By Harvey Cohen
Did you hear about the dentist and the comic who both walked into a bar?
Their names were both Jeffrey Gurian.
That’s no joke.
Because Jeffrey Gurian, a respected dentist who taught for 12 years at the New York University College of Dentistry, is now a highly regarded comic who has written for some of the biggest names in comedy and performs stand-up at Manhattan comedy clubs.
Gurian was born in the Bronx and started writing comedy when he was 12 years old. And he always dreamed of bringing his humor to the big stage, across the river, in Manhattan.
But motivated by a desire to help and heal people, Gurian chose a different career path and became a dentist with a successful practice doing general and cosmetic dentistry.
However, as Gurian says: “If comedy is in you, you can’t suppress it. At some point you have to do it.”
So after years of bringing smiles to his dental patients, Gurian decided to bring smiles to a much wider audience, ultimately leaving dentistry and concentrating on comedy.
His first real professional job was as a writer for Rodney Dangerfield and you could often find Gurian and Rodney hanging out at Dangerfield’s club on First Avenue.
Over the years, Gurian has written for many superstars of comedy: Joan Rivers, Phil Hartman, Richard Belzer, Jerry Lewis, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Pauly Shore and Gilbert Gottfried. He also helped Nick Kroll and John Mulaney open their hit Broadway show “Oh, Hello.”
Today, besides doing his own stand-up, he also writes a must-read column, “Jumping Around With Jeffrey Gurian,” on the popular comedy website “The Interrobang” and produces two comedy web sites, “Comedy Matters TV” and “Gurian News Network.” He’s altogether earned the title “The Cindy Adams of Comedy.”
Asked about the difference between older comedy icons and today’s stars, Gurian says comedy these days is less about jokes and more about storytelling. It’s also meaner.
That meanness is something Gurian regrets, since his own mission is very different. “My goal in life is to put positive energy out to the universe” he says.
In line with that goal, Gurian has contributed his talents to a great many good causes, including appearing at Manhattan hospitals, among them Memorial Sloan Kettering. He did a major fundraising event for diabetes research at the Comic Strip Club on Second Avenue and co-produced a benefit for Haiti starring Kevin Hart.
He’s also on the board of directors of “Laugh MD,” a group dedicated to bringing humor to hospital patients. In that role, he’s gotten many other comics involved, because as Bob Saget has said: “Nobody can say no to Jeffrey Gurian.”
Gurian’s success is even more amazing when you learn that up until he was in his 20s he suffered from severe stuttering. It was only through hard work and discipline that he overcame this obstacle. He now uses his voice and his words to bring joy and entertainment to many. He also spends time working with stutterers, helping them manage their disorder and make them more confident and communicative.
There’s also another more spiritual side to Gurian. He now helps people suffering from pain by providing a mind/body healing touch alternative to the painkilling medications that have led to the current opioid addiction crisis.
Dr. Kenneth Porter, former president of the Association for Spirituality & Psychotherapy, calls Gurian a “master healer.”
Porter also endorsed Gurian’s latest book, “Healing Your Heart, by Changing Your Mind — a Spiritual and Humorous Approach to Achieving Happiness,” calling it “a very special and beautiful healing book that is the distillation of a lifetime of wisdom.”
What Gurian enjoys most about Manhattan are the museums. The Met is probably his favorite. He also loves the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History and the tranquility of The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan. Taking one of his granddaughters to the Space Show at the Planetarium was also a highlight.
As for attending Manhattan’s comedy clubs, you can usually find him at Gotham Comedy Club, The Comedy Cellar, The Comic Strip, Dangerfield’s, New York Comedy Club, Stand Up NY, The Stand, or the West Side Comedy Club. He’s well known at all of them and if you’re lucky, you might even catch him on stage.
At his home on the Upper East Side, Gurian maintains a virtual museum of photos and memorabilia that represent a lifetime of achievement as a comic, a teacher, a social commentator and a healer. It is truly a tribute to a life well lived in the pursuit of bringing smiles and laughter to everyone he meets.
To learn more about Gurian, go to: comedymatterstv.com