Comedian, singer, writer, mom and all-around kick-ass broad Sandra Bernhard took some time out of her insanely busy schedule to talk to us about her newest album, I Love Being Me, Don’t You? (out June 7), fictional girl fights and Roseanne Barr.
Pre-order the album on iTunes.
I listened to your album.
It’s so fun. I’m curious how much of that is prepared and how much is just you having a good time in a room full of people who obviously adore you.
That night [October 2010 at the Castro in San Francisco], which was this concert of kismet, they just happened to be professionally recording it. And I just happened to be on and plugging into my improvisational goddesses and just went on a tear. So, so much of that night is really a one-off that I could never re-create again.
There’s that moment where you’re like, “They’re obviously not recording me tonight, because they never record me when I’m doing well.”
Exactly. I had no idea that they were recording it. I guess that made it even better, because I felt like I was free to say whatever I wanted. And therefore it was being recorded, and you want to capture those nights, because those are the best nights.
Do you go in with…you said you probably couldn’t replicate it, and there are lots of different reasons. Crowds obviously change the way a performance can go—but is there a lot that you go in prepared with?
Oh sure. It’s always important for any performer to have an actual act, you know what I mean? I don’t know anybody that could improvise an entire show every night. If you’re just a little bit off or the crowd’s not with you, you freeze. So, of course. I have a lot of different acts. I have some acts that are with a full band, so they’re more prepared and big pieces and big musical numbers. Then there are the nights that are like the night I did in San Francisco where I have my guitar player and it’s more casual. But even on those nights I have fall-back material, and a point A to point B. You’ve got to have that outline as an artist to get through the night, because as I said, if you freeze up, you’re done.
I’m curious how much over the years the way that you go into these things has changed. You’ve become one of these iconic figures, so you’ve got to assume that most of the time the people who are coming to see you are the people who already love you, so you know you’re going to have support there.
Right. That’s true. That makes me feel more responsible. Because if somebody comes back to see me year after year, I don’t want to cheat them. I don’t want to phone it in and be like, “You’ve heard this a hundred times.” I’m constantly pushing myself and challenging myself to write new material and try to be on the cutting edge, because there’s a lot of new performers, there’s a lot of people out there. You’ve got to stay in the game and be prepared and willing to do the work. I always try to do that. It’s really important to me.
I know the covers on the album [Melanie’s “Beautiful People” and a hybrid of Pink’s “Just Like a Pill” and Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly”] are beloved covers that you’ve done before. Will those change as well when you start touring with this?
Oh yeah. I’m always looking for new songs that I’ve always enjoyed over the years, and then some of my original tunes. I’m constantly churning up the musical aspect as well. But I do come back to some of the ones that people like, because if you go to see Stevie Nicks, you want to hear “Rhiannon.” You’ve got to walk that fine line, except when you’re doing more comedic monologues, you’ve got to keep that a little bit fresher.
How did you ever decide on Lita Ford for a cover?
I just love that song. Even though when you look at it for the surface value, you think, Oh, this is a tacky song, there’s just something about the Runaways and the early days of women in rock and roll, and they continued to be out there doing their thing…there’s something heartbreaking about it on a certain level and emotional. I don’t know, I just always manage to find the underpinnings to a song like that and relate it to all the kids that listened to it and all the kids that made out to it. There are so many layers to a great rock song, so I always tap into that.
And I feel like she was sort of rare. She was this one chick among all these rocker guys when that song came out.
Exactly. There she was in her leather and her bustier. She was kind of groovy and weird and I don’t know, she’s cool. I like to pay homage.
I have to ask if your girlfriend has heard the album.
Um, no. But she kind of knows all my material. She knows that I can go off on tangents.
I’m always curious…you are obviously not someone who I would describe as afraid to express her opinion—you talk about your girlfriend, you talk about your friend Iman, you talk about the people at the Kaballah Center…. You’re still a real person. When you go home, is it like, “Oh, that’s just Sandra doing her thing,” or is there hell to pay when you go home and your girlfriend knows you’ve talked about you guys being in therapy or her being uptight and reading over your shoulder?
(laughing) Well, you know, I’m sure there’s always consequences to everything, but we’re all on the same page, and I don’t think I ever cross that line with my family. Hopefully people understand. But that’s a very fair question.
Well, I’m wondering also—and this may be a question of just age, too—if your daughter ever listens to your stuff.
She does, but not really. She’s not that interested. She kind of goes like, “Uh, Mom, whatever.” She’s in a different headspace—she’s a preteen. I think she’s just preoccupied with other stuff. We’re very close, and she loves me, and we talk about stuff, but I don’t think she’s that interested completely in what I do at this point. She comes to my shows and she likes to be backstage and run around, but she’s so like…whatever. And it’s a much healthier way to be.
Do you think she has any leanings toward showbiz herself?
I think she’s starting to express some interest in singing and acting. We’ll see how far that goes. We’re just sort of letting her do her thing.
One thing I noticed about this album, and I’m curious if it’s intentional or not—it’s not that political. There’s the stuff that you say about Obama, which I have to say, personally, I completely appreciated, because I don’t think that’s a very popular view right now.
Right. Well, you know, I’ve been political. During the last election I was very political. I think during the Bush administration there was a lot more to talk about for people like me because I felt very threatened by what he was doing. I think I needed a major psychic break from talking about it. The cards are on the table. Any thinking, sentient person knows, you have one way of looking at things or you have another, and I think my way of looking at it is a much more rational way.
I just can’t fight that fight every day, and onstage, especially if people are coming to see me, people are coming to see me. It’s not like I’m in Vegas and people are wandering in from the casino and I have to watch what I’m saying. I feel like it’s just not really worth the exhaustion to talk about things that drive me crazy about the Republicans at this point.
There was some stuff that you said about Sarah Palin a couple of years ago, there was some backlash to that—and again, like I said, I think of you as a pretty fearless person, but you’re also a person, so I wonder if that has any impact on you.
Yeah, it did, it did have an impact, only because the people that are out there are very threatening, and they threaten violence, and they’re just scary people, so it’s like, I want to put myself on the line? The outcome was the outcome that I wanted. She kind of faded into the mist—maybe she’s resurfacing now. I mean, it’s obvious what she’s about, and I don’t feel like I need to put myself out there. It’s not like I’m on Bill Maher where we’re having a political conversation. When you’re onstage by yourself, you have to make things funny, you’re up there by yourself. I am a woman, I mean, there are different levels…sometimes it’s just not worth it.
If she ran again, do you think she’d become something you talked about again?
Well, I would certainly…I would have to sit back and watch how far it all went. In terms of Sarah Palin, I feel like she’s been talked about, and she’s exposed herself and exploited her family and, I mean, there’s really nothing left to say that’s really in the realm of humor. It’s this weird personal thing that she’s played out, and I think it’s very narcissistic. I don’t want to contribute to celebrating her negatively or positively. She has a film coming out apparently that she’s producing where she shows people trashing her. If that doesn’t say it all about somebody, I don’t know what does. I don’t want to be involved in that particular weird scene at this point or any point in the near future.
You talk about being on Twitter, and you obviously tweet a lot. You make a funny comment about it—it is this weird kind of, “Yeah, we don’t want to see people in real life, we just kind of want to tweet at them from afar a little bit.”
I’m wondering if you ever hear from people that you talk about onstage, whether it’s on Twitter or otherwise…like, you’ve made some comments about Kathy Griffin, and you were talking about Arnold Schwarzengger, and I wonder if you ever hear…like, is Kathy Griffin tweeting at you?
I never Twitter about people. You can’t fully…once again, it’s not like you’re onstage or in a conversation on a talk show where people see you going back and forth with someone. You’re doing it from a void. And if you just say in 140 letters “This person’s an idiot,” of course that’s going to stir up a hornet’s nest, which I’m not interested in doing.
And PS, by the way, I don’t have any battle with Kathy Griffin at all. I simply said she has borrowed from me along the way and she’d be the first to admit it. And what she does has taken it in a whole different direction, but I know that did influence her. And sometimes it’s like, hey, you know, I don’t want to cheapen what I do. Sometimes people take it in a direction I don’t agree with, but I do a more sophisticated kind of performing, and that’s how I like to do it. But there’s definitely no battle.
Well here’s the thing: If you look online at that video you did with Rob Shuter, it doesn’t look like there is. I feel like what happens is, people love battles.
They’re so desperate to find people who are sniping with each other like the Housewives of New York, New Jersey, Orange County, that that’s what they always want to see and they forget that there’s social criticism, that there’s a way of saying things that’s not about starting World War III, it’s about saying, I know this person. I feel like this is the influence and this is how I approach it. I’m not taking the piss out of Kathy Griffin, because I don’t want to. I don’t have the need to do that.
She’s very successful, she’s a woman, she’s out there, God bless her. Good, yay, another funny woman who’s got the temerity to stick it out and become a success. So on that level, I support her. She’s not doing anything, y’know, really bad or disruptive. It’s just a difference in style, and that’s all I was commenting on.
You mention on the album that Arts and Crafts [Bernhard’s play with Justin Vivian Bond] didn’t have a home yet, and obviously it played here in New York City at Joe’s Pub, so congratulations on that.
That was more or a less a night of bringing in producers and stuff. We still don’t have a home. We’re still working on that. We’re looking to meet with a director/producer or a theater company or somebody who will develop it to the next level and put it up at a theater. It’s a long process. I’m super busy, and Justin Bond is very busy, so we’re trying to merge our schedules around meeting with people and making it all happen. That’s a work in progress.
And when you’re trying to get something to happen, you still have to make money, so you can’t put the brakes on the rest of your career because if something isn’t generating money, it’s sort of a weird double-edged sword. And anyway we’re working on something I want to see happen for sure.
I typically think of you as a one-woman thing—when I think of your albums and shows and all that you’ve written. Is the process of collaborating with another person, especially a friend, something you particularly enjoy?
Oh yeah, and I’ve done it in the past. I’ve written with my girlfriend, I’ve written with friends, yeah, it’s really important to have that break of just not constantly having to do your own work. It’s exhausting. I write my own material, so you need those breaks in between and it’s great to collaborate with people that you’re friends with and projects that don’t always see the light of day, but there’s something very fulfilling about continuing to push it in new directions.
Speaking of being exhausted, you’re about to start an international tour of this album?
Well, you know, it’s not all just going to happen at once. We’re rolling it out during the year. June is very busy, because I have a couple of dates before Town Hall on June 8, and Town Hall’s a big, big show, I have special guests coming in. And then I’m going to the West Coast, I’m going to Napa, and then I’m doing the entire Gay Pride weekend in San Francisco. I’m doing two nights of my show, but then like two other nights of stuff that’s just associated with Gay Pride, so that’ll be a busy time.
It’ll roll out during the summer and out through the year, yeah, we’re tying it in with the album because that’s a great platform when you perform live to sell things. So, I mean, that can kind of go on for at least the next year if not more, because it’s not like you’re trying to push a single of an album, so it makes the shelf life a little bit longer.
Is that harder to do now? You have a 12-year-old daughter, you’ve been doing this for a long time—is it something you still enjoy?
Oh yeah, I do. I really do enjoy going to new markets, going back to cities I’ve been to. We always try to stay in a nice hotel, we always try to eat great food, so even though it’s work and it’s pressure and it takes a lot of focus, some of the stuff around it—you get to see friends you haven’t seen in awhile—I always enjoy it. And it always ends up being an enriching experience. You meet fans, people who’ve come back again, it’s like this great thing.
Did you read Roseanne Barr’s recent piece in New York magazine?.
I have read it and loved it and really think she is as always on the cutting edge and so smart and so daring and really has continued to tell it like it is. She did it for 10 seasons on her show. And having been a part of that and having seen how she worked and how much energy and effort went into that along with the emotional sidebar of it all—no pun intended—um, yeah, I loved that piece. I thought it was right on.
So it was accurate to your experience on the show?
Well, my experience on the show was very different. I would come and go. I got to come in and have a great time. It was all on her shoulders. She was the one where the buck stopped and she created it and it was her life that she put it on the line every week. That’s a big responsibility. I guess I could do it, but I don’t think anybody could do it again because I don’t think they’d let a woman do it again.
And that’s kind of what she said, too. That Roseanne was a first and a last.
I think she got in under the wire. She happened to hit at a certain time with a certain opening in the universe and she made shit work. I honestly don’t think it could happen again.
For more info on Sandra, check out sandrabernhard.com. You can pre-order the new album on iTunes.
Richie Tienken is a very kind and caring man. He does lots of charity work, and recently did two major fundraisers, one for The Red Cross and the other for the American Diabetes Association.
In conjunction with Karen Horn, an executive from The Red Cross, Richie produced a great show that raised a good amount of money for the charity. Hosting the show was the always entertaining Jim Mendrinos, who has lots of projects on the fire right now, including a one man show he plans to open in August.
[caption id=”attachment_9901” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Bob Wachs, Jim Mendrinos, and Richie Tienken at The Strip.”][/caption]
I myself always wanted to do a one man show, but I could never figure out who that one man should be! ( Do I really need to put the LOL there??? I’m hoping that’s a redundant question!)
The Red Cross fundraiser was a sold out event that saw comics like Louis CK, Alan Colmes, Wayne Federman, Joe Bolster, Sherrod Small, and Colin Quinn among others, stop by to perform and support.
[caption id=”attachment_9902” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Louis CK and Richie Tienken backstage at The Strip.”][/caption]
[caption id=”attachment_9903” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Wayne Federman, Colin Quinn, and Jim Mendrinos at The Strip for Red Cross.”][/caption]
Then I produced a fundraiser for Diabetes which is a killer disease that affects so many people in this country. In my case it took my Dad. My daughter Elizabeth is a well known and successful nutritionist, whose specialty is Diabetes. She called me one day to ask if I thought I could put together a comedy fundraiser.
I knew I could count on Richie and I was right. Once again I asked Jim Mendrinos to host, because he’s the best, and he too lost his Dad to Diabetes. We also had a sold out event, with a guest appearance by the great Elayne Boosler, the first woman to ever have a one hour cable TV special, plus performances by Letterman’s Eddie Brill, Louis Ramey, Jeff Pirrami, Jon Fisch, from Comedy Central and VH1, Chuck Nice, host of The Hot 10 on Centric, Goumba Johnny, famed radio guy from KTU, and a newer guy named Harrison Greenbaum, winner of the Andy Kaufman Award, who I think will do big things, and certainly did big things that night.
[caption id=”attachment_9904” align=”aligncenter” width=”348” caption=”Harrison Greenbaum, Eddie Brill, Goumba Johnny, Jeff Pirrami, Elayne Boosler, Jim Mendrinos at The Strip for my Diabetes fundraiser.”][/caption]
We raised a good amount of money and everyone had a fantastic time. So many comics offered their services. I wish I would have been able to accommodate them all but the show would still be going on if I had.
The day before we did a spot on a TV show called “ Inside City Hall” , with host Errol Louis and I brought premiere political comics Barry Weintraub, Scott Blakeman, and Sherrod Small to bring the funny to the political scene and to promo our Diabetes event. I’m very grateful to all who performed and attended.
[caption id=”attachment_9905” align=”aligncenter” width=”348” caption=”Sherrod Small, Barry Weintraub, Jeffrey Gurian, and Scott Blakeman on the set of Inside City Hall for my Diabetes fundraiser.”][/caption]
Paul Reiser came to New York to promote the new show he was doing on NBC called The Paul Reiser Show. Where they got than name I’ll never know, but Paul came to the club to rehearse, since it had been a while since he had done stand-up.
You certainly couldn’t tell from his performance. I guess it’s like riding a bike. When you’ve spent that many years honing your craft onstage, it comes back to you pretty quickly.
And The Strip was Paul’s home club, so that’s where he migrates to when he wants to work out material. It’s where he feels most at home. I’m sure it brings back lots of fun memories for him.
[caption id=”attachment_9906” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Richie Tienken, Paul Reiser, and Jeffrey Gurian at The Strip.”][/caption]
Anjelah Johnson is an anomaly. First of all she’s part Mexican and part Native American, ( hence the amazing hair! ), but has the last name Johnson, which was hard for her growing up because she always wanted to be considered a Mexican “chola.” ( Female Mexican gangbanger, … for the uninitiated! LOL)
Then she’s really cute and sexy, which to me is a great mix in comedy, but only started happening as of late, since for some reason it seems harder for pretty girls to get laughs, and she only started doing comedy at age 24, after taking an improv class at her church. Before she went into stand-up she was a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders.
[caption id=”attachment_9907” align=”aligncenter” width=”350” caption=”Anjelah Johnson onstage at The Gotham Comedy Club.”][/caption]
Since then she’s been in films, and a cast member of MadTV, where she developed her popular character Bon Qui Qui, ( which you can see on You Tube), and speaking of You Tube, she also had a viral smash with her short film Nail Salon.
Chris Mazzilli goes out of his way to have the best talent at Gotham, and I had always heard about Anjelah but had never seen her, so when I found out she was headlining Gotham, I made sure to be there to check it out! It’s a good thing I made reservations cause it was a sold-out show!
Not only is she funny but she’s clean! Squeaky clean! I don’t mean physically, (which I’m sure she is too! LOL ) … her material is really clean, which is a nice change. She takes her Christian background seriously and sticks to G-rated topics. It’s much harder to work clean than it is to work dirty, especially when working a nightclub where people are drinking.
One of the things I always respected about Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser when I first met them back in the day, was that they ALWAYS worked clean. And let me tell you it’s not always easy. When you’re working a late night crowd that’s had a few drinks, it’s very tempting to throw something in that you might not share with your parents, cause you know it’s an easy laugh, but to resist that temptation takes a strong person.
So explaining her ponytail she says, “I’m not a Lesbian. I’m just lazy! “
Not only does she do great voices and character work but she’s also a good singer! The girls got it going’ on! Another cool thing is that she travels with her brother Mitchell who also functions as her photographer! He’s very cool and helps her with whatever she needs as well as being on hand at the end when she greets the audience and signs autographs.
MC’ing the show was Dean Obeidallah, a Palestinian-Italian comedian who tours the country with Jewish comedian Scott Blakeman trying to bring Muslims and Jews together. I don’t know what particular jokes will accomplish that, but it couldn’t hurt, right? The problem is the people who most need to hear those jokes are not the people showing up to the shows. Most comedy shows don’t draw a big fundamentalist crowd, as far as I know!
Then Cipha Sounds from Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, co-host of Hot 97’s morning show took the stage. The dude insists he’s not a comedian, but you could fool me! He’s consistently funny and a real crowd pleaser. He also hosts a weekly show at Carolines and works hard to hone his comedic skills.
And then Anjelah had a favorite of hers who’s also a favorite of mine, Nate Bargatze. There’s an unusual name. Kind of like Ben Bernanke. It’s so unusual you can’t tell where it’s from. All I know is that Nate is really funny.
He does some great Chinese language stuff, cause that’s a funny language, and the accent is a killer. Not particularly sexy or romantic, but interesting! I wish I could imitate a Chinese accent, at least as good as Russell Peters, doing a Chinese guy arguing with an Indian guy.
Anyway, Nate told a great story about a guy at the airport not getting the best care and pulling “the race card.” Only he was white. He was like, “ you’re only doing this to me because I’m white. And after all we’ve been through. Then he turned to Nate for back-up, and Nate was like, “Hey man, if you wanted me to back you up on this, you should have given me more notice! “
It was a great , great show and I hope to see Anjelah when I’m out in LA over the summer.
I also caught Jim Breuer’s sold out show, and Jim is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser. They go crazy just when he’s introduced and he always puts on a high energy show, cause that’s who he is.
[caption id=”attachment_9908” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Jim Breuer and Jeffrey Gurian at Gotham!”][/caption]
He also had copies available of his new book, “ I’m Not High” cause of his eyes which make him always look high. He claims that Richie Tienken first brought it to his attention early in his career when he asked him if he was doing drugs, as the reason why his eyes looked like that. Of course he wasn’t, but that’s why he called his company “Lazy Eye Productions.”
[caption id=”attachment_9909” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Jim’s new book, “I’m Not High.” Make sure to buy it, ( and read it too! )”][/caption]
At Anthony Anderson’s fantastically fabulous monthly Mixtape show, I ran into both Dawn B. and Chuck Nice two of my favorite people in the world!
[caption id=”attachment_9910” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”The sexy Dawn B. and the sexy Chuck Nice at Anthony Anderson’s Mixtape show at Gotham.”][/caption]
Comedy Central 1st Annual Comedy Awards
I had so much in my last column I didn’t have room to write about the 1st annual Comedy Awards from Comedy Central. Comedy Central pulled out all the stops on this one, and everyone who ever told a joke or laughed at a joke was there.
Tracy Morgan presented the first “Comedy Icon” award to Eddie Murphy, and you could see he was thrilled to do so. Eddie influenced so many Black comics who came after him. He probably influenced a lot of White comics too, but they didn’t do as good a job of following up! (LOL)
[caption id=”attachment_9911” align=”aligncenter” width=”350” caption=”Tracy Morgan presenting Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Central Comedy Icon award.”][/caption]
It was a thrill for me to see him since in a six-degrees of separation thing, I feel like I know him since Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs, owner and founders of The Comic Strip, both managed him for so many years, and in doing the book on the club, I’ve heard all the stories.
Tina Fey was there as a presenter, and also won for Best Comedy Actress for her work in Date Night, where she dropped an f-bomb while accepting , and telling how she crushed Helen Mirren in acting., with her tongue so firmly planted in her cheek, it looked like she was hiding a crab apple in there! Btw, has anyone noticed she may possibly have the best legs in comedy???
David Letterman was there, and accepted the night’s highest award from Bill Murray called “ the Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence”, and Alec Baldwin came out on stage with Chloe Moretz of “KickAss” fame, and accepted an award for Best Comedy Actor for his work in 30 Rock.
[caption id=”attachment_9912” align=”aligncenter” width=”350” caption=”Chloe Moretz and Alec Baldwin on stage at The Comedy Awards.”][/caption]
I was on the red carpet shooting the arrivals, ( sounds so violent! ), and got to see Christian Finnegan who was hosting the red carpet, and was very humble about having been chosen for what I thought was something very special.
Comedy Central’s Aileen Budow ran the red carpet with great skill as she always does, assisted by Eve Kenny.
I got to interview Jon Stewart who I hadn’t seen in quite a while. John won for Best Late Night Comedy Series, and is managed by an old friend of mine, James Dixon. I knew James when he was an agent at William Morris, where he could always be found with fellow agent Mike August, who I understand is with him at Dixon Talent.
[caption id=”attachment_9913” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Jeffrey Gurian and Jon Stewart at The Comedy Awards. Photo by James Dixon!”][/caption]
James also handles Stephen Colbert and a few other names you may have heard of, like Adam Carolla, Carson Daly, and Jimmy Kimmel, and James was kind enough to actually snap the photo that appears below. So added to all his other credits is this photo credit for the shot he took of me and Jon.
I also got to see Will Ferrell, Olivia Munn, The Gregory Brothers, Mark DuPlass and his wife Katie Aselton, who made the movie Cyrus, with Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson from The Office and Louis CK who received an award, and will also be honored in Montreal this summer as the Comedy Person of the Year.
Check out the little film right here.
Richard Lewis at Carolines
Richard Lewis came to New York to headline at Carolines, and we made up to meet at The Friars Club. Richard is in a class by himself when it comes to comedy. To me, he’s a modern day Woody Allen, and I mean that as a compliment to both of them. Funny that they’re both in this column together!
Richard’s one of those rare performers that has such a strong comedy identity, … that of an angst-ridden Jew, … that a comedy writer like myself, who understands that head perfectly, could have a ball writing for him, except that Richard has never used a writer.
[caption id=”attachment_9915” align=”aligncenter” width=”350” caption=”Jeffrey Gurian and Richard Lewis in the dining room of The Friars Club.”][/caption]
Once many years ago when he starred in the movie “Drunks” I presented him with some material, and before I even got home that night there was a message on my answering machine, thanking me, and telling me that the material was not only hilarious but “brilliant”, and it was obvious that I could write a funny joke, but that he couldn’t use it because he always writes his own material.
That phone call is actually on my website here in the little film that plays automatically when the site opens.
The fact that Richard answered me right away is part of his character. In making plans to meet at The Friars he was meticulous in keeping in touch, and planning the exact time, like the Allies planned the invasion of Normandy!
[caption id=”attachment_9916” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Richard Lewis sitting under his prized Al Hirschfeld caricature at The Friars Club.”][/caption]
I got there early to set up, and Richard was right on time. We sat in the bar, where we could be undisturbed, and he was very gracious with his time, since Richard prepares incessantly for every performance, and tends not to meet with anyone while he’s doing so. It was only because we’re old friends that he graciously agreed to meet with me.
I showed up not knowing whether I’d be able to film him, but he was so accommodating he even helped me set up the camera at the right angle, and suggested a couple of shots for me that he thought would work.
Richard prepares like no other comic I’ve ever seen. His work ethic is admirable, and shows on stage. He sold out Carolines with all his shows. He works with such an incredibly high level of free association that he actually interrupts himself with a new thought, before he allows himself to finish the thought he was talking about. He hardly lets himself finish a sentence. None of his shows could ever be the same.
Check out the full story in my Comedy Matters Vlog at and the video on my Gurian News Network You Tube channel at Comedy Matters Shorties
Phil Rosenthal Exports Raymond For The Friars Club
Charlie Prince is appropriately named, especially when it comes to his work for The Friars Club. He heads up the Friars Film Festival in in doing so, manages to bring great films to be screened at The Friars on a constant basis.
Phil Rosenthal was the Exec. Producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, so when he was asked to bring that show to Russia, he was smart enough to make a documentary out of his ordeal, which is what it turned out to be. A successful ordeal, but an ordeal never-the-less.
[caption id=”attachment_9917” align=”aligncenter” width=”348” caption=”Phil Rosenthal and Jeffrey Gurian on the step-and-repeat for Exporting Raymond.”][/caption]
I had last seen Phil in Montreal last summer when the film was being shown in the the Just For Laughs festival, but I didn’t get a chance to see it then, because Richie Tienken and I were there to show the trailer for Eat, Drink, Laugh, the doc on The Comic Strip.
This screening was so well attended that we had to show it across the street from The Friars at The Core Club which is where I sat down with Phil for this little interview you can see in my Vlog.
Rhonda Hansome on Louie
Rhonda Hansome is back on the comedy scene with a vengeance, and not only performing all over town, but also did a guest spot on Louis CK’s “Louie.”
[caption id=”attachment_9918” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Doug Stanhope, Rhonda Hansome, Louis CK, Leo Goodman, Santos Morales”][/caption]
Story Pirates With Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart and his wife Tracey co-hosted the third annual “After School Special” at Symphony Space on Broadway, and it was a really fun enjoyable event for the children’s writing initiative known as Story Pirates.
Story Pirates takes elementary school kids stories and well known actors act them out. I was prepared to be bored, but it was fantastic and very entertaining., because the children’s stories are very entertaining and creative.
I kidded Jon that the reason it was called “Story Pirates” was because these well known performers steal the ideas from small children and then use them as a performance, and that he could actually do the same thing on The Daily Show if he wasn’t doing it already! That got a big laugh from Jon.
[caption id=”attachment_9919” align=”aligncenter” width=”347” caption=”Jeffrey Gurian interviewing Jon Stewart at Story Pirates!”][/caption]
The event drew lots of stars besides Jon and I got to speak not only to Jon, but to John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, who looked so cute in a pony tail, and Ana Gastayer who was there with her son Ulysses. Artistic director Lee Overtree is to be commended, as is Kiki Valentine the talented performance artist who helped bring attention to the event.
[caption id=”attachment_9920” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Jeffrey Gurian interviewing John Oliver at Story Pirates.”][/caption]
You can see it all here on video.
[caption id=”attachment_9921” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Reggie Watts, Jeffrey Gurian, and Kiki Valentine after one of Kiki’s recent shows.”][/caption]
Men of Violence Slated for 2012
My only non-comedy project, a feature film I wrote called “Men of Violence” was picked up by director John Gallagher, and is posted on IMDb Pro. as being in pre-production for 2012.
John Gallagher is a film director who always works with star-studded casts like Amanda Peet, Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, John Leguizamo, Zach Braff, Heather Matarazzo, and Denis Leary, and has directed award-winning films like “Blue Moon”, “Men Lie”, and The Deli” .
[caption id=”attachment_9922” align=”aligncenter” width=”346” caption=”John Gallagher and Jeffrey Gurian on the red carpet of the Soho International Film Festival!”][/caption]
He’s currently working on horror movie DIGGER 3D starring Heidi Kristoffer and Ryan O’Callaghan; the gangster comedy FICKLE starring Frank Vincent
and the short comedy I LOVE YOU starring Ryan O’Callaghan.
I recently saw John at the Soho International Film Festival where he is on the Advisory Board, when I did interviews with him and actor Frank Vincent in an event John produced, plus a great interview with Michael Imperioli who was there presenting his own film “The Hungry Ghosts”, with Sopranos co-stars Steve ( Bobby Bacala) Schirippa, John (Artie Bucco) Ventimiglia, Vince ( Johnny Sack) Curatola, and Sharon (Rosemary Aprile) Angela. I was there with the beautiful, and talented internet sensation Lauren Francesca. You can see the video here!
[caption id=”attachment_9923” align=”aligncenter” width=”347” caption=”Lauren Francesca and Jeffrey Gurian on the red carpet for the Soho International Film Festival.”][/caption]
Men of Violence is about a successful plastic surgeon obsessed with violence , who accidentally kills the son of a powerful mob boss and has to become the baddest man on the planet to save his wife and kids from retribution.
The Night I Made Woody Allen Laugh
Woody Allen has always been my inspiration and was actually the first big star to read my very early ideas. That is a story I will tell in depth on my blog, because it’s a long one, but suffice it to say that he read my material over the course of two nights, and encouraged me to make films because he said my comedy was very visual.
This was many, many years ago, and our paths had not crossed in quite some time, so when my dear friend Rosa Gudmundsdottir, a talented singer, and friend of Woody’s close friend John Doumanian, told me he was performing at the Café Carlyle, we went up to see him.
[caption id=”attachment_9924” align=”aligncenter” width=”348” caption=”Jeffrey Gurian, Woody Allen, and Rosa Gudmundsdottir at Café Carlyle.”][/caption]
As John was about to re-introduce me to Woody, I stuck out my hand and interrupted with, “ Hi Woody, I’m a very close friend of yours!” He thought about that for half a second and burst out laughing, which is not an easy thing to make happen, as you might be able to tell from the serious way he comes out in photos!
[caption id=”attachment_9925” align=”aligncenter” width=”349” caption=”Jeffrey Gurian with his best friend in the world, Woody Allen. That’s why he looks so happy! ( Jeffrey, not Woody! LOL) “][/caption]
It was a special moment that I wish I had on video. I do have two witnesses however and their names are Rosa Gudmundsdottir and John Doumanian.
Anyway, until next time, remember, …. COMEDY MATTERS!!! And remember to check out the Comedy Matters Vlog for many more stories and interviews.
[caption id=”attachment_9732” align=”alignright” width=”200” caption=”Dan Cummins”][/caption]
It’s time Punchline Magazine provides a valuable service to its readers— beyond, of course, offering you the latest in comedy news and interviews.
So, obviously, that means we’re going to give you a weekly dose of astrology. And by “we,” I mean comedian Dan Cummins.
Dan has been studying the stars for years and is finally sharing his gift with the world. Below you will find the only horoscopes you’ll need this week. -dylan
Aries: Tomorrow, you will murder one hipster. Your lucky letter is Q.
Taurus: In two weeks, you will wake up in a cocoon, and then, after a 24-hour incubation period, you will emerge as an elderly black woman who has to take the bus to work for a white family she despises. Unless, of course, you already are an elderly black woman who hates her white family/boss. In that case, you will emerge from your cocoon looking much the same as before, except older, angrier and blacker. Steer clear of seafood. Gemini: People have a hard time liking you. This trend will continue indefinitely. You have no lucky numbers this week.
Cancer: Tomorrow you will stumble across two corpses and a bag of cash in an alley. Don’t ask any questions. Throw away your cell phone and passport, sneak across a border - any border - and start a new life. Your kids won’t miss you. Your lucky time is 4:44 pm.
Leo: No one wants to say anything, but, you’ve been drinking too much. It used to be funny, but now it’s just sloppy and sad. Time to grow up and snort coke like an adult.
Virgo: Two strange dogs have been lurking around my shed. This week, it’s your job to figure out what the fuck they want with me. Oh, and ease up on the garlic. It’s obnoxious.
Libra: Lately, you’ve been thinking about a lot of things and whatnot. That needs to stop. Just be. No more thinking. About anything. Just be. Just be a robot. Just… be… a… robot.
Scorpio: You are about to come to an important realization. A moment of clarity. You will soon know for a fact that cats are not, in fact, tiny, furry humans, and it’s silly and annoying to make them wear clothes and ask them questions as if you expect them to answer you. Knock it off. Your lucky year is 1876.
Sagittarius: I know you may not be prepared for this, but, in three days, at midnight, you are going to become pregnant. Even if you’re a man. Get ready to break the laws of nature. You’re giving birth to an abomination!
Capricorn: A small band of nefarious lizards has been watching you for weeks. Even I don’t know what they’re up to. Be very afraid. They probably mean you harm.
Aquarius: This week, eight plus eight will equal seventeen. Next week, things will go back to normal. Invest in pork barrels.
Pisces: Good news: On Friday, you’re going to get a promotion. Bad news: On Saturday, you will be fired for money laundering. Don’t worry, on Sunday, you will discover the powers of both levitation and remote thought control. Take over a small island and show the locals no mercy. The time for action is Monday.
Dan Cummins is a nationally headlining comedian with many network television appearances to his credit. His debut album Revenge is Near was released in 2009. Crazy With A Capital F, his Comedy Central hour special, DVD and album, was released in 2010. You can get more info at dancummins.tv.