Jack Thriller from Nick Cannon’s Wild ’n Out is a stand-up who does a party show every Monday night called “The Party and Bullshit Show” which recently moved from a huge loft in the Bronx to a strip club called City Scapes in Long Island City. This week he was hosting a hip hop show down at S.O.B’s on Varick Street and the place was jumping thanks to Jack and Marie Driven who brings in the people. No matter what kind of entertainment it is, a host with a stand-up comedy background is always a plus, and Jack knows how to bring it, which made his introductions of the performers more like a mini-roast each time he brought someone to the stage. Really fun night!
Speaking of fun nights I dropped by the new New York Comedy Club on East 4th Street to catch Rell Battle’s birthday roast battle, and ran into some very cool people before I even got into the place. Vondecarlo was outside hanging with Matt Richards the new HQ guy on the West Coast, and Jason Scoop joined us, the same Jason Scoop who will be headlining Carolines in their Breakout Artist series in September. Jason told me he’s having Matt Richards as the host, along with Whitney Clark and Elon Altman as his openers. And he said and I quote, “ It’s gonna be the party to end all parties!” I plan to hold him to that cause I’m going! As usual the judges were almost consistently funnier than the roasters. In the second battle it was two Mikes, Michael Verdi vs. Michael Mayes. Michael Verdi’s sharp writing skills took the match with lines like calling Michael Mayes, “ Foster Kid Cudy” due to his foster child background, and saying “ You look like a Starbucks employee that calls the cops on other Black people.” That line brought down the house to the point where even Michael Mayes had to give it up! He said that some of the foster kid lines really went to his heart! And I believe he meant it too.At one point Yamenieka led the audience in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” often known as the Black National Anthem which was written in 1905. But when Sherrod said that FOX News posted a story about Aretha Franklin’s passing and posted Yamaneika’s photo instead she started to howl, as only Yamaneika can do, and she went on stage screaming with laughter and contorting herself into what could have been yoga moves for a good five minutes. No one has as good a laugh at Yameneika’s expense than Yamaneika! The main battle was between Chris Crespo who like Yamaneika gets the best laugh lines about himself, because his arms end before they get to his hands, vs Lindsay Theisen, she of the blonde pony-tail, and it felt close at times, but Chris took the battle. Eagle Witt went up and closed the show, and Napoleon Emil was there and did a spot as well.
Rell Battle told me had had recently finished a tour of Europe, in which he went to France, Prague, Sweden and Berlin. That always sounds like such fun to me. He said it was his first time performing in Europe and that it was amazing. And last month he did a spot on Conan. Rell Battle making waves! And Sherrod commented to me afterwards that he and I were the “elder statesmen” as exemplified by the fact that when we have something to say, we say it slowly and use measured tones so that our words carry weight. It was a heavy and insightful statement by Sherrod and I was just glad he included me in his thought! (LOL)
Matt Richards told me that since he did his album he now has to work on all new material, and that he’s always excited when people stop him on the street and recognize him from his HQ hosting gig. With all the stuff he’s done he said that’s the thing that gets him noticed the most. I know how he feels because just yesterday I got stopped twice by the most diverse people. A Japanese woman in Bloomingdales who was speaking Japanese to a store clerk, suddenly stopped speaking when she saw me to tell me she recognized me from TV, and later on that same day as I was parlking my car a group of people yelled out my name from a table in a restaurant. A light was in my eyes and I couldn’t see who they were so I yelled out, “ I can’t see you guys” and they said, “ You don’t know us, we’re fans of Black Phillip”, the show I did with Patrice O’Neal. Amazing how many young people still find that show. When I got home there was a Tweet from one of the guys who said “Ran into @JeffreyGurian tonight on the UES. #BlackPhillip will always be the shit!”
Chaunte Wayans of the Wayans family came through and it’s always so good to see her. Chaunte is in town doing a play called “Collective Rage- A Play in Five Betties” and yes that is how they spell it, … Betties, not Bettys. It’s about five women named Betty and the way it’s described in the playbill is: “Meet five different women named Betty; one rich, one lonely, one charismatic, one lovelorn and one who keeps working on her truck.” Out of those five women two are stand-up comics, Chaunte and Lea Delaria who you know from Orange is the New Black. The rich one is played by Dana Delany, the shy one is played by Adina Verson, the charismatic one by Ana Villafane, Chaunte is the lovelorn one, and Lea works on her truck. Chaunte plays a character who among other things like working on her own truck, owns a boxing school, and winds up giving boxing lessons to the rich one. All the women are holding in rage about one thing or another, and need a change. Chaunte described her character to me as a woman who “tries to be tough, and holds in a lof of stuff, but who’s really ready for a change in her life, which included a stint in rehab.” It’s Chaunte’s first play, and she said it’s funny but dark and she’s very excited about being part of it with such talented performers. It’s at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street, and Matt Richards and I decided to go and see it together. Previews started August 16th, and the official opening is scheduled for around Sept. 12th. Matt who had some rare time off from his HQ duties skateboarded down to meet me and we went to see it together. It was really great. The set design was amazing as props kept falling from the ceiling (purposely, I might add), and by props I mean things like large chairs. The music was hot and they had such interesting things going on, like text that was projected on the wall above the stage describing the action about to take place. It was very unique and very well done. All the women were so talented and cast perfectly for their parts. You would never have known that it was Chaunte’s first time doing a play. They were in rehearsal since mid-July. And all I’ll tell you besides that is that she looks great in a man’s suit! Chaunte is originally from Atlanta, and It was she who got me booked at Atlanta’s notorious Sunday night show at the Uptown Comedy Corner, where I may heve been one of the very few white guys who had ever been in there. It was a blast! Make sure to go and see Collective Rage. You’ll definitely enjoy it. Matt also told me that he’s in two upcoming episodes of Disney’s Bizaardvark, a comedy series about two best friends Frankie and Paige who post funny songs and comedic videos on the internet. Bizaardvark is the name of their channel, and it sounds like a really fun show. Matt says he plays a character named Roman Winwood, a name-dropping record producer.
I dropped by Gotham Comedy Club to see what the buzz was about concerning Chad Daniels who I had not seen before but who is one of only 13 comedians to have performed on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. He also appeared in the recent doc “I Need You To Kill” with Tom Segura and Pete Lee. All of his promo photos were very clean cut looking so when he came out on stage with a full beard and referenced that by saying he was his father, I bet some people believed him. His fans were out in force and the room was packed. They loved every word he uttered as he talked about all kinds of things including a lot about his kids and even his recent hip replacement. He said he was thrilled to be back at Gotham because it’s where he had his very first TV appearance on Gotham Comedy Live, and he talked about how nervous he was that night. I guess he did well because of what’s followed since. Rich Francese was the host and wore a suit which was a different look for him, and Jim Tews was the feature. Jim stopped by my table to chat and told me he’ll be performing in the Accidental Comedy Festival at the end of this month doing one headlining show and several spots. It’s the 7th annual fest and he does it every year because it’s in Cleveland, Ohio and he said that’s where he got his start. It happened while he was stationed there in the Coast Guard. He’s originally from Allentown, PA, but he considers Cleveland his comedy home.
I caught up with Aaron Berg over at Stand Up NY and he gave me the good news that his 25 set documentary film was picked up by a major company, whose name I promised not to divulge yet till the ink is dry on the contracts, but it’s expected to start airing in January. Hope they didn’t edit me out! But his major news is that Piper is celebrating her first birthday on Sunday Sept. 2nd. Now THAT’s big news!
And over at West Side Comedy Club the puppet Joselito and his “bicho” (Google it!) were performing in two shows back to back. Joselito is a Latino puppet and the brainchild of Daniel Burgo who is now on the PuppetWave tour being booked by Frank Pellegrino of Lucy’s Lounge. Frank was at the show, and told me he met Joselito when Joselito sold out Lucy’s Lounge and Frank offered to book a tour for him because he has such a huge 400,000 person following on social media. It seemed like most of them showed up at West Side, and in between jokes, most of which tended to be sexual, Joselito also gives people kind of a Spanish lesson explaining the phrases he uses in his act. Frank is also producing a marathon comedy charity event this November at Lucy’s Lounge for Blythedale Children’s Hospital, and it’s one of the great ways to use comedy to bring healing to the world. Congrats Frank!
West Side comedy is also all excited that this coming week they are expecting both T.J. Miller and Jeremy Piven. More on that to come!
And with that, … I’m OUT!!! But not before I wish everyone a great Labor Day weekend!