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Colin Quinn

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.

Jimmy Fallon Up For An Emmy

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

The exciting news just came out that Jimmy Fallon is up for an Emmy. While exciting, it comes as no surprise because it’s so well deserved. That’s why he was chosen to replace Jay Leno.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV backstage with Jimmy Fallon at Gotham Comedy Club!

He’s perfect to be next in line for the late night throne. I see him more in the vein of Johnny Carson. And not just because his suits fit so well. It’s the confidence with which he carries himself.

I also don’t know of any other talk show host who is as multi-talented as Jimmy. In Part 1 of the two part video interview I did with him, he claims the only thing he doesn’t do is dance, which is belied by his recent dance-off with Sam Rockwell, where he played a game of improv dancing and totally held his own, against the talented, footloose Rockwell.

Jimmy, by the way is in great shape. He’s really strong and I know cause he picked me up recently! Not that I’m that heavy, but I felt his arms while trying to get him to put me down! (LOL) He was just excited to see me, and decided to pick me up. It’s not something I encourage people to do! It feels weird being a man and being held in the air! (LOL) At least he didn’t hold me like a baby!

A few nights later he also danced with Nick Cannon who’s no slouch in the dance department either, by the way! He didn’t pick him up, but he did dance next to him!

Nick Cannon and Jimmy Fallon busting a move on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon!

It was so funny because earlier that same evening, Nick was spinning at a pre-All Star party honoring Darryl Strawberry thrown by Junebug at a cool place called Slate in midtown Manhattan.

I went down there to see Nick cause I hadn’t seen him in a while, kind of hoping to shoot a little video with him, even though I knew that he’d probably be stuck behind the decks. In the VIP room I happened to run into my old buddy Tony Orlando who was also there with Darryl Strawberry for the All Star party and was attending the game the next day, and Tony and I shot this little interview while I was waiting for Nick to come offstage.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with pal Nick Cannon at Nick's comedy show!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with old pal Tony Orlando at the pre-All Star party at Slate!

Nick was so into spinning that all I could do was shake hands with him, but wasn’t able to tell him I wanted to shoot something when he was done. It was too noisy and tumultuous plus he had his headphones on. I happened to be in the street when he came out and was able to give him a copy of my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” with a great intro by Chris Rock, and Nick was so happy to get it that we shot this little video promo in his car before he drove away.

Then I ran home to download the video, turned on my TV to watch Jimmy and heard him announce that Nick Cannon was his guest! I guess he ran right from the party right over to Jimmy’s studio.

Nick Cannon and Jimmy Fallon having a ball on Late Night!

Fallon’s guests run the gamut from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who did an amazing appearance recently, and who will probably be running for President in 2016, to ex-Governor Elliot Spitzer, who was on last night, to stars like Ryan Reynolds, Colin Quinn and Bob Saget who was also on recently promoting his new killer DVD/CD called “That’s What I’m Talkin’ About.”

Bob Saget and Jimmy Fallon discussing Bob's new DVD "That's What I'm Talking About!"

Bob chose Seattle to shoot that special and in a quote from the CD cover writes, ” And there’s a lovely old school hotel behind the theater with what looked like old school prostitutes, and people on leave from The Ukraine that we got to watch on the loading dock as we went through the production of this show.” Then he says after they finished “my friends Tim, Michael and I went to the Palace Kitchen Restaurant”, Tim being Tim Sarkes his long time manager, and Michael being Michael O’Brien his long time publicist and long time friend of mine!

Close up of Bob Saget's new DVD/CD "That's What I'm Talkin' About!"

Bob is the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet and on the back of my new book with Chris Rock called ” Make ‘Em Laugh” his blurb said “No matter how many years pass I can never say no to Jeff Gurian. Hence this quote on his book’s back cover!”

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bob Saget and Jeffrey's book with Chris Rock, whose back cover has a blurb from Bob!

Within a few nights Jimmy also had on Colin Quinn, and Ryan Reynolds. Colin came on to talk about his new one man show called “Unconstitutional” which I’m hoping to see when I go up to Montreal this week for the Just for Laughs Festival, the biggest comedy festival in the world. Colin will be performing his show there a few times during the festival.

Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey Gurian's book " Make 'Em Laugh" which he just happens to be in!

Ryan Reynolds came on for a water fight with Jimmy. They absolutely soaked each other, and looked like they were having the best time ever! That’s the cool thing about Jimmy, he’s all in. Not only does he participate, but he does so so willingly that you just know he’s having a blast. I don’t know if he comes up with these ideas or if his head writer A.D. Miles does, or maybe they collaborate, but they must be very in synch cause the show’s a winner night after night!

A soaking wet Jimmy Fallon dumping a glass of water in Ryan Reynolds' lap!

Needless to say, no one will be surprised when Jimmmy wins an Emmy, because every once The Universe comes together, and the right thing happens. Watch him every night on NBC at 12:30, until February when he switches to the 11:30 slot!

Come to Papa at The Village Underground

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Making a purposeful effort to make a home for myself at The Comedy Cellar, the legendary club owned by Noam Dworman and frequented by every major comedy star who hits New York, I went down on a Tuesday to catch their weekly podcast, “Live From The Table”, which this week featured the always hysterical Kurt Metzger and Dan Naturman. I was a guest a few weeks ago and had a blast!

The welcoming sign of "The Comedy Cellar" on MacDougal Street in NYC!

The logo from "Live From The Table" the weekly Comedy Cellar podcast!

Sitting at the bar chatting with Marina Franklin, we were soon joined by Tom (The Marriage Ref) Papa who invited me to stop by his monthly Sirius XM radio show which started right after the podcast at the Comedy Cellar’s other space, The Village Underground, conveniently located literally right around the corner.

"Come to Papa" poster at The Village Underground for Tom's Sirius XM radio show!

Sexy fairy Marina Franklin onstage at The Village Underground for Tom Papa's "Come to Papa" on Sirius XM radio!

What a beautiful space! A really nicely appointed room with lots of tables, dim lighting, big screen TV’s to be able to see well from all over the room, and for the last month or so, comedy as well. Tom hosts a show appropriately called “Come To Papa” which is kind of a throwback to something I had never really seen but only heard of, “scripted radio.” Before TV was invented in this country and even afterwards when people started to buy them thanks to Mr. Television himself, the legendary Milton Berle, most people listened to scripted radio shows for entertainment.

Tom Papa on one of the big screen viewers at The Village Underground, making it easy for everyone to see the show!

It’s hard to believe there was actually a time before TV, but when Milton Berle had his Texaco Star Theatre, people would gather in the streets to watch TV through the store windows of appliance stores selling TV’s, and thanks to the popularity of his show, so many TV’s were sold that that’s how he got the nick-name “Mr. Television.”

I had the honor of being sponsored in The Friars Club by Milton Berle who I also had the honor of writing jokes for, and who I considered a friend.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in LA, with his friend and sponsor in The Friars Club, the legendary Milton Berle, circa 1984!

Before TV, in the 1930′s and 40′s, families would huddle around the radio to hear their favorite shows, and their favorite comedians like Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn.

They also got to hear shows like Abbott and Costello, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, and Our Miss Brooks, which I know went on to become a TV show in the 1950′s.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with comedy icon George Burns, Catskill Mountains, circa 1983!

Radio comedy ran the gamut from small town humor like that of Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the weekly “gag shows” like Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One and Can You Top This?, panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes.

So Tom Papa had a rich history to compete with and from what I saw he’s doing it well. He was joined by comics Cynthia Koury, who doubled as the MC, Dan Soder, the same Kurt Metzger from the “Live at the Table” podcast, Rick Crom who used his deep resonant voice as the announcer, and I stayed long enough to see a mix of stand-up, and written sketches where the comics read from scripts, before I had to run and cover my next event.

Comic Cynthia Koury holding it down on the stage of The Village Underground on "Come to Papa!"

(L-R) Kurt Metzger, Dan Soder, Rick Crom, and Tom Papa onstage at The Village Underground!

The event was produced by Aaron Hodges from Sirius XM radio who was kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my performance on Kroll Show in Too Much Tuna with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV playing himself on the set of Kroll Show with Nick Kroll, and John Mulaney as the "Oh, Hello" boys. After shooting the sketch "Too Much Tuna!"

The reaction of the audience and the strength of the performances I saw makes me want to attend regularly, and I can’t wait for the next one when I can stay for the entire show! Even better, Noam himself invited me back!






The Comedy Cellar’s Live From The Table

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

I had a really great experience as a guest on the Comedy Cellar podcast called “Live From The Table.” Noam Dworman the owner of The Cellar is such a kind and hospitable guy, and I’ll tell you why I say so!

The inviting look of the outside of The Comedy Cellar! Makes you wanna go in and have some laughs!

First let me tell you about The Cellar. It’s a magical place where every single big star likes to hang out and perform. On any given night you’ll see Louis CK, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Attell, Jim Gaffigan, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, and anyone who happens to be in town from LA hanging out there or getting up to do a set. It’s not that the 150 seat room is so overpoweringly beautiful, because it literally is in a cellar, but I think it’s kind of an energy thing.

Rooms take on the energy of the people who own them and hang out in them, and I think it’s the positive energy that pervades the place that draws the big names. That and the Olive Tree Cafe that’s part of it with the VIP table in the back!

The VIP table in the back of the Olive Tree Cafe where all the stars hang out while waiting to go on! Here it's set up for the weekly podcast on Tuesday nights!

The club at 117 MacDougal Street, was originally owned by Noam’s Dad, the beloved Manny Dworman, who opened it in 1980 as Cafe Feenjon, a coffeehouse that was a serious hang for musicians. I remember seeing that name as a kid hanging out in The Village. It always stood out to me because “Feenjon” was such an unusual name.

Manny was not only a nightclub owner, but also a talented musician who appeared as himself in the Seinfeld documentary film “Comedian” in 2002. The Cellar was renowned for its postperformance roundtable discussions with comedians in the audience about political issues, and it was these very exchanges that were the inspiration for ”Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn” on Comedy Central.

When Manny left us in 2004, Noam took over the helm of the club! And he hosts the Comedy Cellar podcast called “Live From The Table” which is done from the VIP table in the back of the club where the comics who are performing in that night’s show can be found along with the comics that just come to schmooze or hang out with their friends.

Noam had me on as a guest and made me comfortable right away. I got there early as I always do so I can just chill and be ready to go on the air. I had a bite to eat and even got to meet his beautiful little daughter Mila!

Noam Dworman, owner of The Comedy Cellar, holding his 15 month old daughter Mila, with comedy writer/comic Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

One of the things we were going to talk about was my book called “Make ‘Em Laugh” which is about the 35 year history of The Comic Strip, the comedy club on 81st and 2nd. Chris Rock wrote an amazing introduction to the book and I interviewed comics that started out there like Seinfeld, Chris, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Billy Crystal, and several that frequent The Cellar like Ray Romano, Jim Gaffigan, Jim Breuer, Judah Friedlander, and Colin Quinn who was a bartender at The Strip until he quit to start performing stand-up.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with old friend Colin Quinn holding Jeffrey's book " Make 'Em Laugh" which he is in!

I was on the podcast with Jim Norton who I had just interviewed a few days before for my Comedy Matters TV channel, when he hosted the last show of the first season of AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live at the Gotham Comedy Club.

Promo for the Comedy Cellar podcast announcing Jeffrey Gurian as a guest, and coincidentally it's #54 which is Jeffrey Gurian's lucky number! He even lives on 54th Street and graduated #54 in his class!

This was Jim’s fun interview:

Then it was also Lynne Koplitz who I love, and she had also just been on that same show with Norton, and then it was Dan Naturman who I know for many years and have always enjoyed his comedy.

Noam Dworman, Lynne Koplitz, and Dan Naturman on "Live From The Table" at The Comedy Cellar!

Noam was such a gentleman to have me on to talk about another comedy club, but I liken that to a beautiful woman who’s secure enough in herself to acknowledge the beauty of another woman without feeling threatened. Noam has nothing to be threatened about. He is the owner of a truly legendary venue that the biggest stars in the business call “home” today.

Not only did he help promote my book but he himself was kind enough to buy a copy and said on the air that he really enjoyed it. That’s not a just a gentleman, it’s the definition of a “Mensch” a word you may not find in your dictionary, … unless your dictionary was printed in Tel Aviv! (LOL)

Noam began by trying to give me a compliment by telling people that they should read about me, because I had an interesting background and an interesting look, and that I looked like a star, but Dan Naturman couldn’t bear to let him finish. He couldn’t wait to interrupt with an attempt to sabotage the compliment by yelling out “No, he looks more like a 70′s style producer” or something to that effect, but I stopped him in mid sentence.

I said, ” Why do you say “No’? Why can’t you let Noam finish saying something nice about me? Why do you have to jump in and try and say something negative?” Noam immediately agreed and stated that Dan was known for being negative, and Dan backpedaled by saying that what he meant to say was that I looked like a successful producer or someone who worked behind the scenes.

That led us into a discussion of “cock-blocking”, which that was a form of, where people try and block someone else from succeeding in some way. For whatever reason they can’t bear for someone else to receive something good. It kind of became the theme of the show, as you’ll see on the promo!

Now Dan is always a nice, mild-mannered kind of guy, and I don’t even think he realized he was doing that. It’s probably just second nature for him as it is for many comics.

Guys grow up being used to cutting each other down. It’s not necessary. Every meeting doesn’t have to be a rite of passage. Guys can support each other. For a lot of comics every casual meeting turns into a Roast. It’s why a lot of guys are not comfortable hanging out with other guys. Patrice O’Neal was supposedly famous for putting other comics in their place, or making remarks about them, but he never did it to me. It’s basically high school behavior!

Patrice and I had a closer relationship, and we really “got” each other. I would go so far as to say we had mad respect for each other.

(L-R) My special girl Jacqui B., Patrice O'Neal, Jeffrey Gurian, and Dante Nero at The Black Phillip Show!

Many people still don’t know that I was his co-host on The Black Phillip Show on Sirius, along with his original co-host Dante Nero. And if he hadn’t left us when he did, so prematurely, we would have probably had our own show together. Listen to a phone call he left me one night after we did our first show together. It’s something I treasure:

Patrice-Our Own Show

Anyway, I stayed on the podcast for the whole hour and when it was over, Noam invited me back, not only to the podcast but to hang in the club more often which I totally intend to do. It’s a rare magical place and he’s a rare magical guy! I can’t wait to go back! Here’s the link to the podcast:

http://www.riotcast.com/thecomedycellar/

Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn Team Up at MSG to Fight Diabetes

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Comedy is a great way to call attention to a cause and to raise money for charity, and needless to say the bigger the comedy star the more money you can raise. This Wednesday, April 17th two of the biggest, most well-loved stars of comedy, Jerry Seinfeld and his close friend Colin Quinn, will be performing in a comedy concert, as part of the Stand Up For A Cure Concert Series, to benefit the American Diabetes Association.

Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn will be at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden this Wed. 4/17/13! Come out to support a great cause!

It’s a wonderful thing when stars use their celebrity to give back to society. It’s a sign of their gratitude for the success they have achieved.

Stand Up for a Cure Concert Series was launched in 2007 with a Seinfeld-starring show at Hammerstein Ballroom to benefit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Since that time, they have produced shows with Dave Matthews Band at MSG, Bon Jovi at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Barry Manilow at the Nassau Coliseum, Brian Wilson at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and another Seinfeld show at MSG in 2008.

This will be Jerry Seinfeld’s third show for Stand Up For A Cure, and I’m sure he gets a lot of pleasure out of knowing how many people are helped through his kindness.

Jerry Seinfeld will star in a Stand-Up For A Cure comedy concert to benefit the American Diabetes Association!

The event will take place on Wednesday, April 17 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden (Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street). Jerry had his choice of charities to benefit from his performance and he personally selected the American Diabetes Association as his charity of choice for this year’s fundraiser. I will be covering this event and I hope to be able to ask him why.

I personally have a strong connection to Diabetes as I lost my Dad to that dreaded disease. Many people have no idea how devastating Diabetes can be. My Dad looked like a cancer victim before it took him. It affected every part of his body except his eyesight, which was a Blessing in itself. It’s a wasting disease, where in the end your kidneys can shut down due to end stage renal disease.

My oldest daughter Elizabeth DeRobertis is the head of the nutrition department at a medical group in Scarsdale, and specializes in treating Diabetes and I myself produced a sold-out comedy event to raise money for the ADA at The Comic Strip, on 81st and 2nd in NYC.

Both Jerry and Colin were kind enough to give me interviews for my new book “Make ‘Em Laugh” about the 35 year history of The Comic Strip the legendary comedy club where both of them started out and called “home”. I wrote it with owner/founder Richie Tienken, and Chris Rock who also started out there wrote an amazing introduction to the book, besides giving his own interview.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Jerry Seinfeld at The Comic Strip after Jerry's interview for Jeffrey's book "Make 'Em Laugh" about the 35 year history of the club where Jerry started out!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Colin Quinn holding a copy of "Make 'Em Laugh" the book he is in, about the 35 year history of The Comic Strip where he started his career!

A portion of the proceeds from the event will go towards funding research, education, programs and advocacy for the American Diabetes Association.

Right now there are over two million people living in the New York metropolitan area who have diabetes and that number continues to grow. If this trend continues, one in three children who were born after 2000 will develop diabetes within their lifetime. For minorities, this number becomes one in two.

The American Diabetes Association of Greater New York is working hard to stop this, by focusing many of its programs in New York on prevention. To do this, the association provides health fairs, school walks, healthy living ideas and food choice options/exercise materials to public schools and community organizations.

To learn more about how the American Diabetes Association works with the community, please visit, http://www.diabetes.org/newyork or visit them on Facebook or Twitter.

Together, by attending and supporting comedy events like this, we can Stop Diabetes and have fun along the way!

The overall event is being produced by premiere concert producers Heywood, Mendel and Rose, who have some other exciting shows coming up in the future as well. On August 10th “X Factor” finalist Carly Rose Sonenclar will be performing at the Best Buy Theater and they will also be doing a 3 day festival at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Jan 2014 leading up to the Superbowl in NY with a handful of incredible acts, which I will tell you more about closer to the date!

In the meantime, hope to see you at MSG. I will be there covering the event and will hopefully be posting video of it very soon!

“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!

“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)

Red Carpet Video of Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards 2012 Plus Winners

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I was covering the red carpet of the 2nd annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards Show 2012, and it was a star-studded event, with comedy legends like Robin Williams and Don Rickles, plus acting legends like Robert DeNiro, who presented Don Rickles with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence.

From Julie Klausner who hosted the red carpet to Colin Quinn, John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, Randall from The Honeybadger film that got 43 million hits, The Gregory Brothers, (including Sarah, the hottest of the Gregory Brothers), Jessica Williams, the new “hot cutie”,and youngest correspondent on The Daily Show, Jim O’Heir from Parks and Recreation, Hannibal Buress, and so many more, plus private scenes from the press room, it’s all here in the following video!

So check it out right here:

Louis CK was the evening’s big winner with 4 trophies, including the awards for Best Sketch/Alternative Series,Best Stand-Up Tour and Best Comedy Special of the Year. Robin Williams was presented with the Stand-Up Icon Award by Patton Oswalt, and Don Rickles received the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence from Robert DeNiro.

The complete list of winners is here:
Comedy Special Of The Year: Louis C.K., Louis C.K.: Live At The Beacon Theater

Stand-Up Tour: Louis C.K.

Sketch/Alternative Comedy Series: Louie

Comedy Directing, TV: Louie

Comedy Series: Parks and Recreation

Comedy Film: Bridesmaids

Animated Comedy Series: Archer

Late-Night Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Comedy Writing, TV: 30 Rock

Comedy Actor, TV: Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Comedy Actress, TV: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Comedy Actress, Film: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Comedy Director, Film: Paul Feig, Bridesmaids

Comedy Screenplay: Bridesmaids

Club Comic: Hannibal Buress

Viral Original: Songify This, “Winning- A Song By Charlie Sheen”

Stand-Up Icon: Robin Williams

The Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence: Don Rickles

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