and Mike and I had known each other casually from The Friars Club.

Marc Salem does a thing where he stops his pulse, and Mike wanted a medical doctor to verify it. He asked the audience ” Is there a doctor in the house”, and no one responded. How rare is that? Literally not one doctor on the house! Obviously not a Jewish crowd! (LOL)

Then he said, ” There’s no one here with medical experience?”, and to save the day I was forced to “out” myself as a doctor, and was called up on stage. Mike was surprised to learn of my other life, since he knew me from the entertainment business. He greeted me warmly, and in between shots he grilled me as to what I thought was going on.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with mentalist Marc Salem who was the focus of a segment on "60 Minutes".

I wound up assisting with a few different amazing things that Salem did, at one point sealing coins over his eyes with a bandana, and taking random objects from audience members that he identified, down to reading the driver’s license number off of someone’s out of state license, just by passing his hand over it. Truly incredible!

But it was when Salem claimed to have stopped his pulse that I really came in handy. I had been taking people’s pulses for years, … and had quite a collection of them at home! (LOL) But seriously, I was used to taking people’s pulses, so when I took his and suddenly it stopped, Mike asked me what I felt, and I told the audience that Salem had just passed away! It got big laughs.

Now unfortunately Mike Wallace has passed away, and no one’s laughing. He will be missed, and I’m so glad I knew him! R.I.P. Mike!

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