Darrell Hammond Takes the Stage, A Comedy Club Opens, Sherrod Small, Greer Barnes, and More


There’s a new comedy club and it’s already changing the comedy scene in New York, which is not an easy thing to do. One of the reasons that a lot of L.A. comics have been flocking to New York is that we have lots of stages, but not many as nice as the brand new one at West Side Comedy Club. It’s on 75th and Amsterdam inside of a cool restaurant called Playa Betty’s, and you can enter the club either through the restaurant or through a side door on 75th Street. I spent most of this past weekend there to immerse myself in the energy of the club and was very glad I did.

They had a private industry show/party before their grand opening this week and it was a huge success. Usually there’s some last minute snafu that really holds things up, but from what I saw this one came off without a hitch thanks to the tireless work of owners Eugene Ashe and Nina Ashe, club general manager/ booker Gina Savage and manager Lori Sommer. We got there early to schmooze and I was glad I did. Lots of fun people including , Anthony Cumia, Janice Messitte, Dante Nero, Judah Friedlander, Buchwald’s Smith, and Stacey Prussman. The club was very generous in giving everyone two free drinks and two items off the food menu on the house. And the food was great! The club, by the way, looks beautiful. It’s a big room that easily holds more than 100 people with nicely spaced tables, and a long bar for people to hang out and watch the show, and most importantly a big, well-appointed stage as well. Bold red theatrical curtains and lots of room to move around.

Adam Glyn from TMZ will go down in history as the very first host at West Side Comedy and the very first person to take the stage. And then it was Russ Meneve followed by a big surprise; a very special drop-in by Darrell Hammond who said he has a place only two blocks away. He regaled the crowd with some very funny stories, from a new book I’m pretty sure he said the title of was Stop Pulling On My Ears, I Know What I’m Doing. I think some stories were also from his previous book God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m Fucked. He said that for a guy who’s not too smart, (referencing himself) who graduated from college with only a 2.1 average, he found it so weird to find himself in the Oval Office with the President of the United States, Pres. Bill Clinton. And then he said, just a few years later the next President, also had only a 2.1 average in college, referencing George W. Bush. He ended his set on his Clinton impression to huge applause from the audience. I was at a table where I got to greet each of the comics as they left the stage. I don’t know if they were kidding or not, but the club said that will be my permanent table!

Also on the lineup that night was Gina Yashere who started off by jokingly trying to re-position the letters of the club name on the stage wall facing the audience, then exclaimed that she was from London and not like “the others!” And the audience was rolling! They loved her! And her agent Conan Smith who runs the comedy and TV packaging division at Buchwald was there to support! There’s a guy you want in your corner! Sherrod Small came up next and totally killed. He has developed some very unique things and I tell him about it all the time. “Coulda did it, didn’t do it!” A Sherrod Small catch phrase. Every comic wishes they had one. I also like the way he thanks different segments of the audience during his act on how they react to certain jokes, “ Thank you people who know things!” is one of my faves. And right in the middle of his act he’s like “ Jeffrey, your hair looks great in this light!” and everyone seemed to know what he was talking about. They happened to seat me at a table where a bright light was shining right onto me. At least two more times he referenced my hair. Stacey Prussman started the evening as a guest and wound up on stage, followed by Judy Gold who brought some really high energy to the mic. All in all it was a very special night.

I went back the next two nights and caught my old friend Greer Barnes, ’s head monologue writer Jon Rineman, Joe Matarese, Alex Babbitt, Dante Nero and Brian Scott McFadden. Greer told me he’s on the 2nd season of Crashing and also on Red Oaks on Amazon playing Richard Kind’s best friend. I turned to my left and there was Perry Strong who’s taping his first comedy album at The Village Lantern a little later this month with his buddy Craig Fox. I asked him why he chose The Lantern and he said cause they let him! Perry is also a musician and has a new musical comedy album out called Mandom which Greer Barnes is on too! Everyone wants Greer for everything these days! The man is a BEAST on stage!

I asked Jon Rineman what he’s up to, and he told me that with The Tonight Show, there’s not much time for anything else, except for the fact that six months ago he and his wife had a little girl, so he’s doing a lot of material about that. He said he had stopped performing for a while last Spring to spend more time at home, and he claimed he felt the difference in his writing. He’s very hard on himself and felt his writing was getting “soft.” Which made me ask, if he chooses the jokes that get into the monologue, how does he judge his own jokes? His answer was very interesting. He judges his own jokes harder than anyone else would, and finds himself cutting a lot of his own material. Fortunately, it’s also up to Jonathan Adler what jokes get in, with Jimmy having the final say, so even though he bends over backwards to be fair and sometimes votes against himself, a lot of his jokes wind up in the monologue. He also said, and I quote, “Even though I consider myself a grumpy guy, I don’t like offending anyone. I’m a huge wimp”! Now that he’s back to performing he tries to get up at least three times a week. One of his favorite rooms is The Cellar and he says that he loves the surreal feeling of coming from writing on The Tonight Show and then having to follow someone like Louis C.K.. He said, “Ten years from now when I’m selling birdseed, I’ll look back on that memory very fondly!” Very humble dude!  So all in all, West Side Comedy is a very cool place, and I think I’m gonna be hanging out there a lot!

I stopped by New York Comedy Club late one night and caught a sold out Mark Ellis show, and I mean sold out! There was hardly room to breathe! He’s an L.A. guy and the co-host of Schmoes Know, a movie show podcast that has a HUGE social media following with 50 million views on YouTube. He’s done a bunch of movie and TV spots and lots of radio too. He recently released his first comedy album Get To The Castle, which made the Top 10 on iTunes Comedy. The man is on the move!

Speaking of firsts, it was Chris Distefano’s first time headlining Gotham Comedy Club on a weekend so I went to support. William Stephenson was hosting and lost it with some people using their cell phones right in the front row. He chastised them severely as they deserved, just before Chris took the stage which gave him a fun opening on how it’s great to take the stage right after the audience gets yelled at. I often write how I don’t laugh out loud very often, but he does a bit about his mother’s boyfriend named Phineas who in this day and age has Polio, … not HAD Polio, but has an active case of Polio in 2017. It’s so funny, I almost spit out my drink! After his set, Chris told me he’s gonna be taping his first hour special, somewhere in New York, which will come out in 2018 and he’s planning on holding a contest for his fans to help name it. He’s already done a Half Hour, but this will be his first hour. I remember when he and I used to do the weekly open mics at Gotham. It was always great fun!

I stopped by The Stand to see who was hosting two shows and caught an extraordinary set by Dave Attell, … well, actually all of Dave’s sets are extraordinary! But during his set, he kept throwing it back to Ron who was in the audience watching. He’d ask the audience what kind of lube they liked and then go, “Hey Ron, what kind of lube do YOU like?” and then he asked the men in the audience if they were good at going down on a woman and then said “Hey Ron, are YOU any good at going down on a woman?” And at the end, he did a special thank you to Ron who he called a radio legend and also did a shout out to Ralphie May who passed away earlier that day.

The last time I saw Ralphie was up in Montreal the summer before last. He was at a special press event and the time I had seen him before that, he had introduced me to his wife. I had no idea they had broken up and during the course of the interview I asked him how she was and he got really sad, and said he couldn’t believe I asked him about that. I assured him I had no idea and he thought about it for a minute and said he knew I never put out anything that would hurt someone’s feelings, and so I edited it out of the video. He was a funny dude and will be missed by all who knew him.

After the show, we all hung outside for a bit. I asked Dave what he had going on and he said he was heading to DC to headline The Improv. Then Sherrod and I left to attend the birthday party of Venus Lux, a recent guest of his on Race Wars podcast who’s a transexual porn star, and that was fun too! Sherrod is producing a big event the night before Halloween known as Hell Night at The Village Underground. Comics like T.J. Miller, Dave Attell, Artie Lange, Ardie Fuqua and more will be telling stories of near death experiences. Basically how they dodged death. He said he’s getting such a big response that they may have to do two shows that night instead of just one. He’s producing it through his Small World Comedy Productions, but if it takes off and becomes a regular thing, … which could happen, … he may have to change it to Big World Comedy Productions! Then I could tell my heart attack story!

Giulio Gallarotti let me know he finally finished his newest Lil Young Big video called “Boy From The Wild” directed by none other than Benny D from the Fat Baby crew! You may not recognize Giulio at first, but it’s him! I was there for the taping when they came up with the idea for the wolf howls! It’s cool! Check it out on Facebook!


And with that, … I’m OUT!!’


Jeffrey Gurian

Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, comedy writer and author and one of the most well-known fixtures in the comedy world. You'll see him in clubs, at most comedy festivals, and at red carpets interviewing celebs for his Comedy Matters TV channel .

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