Judge Gordon Sullivan was born a poor black stand-up comedian.
"Eddie Griffin proves once more that he's one of the world's premier comedic talents."
You've got to respect a comedian who walks out on stage, lights a cigarette, waits a beat and says "I wanna f*** Michelle Obama." It's a gutsy move that immediately establishes Eddie Griffin as a foul-mouthed, politically aware comic with a whole lot of swagger. It also sets the stage for the rest of his show, which like his desires for the First Lady, will revolve around politics, race, and sex. This was my introduction to Eddie Griffin's brand of stand-up, and while I wouldn't put him up there with the greats, he's got enough personality to make 80 minutes of comedy fly by.
Eddie Griffin: You Can Tell 'Em I Said It is 82 minutes of stand up from Eddie Griffin, perhaps most famous for his sitcom Malcolm and Eddie. He's far from sitcom land with this standup, taking on all of the typical standup comics. He riffs on sex, race, politics, religion, and leaves no sacred cow un-slaughtered. Despite his touchy subject matter and penchant for profanity, Griffen has a down-to-earth delivery that makes you feel like it's just the two of you, trading stories in a bar.
The saying goes that great artists steal where lesser artists borrow. In that case, Eddie Griffin is a lesser artist. He doesn't quite have the nerve to swipe from others, but he certainly borrows his topics from other, better comics. His insights into race relations, including hot button issues like the "nigger"/"nigga" distinction, are just variations on the themes established by comics like Richard Pryor and Chris Rock. His politics are not so far removed from others like Carlin or Chappelle, and his story about getting pulled over while high reminds me strongly of Bill Hicks. I don't mean to make Griffin sound totally unoriginal…there are some great, funny moments buried in this show…but he's not an iconoclast like Paul Mooney, breaking new comedy ground while also being foul-mouthed and offensive.
Within the parameters set by others, though, Griffin is completely comfortable. He throws enough new twists into comfortable old ideas (like the aforementioned distinction between "nigger" and "nigga") to keep his show going without seeming repetitive. More importantly, at least for me, is Griffin's delivery. He's completely comfortable on the stage, and his jokes flow from one to the next without any awkward pauses or non-sequiturs. His style is breezy, as if he's sharing a simple conversation between friends, laughing and telling stories. This style ensures that even when his material is a bit tired (or already outdated in some cases) his delivery keeps things moving along at a fast pace.
Griffin also gets some credit for giving fans a lot of bang for their buck. The standard headliner at a comedy club goes for about 60 minutes, on average. Eddie Griffin goes a good 20 minutes past that, while still not overstaying his welcome. It's something I wish more talented comedians would do
Eddie Griffin: You Can Tell 'Em I Said It gets a fine DVD for a
comedy special. The main feature looks solid, with bright colors, deep blacks,
and no compression or authoring problems sticking out. The stereo audio track
keeps Griffin perfectly audible, while the audience's reactions are balanced but
not intrusive. In addition to the 82 minutes of comedy in the main feature, fans
also get 27 minutes of a "Backstage Pass" that includes everything
from an early sound check to footage of fans waiting to get into the show and
Griffin goofing around in the green room.
For fans of comedian Eddie Griffin, Tell 'Em I Said It is an easy recommendation. The comic is insightful, biting, and laugh-out-loud funny at numerous points. Those who are fans of his comedic forefathers (like Richard Pryor or Chris Rock) should give this one a rental. Those who are not fans of "mature" or African-American standup should definitely look elsewhere.
Well you can tell 'em I said it: not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
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