Web Exclusive: Q&A with Eddie Griffin
Griffin comes to The Improv
Eddie Griffin is known as much for his unpredictable temperament and his big mouth as he is for being one of the most hailed comedians of his generation. That cocktail of attributes has garnered him a lot of praise and countless comparisons to his idol, the late Richard Pryor. Breaking onto the scene in the late ’90s with the Showtime special “Voodoo Child,” Griffin stepped up his game by releasing his next concert film, “Dysfunktional Family,” into theaters instead of opting to premiere it on cable like most comics do. His other films — including “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” and its sequel, “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” — are forever etched in the annals of comedy greats. Griffin was also the object of the VH1 reality show, “Eddie Griffin: Going for Broke,” which chronicled his life as a successful performer who had no money left.
LEO: You’ve made it no secret that Richard Pryor was one of your biggest influences and a close friend of yours. What made him so universally influential?
Eddie Griffin: He’s the greatest that ever did it. Period. That’s it. That’s all. Game over.
LEO: The first time I remember seeing you was in “Voodoo Child” — how has your approach to comedy changed since those days?
EG: Not much. It’s still the butt-naked truth.
LEO: Your family has always been a big part of your act …
EG: They’re a big part of my life, so if I’m coming from a real place, I have to explain it.
LEO: Has the fame gone to their heads?
EG: No. We were ghetto superstars before you all had a chance to see it. So ya’ know, we ain’t anymore wacked-out than we already was.
LEO: The stories of your mom are priceless — was she really that tough on you?
LEO: What was the worst story you remember?
EG: Her trying to run me over with the car.
LEO: I guess it can’t get any worse than that.
EG: Uh, nah. If it got worse than that, we wouldn’t be talkin’ right now.
LEO: Does she feel like your bad behavior has paid off?
EG: Umm … no.
LEO: So she’s still pissed about it all?
EG: Hell no. She don’t hold grudges like that. Mostly it was just in that moment, she’d beat that ass, and then after that, it was back to life.
LEO: When you come to Louisville, will you be doing new material or old favorites?
EG: It’s going to be a fresh show.
LEO: Are you working on a new special or CD?
EG: I’m in the editing bay right now working on a special for Comedy Central called “Tell ’Em I Said It.”
LEO: When’s it coming out?
EG: Probably December or January. It depends on how fast I can get done with this interview and get back to editing it.
LEO: Your last special was “Freedom of Speech” — why that title? Did you feel people were coming down on you for your explicit brand of comedy?
EG: No. Nobody ever come down on me for my “explicit brand of comedy.” The only people who come up with sentences like that are motherfuckers doin’ interviews trying to perpetuate a myth.
LEO: No myth, I’m just wondering where the title came from.
EG: I’m just wondering where that myth came from outta your damn mouth. It don’t exist. Ain’t nobody ever said, “Oh my god, you’re so blue. You’re so dirty.” What kinda shit … where do ya’ll come up with this shit? Do you just sit at home and make this shit up?
LEO: A title like “Freedom of Speech” seems like a response to something.
EG: It wasn’t a response to anything. It’s what I felt in the moment … it’s called “Freedom of Speech.” What I was actually dealing with is the lack of freedom of speech portrayed in the media today. If you say one thing out of the fuckin’ status quality [sic] — out comes these motherfuckers. It didn’t have to do with me personally … it had to do with everybody.
LEO: That’s all I was wondering.
EG: I call them the “Word Killer.” You only kill one word, then what’s next, motherfucker? Pretty soon there’s going to be a program against “motherfucker.” Now if I can’t say motherfucker, you better call the police and lock me up now ... motherfucker.
LEO: When you’re put on a list like “Comedy Central’s Top 100 Comedians of All-Time” — is that flattering or does that put a lot of pressure on you to produce?
EG: No added pressure. Flattering title. Ya’ know, “Top 100 Comedians of All-Time” … whatever … that was a show. Can I get back to life?
Fourth Street Live
$25; various times