Carl Reiner is a legend of American comedy, having achieved great success as a comic actor, director, producer and recording artist. He has won nine Emmy Awards, three as an actor, three as a writer and two as a producer. He also won a Grammy Award for his 2,000 Year Old Man album, based on his comedy routine with Mel Brooks.
Reiner made his Broadway debut in 1949 in the musical Inside U.S.A. His next Broadway show, the 1950 musical revue, Alive and Kicking, led to his being hired to appear on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. Reiner continued on with Sid in Caesar’s Hour in 1954, and at that time also began writing for the show along with Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Larry Gelbart and Mel Tolkin.
His semi-autobiographical novel, Enter Laughing, was published in 1958, It was transformed into a Broadway play in 1963, adapted into a movie in 1967, and a Broadway musical in 1976 (with a revival in 2015).
In 1959, he created the pilot for a TV series, Man of the House. CBS didn’t pick up the pilot at first, but in 1961 accepted Reiner’s re-cast version and made history with The Dick Van Dyke Show. Along with producing and writing, Reiner also portrayed Alan Brady, the abrasive Sid Caesar-like comic convinced of his own genius.
Reiner’s feature film directing credits include Enter Laughing, The Comic, Where’s Poppa?, Oh, God!, The Jerk and That Old Feeling.
His recent appearances include the film series Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13 and on television in Hot in Cleveland, Parks and Recreation, and as a voice artist in the animated series, The Cleveland Show.
Reiner was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2000.
Stand-up comedian, actor and author, Lewis Black uses his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger pointing to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin.
As the playwright-in-residence at Manhattan’s West Bank Café’s Downstairs Theatre Bar, he oversaw the development of more than 1,000 plays, as well as his own original works. Black emceed every show and in the late 1980s, having honed his stand-up skills, left to pursue stand-up full time.
“Black on Black”, his three-minute rant about whatever was bothering him at the moment became a popular weekly segment in 1996 for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. It has become one of the most popular and longest-running segments for both the Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah eras. Black has also taped four specials for the Comedy Central Presents series, co-created Last Laugh With Lewis Black and presided over Lewis Black’s The Root of All Evil. His popular appearances on Comedy Central helped to win him Best Male Stand-Up at the American Comedy Awards in 2001. He has filmed two specials for HBO, Black On Broadway and Red, White and Screwed, which was nominated for an Emmy in 2007. He had a regular feature for two seasons on Inside the NFL (for which he earned a Sports Emmy) and in 2006 was asked to participate in Comic Relief.
As an actor, Black appeared in the films, Man of the Year, Accepted, and Unaccompanied Minors. He also joined the cast of the ABC mini-series Madoff and lent his voice to the animated features, Farce of the Penguins and Inside Out. His feature length concert films include, Stark Raving Black and In God We Rust.
Black has received five Grammy nominations and two wins for his critically acclaimed comedy albums. As an author he has garnered critical praise as well commercial success and several weeks on The New York Times best sellers list for his books Nothing’s Sacred, Me of Little Faith and I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas.
Jim Gaffigan is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer and producer known for his material about fatherhood, observations, laziness and food. He was named the “King of Clean” by the Wall Street Journal in 2013.
After a brief stint in advertising, while honing his stand-up comedy skills, Gaffigan proved his comic merit and steadily climbed the ladder to stand-up success. He eventually landed an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, in 1993. Letterman was so impressed by Gaffigan’s first appearance that he handpicked him to develop a sitcom for his production company, World Wide Pants. The sitcom, Welcome to New York, was canceled shortly into its initial run despite critical acclaim. Fortunately, he went on to guest-star on hit shows including That ’70s Show, Sex and the City, Third Watch, Ed and Law & Order.
In 2004 Gaffigan’s stand up material was featured in Comedy Central’s animated series Shorties Watchin’ Shortie. His live Comedy Central specials, Beyond the Pale and King Baby also became popular comedy albums/DVDs. Some of his other comedy specials include, Mr. Universe, Obsessed, and Cinco, all three of which received Grammy nominations.
Gaffigan starred, wrote and executive produced The Jim Gaffigan Show with his wife Jeannie in 2015. The Comedy, about a fictional husband and wife trying to raise their five kids in a New York City two-bedroom apartment, ran for two seasons on TV Land.
In 2016, he won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Morning Program for his contributions as a commentator to CBS Sunday Morning.
Gaffigan is the author of Food: A Love Story and his memoir, Dad Is Fat.
Laraine Newman gained fame in 1975 as an original Saturday Night Live cast member. During her five years on the show, Newman originated and portrayed memorable characters like Sheri the Valley Girl and Connie Conehead. SNL became an instant cultural hit, thrusting its young cast members into high-wattage stardom.
At 14, Newman was already working with a comedy troupe when it was hired to perform in the parks around LA’s South Central region. She attended a performance of legendary mime artist Marcel Marceau and was so enamored by the show and its star that afterward she finagled her way backstage to meet the performer. Following her high school graduation she moved to Europe, and in Paris reconnected with Marceau to study mime under him.
By the age of 19, Newman was back in the United States and living in LA, where she eventually co-launched the pioneering comedy improvisational group the Groundlings with her sister Tracey.
After leaving SNL in 1980, Newman returned to California, where she set out on what has proven to be a successful career in film and television. Her movie credits include Stardust Memories, Perfect, Problem Child 2 and Jingle All the Way. In 1993, she played Laarta in the film version of the famed SNL skit, “Coneheads”.
In addition to extensive voice-over work in TV and videos, she’s had roles in numerous television shows, including Brothers and Sisters, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Friends and Entourage, among others.
W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian who is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning CNN docu-series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. Bell has a book with the easy-to-remember title The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian. He has hosted three critically acclaimed podcasts: Kamau Right Now!, Politically Re-Active, and Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period. Bell made his Netflix debut in 2018 with his stand-up comedy special, Private School Negro. He is on the advisory board of Hollaback! and is the ACLU Celebrity Ambassador for Racial Justice. The New York Times called Kamau “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.”
Bell has been nominated for multiple NAACP Image Awards and a GLAAD Award and he was featured on Conde Nast’s “Daring 25” list for 2016. Bell is known for his criminally short-lived FX & FXX comedy series, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
Bell also travels to college campuses around the country, performing his one man show that inspired Totally Biased, The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour. Bell’s writing has been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Hollywood Reporter, CNN.com, Salon, The LA Review of Books, and The Establishment. The summer of 2018 marks his debut as a director with the release of the A+E documentary Culture Shock: Chris Rock’s Bring The Pain.
Whether Kelly Carlin is talking on her podcast, Waking from the American Dream, performing her solo show about her life and family, or interviewing today’s top comics on her SiriusXM show, The Kelly Carlin Show, she pursues the big questions, and reveals unmined perspectives that opens minds and hearts.
In her highly acclaimed memoir, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing up with George, Carlin’s honesty, keen insight and humor are on full display. She began her professional life working behind the scenes with her father, George Carlin, and mother, Brenda, on various shows for HBO.
In 1993, at the ripe age of 30, Carlin graduated from UCLA, Magna Cum Laude, with a B.A. in Communications Studies where she discovered her voice as a writer. She and her husband Robert McCall wrote together and had some success in TV and film. After her mother’s death in 1997, Kelly found her true calling, autobiographical storytelling, and wrote and performed her one-woman show, Driven To Distraction. She also produced the critically acclaimed Showtime show, The Green Room with Paul Provenza.
Carlin also pursued her masters in Jungian Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute so she could explore the nexus of storytelling, psychology and those big questions of life. But life has plans of its own, and when Kelly’s father died in 2008, her life changed dramatically. Since then she has taken up the torch of his legacy by spreading his life’s work through many media, protecting his work and image in the public sphere, and stepping into the limelight in her own right.
Rain Pryor is a manifesting coach, actress, jazz blues singer, comedy content writer, playwright, activist, motivational speaker and mother.
Pryor’s award-winning solo show, Fried Chicken and Latkes is a hilarious and heart-wrenching story of growing up black and Jewish in a politically incorrect era. Her father was comic genius Richard Pryor, and her mother a Jewish astronomer. Los Angeles Times Critics Choice hailed her singing voice and sense of timing as rare gifts. A New York Times review quoted, “…she has an outsized presence built for Broadway.”
She shares her views and has lead panel discussions on diversity in education and in the entertainment industry at Princeton University, The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore.
Pryor has been performing as a jazz/blues vocalist since 1993, having played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles, DC, Hong Kong, Scotland and London.
She made her television debut in 1989 as series regular, T.J., on the hit ABC series Head of the Class. Pryor starred for several years opposite Sherilyn Fenn and Lynn Redgrave, as Jackie, the lipstick lesbian drug addict on the Showtime series Rude Awakening, and has additionally guest starred on network television series such as The Division and Chicago Hope. She has appeared numerous times on both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno Tonight shows, as well as Tavis Smiley and The Late Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Pryor’s stage credits include playing the title role of Billie Holiday in the UK tour of the Billie Holiday Story and the title role of Ella Fitzgerald in the UK premier of Ella, Meet Marilyn. She’s performed in the Los Angeles production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues with Nora Dunn and Charlene Tilton, Cookin’ With Gas with the Groundlings improvisation troupe, The Exonerated with Aidan Quinn, and The Who’s Tommy at the La Jolla Playhouse.
Violet Ramis Stiel is the eldest child of beloved comedy legend Harold Ramis (Animal House, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day). Formerly a teacher and social worker, Violet is now a full-time writer and disgruntled homemaker.
She is the author of the recently released Ghostbuster’s Daughter, Life With My Dad Harold Ramis. Featuring a foreword by Seth Rogen, the book is a hilarious and heartwarming account of Harold Ramis’ life, work and legacy.
While the book offers a comprehensive history of her father’s career, Ghostbuster’s Daughter also provides a profound homage to their special father-daughter relationship. Violet weaves anecdotes about her father’s unique and devoted parenting style among stories of her own unconventional upbringing, creating a vivid and dynamic portrait of the man behind the movies.
A distinctly offbeat memoir as well as a charming family story for the ages, Ghostbuster’s Daughter is an intimate look at one of America’s preeminent comedy filmmakers.
Kitty Bruce is an actress and singer as well as a trailblazing addiction and recovery specialist as she honors the legacy of her father, Lenny Bruce.
The daughter of Lenny Bruce and granddaughter of Sally Marr, Bruce made her film debut as a teenager in the 1975 girl-gang film, Switchblade Sisters (aka The Jezebels). Quentin Tarantino re-released the film under his Rolling Thunder Pictures label in 1996. Bruce subsequently followed a career as a pop singer, opening for such acts as George Carlin and Diana Ross.
Bruce currently runs The Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, which she founded in 2008. The Foundation combats alcohol/drug addiction with scholarships and education. Working closely with sober houses and treatment programs, Bruce oversees many aspects of addiction service and works with approved facilities designed to save lives. The foundation also provides scholarships for sober living programs. Her goal is to establish educational modules that work under The Lenny Bruce Module guidelines for long-term success.
Robert Klein has been entertaining audiences for more than forty years. Having honed his comedy craft with Second City theatrical troupe in Chicago, he has enjoyed an acclaimed career in comedy, on Broadway, on television, and in film.
Among dozens of starring and guest-starring roles on television, which include co-starring in the NBC series Sisters, Klein’s recent appearances include the revival of Will & Grace, Madam Secretary, Sharknado 2: The Second One and Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and The Mysteries of Laura. He is also the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary, Robert Klein: Still Can’t Stop His Leg.
In 1975, Klein was the first comedian to appear in a live concert on HBO and has continued to perform one-man specials for HBO. He received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music and Lyrics: in 2001 for Robert Klein: Child in His 50’s and in 2010 for Robert Klein: Unfair and Unbalanced.
His film roles include Hooper, The Owl and the Pussycat, Primary Colors, People I Know, Two Weeks Notice, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Back-Up Plan.
Klein received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor, and won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his performance in the hit Neil Simon musical, They’re Playing Our Song. In 1993, he won an Obie and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in Wendy Wasserstein’s, The Sisters Rosensweig.
He was nominated twice for Grammy Awards for “Best Comedy Album of the Year” for his albums Child of the Fifties and Mind Over Matter. His coming-of-age memoir, The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue, is noted in Publishers Weekly as “contagiously funny.”
Paul Feig is an actor, film director, producer and screenwriter. He is best known for directing films starring frequent collaborator Melissa McCarthy: the 2011 film, Bridesmaids, the 2013 film, The Heat, the 2015 film, Spy and the 2016 film, Ghostbusters.
On television he created the show Freaks and Geeks and directed several episodes of The Office and Arrested Development, plus episodes of 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Mad Men, Other Space and other television series. Feig has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for writing on Freaks and Geeks and three for directing on The Office. As an actor, he is also known for playing Mr. Eugene Pool, Sabrina’s science teacher, on the first season of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, as well as Tim, a camp counselor, in the film Heavyweights.
George Shapiro, one of comedy’s most respected managers and producers, has built a career out of his love for laughter and his reverence for those with a gift to inspire it. Together with partner and lifelong friend, Howard West, he formed Shapiro/West Productions and executive produced the Emmy, Peabody, and Golden Globe award winning series Seinfeld.
As an agent with the William Morris Agency, Shapiro is responsible for packaging such hit television programs as The Steve Allen Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, That Girl and Gomer Pyle.
Shapiro left William Morris to become a personal manager and producer. He managed Andy Kaufman, executive producing the specials, Andy Kaufman at Carnegie Hall, Andy’s Funhouse and A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman. He executive produced the film Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman. He also produced Jerry Seinfeld’s very first stand-up special, HBO’s Stand-Up Confidential and packaged Carl Reiner and Mel Brook’s animated milestone, The 2000 Year Old Man. His recent producing credits include Jerry Before Seinfeld, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and the CBS Special The Dick Van Dyke Show–Now In Living Color.
Among the feature films Shapiro produced are Summer Rental, Summer School and Sibling Rivalry. He is the producer of the documentaries The Bronx Boys, The Bronx Boys Still Playing At 80 and The Bronx Boys Finding the Future. He received critical acclaim for producing the HBO documentary If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast, hosted by Carl Reiner.
On Broadway, Shapiro was one of the producers of Colin Quinn: Long Story Short at the Helen Hayes Theatre.
Paula Poundstone is known for her smart, observational humor and spontaneous wit. She tours regularly performing over 85 shows a year, has had numerous HBO specials, and starred in her own series on HBO and ABC. Her second special for HBO, Paula Poundstone Goes to Harvard, marked the first time the elite university allowed its name to be used in the title of a television show.
Her guest appearances include The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Late Night with Carson Daly, and Nerdist with Chris Hardwick, among others. Poundstone has filed commentaries for CBS Sunday Morning and Morning Edition and All Things Considered for NPR. She voices the character “Paulette” in Cartoon Network’s animated series Summer Camp Island, and also voiced the character “Forgetter Paula” in Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
As an author, in her second book, The Totally Unscientific Study Of The Search For Human Happiness, Poundstone asks the question, “Is there a secret to human happiness?” The book debuted at #1 on Amazon’s best sellers lists.
A popular panelist on NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, she also has her own weekly podcast for Maximum Fun titled, Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, considered a comedy field guide to life.
Poundstone was the first woman, in its then 73rd year, to perform standup comedy at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and was awarded an American Comedy Award for Best Female Standup Comic.
Throughout his long and successful career as a producer, director and writer, George Schlatter has been responsible for hundreds of hours of television through series and specials. He changed the face of television when he created and produced such breakthrough series as Laugh-In and Real People. He has received numerous honors and awards that include Emmy’s, Grammy’s, Directors and Producers Guild Awards. On its 25th Anniversary, the Television Academy honored him for his outstanding contribution to television.
Schlatter produced the first 5 years of the Grammy Awards, plus series and specials starring Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Eddie Murphy, Cher, Elton John, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Michael Jackson, Jonathan Winters, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and scores of others.
In 1987 he created, and for 15 years produced, the American Comedy Awards.
Among his award-winning specials are Sinatra 80 Years: My Way and the Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration. He has also produced the People’s Choice Awards and both the 54th and 55th Presidential Inaugural Opening Ceremonies of George W. Bush.
His recent specials are The Best of Laugh-In and Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ To Tell You, a documentary he co-produced with Whoopi Goldberg for HBO.
Besides his work in television, Schlatter has been honored for his showmanship and involvement in many charitable causes. Since 1990 he has produced every “Carousel of Hope Ball” for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, which has built and benefits the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver, Colorado.
An original Saturday Night Live writer whom The New York Times says has “earned a place in the pantheon of American pop culture,” Alan Zweibel has won multiple Emmys and awards from the Writers Guild of America and The TV Critics Association for his work in television which includes It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (which he co-created & produced), Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Late Show with David Letterman.
A frequent guest on late night talk shows, Alan can currently be seen on stage at New York’s Triad Theater as an ensemble performer in Celebrity Autobiography.
Alan’s theatrical works include his collaboration with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award winning 700 Sundays, Martin Short’s Broadway hit Fame Becomes Me, the off-Broadway plays Happy, Comic Dialogue, Between Cars, Pine Cone Moment and Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner–A Sort of Romantic Comedy, which he adapted from his bestselling book.
On the TV screen Alan has appeared in episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Law & Order.
He is the award-winning author of For This We Left Egypt? (with Dave Barry and Adam Manspach), Benjamin Franklin: Big Pain In My… (with Adam Manspach), Lunatics (with Dave Barry), The Other Schulman, Clothing Optional: And Other Ways To Read These Stories, Our Tree Named Steve, Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner A Sort of Love Story and North.
Comedian David Steinberg is also regarded as one of the best award winning and most creative directors working in television today. He has directed numerous episodes of Friends, Seinfeld, Mad About You, Newhart and Designing Women, which he also executive produced. More recently, he has directed for the hit series Weeds and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Steinberg began his comedy career as a member of Second City comedy troupe and 4 years later was starring on Broadway with Elliot Gould in Little Murders, followed by Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, directed by Sidney Poitier. He started his stand-up comedy career opening at the Bitter End in 1969–The New York Times, called him a cross between Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen. After his first appearance on The Tonight Show, Steinberg became one of Carson’s most popular guests and guest hosts, with 140 appearances—second only to Bob Hope.
Steinberg is also known for the memorable parts he created on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. His satiric and controversial “sermons” caused the Smothers Brothers to be thrown off the air. He also wrote and starred in The Music Scene for ABC, as well as The David Steinberg Show–a summer replacement hit for CBS in 1972. Returning to Canada, Steinberg did a sitcom that took a behind the scenes look at a variety show, and introduced to television John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Martin Short, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, and Catherine O’Hara. The group would ultimately become known as SCTV.
Steinberg directed the feature films Paternity, Going Berserk and The Wrong Guy. A director of over 300 commercials, he has also won virtually every award in advertising, including two Clio Awards and the prestigious Silver Lion Award at the Cannes International Film Festival.
As a writer, Steinberg won the Playboy Humor Award for his parody of the novel Ragtime, and an Emmy Award nomination for the television special This Is Sholem Aleichem. His 2007 memoir is titled, The Book of David.
From 2005-2007, he was the executive producer, creator and host of Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg. Recently, Steinberg and Steve Carell executive produced Inside Comedy, a documentary series that chronicles the evolution of comedy over the past five decades.
Joan Dangerfield founded the Rodney Dangerfield Institute at Los Angeles City College in 2017 and serves as the honorary chair of its star-studded advisory board. She is also president of Paper Clip Productions and Dangerfield Entertainment and provides exclusive consulting services to secure US artists and branded interactive exhibitions for private and government-owned companies in China.
Dangerfield co-produced a two-hour documentary about Rodney’s life for A&E in 2006 and has other Rodney-related projects currently in development.
In early 1995, Dangerfield developed a website for her husband, the legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield, earning him the distinction of being the first celebrity to own and control his official site which featured daily jokes streamed in “Real Audio” format. The following year, Mr. Dangerfield was listed as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People On The Internet” by Website Magazine–ahead of Bill Gates and Al Gore.
A redesign of Rodney’s website launched on his birthday in 2013 earned a prestigious international Webby Award for exhibiting remarkable achievement in the Best Navigation/Structure category.
Ms. Dangerfield’s philanthropic passions include serving on the board of UCLA’s Department of Neurosurgery and affiliations with such organizations as the Los Angeles City College Foundation, American Cinematheque, Creative Coalition, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and the International Festival & Event Association. She previously served on the board of the Western Division of the American Friends of Hebrew University.
Paul Provenza is a stand-up comedian, filmmaker, actor, author, and radio and podcast personality and considered one of the foremost authorities on the comic mind. As a standup comedian Provenza made his stage debut at age 17 at the original The Improv in Manhattan and in 1983 made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. For several years he was the opening act for Diana Ross.
His television work includes hosting and producing Showtime’s The Green Room and appearing in such popular shows as Empty Nest, Northern Exposure, Facts of Life, Miami Vice, The West Wing and Dynasty, among others. In theater, Provenza studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, in London, and joined a classical repertory theater group, becoming one of few Americans to perform the role of Romeo on the London stage. He received critical acclaim for his work in the Off-Broadway play Only Kidding!, winning the Theater World Award for Best Actor in a Play.
After decades as a stand-up comic and actor, Provenza found a new calling as an interviewer of other stand-up comedians, culminating in his 2005 directorial debut with the critically acclaimed, The Aristocrats. Continuing his unique talent for reaching into the comedic mind, his book, ¡Satiristas!, features in-depth interviews with Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, George Carlin, and Marc Maron.
He was honored with a caricature by the legendary Al Hirschfeld. Provenza is also a frequent panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me on National Public Radio.
Long before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, there was Mark Russell, daring to joke and sing of the often-absurd political process. He started in a little piano bar on Capitol Hill right across from the lawmakers themselves. As he puts it, “I started at the bottom and managed to work my way down.”
Russell continues to play off the day’s headlines, performing stand-up comedy while accompanying himself on the piano. With impeccable timing, twinkling eyes and shock-of-recognition insights into American politics, he draws merriment from the pomposity of public life. Reading three or four newspapers a day allows him to constantly update his material. The result is that no two shows are ever identical
Like many men of his generation, Russell readily admits that he dodged the draft. He did it by joining the Marine Corps. Returning home he invaded the Shoreham Hotel for a risky two-week gig that lasted for twenty years. The Marquee Lounge became “the place” where politicians would come to hear his jokes about what they had done that day.
Russell spent 30 years on public television as host of the “Mark Russell Comedy Specials,” where it consistently ranked among the network’s top-rated shows. Today his syndicated column is enjoyed all over America, as are his CDs, tapes and videos.
Russell has also written music and songs for children’s’ theatre. “Teddy Roosevelt and the Ghostly Mistletoe” premiered in December 2009 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a follow up to “Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major,” which also premiered at the Kennedy Center.
His answer to the frequently asked question, “Do you have any writers?” is “Oh, yes…I have 535 writers. One hundred in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives.
Stephen J. Morrison is the Emmy-nominated executive producer of the CNN docu-series History of Comedy. He conducted more than 60 interviews with prolific comedy minds in order to produce the eight-episode critically acclaimed program, which was an official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He has received a green light for a second season by CNN Originals for 2018.
Morrison is also responsible for telling the story of comedy as the executive producer of media for more than 50 interactive exhibits in the National Comedy Center visitor experience.
As senior account executive at Jonas Public Relations, Jeff Abraham has represented some of the biggest names in comedy, including for the last 11 years of his life, George Carlin. He continues to work with George Carlin’s Estate to this day. Abraham has also handled the publicity campaigns for numerous books, CDs and DVDs releases including: Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Spike Jones and Danny Kaye.
He is regarded as one of comedy’s most respected historians and has been a go-to expert/research consultant for countless documentary filmmakers and authors including Make ‘Em Laugh (PBS); Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time; Let Me In, I Hear Laughter: A Salute To The Friars Club (Cinemax); and the acclaimed Encore film, Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis. Jeff has also worked closely with Archive of American Television conducting interviews, The Paley Center for Media and The National Comedy Center.
He is owner and curator of one of the largest comedy album archives in the country and is working on two books, The Show Won’t Go On: The 99 Most Shocking, Spectacular, Outrageous, Sensational and Historic Deaths on Stage With Burt Kearns as well as an authorized biography of the comedy team The Ritz Brothers.