Friday, 26 April 2013 10:02

Erik Griffin's Comedy Melting Pot

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Erik Griffin
Dr. Grins, Grand Rapids 
May 23-25, Show times at 8,9 and 10:30 p.m. 
$10-$15, (616) 356-2000

Erik Griffin is a first-generation American, born to a mother from Central America and a father of European descent. Because of his genes, Griffin is what he refers to as "very racially ambiguous," a trait that has proven valuable in his comedy.

"I think it disarms people," Griffin said. "It lets me say some really outlandish things. Then they can't put me in a box of things I can or cannot say."

By taking advantage of his mixed cultural background, he honed his comedy into an edgy, funny routine where nothing is off-limits, and no race or demographic is safe, as he's an equal-opportunity wisecracker.

Due to his attention to diversity and race, he gained attention from fellow like-minded comics, most notably Ahmed Ahmed, who asked Griffin to appear in the film Just Like Us, a documentary about comedians bridging the gap between America and the Middle East.

Soon after this, Griffin auditioned for Comedy Central's "Workaholics" and landed the iconic role of Montez Walker, a serious coworker with the tendency to divulge a little too much unsolicited information about his personal life. Griffin embraced the role.

"It was the perfect part for me," he said. "I feel like there is a little bit of Montez inside of me, and he's just blaring to come out all the time, so I love that part."

"Workaholics" was recently renewed for two more seasons, and Griffin couldn't be happier.

"I just like being a part of something that people legitimately love."

Griffin has also been receiving a little taste of rockstar treatment lately – he was recently signed to SideOneDummy records and released his first comedy album. The label generally releases albums from punk and indie bands, but co-owner Joe Sib expressed an interest in signing Griffin, and once they met he knew it was a great opportunity.

"He's trying to be a comic himself now," Griffin said. "He understands the scene. He understands how it works."

While recording the album, Griffin realized he needed to fine-tune his routine to better fit an audio-only format.

"I'm such a physical comic, so it was hard to really narrow it down to jokes that can be heard and not seen," he said.

The result is a full 52-minute set of Griffin's crass humor, with topics ranging from airport security to gay Santas. All of this is delivered in a manner that hardly seems rehearsed, which can be attributed to his approach to stand-up.

"I'm always adding to it and expanding on it," Griffin said. "So a one-minute bit turns into a 10-minute bit, and that's just how I operate."

Right now Griffin is touring non-stop, and he looks forward to bringing his brand of comedy to Grand Rapids.

"You're either going to agree or disagree, but in that process you'll laugh."

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