• Judah Friedlander, Steven Wright, Tom Papa, more perform for Laugh For Sight

    Comedy Matters doesn’t only talk about comics. It talks about the people who make the comedy world what it is, a wonderful place to be! Chris Mazzilli, owner of Gotham Comedy Club, is a special kind of guy and a very charitable man. I don’t think it’s any accident that there are so many charitable events at Gotham. Laugh for Sight is a national charity which raises awareness and funding for Retinal Degenerative Eye Disease Research benefiting the Scheie Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Gotham owner Chris Mazzilli!

    It was a very eclectic mix of performers at this packed event, with the always funny Dan Naturman as MC. Dan has a unique style and delivery all his own, which is the key to successful comedy. No one else should be able to take your jokes, if they are crafted towards your own comedy persona.

    Dan says people on the Internet lie about their age. He received a photo from one woman that had the Berlin wall in the background, … and it was under construction!

    I also love his take-off on the TV commercial encouraging patients to ask their doctors about Previcid. In response to Dan’s Dr. telling him he has a condition that nothing can be done for, Dan asks, “What about Previcid?” and then ponders, “Shouldn’t HE know about Previcid? How is that MY job? ”

    First up was sight-impaired comic Brian Fischler and Nash, his canine companion, and Brian was very funny. Next was Jessica Kirson, a real crowd-pleaser, who is so animated, and takes impromptu breaks onstage in the middle of her act, to talk to herself, offering herself little bits of advice and encouragement like, “You just have to realize that wheat bread is still bread!”

    Jessica Kirson and Tom Papa waiting to go on at the “Laugh For Sight“ benefit at Gotham Comedy Club!

    Jess was followed by Tom Papa, TV and film star, and currently the host of Jerry Seinfeld’s NBC hit, The Marriage Ref. Tom says that men don’t care that much about getting married. That’s why there’s no Groom Magazine! Men don’t even wear their own clothes to get married in. They rent them.

    And he opines on Wall Street guys who kill themselves after losing all their money. “They’d rather die than live like us!”

    He talked about hating cliches, the way I do when during the summer, people who think they have a sense of humor ask “Is it hot enough for you?” Those same creative geniuses can’t wait till Winter to switch to, “Is it cold enough for you?” Those two “Bon-mots” can keep a guy with absolutely no personality going conversation-wise throughout the year! Tom’s example of an obnoxious cliche was, in answer to the simple question “How are you?” “Still about a million dollars away from being a millionnaire!”

    Then Eddie Brill took the stage. Eddie is the consummate showman, and will be making his 10th appearance on Letterman very soon. Judah Friedlander, star of NBC’s 30 Rock, is such a great performer. His “World Champion” hook is one that most comics only dream of. It’s a never-ending source of material for him. What’s cool about Judah though is that as famous and popular as he has become, he’s still totally approachable to his fans. He honors every request for photos and willingly chats with fans after every show.

    Judah Friedlander with Steven Wright, two great thinkers, after their killer sets at the benefit for “Laugh For Sight” at Gotham Comedy Club!

    As World Champion of everything, Judah claims he’s been on Twitter since 1985, is an extra-dark Black belt in Karate, and weight lifts weight lifters while they’re lifting weights to keep in shape. He doesn’t even wait till they put the weights down, which he could conceivably do without anyone doubting his masculinity. But instead, he actually lifts them while they’re holding the weights which makes it much more difficult! Then again, he IS the World Champion!

    Judah was standing behind where I was sitting when Steven Wright took the stage, and it was great to hear him laughing out loud at Steven’s rare and obscure observations like, “It’s a good thing that other people speak foreign languages, otherwise those people would have no one to talk to.”

    “In her spare time, she liked to waste time!” “He majored in Calcium Anthropology – the study of milk men!” “I have two pair of reading glasses, one for fiction and one for non-fiction!” “The Earth is bi-polar!” “Do you know what time it is?” “No, I’m not from around here!” ” A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn’t First Place!”

    I think that Steven was probably an inspiration for comics like Mitch Hedberg, and maybe even Judah. I know he was an inspiration to me, and that Chris Mazzilli, who often leaves at the end of his long day, actually stuck around to see him! Robert Klein brilliantly closed the show and followed Steven because he was probably one of the only ones who could!

    Longer story and more photos available on Comedy Matters Blog.

    Jeffrey Gurian

    Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer who has written for lots of big names, and is currently writing the book on the 35 year history of The Comic Strip. Contact Jeffrey at Jeffrey@jeffreygurian.com.

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