Brush with Greatness


Mark's Friggin'... Night of comedy at The Stress Factory - Saturday, April 19th 2003 (Alternate title: Look at the size of Craig Gass' head!)

I love the Stress Factory ( comedy club! The club, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is the best place I've been to as far as comedy shows go. I'd just been there a few weeks before this show took place to see Reverend Bob Levy and Eddie Ifft and has a lot of fun that time. This time I was there to see Stuttering John, Jim Florentine and Craig Gass. Florentine and Gass are regulars on the Howard Stern show. Florentine is best known for his ''Terrorizing Telemarketers'' CDs and his retarded character Special Ed (''Yay!'') that shows up on Comedy Central's ''Crank Yankers'' quite often. Gass does amazing impressions of Sam Kinison, Al Pacino's baby, Gene Simmons, Adam Sandler and a shitload of other people. He's also the guy I have to thank for making these Brush With Greatness stories possible. He was the guy who hooked me up down in Atlantic City last year after Stuttering John's comedy show. After that it snowballed and I've gotten the chance to meet a lot of people from the show. Thanks again Craig!

Anyway, I invited a bunch of people to go to this show because I knew it was going to be great. My girlfriend, two co-workers, Chris and Danny, from that shithole I used to work at, Chris' girlfriend, an old friend Bob, who I hadn't seen too much in years, his wife and their two friends all went this night. After losing my job recently I had a bunch of spare time so I went down to visit my buddy Bob at his motorcycle repair and parts shop. That's when I found out he's a huge Stern fan and has been listening to him every morning for a few years now. Once I found that out I had to invite him to one of these shows.

My girlfriend and I drove down with Danny and met up with Bob and his wife Denise. We hung out, had some food, which is great at the Stress Factory. I was keeping my eyes open for Stuttering John, Jim Florentine or Craig Gass. They were no where to be found and it was getting late.

Here's something odd. The Stress Factory has a bunch of TV's around the club so they can show some funny videos and stuff before the show. That's not the odd part though. Shortly before show time Jackie the Joke Man Martling pops up on the TV screens... and the place goes silent. Jackie starts off saying something like ''Hi, I'm Jackie the Joke Man, some of you may know me. I'm currently unemployed...'' He goes on to plug all of that stuff that he used to plug on Howard's show... when he was still employed. He shows his t-shirts, joke-in-a-box and a bunch of other stuff while he's trashing the stuff Vinnie sells at the club. I think everyone in the crowd was either stunned or shocked at what they were seeing. No one laughed at his jokes or even when he blew his nose into the Stress Factory shirt. It was very strange, as if people were seeing a ghost. Don't get me wrong, I loved Jackie when he was on the show but this ''commercial'' was just sad. I think most of the people at my table would agree. Unfortunately, Stuttering John and the guys weren't there to see it for themselves.

Somewhere very close to show time, 8 o'clock, I caught sight of Stuttering John. I got up and intercepted him as he was heading to the dressing room. He invited me to follow him back there so he could get ready for the show. He was trying to calm himself down because he'd just had a shitty drive out there from Manhattan. Jim and Craig were still missing. John told me he likes to get to these gigs and calm down before having to go up on stage and doing his act. John asked me to go get him a couple of Amstel Lights since he'd asked for them earlier and they hadn't shown up yet. I ran out and found club owner Vinnie Brand who had someone run over and grab John his beer. I headed back to the dressing room and told him what was going on. Craig made a quick appearance and vanished somewhere. John was in the middle of calming down and talking to me when Vinnie Brand started the show. All of a sudden he introduces Stuttering John who doesn't even have one of his shirts on yet. John grabs his shirt and tries to get it on so he can get out there. By the time he got out there Vinnie changed his mind and introduced Jullian McCulloch instead. John headed back to the dressing room and got back to calming himself down.

Once Julian was done John was calmed down and ready to do his thing. He went up on stage and did a few minutes of his comedy routine. As usual, he was funny. Yes, that's right, Stuttering John is funny as a comedian. Believe it or not. He then introduced Vinnie Brand who, not only owns the club, but does stand-up comedy. Vinnie got the audience rolling and killed.

After Vinnie was done Stuttering John did a couple more minutes and then brought up Craig Gass who also killed with his great impressions and stand-up act. After Gass John did a little more of his stuff and brought Jim Florentine up. Florentine was also great as usual. Toward the end of his act he played a track from his ''Terrorizing Telemarketers 3'' CD where he and Don Jamieson have a woman on the phone trying to sell them something. Every time she asks one of them a question, he says ''Hold on, let me put my brother on the phone.'' and passes it to the other guy. They do that for a couple of minutes.

After the show we headed out to the door. I wanted to introduce everyone at my table to the guys but John must have been in the green room calming down again. I'm pretty sure everyone got to meet Craig Gass and Jim Florentine though. Chris and his girlfriend took off to go to a party. My buddy Bob took off with his wife and friends to go to a bar up the street. I was hoping they'd hang out for a few more minutes. Meanwhile, everyone was being cleared out of the place so they could start letting the audience from the second show in. Craig and Jim told us to hang around a while so I checked with Vinnie if it was okay if we hung out a little while longer in the back. He didn't have a problem with that so we went back and hung out with John for a few minutes.

Stuttering John is amazingly nice to us when we hang around. He sits around, bullshits for a while and seems to enjoy our company. Craig and Jim also came back to the dressing room while the second show crowd filled up the room. Jim brought an old friend, Roy, of his back there too. Roy told us that Jim worked for him as a landscaper about 20 years ago and he was a practical joker back then. He told us about this one time during a hot summer day when Jim put some Ben Gay on the seat of his truck. Roy was wearing those short shorts that people used to wear back in the 80's so the Ben Gay snuck up his legs and up his ass crack. Burn baby burn! Jim also shared some stories about some of the stuff he and Don Jamieson have been working on for this DVD they have in the works. They goof on people and shoot video while they do it. Some of the stuff they've talked about already is where they go to a grocery store and just toss stuff into people's carts when they're not looking. Jim told us about some other top-secret stuff that sounds funny as hell too. The DVD isn't available as of this writing but that shit is going to be funny when it's done.

Craig's head is huge!Craig Gass has an unusually large head. I didn't notice it but he pointed it out to us. He said he snuck on stage at an MTV Anniversary show and got caught on tape standing right next to Carson Daly. Craig said after people saw the shot they started e-mailing him telling him how big his head looked next to Carson Daly's. After he told us this he and Stuttering John put their heads next to each other to show us just how immense his head is. Stuttering John won't let go of stuff like that either and he goofed on the size of Craig's head for the rest of the night. He said that Craig's head was so big he had to comb his hair with a rake. One liners like that continued to roll over the next couple of hours. At one point John and Jim were talking about something and the word ''head'' was used, something like ''headlines'' or something like that. Craig just happened to come back in the room after that word was said. John then said ''Speaking of heads...'' It didn't stop. Even my girlfriend got in on the jokes. She and John were talking about how Craig could cover up his head. She said something about using a hat. John said he'd have to sew two hats together. It was pretty brutal in there. I felt bad for Craig but I got in a few shots myself. I couldn't help it! Check out the (blurry) picture I took at the club comparing the size of Craig's head next to Stuttering John's.

As the second show was getting started we learned about one of Stuttering John's rituals. He didn't get to do it during the first show but when the second show was getting ready to start he filled us in. He said he likes to have a few Amstel Lights. After drinking the beer he likes to rehydrate with a bottle of water. Then he likes to smoke a cigarette which, he claims, helps get his shit started, literally. He demonstrated this to us and he was serious. As soon as he started that cigarette after the bottle of water, he started farting up a storm. Jim said ''See? He's not kidding.'' John, who was sitting right next to my girlfriend farting, asked her if I ever fart around her. Of course I do! She just turned red and laughed. A short time later I had a little bit of a fart rumbling around so I demonstrated and got some awesome reverb off the wall! Nice!

Jim Florentine told me that Reverend Bob Levy was coming home from a gig out on Staten Island so he was going to stop by the club. Bonus for the evening. He was supposed to be there around 11:30 but didn't show up until Midnight or so. He came back to the little dressing room and hung out for a little while. We told him about Craig's large head and he was just as surprised as the rest of us as to how large it actually was. Jim Florentine suggested that Bob go up on stage and help John out with his big beer guzzling contest at the end of the show. Bob started hacking up a lung after that. Jim seemed to think it had something to do with him going up on stage. Bob, who had a cigarette in his hand, said it was just everyone smoking in that tiny dressing room. He ended up going out when John announced his name but his microphone wasn't on half the time he was up there. It looked like they were having fun though.

After hanging out for a couple more hours, until 2am or so, we said our goodbyes and took off. I have to say this was one hell of a show. I had a great time hanging out with John, Jim, Craig, Bob Levy and everyone else who was there. The food was great as usual and the whole staff were really nice as they have been each time I've been there.

Here are a few links to the club and to each comedian's respective web site:

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