I just went to see Tyler Perry’s “Peeples”, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had quite a cast with Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, Craig Robinson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Melvin Van Peebles, (who I almost called “Van Peeples!” LOL), Diahann Carrol, Ana Gasteyer and my old friend, the beautiful, and talented Kali Hawk.
It’s not too often that you get to have a friend who’s a legitimate movie star,… especially one that you’ve known for many years. It’s a really nice feeling to be proud of someone’s accomplishments, and Kali has worked very hard to achieve what she’s gotten. Considering how young she still is, I’m almost afraid to think of how young she must have been when I first met her! (LOL)
I remember her as a teenager, and how excited she’d be about watching stand-up comedy. I have this vague memory of standing with her at The Comic Strip, in the doorway to the showroom, watching the acts, while she wondered if she could do comedy. I recall going to see her perform in plays at the Theatre for the New City on the Lower East Side.
She was in high school by the tender age of 12 and in college before she was even 16. She started out doing commercials, but as gorgeous as she was, didn’t begin modeling until she moved out to LA, where she booked magazine ads and commercials for KFC, Clorox2, MTV Europe and was in several music videos for rock band Korn, Rob Zombie, Norah Jones, T.I., and Usher. It was only a matter of time until Kali made her way to the big screen.
Some years passed between the time we spoke and then in 2007, I was out in LA for a party made by Kent Emmons for a book I wrote called “Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive” based on my writings for the Friars Roasts, which are notoriously raunchy, and Kali came to support me.
She looked so amazing I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her! She has grown into such an elegant woman!
Before “Peeples”, she was seen in the Lion’s Gate thriller ‘Holla’, alongside actor Michael Bergin. She would follow that project with a supporting role in the Spike Lee comedy “Lovers & Haters”, playing a scathing Hollywood diva opposite singer/superstar Mariah Carey, I saw her in “Get Him To The Greek” with Russell Brand, and Jonah Hill, and she played Trudy in “Couples Retreat,” another star-studded movie written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.
On TV, she has also appeared on the hit CW sitcom ‘The Game’, executive produced by Kelsey Grammer, was accepted as a cast member for the ill-fated remake of “In Living Color” that unfortunately did not come to fruition, and worked with my boy Tony Rock, on a TV project he was starring in. Tony was the featured performer in a sold out show at the Westbury Theatre on Long Island, that I co-produced starring the one and only Kevin Hart!
Tony is also the new host of the Jamie Foxx remake of “Live At The Apollo”, aptly named “Apollo Live” shooting right here in Harlem, NYC! I went to the opening of the first season to cheer him on. Tony is amazingly funny, and the nicest guy you’d ever wanna meet!
So “Peeples” was exciting to me because Kali had so much screen time. She plays Gloria Peeples the lesbian daughter of Virgil Peeples played so well by David Alan Grier.
I hadn’t seen David since last summer in Montreal during the Just for Laughs Festival when he came in to kibbitz with Adam Carolla right in the middle of my interview with him. It was actually funny, because the door was closed, and we were backstage after Adam’s show, but nobody’s gonna tell David that he can’t come in, so he did! (LOL) And it turned out very funny, because as I recall he was trying to distract me, and we all had a good laugh!
Craig Robinson is also a great guy, and we did a cool interview together on the red carpet of the Comedy Central Comedy Awards.
I’m heading out to LA in about ten days to shoot my third appearance on Comedy Central’s hit “Kroll Show” and I really hope to be able to get the chance to congratulate Kali in person!
If someone told you you had to go on the radio for an hour and 40 minutes straight you might wonder to yourself if you had enough to say. On today’s Keith and The Girl appearance after almost two hours we were just warming up! I swear we could have gone another two hours easy! The flow was amazing and they are extremely gracious hosts!
My curiousity was piqued last month when I attended a couple of nights of their 8th anniversary celebration which they held out in Brooklyn at a performance space called White Wave. They literally had fans fly in from all over the world. Right around me were people from Australia, Toronto, Europe, Colorado, California, and all of them had gone to great trouble and expense to come in and celebrate with KATG!
People like Ted Alexandro say I know everyone in comedy.
So I was embarrassed to admit that KATG had escaped my comedy radar. And for eight years??? How could that even happen? That’s when I made it my business to find out more about KATG, and I’m so glad I did.
They have a super studio in Queens, whose exact location will not be divulged. Suffice it to say that it’s hidden inside of a mountain and when you approach and yell out a secret word, which they give you before you arrive, the mountain actually splits open, and you walk in, like Moses parting The Red Sea! It’s incredible.
I started out strong when they asked me my favorite movie and I said “The Sixth Sense.” It seems that was Keith’s favorite movie as well and no one else had ever said that. Then they were both ready to fall out of their chairs when I told them my favorite color was orange, which also happened to be Keith’s favorite color. And anyone who knows me knows that’s true. It’s the color of The Second Chakra and a very powerful color.
We went on to talk about everything. We talked about my new book, “Make ‘Em Laugh”, about the 35 year history of The Comic Strip, comedy legends like Andy Kaufman, Jack Rollins, and Milton Berle, young stars not with us anymore like Patrice O’Neal, Mitch Hedberg, Mike DeStefano, Greg Giraldo, movies, music, Healing which was an amazing discussion where we found out that Chemda has Healing energy, and she thinks she’d like to use it!
We talked about the comedy clubs and gave shout-outs to The Comic Strip, Gotham Comedy Club, and The Comedy Cellar. We talked about high school, and about how and why kids are so mean to each other, dating, sexuality, and almost every subject on the planet, and we had lots of laughs and a really good time.
We even talked about You Pop the new social media craze that’s sweeping the country where creative people can get paid for making cool little videos on their cell phones and uploading them to the YouPop.com site to be offered to the world at large!
To show you just what a good time we had, I didn’t check my e-mail even once during the two hours! It flew by so fast, I couldn’t believe it when Chemda told me how much time had gone by. Then I got the tour of the premises and got to see Lauren again, Chemda’s significant other, plus I got to see the office where they keep their merch and it’s loaded with goodies, except it’s lighter now cause they gave me a whole bunch of presents.
They gave me audio books that you wear on your wrist like a bracelet. I never even saw something like that. I’m not Bill Gates but I’m familiar with lots of technology, and this was really cool. It’s like a thumb drive and you get the book as an MP3.
I got their books, “The Great American Novel” by Keith, and “What Do We Do Now” a modern advice book for modern couples written by both of them. And I had to once again give them props for having been a couple, broken up, and still working together with such a cool dynamic. They are truly good friends. It’s a testament to what people can accomplish if they really want to.
But that’s not all, I also got Keith’s “State of the Union” DVD, and the Keith and The Girl Roast, with cartoon drawings on the back of some of the comics who participated and who you can actually recognize! One I’m sure is Mike Lawrence because the character has a huge beard!
I really hope they invite me back!
Most movies I don’t even see once, so it’s extremely rare that I see a movie twice. Halley Feiffer’s “He’s Way More Famous Than You” was the opening night film of this year’s Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, which was the first time I saw it, and I felt compelled to see it again.
What’s so interesting about this film,… besides it being really funny,… is that some of it is based in truth with all of the characters playing themselves.
Halley Feiffer plays a sweet, sensitive alcoholic who had a small part in Noah Baumbach’s 2005 film “The Squid and the Whale.” In real life she played Jesse Eisenberg’s girlfriend in that very same film. In HWMFTY she finds herself struggling in life and her career. She loses her agent, her boyfriend, played by Michael Churnus, and what’s left of her career, and goes out to make a movie that will put her on top.
Through many funny contrivances, and lots of begging, with a touch of synchronicity thrown in, she gets an amazing star-studded cast like Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Mamie Gummer, Ralph Maccio, Jesse Eisenberg, Tracee Chimo, Michael Chernus, Liz Holtan, Austin Pendleton, and Vanessa Williams to play the roles she created with her co-writer and co-star Ryan Spahn.
And she gets Michael Urie who will forever be known as “the gay guy from Ugly Betty” to also co-star and direct.
Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn are together in real life but in the movie Ryan plays Halley’s brother!
Geoffrey Soffer is the producer of the film, who also has quite a history as a casting director! One of his accomplishments was casting the final two seasons of the hit TV show “Ugly Betty”, which is a show that quite a few people in this film are connected to as well.
From 2003 to 2008, Geoffrey was a casting director at ABC/ABC Studios where his credits include the original pilots of “Army Wives”. “Miss/Guided” produced by Ashton Kutcher, “Dirty Sexy Money”, and the Sam Raimi produced series, “Legend of the Seeker.”
This past Friday the film opened at AMC Loews Theatre on 11th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan, and I knew I had to be there to support it. Seeing a film for the second time gives you so much more insight into the action and the characters. I can see why people go to see a movie they like several times. Every time you watch it you catch something you didn’t see before.
I’ll tell you two inside facts. The amazing scene where Halley is bicycling through Times Square was shot by producer Geoffrey Soffer from the back of his “hatchback”, as he described it, and the “film-within-a-film” shooting scene where Ryan Spahn’s character gets abruptly replaced by Ralph Maccio because according to Halley’s character “he’s way more famous than you”, was shot on Vanessa Williams gorgeous estate!
This is a fun film you really need to see, and I’m even more impressed with Halley Feiffer’s comedic chops than I was when I saw it the first time!
Making a purposeful effort to make a home for myself at The Comedy Cellar, the legendary club owned by Noam Dworman and frequented by every major comedy star who hits New York, I went down on a Tuesday to catch their weekly podcast, “Live From The Table”, which this week featured the always hysterical Kurt Metzger and Dan Naturman. I was a guest a few weeks ago and had a blast!
Sitting at the bar chatting with Marina Franklin, we were soon joined by Tom (The Marriage Ref) Papa who invited me to stop by his monthly Sirius XM radio show which started right after the podcast at the Comedy Cellar’s other space, The Village Underground, conveniently located literally right around the corner.
What a beautiful space! A really nicely appointed room with lots of tables, dim lighting, big screen TV’s to be able to see well from all over the room, and for the last month or so, comedy as well. Tom hosts a show appropriately called “Come To Papa” which is kind of a throwback to something I had never really seen but only heard of, “scripted radio.” Before TV was invented in this country and even afterwards when people started to buy them thanks to Mr. Television himself, the legendary Milton Berle, most people listened to scripted radio shows for entertainment.
It’s hard to believe there was actually a time before TV, but when Milton Berle had his Texaco Star Theatre, people would gather in the streets to watch TV through the store windows of appliance stores selling TV’s, and thanks to the popularity of his show, so many TV’s were sold that that’s how he got the nick-name “Mr. Television.”
I had the honor of being sponsored in The Friars Club by Milton Berle who I also had the honor of writing jokes for, and who I considered a friend.
Before TV, in the 1930′s and 40′s, families would huddle around the radio to hear their favorite shows, and their favorite comedians like Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn.
They also got to hear shows like Abbott and Costello, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, and Our Miss Brooks, which I know went on to become a TV show in the 1950′s.
Radio comedy ran the gamut from small town humor like that of Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the weekly “gag shows” like Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One and Can You Top This?, panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes.
So Tom Papa had a rich history to compete with and from what I saw he’s doing it well. He was joined by comics Cynthia Koury, who doubled as the MC, Dan Soder, the same Kurt Metzger from the “Live at the Table” podcast, Rick Crom who used his deep resonant voice as the announcer, and I stayed long enough to see a mix of stand-up, and written sketches where the comics read from scripts, before I had to run and cover my next event.
The event was produced by Aaron Hodges from Sirius XM radio who was kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my performance on Kroll Show in Too Much Tuna with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney!
The reaction of the audience and the strength of the performances I saw makes me want to attend regularly, and I can’t wait for the next one when I can stay for the entire show! Even better, Noam himself invited me back!