New York Comedy Festival, Joey Coco Diaz, Ron Bennington, Big Jay and More



You never know who you’re going to run into at New York Comedy Club but it’s usually not a baby. In this case it was and it was being held by Rosebud Baker with Mom looking on. Piper Berg, daughter of Aaron Berg and Christine Meehan made her comedy debut in the lounge at NYCC and I have to say she was pretty funny. Rosebud wanted to see what it was like to hold a baby and she said after a while her arm got tired and she was glad to give it back to Christine. As expected the baby looks like Aaron because as he says, he looks like a baby!

Backstage at New York Comedy Club is always hopping and I ran into Mike Feeney who was celebrating the five year anniversary of his show “On The Offensive” with a special show at NYCC featuring Matt Pavich, Jeremiah Watkins from The Wave and Goddam Comedy Jam, Frank Liotti, Alex Pavone and Sarah Tollemache.

was there producing a New York Comedy Festival show called “Stand-Up On The Spot” with Jeremiah Watkins and they cast a fantastic show with Mark Normand, Robby Slowik, Todd Barry, Nimesh Patel, and the only woman Casey Balsham. It’s an amazingly difficult show, similar to Paul Provenza’s Set List but very different in that the comic has to do material suggested by the audience. It’s improv meets stand-up, and it’s not easy to do. No regular material allowed. A couple of comics almost did some and apologized.

When Jeffrey Ross took the stage, he shouted me out and asked me for a suggestion, and I stood there blank like a dummy! I’m not good at thinking up suggestions for improv, but I finally stuttered my way through “speed limit”, which he turned around by saying it sounded like the name of a band I was in in the 80’s. He said I looked like the front man for Speed Limit. Then in trying to figure out why I chose “speed limit” he asked me if I drove fast and I told him I always wondered what the fascination was with how fast cars got to 60, which is the usual speed limit. And he said simply, “to see how fast they are!” And the crowd loved it. Someone suggested the topic of weed, and Jeffrey said it was very hard to find. Sometimes you have to walk 30 feet! And someone else yelled out the suggestion “buffet” which made Jeffrey recall a story of when he and Buddy Hackett went to a poker game at Norby Walters’ house in LA and Harry Hamlin was there. They both remarked at how handsome he was, and then Buddy said, “Yeh, but in 15 years he’’l look like us, and we’ll still be funny!” Great story!

Afterwards Jeffrey told me he and had been touring through Europe and that they’ll be doing upcoming shows in both Dubai and Tel Aviv! I hope they let Jeffrey out cause he’s got a new Comedy Central special coming up called “Jeffrey Ross Roasts The Border” in which he interviews and roasts immigrants crossing the border into this country as well as border guards, and anyone else having anything to do with our borders. Sounds hilarious!

There were New York Comedy Festival events all over town so I went to see Joey “Coco” Diaz who was in town to headline at Gotham and I try to never miss that because it’s always sold out. His fans can’t get enough of Joey, and he gives them 100 percent every time. Dean Delray was also in town opening for him. He was doing the four shows with Joey and staying in town for a month to do spots at The Stand. Joey is high energy and has a great laugh, kind of like Froggy the Gremlin from Andy’s Gang, if you’re old enough to remember that. After the show Joey and I hung out in the green room to catch up and he told me how he’s taking care of himself much better these days because he has a four year old daughter. He eats better and uses his C-Pap machine which encouraged me to go back to using mine. He spends two weeks a month on the road and doing his podcast The Church of What’s Happening. And he asked me to send his regards to Sarah Tollemache who he said has been a friend of his for 20 years. He was heading back to LA to showcase for Netflix.

Ari Shaffir dropped by the green room to hang out and visit Joey before going to do his own show at UCB Chelsea. He said he was supposed to battle Big that very night, but he said that Big Jay “backed out”, and he asked me to write specifically that Big Jay “was too cowardly and un-Jewish like, and didn’t show any Jewish work ethic by doing that.” I can already hear Big Jay laughing when he reads this. Ari, who’s known for always speaking his mind, then added that he was on his way to open for Ms. Pat at UCB, and said “as always they won’t be paying me for the performance.” He said he assumed that when they raised the ticket price he would be paid but “it turned out the same as always.” One thing about Ari, he doesn’t hold back and is not afraid to say what he feels. He also made me promise to print this thing as well.

I caught ’s hour at The Stand and it was as good if not better than I expected it to be. Gail and the crew were there in force, and it was so crowded that Big Jay Oakerson stood to watch the whole thing and I hear even dropped by an watched a few minutes although I didn’t see him. Christine Marie Evans found a seat next to me, but Big Jay stood, and afterward even though it was freezing cold outside everyone hung out, comics and fans both, to congratulate Ron on his great performance, and take photos. Ian Fidance hosted and Abby Rosenquist was the feature.

I went to The Stand earlier in the week to catch Roast Masters hosted by Luis J. Gomez, and the judges were Mark Normand, Michael Che, Josh Adam Meyers, past Roast Masters champ Eli Sairs, and Scott Chaplain. Stand manager Joe Harary was kind enough to find me a seat in the packed room. I got there just in time to see Maddy Smith beat Keren Margolis in the first battle. Katie Hannigan battled Christina Galston next and it would be hard to find two women with such different personas. They showed each other no mercy, making fun of each other’s lady parts, fashion style or lack of, and the like. Sometimes the comics come up with cute names for the other like when Katie said, “ Thank you Gloryhole Estefan!” And the judges were merciless as well telling the roasters exactly what they thought and pulling no punches. Except in the next battle they almost had to call it a tie, between East Coast Rosebud Baker, and West Coast’s Kimberly Congdon, who it seems according to Rosebud, is dating Luis J. Gomez. The girls were so good the judges asked for one more joke but when they asked for a second joke Luis objected saying that had never happened before, and the battle went to Kim.

The headline battle was supposedly Mike Cannon vs. Mike Feeney who both started out plugging their podcast and continued to do so throughout the battle, until Michael Che had enough and walked off, saying he couldn’t take it any more, to which Cannon remarked, “That’s exactly what I do when Weekend Update comes on!” The entire roast battle was all women except for them, and Luis said that the women were just funnier. Mark Normand said, “If we learned anything at all from this performance it’s NOT to listen to the podcast.” And when it came time to judge who won Normand said, “It’s like choosing between Cancer and AIDS!” Che said he thought Rosebud should win this battle between the two Irish Mikes, because her battle had been so close and the entire crowd started chanting “Rosebud, Rosebud, Rosebud”, and the judges gave it to Rosebud! And they called her up to the stage to accept the win. Afterwards when I went to take a photo of the judges they all insisted that I be in the photo too, and I, … never one to be shy about taking a photo instantly agreed!

Later, out in the street, where all the real action goes down, Christina Galston showed me her sexy jeans and told me about the podcast she does called The NYC Blunt Club where everyone is stoned. It’s her, Mookie Thompson, Mike Denny, Petey DeAbreu, and Rob Haze and she said that all you have to do is be a comedian that smokes weed and don’t pass out, but even if you DO pass out we still love you. That’s her quote. She’s the only girl on the podcast which she describes as the leader of the anti-weed shaming movement!

From there I ran down to the Village Underground to catch Big Jay Oakerson taping his second hour and we all had to sign releases at the door. It was a packed room and club manager Liz Furiati made sure to seat a bunch of weirdos right in front for Big Jay’s crowd work show. Jay thanked her for that when he announced that the success of the show relies completely on the weirdness of the audience with all the weirdos sitting up front, so “a fat guy in knuckle gloves, and two wallet chains can deconstruct you!” He described his fans as being “semi-fats” like himself, and every so often he cracked himself up which he chastized himself for at the end. He even described his laugh as “ a little fat girl laugh.” He did a flawless hour with no pauses which is uncanny for just doing crowd work and making stuff up on the spot.He’s truly a master at that.

Several of the comics from the Roast Masters show came down, and Luis J. Gomez must have flown down because he was the host of the show and brought Big Jay to the stage. After we all congratulated Jay it moved out onto the street, and it was Josh Adam Meyers, Jeremiah Watkins, Mike Finoia, Michael Che, Jeffrey Ross, Vondecarlo, Alia Janine and a bunch more. Josh Adam Meyers and Jeremiah showed me photos on the phones of the night before when they got to go on stage at Madison Square Garden to open for The Impractical Jokers. Josh said it was the most amazing experience. He and Jeremiah were hanging out backstage with the boys when Sal said to him, “We have some extra time.. Why don’t you and Jeremiah go out and fuck around a bit!” And that’s exactly what they did. Mike Finoia said that really got the crowd in the mood for the Jokers. Josh and Jeremiah had also just been on the Impractical Jokers cruise with those guys which they said was incredibly fun along with a huge line-up of comics including Yamaneika Saunders, Bert Kreisher, Yannis Pappas, Cipha Sounds, Sarah Tiana, Luis J. Gomez, and Mike Vecchione. I don’t remember all the others. Jeremiah told me he’s doing a few shows while he’s in town including a Little Person benefit at Stand Up New York for Nic Novicki and Little People of America. And I don’t know if he was kidding or not but he said that tickets were half price!

I had a special thrill this week when out of the blue John Mulaney, who’s on tour with his hit show “Kid Gorgeous” posted an Instagram photo of the two of us and wrote: “Moments before walking out onstage to film my special New In Town @jeffreygurian dropped by.” Within a very short time it had over 15,000 likes and I had hundreds of new followers. I have absolutely no idea who took that candid photo, but it’s nice to know that John thinks of me while he’s on the road. Right now I think he’s in Kansas City, MO.

Leah Bonnema was at The Stand on an all women’s show before Laurie Kilmartin did an hour, and told me she was taping a half hour to submit to Comedy Central at NYCC later this month. And Joyelle was there and proudly told me she got passed at The Cellar which is a big deal. She said it felt great to get that confirmation which told her that she shouldn’t quit comedy, which is a thought that occasionally occurs to many in this business. We spoke huddling outside the Ladies Room which they pointed out to me in the photo! Harry Terjanian popped in and told me he and Dante Nero are coming up on the 300th episode of Beige Phillip and he’s doing his best to work on a late night set, which he will attempt to submit on his own.

Nimesh Patel is currently writing for SNL where he said that Tiffany Haddish would be hosting this past Saturday. She was the first black female comic to do so since the show started over 40 years ago.

Mike Cannon and Mike Feeney do the Irish Goodbye Podcast which Cannon explained to me meant they both get drunk and leave places early without saying goodbye, which is known as “The Irish Goodbye.” It’s what I’ve always done but didn’t know that made me Irish. I hate to stop the action at a party and tell people I’m leaving cause it feels like a down.

I stopped by the West Side Comedy Club a couple of times this week cause they’ve been getting a great variety of comics stopping by to perform and hang out. I ran into Jared Freid who told me he’ll be doing a live version of his J Train podcast at The Comedy Cellar early in December with some special guests tbd. And Cyrus McQueen dropped by to do a set and told me he’s developing a “secret” project for television meaning it’s too early to say anything yet, so that’s all I’m saying. The show was hosted by Jiggy who tours with The Impractical Jokers and was really excited about opening for them at Madison Square Garden the next night as part of the New York Comedy Festival. He said he was “nervously excited and honored to take part in such a special night for the guys.”

I was back at the club later in the week and sat with Ophira Eisenberg who told me that Mozhan Marno from The Blacklist was going to be a guest on her podcast Ask Me Another this week. Tony Woods traveled in from out of town to close the show and when he came over to say hi he asked me about my book. He said his next goal is to write a book and it’s going to be a joke book. I wanted to ask him more about it but he got called up on stage. He has such a unique delivery. When he first goes up he hesitates a lot and it makes you think he doesn’t know what he’s going to talk about, but then he starts and the audience is screaming, like when he told a story about being on an airplane and realized he was “the only Virgo on the plane.”

I had to leave go see Ron Bennington do his first hour at The Stand but before I did I spoke to West Side owner Eugene Ashe about Bill Burr coming in last night to do a very special show as a favor to the club. He said that Bill has been a very good friend to him, his wife Nina and club manager Gina Savage for many years, and that he was coming in out of the goodness of his heart to support the club and help it become successful. Eugene said that Bill announced it on his podcast and that it sold out in 30 minutes.

People don’t know how giving Bill Burr is when it comes to supporting people in comedy. When I saw him last at Paul Virzi’s album taping which he produced with Pete Davidson he told me to tell Richie Tienken that he would do whatever he had to do to support The Comic Strip if it needed it and now he’s doing that for West Side. He’s been producing the Patrice O’Neal benefit for years as well. He may not want you to know it but Bill Burr is a very caring, great guy!

Adam Schartoff is not a comic but has a podcast called Filmwax Radio where he has lots of comics on as guests. He’s had Dick Cavett, Gilbert Gottfried, Brian Posehn, Nick Kroll, and Kevin Pollak plus lots more including me. He usually talks about film and has film stars come on as guests but is also a huge comedy fan and loves to have comics on as well. He’s got his first kickstarter page so he can help certain filmmakers finance their projects and to also build a new studio.

And with that, I’m finally 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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