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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Eddie Griffin says his comedy enlightens and heals

"Tasha Jones is a rare and wonderful artist that strikes a balance in a world so often lopsided. She has the soul of a Nikki Giovanni draped in the Haute Couture fashions of a runway model. Jones is a student of life and a teacher of lessons. On stage, she tells the story of her life and, in doing so, tells the story of all women, a story of love, loss, and life. She offers a perspective, poignancy, and insight in her writing that allows men to see themselves through her work and women to see themselves in her work. She proves herself to be simultaneously what women are and what they aspire to be. Once you've experienced her for yourself, you will feel better, wiser, and are enriched for it." — Jon Goode

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Eddie Griffin, the comedic veteran with a distinctive brand of humor, performed in Indianapolis 7:30 p.m. June 15 at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre. The long-standing comedian, actor and provocateur says he uses comedy as a tool for healing and enlightenment. In a recent sit-down interview, Griffin reaffirmed his purpose and process, which is to bring hope in despair, joy amid sorrow, love amid hate, and truth in the midst of alternative truths.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Jones: How would you describe your work and your audience?

Griffin: My work is eclectic, and so is my audience. We get them all!

Anything related to laughter causes endorphins to secrete in the emotional areas of the brain. Feel-good chemicals or endorphins released from social laughter help form and reinforce social bonds between people. My people or my audiences are bonded in that way.

Jones: Is your work a passion or a purpose?

Griffin: Purpose. I was born to do this, baby.

Jones: With purpose comes deep dark lessons. What lessons have you had to travail that has helped you along the way?

Griffin: I was homeless when I first moved from Kansas to LA. I ran into angels, people who help, and demons, people who try to deter or pull you off the path. I soon realized that life without challenges is not life. You go through challenges not just to survive, but to thrive. You must struggle to grow. No one recognizes light without darkness or understands joy without sorrow. So, it would help if you had lows to balance the highs. This is a message of resilience and growth that I hope to share with my audience.

Jones: Must one have the political courage to be a comedian in today’s society, and how does that differ from yesteryear?

Griffin: That is not my concern. My process from the beginning to now is the same. I say a prayer, take to the stage and leave it in God’s hands. I have yet to write a joke. Everything you hear me say or do is off the top of the dome.

Look, let me say this, the truth hurts! The truth is like rain; it does not care who it falls on. If being honest or the truth offends you, maybe you have always been sheltered in the rain, but that is a luxury everyone has not experienced. There is no umbrella for the truth.

Jones: How has your authenticity helped or hurt your career?

Griffin: It has helped and hindered. When you are in a den of fake people, they do not want to see anything real because it exposes them for who they are – fake. Consequently, it’s in God’s hands. They can’t stop what they can’t see!

Jones: Do you feel your work is for the pulpit?

Griffin: I have had that call, and I am preaching, but in a different parish. I am reaching people where they are. I go to the people. I go to reach the people.

Jones: Are you happy?

Griffin: I am, NOT! This work is for both me and the audience. When I give joy to the people, I receive joy in return.

Jones: How do you restore and replenish?

Griffin: When I take off, I get next to water (I am a Cancer) and I meditate or pray.

Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin performs at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre. (Photo/LaTasha Boyd Jones)

Recorder rapid fire questions

Jones: What book are you reading right now?

Griffin: The Bible — Job specifically.

Jones: Who/what makes you smile or laugh?

Griffin: My Children.

Jones: Kendrick or Drake?

Griffin: Kendrick! He told Light skin you out of your lane. But Metro beat them both with one beat!

Jones: If you could personally change one law, what would it be and why?

Griffin: Big Pharma! People should be able to sue pharmaceutical companies if the product causes complications in twenty years.

Jones: What is your favorite sound?

Griffin: Jimi Hendrix electric guitar.

Jones: Name one teacher who helped you or played a role in your success.

Griffin: Margaret Means (9th Grade), my history teacher. At the end of class, she would let me summarize history lessons in my Richard Prior voice, which started my stand-up career.

Jones: Name one Black event/ideology you wish still existed.

Griffin: Soul Train. We need that universal musical wave back.

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