About The Authors
Reviews and Excerpts
Excerpt from the chapter on Tough Crowd
The dynamic between Greg and Patrice O’Neal created some of the most entertaining moments in Tough Crowd‘s history. The two disagreed on many topics and routinely blasted each other, often insulting one another’s appearance and ethnicity. Nick Di Paolo said that “Giraldo let some doozies go on Patrice that only somebody of Hispanic heritage could get away with. He wasn’t afraid to say shit where he could be deemed racist. That’s what I liked about him. He wasn’t very cautious, and I loved that.”
Greg and O’Neal weren’t above focusing on the superficial, with Patrice making fun of Greg’s clothing and hair, and Greg mocking Patrice’s weight. It made for some incredibly memorable television. Here is a sampling of their exchanges:
Patrice: “Here’s why white people are uncool. They’re trying to be black but they still trying to have white style. Like, look at how Colin’s dressed – it’s corduroy, it’s pure trying to be black but trying to keep a whiteness to it. But it fits exactly. Do you see how black people’s clothes, they kind of fit. Now stand up for a second, Greg, just stand one second. You see how Greg’s pants fit? That’s why I don’t like it.”
Greg: “By the way, Patrice, it’s good to see you’ve learned to talk without saying ‘Hey, hey, hey’ first.”
Patrice: “That was a good one, independent-film hair. With your planned messiness. Shut up.”
Greg: “Well, today is a very sad day. I can’t tell whether it’s because of the end of the show, or because of the herd of cattle that died to make Patrice’s coat.”
Greg: “California, for example, had a test, a written test, which was basically a literacy test – and the NRA is saying that’s wrong because there shouldn’t be a literacy test to own a gun. If you can’t read, you shouldn’t own a gun. No offense, Patrice.”
Greg: “Of course blacks watch more TV: there’s not a hell of a lot to do in jail.”
Patrice: “Coming from a Puerto Rican, that really hurts.”
Excerpt from the chapter on Common Law
In 1995 Carolines Comedy Club hosted a special event for entertainment executives. It was an industry showcase. Comics would do short sets in hopes of impressing the right people. Greg hated these shows. He considered them a sham to get comics to perform for free. He nonetheless agreed to do this one. Cheryl Bayer from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) was in the audience. CAA was a hugely influential agency. Its clients included David Letterman, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, and other A-listers. Bayer watched Greg’s set. She didn’t speak to him afterward, but it wasn’t for lack of interest. She had far greater plans for him.
Bayer walked straight to a Carolines manager and asked, “Is Greg in the Montreal Festival?”
“No,” said the manager.
“Well, he’s in now,” said Bayer. CAA had an open spot at the festival, and Greg filled it.
Greg signed with CAA and flew north to Canada. He took advantage of this opportunity. This was the place where a standout performance could dramatically affect a comedian’s career. Nick Di Paolo said: “In the ’90s at the Montreal Comedy Festival, everybody came home with a deal.”
Rick Dorfman, Greg’s close friend who worked with other Carolines comedians, became Greg’s manager and accompanied him to Montreal.
Greg’s performance at the New Faces show at Montreal Comedy Festival killed. The post-show deal-making began immediately at the bar of the Delta Hotel in downtown Montreal. It was a giant game of cat-and-mouse. Greg’s team strategized to land the best deal possible. Bayer told Dorfman: “When I’m with Greg, come over and I’ll introduce you to whoever I’m talking to. Then leave and come back with some made-up news. If it’s a CBS exec, tell him that some guy from ABC wants to see Greg immediately.”
Excerpt from the chapter on the roasts
From 1998 to 2002, Comedy Central aired five Friars Club roasts. After five years, the agreement between the Friars Club and Comedy Central ended. In 2003 Comedy Central inked a deal with Denis Leary’s production company Apostle. Frank DiGiacomo reported: “Though the partnership had been extremely lucrative to the Friars, they seemed relieved to be free of the yoke of national television. No longer did they have to lard the dais with young observational comics for the sake of demographics, or deal with big-name comedy stars who were afraid of working blue on national cable television.”
The first of the revamped Comedy Central roasts aired in 2003. Robert Kelly traced the origin of these shows to a roast of club owner Barry Katz that took place at the Boston Comedy Club in New York: “Jeff Ross sold the idea to Comedy Central. It was just us celebrating each other and smashing each other. It was pretty fucking great. It was at a little club, just us, mostly comics. Some industry, a little fans. To me, it’s what roasts are all about.”
Greg performed in nine of the roasts that aired on Comedy Central: Chevy Chase in 2002, Jeff Foxworthy and Pamela Anderson in 2005, William Shatner in 2006, Flavor Flav in 2007, Bob Saget in 2008, Larry the Cable Guy and Joan Rivers in 2009, and David Hasselhoff in 2010. Comedians and comedy fans revere Greg as one of the best roasters ever. His intelligence, writing skills, ability to ad-lib, and his lack of concern for being offensive all came together. The results were often hilarious.
Many knew Greg as “the guy from the roasts.” The shows enhanced his notoriety, but they may have detracted from his broader standup talents. To fervent fans, calling Greg a roast comedian is like calling Michael Jordan as a slam-dunk champion. Roasts were an exhibition where Greg excelled, but they did not encompass his overall comedic style.