December 2007 Comedy Matters
Written and Photographed
by Jeffrey Gurian
Artie Lange and Jeffrey Gurian
Backstage at Avery Fisher Hall
Cerenzie-Peters Is Global
In last month’s celeb-studded column, I talked
about my old friend Michael Cerenzie, who produced
the current hit film Before the Devil Knows
You’re Dead. Devil was directed
by Sidney Lumet and starred Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Ethan Hawke and the beautiful and talented Marisa
Michael has become a very powerful force in LA;
he has offices on the Paramount Lot. When I visited
him at Paramount, I was directed to go to the “Lucy”
Bungalow (Lucy referred to Lucille Ball). Michael
has been given the honor of having Lucille Ball’s
old production facility as his own.
He is now in a partnership with Christine Forsyth-Peters,
who recently changed her company name from CFP Productions
to CP Productions for Cerenzie-Peters Productions.
Michael must be a very secure man to not worry that
people will think that CP stands for just Christine
Christine Peters and Michael Cerenzie
On the way to the Paramount lot, I had what they
call “A God story.” I’m on the
405 doing about seventy when I get a flat tire.
But don’t know I have a flat and because The
Universe was watching over me I drove about forty
miles on that flat without a blowout or getting
killed. People were pointing at my car, but since
I am from New York I’m used to jerks pulling
alongside my car and making all kinds of weird hand
motions. So I didn’t pay attention to them.
I couldn’t have pulled over anyway. There
were seven lanes, everyone was driving seventy-five
mph and I was in the middle. Then I got lost in
a bad area, had to get back on the highway and go
back in the opposite direction. I still did not
know about the flat. If I had known I’m sure
I would have panicked.
By the time I got out and looked I was only a few
miles from Paramount and I prayed the whole time
until I limped into the Paramount lot. The rental
place was kind enough to come and replace my car.
Anyway, Michael has been traveling all over the
world - to China, Japan, Korea, and Dubai and other
places from which you can not commute to work in
Manhattan on a daily basis. (Unless your boss has
a very liberal lateness policy!)
Michael Cerenzie with Jeffrey
Christine was in a ten-year partnership
with Academy Award-winning producer Robert Evans.
Evans produced The Godfather and Chinatown.
Christine has also personally produced many hits
including the Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey vehicle
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which grossed
more than $177 million worldwide. I should have
asked her if she could break a twenty for me!
Slipping a very rich person a dollar as if you were
giving them a tip has always struck me as a very
funny thing to do. Especially when you do it just
as you’re leaving their home. They hand you
your coat, and you thank them for a lovely evening
and palm them a buck! Most of them just stare at
me blankly for a moment until the joke kicks in.
Donald Trump Jr. stopped me from doing my "tip
gag" to his Dad one night because he wasn’t
sure how he would take it. I took his advice since
he knows him a lot better than I do!
Cerenzie-Peters is also involved on a global level
in video game adaptations. She has quite a slate
of films and video projects in the works including:
Black Water Transit, starring Lawrence
Fishburne and Brittany Snow (I met Brittany at the
Hairspray roundtable); an historical (not
hysterical) bio-pic of Genghis Khan, the warrior
king who united China and gave Jewish people a place
to eat every Sunday night ever since; The First
Stone, a political spy-thriller set in Saudi
Arabia; and an untitled iceberg project, currently
referred to as Untitled Iceberg Project
, a thriller where scientists must change the course
of an iceberg to avoid a nuclear catastrophe
Stay tuned for more Cerenzie-Peters success stories.
I’m psyched to see Michael when he comes to
The Friars Club Is Fifty
I am a proud member of the Friars Club; my sponsor
was actually Milton Berle. The Friars celebrated
its 50th anniversary at their grand mansion on East
55th Street. If I’m not mistaken it was Milton
who actually found the building and intended to
buy it for his wife (who didn’t want it) so
he offered it to The Friars.
Richard Belzer and Alan
The Friars 50th Anniversary Party
On November 27th, 1957, The Friars moved from their
old clubhouse on East 56th Street into the beautiful
mansion on East 55th Street. The city then re-named
the street Friars Way. On November 27t, 2007, the
block was closed for an official proclamation by
Mayor Bloomberg in honor of the 50th Anniversary.
There was champagne flowing in the street, which
I think you can only do when the Mayor says it’s
The 50th Anniversary party was a hoot with many
great comics and performers in attendance including;
Lisa Lampanelli, whose star is so on the rise she
was given the honor of cutting the cake; TV star
Richard Belzer; award-winning writer/producer Alan
Zweibel (who I credit for giving me my official
start as a writer - sorry Alan!); comics Jeffrey
Ross and Steven Scott; actor Tony LoBianco; legendary
agent Don Buchwald; Gilbert Gottfried with his lovely
wife Dara; Vinny Pastore; Dick Capri; Dean Freddie
Roman; and many others.
Lisa Lampanelli Cuts the
Jeffrey Ross (l), Steven Scott and Gilbert Gottfried
When I asked Dara what it was like being married
to Gilbert, she confided in me that being married
to Gilbert and having a baby (Lily) just meant she
had two babies to take care of.
Super Agent Don Buchwald
and Jeffrey Gurian
Artie Lange Kills at N.Y.
Caroline Hirsch did it again with her NY Comedy
Festival - another home run. I don’t
know much about sports. I watch Wide World of Schwartz,
but I know she’s batting a thousand.
In a town saturated with comedy and comedy events,
she managed to produce a festival filled with headliners
at various major venues around town. And the shows
mostly sold out. Caroline even hosted a benefit
(during the Festival) to help our wounded soldiers
which was called “Stand Up For Heroes.”
The benefit was hosted by Conan O’Brien and
featured sets by Robin Williams and Lewis Black
plus a performance from Bruce Springsteen.
And that was only one of the Festival's shows!
Now in its fourth year, the NY Comedy Festival
also featured shows starring Sarah Silverman, Rosie
O’Donnell, Bill Maher, D.L. Hughley, Louis
CK, Damon Wayans, and Artie Lange at prestigious
venues like Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, and Carnegie
Hall. No one does it better than Miss Caroline!
Wil Sylvince Holding his
Most star performers have performed
at Carolines on Broadway. Caroline opened her present
location in 1992, after moving from her South Street
Seaport location. Prior to that she had operated
from her original cabaret club on 8th Avenue and
It was at the original 26th Street location that
I first saw Paul Reiser and Jerry Seinfeld performing
back in the early 80’s. I actually offered
to introduce them to representation since they were
so new they had none and I had been working with
the legendary David Jonas. Jonas is now in his 90’s
and living in California. I can hardly remember
anything, but I remember the night I met both Seinfeld
and Reiser as if it was yesterday.
There was never any question they would both become
At Carolines on Broadway, I watched Wil Sylvince
win the $2500 check for funniest new comic and then
saw him open for D.L. Hughley a few days later at
Town Hall. Great, great show! D.L. rocked the house.
Then I popped into Avery Fisher Hall to catch Artie
Lange’s sold out show. I’ve seen plenty
of performers get standing ovations but usually
not just for coming out on stage. If they’re
lucky, they get one when the show is over. But Artie
got his standing ovation when he was introduced.
Artie is really loved by his fans.
Ratso Sloman, Mike Bochetti and Jeffrey Gurian at
Avery Fisher Hall
Opening for Artie were three talented comics. First
was the incredibly funny Pete Dominick, (www.petesbigmouth.com),
who currently hosts two daily shows on Sirius Satellite
Radio’s Raw Dog 104. From 12-1 P.M. he hosts
Comedy By Request, and then on Mondays, Tuesdays,
Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:15 P.M., he hosts Getting
Late where he interviews comedians, actors,
writers, and artists in a free-wheeling uncensored
format. I don’t know what he does on Thursdays,
but it’s not Getting Late!
His guests have included Bob Saget, Jon Lovitz,
Jim Gaffigan, Dane Cook. Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler
and by the time you read this column, my name will
be added to that esteemed list.
I went to try and find him after the show to congratulate
him on his outstanding performance but he already
split. Probably had another gig to do.
Sirius Radio chose my book Filthy, Funny, and
Totally Offensive as one of their stocking
stuffers for Xmas and when I went over there to
drop off the books, Exec. Producer Rory Belfi brought
Pete out of the booth to meet me and I was able
to tell him how he rocked Avery Fisher Hall. I’m
really looking forward to being on the radio with
Next on stage was the great Mike Bochetti who is
becoming kind of a cult favorite. I’ve known
and loved Mike for years (not in the Biblical sense
of course!); he starred in one of my films in the
“Men Who” series. The “Men Who”
series is currently showing on the Fun Little Movies
Channel on mobile phones.
Frank Chindamo, CEO and founder of Fun Little
Movies, is one of the hardest working men in
show biz. Frank recently called me with the good
news that he sold part of his company for millions!
If there’s one guy who deserves it it’s
Frank. Maybe soon I can slip him a buck!
Anyway, Bochetti starred in Men Who Swim To
Work. He was originally supposed to star in
Men Who Never Get To The Office Because They
Don’t Know Where They Work, in which
he’d stop people in the street and ask, “Pardon
me, do you know where I work?” That proved
to be too difficult to film but we knew we had to
have him so I switched him to Men Who Swim To
Work. He was amazing. Check out Men Who
on my website at http://www.jeffreygurian.com.
Next to perform was Greg Fittzsimmons, who has been
seen all over late night TV with his own unique
brand of comedy. (Does that sound silly? Who does
someone else’s brand?) He killed as well.
Artie didn’t hang out too long backstage,
but at least I had time to run into legendary writer
Ratso Sloman who got the name Ratso from Bob Dylan.
And I got to congratulate Artie on his outstanding
show. He never fails to talk up my book and I really
I ran in to see Lizz Winstead’s fabulously
hip, politically oriented, weekly show Shoot
the Messenger at the cabaret under Acme on
Great Jones Street.,
). That night her guest was Todd Hanson from The
Onion. Todd once told me he was a big fan of
Weekly World News, and actually claimed
to have read and enjoyed some of my stories. So
why can’t I write for The Onion???
Lizz by the way is the co-creator of The Daily
Show, and the current creator of Wake Up World,
billed as America’s only six hour morning
show. Lizz knows everyone so she always has great
guests. Go buy tickets and check out Shoot the
Messenger, you cheap s.o.b.’s! It’s
only ten bucks!
Lizz Winstead Interviews
While there, I ran into Jeff Kreissler whose Comedy
Against Evil is on the political comedy college
tour. I know less about politics than I do about
sports. It’s frightening.
I also helped out with a VIP party for Zink
Magazine and was on the red carpet with my
muse, the talented actress/model Jacqueline Beaulieu
(who recently starred in one of my Masters of
Disguise films, about a famous lingerie model
who was held up by two men disguised as a bra).
Check it out on You Tube at
Jacqueline Beaulieu and
Is A Comedy Hero
Danny Aiello is a big movie star. He’s also
a man who gives back. He’s always been grateful
that many years ago in 1972, while he was struggling
and out of work, Improv founder Budd Friedman gave
him a job as a bouncer for the club.
Danny had been a union president for the Grayhound
Union, representing bus drivers, and ticket agents.
He lost his job as the result of a wildcat strike,
and as he told it to me, Budd Friedman recognized
his talent and hired him as a bouncer for $150 a
For about two years (between throwing out drunks)
he introduced the acts at The Improv. He watched
comics rise from obscurity to stardom and realized
that he himself was not cut out to be a comedian
but that he did make a great audience. Danny has
a good sense of humor and an even better eye for
He told himself that one day he wanted to have his
own club where comics could have a chance to develop
and show what they can do and now that dream has
come true at Danny’s Upstairs in Hoboken,
New Jersey, right above Tutta Pasta restaurant,
on Washington and 2nd Street.
Danny Aiello and Jacqueline
Beaulieu at Danny’s Upstairs
The food at Danny’s is great,
and there are about one-hundred-and-fifty comics
on the roster already because it’s a very
short trip from Manhattan out to Hoboken and everybody
loves Danny. On any night, you might find a Jerry
Stiller, a Robert Klein, or a Joe Piscopo in the
I went out there for the taping of a new pilot for
television called Danny’s Upstairs;
it was being shot and directed by Larry Weitzman
of NBATV fame. Larry was the V.P. and Head of Program
Development for NBA Entertainment for almost twenty
years before he launched WeitNoize Entertainment
which will hopefully be producing Danny’s
new show. It just needs to be picked up.
I’ll tell you one thing about Larry, he runs
a tight ship. He got everything done on time and
getting a roomful of comics to do what you want
is not easy.
I walked in and it was like old home week. My muse
Jacqueline from the paragraph above performed her
stand-up comedy segment while wearing a bikini,
which she did very well ( both in the wearing of
the bikini and in the telling of the jokes!). (To
see Jacqui in a bikini, check out the You Tube
thing!) When Jacqui and I got there, we ran right
Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise
at Danny’s Upstairs
Then I go inside and there are Geno Bisconte, Howard
Feller, Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise with their newest
addition (a baby), Ross Bennett, Jeff Pirrami, and
a bunch of other guys I know. Everyone was supposed
to do an improv scene with comic Al Lubell, the
star of that night's show.
I was absolutely dying to do a scene with Al but
I didn‘t have the nerve to ask Larry, cause
like most comics I’m secure and insecure at
the same time and I always think people are going
to yell at me if I ask a question.
Danny Aiello and Jeffrey
Gurian at Danny’s Upstairs
Afterwards, a really funny comic named Laura Nikifortchuk
(who is both Larry and Danny’s “consigliore”)
told me that I would have been very welcome as a
performer in the improv. So maybe I will sometime
So why do we do those things to ourselves? Because
we’re afraid we’ll look “pushy”!
And how do you ever get seen if you’re not
pushy? It’s a Catch 22.
I saw Laura again afterwards at a party and told
her I kept wanting to call her Nikki Fortchuk cause
I think it's such a cute name. She told me that
Danny calls her Nikki Fortchuk all the time.
I can’t wait to see the edited
version of the filmed show.
Anyway, until next time,
Happy Holidays, Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New
Year to you all, and remember … COMEDY MATTERS!!!
A nationally known comedy writer and
an authority on roast humor, Jeffrey L. Gurian has
written material for many of the great performers
at the fabled Friars Roasts including Richard Belzer,
Robin Williams, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis and even
Bruce Willis, as well as material for comedy stars
such as Joan Rivers, Gilbert Gottfried, Phil Hartman,
Pauly Shore, "Dice" Clay, and Pat Cooper.
He wrote and directed The Men Who Series of short
films for the Toyota Comedy Festival currently showing
on cell phones and You Tube. . He also wrote for
MTV and USA Network and was one of the writers of
Sony's first interactive film. As a playwright he
wrote a one- hour NBC drama about the devastating
effects of homelessness on the young, entitled De
La Salle. He was given the honor of having his own
column in the legendary Weekly World News called
World of the Bizarre." His first feature film
Face to Face, that he wrote with Scott Baio, made
its world premiere at the Taos, New Mexico Film
Festival, and was honored as the opening night film.
It has since become an award-winning film and won
for Best Comedy Feature at the Marco Island Film
Festival in Florida and the Valley Film Festival
in Hollywood. His newest film, I Am Woody , about
a mob boss obsessed with Woody Allen, won for Best
Short Film at the NY Independent Film Festival.
Jeffrey can be seen around town performing his comedy
news broadcast Uncle Nat's Traveling Peep Show with
his comedy partner model/performer Sonya Gignac.
Jeffrey was recently chosen to be the East Coast
producer of National Lampoon radio. His first book,
based on his writing for the Friars Roasts is from
Kensington Books, "Filthy, Funny, and Totally
Offensive - Jokes So Dirty Comedians and Entertainers
Only Tell Them To Each Other." In addition
Jeffrey is a Clinical Professor at NYU in the Oral
Medicine/Oro-Facial Pain Department, a cosmetic
dentist, lecturer, author and healer. He also is
credited for developing a cure for stuttering. You
may read more at http: www.jeffreygurian.com.