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What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

New York Cool - Comedy Matters

May 2007 Comedy Matters
Written and Photographed
by Jeffrey Gurian



Christian Slater and Jeffrey Gurian
Clearview Chelsea Cinema

 

Gen Art Rocks

Every Spring, I look forward to attending the Gen Art Film Festival (April 11 to April 17, 2007 genart.com), which I think I've been doing ever since it started twelve years ago. Gen Art is a leading arts and entertainment organization, dedicated to showcasing the best of emerging talent in the areas of film, art, and fashion.

So much of the credit for this amazing festival has to go to Jeffrey Abramson, the Festival Director and Programmer. Jeffrey works tirelessly all year long searching out the best films from all over the world.


Gen Art Festival Director Jeff Abramson with
Christian Slater and Jamison Jones of He Was A Quiet Man

This year the festival opened with a great film called Crashing, starring Campbell Scott. Scott plays a newly famous novelist who gets tossed out by his wife at the same time he's speaking on a college campus. Scott’s character is then invited by sexy coed roommates Izabella Miko (Coyote Ugly) and Lizzy Caplan (The Class) to "crash" at their pad: Very interesting scenario.

Gen Art screens seven films over the course of the week and hosts seven after-parties at the hippest places around town. The opening night party for Crashing was at The Park.


Jeffrey Gurian and Lizzy Caplan at The Park

All the films were great but I think the closing film, He Was A Quiet Man, starring Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert, William H. Macy, Sascha Knopf, and Jamison Jones was my favorite. Slater plays a man who is at the end of his rope and fantasizes about "going postal" in his office. He keeps a gun in his desk that he loads and unloads while he fantasizes about the violence he would like to unleash. This theme is very poignant right now, especially considering the recent Virginia Tech massacre.

What amazed me most about the film was Slater's physical transformation to a nerdy-looking, balding loser with thick glasses. He looked perfect for the role of a guy capable of snapping and committing mass murder. Slater looked exactly like the kind of person who when the police interview his neighbors after his crime spree, one will invariably say, “He was a quiet man." Christian said he's just glad his hair grew back!

New Head of Just For Laughs Festival

The 25th year of the biggest, most famous comedy festival in the world is coming up this summer. No silly, not Ed's Fest of Jest in Waukegan, Illinois! It’s the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. What is Ed's Fest of Jest in Waukegan, Illinois anyway? I think that's the smallest comedy festival in the world. (One guy entertaining himself!)


Maureen Taran, VP of Programming at JFL

And helming the festival in its landmark year is newly named VP of Programming, veteran talent manager Maureen Taran, who moved back to her native Montreal to assume this illustrious position.

Maureen had opened her own talent management company, coincidentally known as The Taran Co., after she spent nine years working for the Barry Katz Entertainment Group.

Interestingly enough, during the early 1990's Maureen worked at the festival as a talent logistics coordinator. And now she'll be running it. Great story!

Working alongside Just For Laughs chief operating officer Bruce Hills and the rest of the programming team in Montreal, Taran said she aims at extending the festival's brand into the USA - to broaden the JFL brand.

"I'm looking to take what Just For Laughs has done and make it bigger and better, taking shows to Broadway, creating different touring packages beyond stand-up or taking the event to the Internet," Taran said.

Pat Cooper Visits The Comical

Danny Lobell is a go-getter. Besides being a stand-up comic, he created the magazine known as "The Comical", which you will find in every comedy club in NYC worth its salt, (where do I get these archaic phrases from?). “The Comical” profiles major people in comedy. Danny keeps threatening to write about me in it. So far, nothing!


Jeffrey Gurian, Pat Cooper and Danny Lobell

However, Danny did invite me to be on his radio broadcast where I was thrilled to see my old pal Pat Cooper, who also showed up to do a spot. Pat is amazing; because as big a star as he is, he's always ready to help a young performer by showing up to perform.

Many years ago he even starred in a short film for me (along with Richard Belzer and Gilbert Gottfried) so I speak from experience.

Danny's show is fun and very loose and I got a chance to play my slide whistle, talk about my affinity for spoons, my Weekly World News stories, my spoon plants, my book and my newly opened spoon repair shop on the Upper East Side.

I'm pretty sure Danny and his friends thought I was in the music business, and that was after my appearance!

Gary Coleman Spins at Home

That's not gossip. Home is the hot club on West 27th Street in NYC and they were doing a film party for director Poull Brien and his newest film Sundance Celebrity Swag Hunt, which was shot at Sundance during the 2007 festival,

Swag is a comedic documentary about the world of celebrity gifting. It stars Gary Coleman and Dustin Diamond; in the documentary, they compete against each other to see who can get the most stuff for free.


Gary Coleman and Jeffrey Gurian at Home

Coleman didn't fly to New York for free; he made it clear he was flown in by the producers to DJ at the party, a task which he performed admirably. Coleman was a really friendly guy, and it was good to meet him as we have a mutual friend at National Lampoon Radio - CEO Kent Emmons. Kent will be hosting a party for me in on June 27th in LA. The party is for promote my book, “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive". Can't wait.

Lisa Lampanelli Luncheon at The Friars

The Friars Club has always been a safe haven for comedians and free speech (especially when it comes to outrageous humor) so it was a natural fit for them to honor the legendary Queen of Insult Humor, “Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean" - Lisa Lampanelli.

Lisa came with her parents, but she didn't soften up her act at all. She called her mother the "C" word and had some choice words for her father. But Lisa said she didn't have to worry because her father‘s “an old deaf bastard." But it was all in jest and her parents laughed as loud as everyone else.


Lisa Lampanelli, Frankie Valli and Stewie Stone

Lots of stars stopped by including Dominic (Uncle Junior) Chianese, co-star of The Sopranos, and legendary singer Frankie Valli (The Four Seasons), who is also a star on The Sopranos.

Lisa is featured in my book and is expected at my party at The Friars Club.


Michele Balan Rocks Gotham

Last Comic Standing finalist Michele Balan is on a whirlwind schedule of performances that take her all over the country and beyond. She made time for her New York fans to play Gotham Comedy Club in a show she called Hinjew Hysteria.


Michele Balan and Jeffrey Gurian at Gotham Comedy Club

Michele was the "Jew", and Vidur Kapur, an openly gay Indian comic who I had seen before at an all Indian comedy show at Don't Tell Mama's, supplied the "Hin" part. It was an interesting creative mix and the show was very funny.

Marion Grodin, who is not only an outstanding comic but also the producer of her own comedy shows at clubs all over town, was the MC for the evening. She is also the daughter of the legendary actor Charles Grodin, so comedy is in her DNA.

Anyway, until next time, 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 "Gurian's
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.



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