Comedian Eddie Griffin graced Utah with two shows Saturday night at Wiseguys in West Valley City.
Wiseguys owner Keith Stubbs, who met Griffin in Los Angeles back in 1992, made a very wise call and kept the emcee and feature comic sets extremely short. The crowd was in no mood for a warm-up; they were there to see Griffin only, and they were barely tolerating the opening acts. Nobody was rude or heckled; they just didn’t respond much to the openers’ jokes. The audience for the 7:30 p.m. show was an interesting and somewhat odd mix of old and young, including some of the toughest-looking men ever seen at a comedy show. It was completely sold out, and by the looks of the line that had already formed by the end of the first show, the 10 p.m. show probably sold out too.
Griffin’s show was high energy from start to finish—and, as expected, filled with profanity. Comedians who perform in Utah tend to tone down their language to suit the audience. Not Griffin. By the end of his first bit, it was clear to see that he was going to say whatever he wanted, and the audience expected it and loved it.
His style is more of a story-teller than a jokester, so it’s easy to imagine Griffin behaving and speaking the exact same way every second of his life as he does on stage. In fact, Griffin spent a great majority of his time on stage cracking jokes about his life and family. While one might imagine that Griffin exaggerates much of his history, his pimped-out uncle’s presence in the lobby after the show quickly proved he’s telling the truth.
Griffin opened by telling the crowd that he spent a few years of his childhood in Utah, and told some very funny stories about being the only black child in his elementary school, having to re-learn how to talk slang with the other black children when he moved back to Kansas City, and the trials and tribulations of being raised a Jehovah’s Witness. He frequently told stories about his mother, which always killed, especially when he talked about the time she chased him down the street in her car. That story is from a previous stand-up special, but an audience member specifically requested it, so Griffin obliged.
Some of Griffin’s best moments came when he talked about religion. Knowing that he was in a very religious state, and being that it was his first time performing in Utah, he took advantage of the opportunity to opine about religion in general, and the Mormons specifically. He got a huge round of applause after asking, “God made everything, right? So why would he need me to give him 10 percent of what he already owns?” He followed with, “Basically, the biggest difference between being a Christian and a Muslim is, who is your messenger: Jesus or Mohammed? I don’t care who the messenger is. The question is, did you get the message?” Another huge collective cheer came from the crowd.
Though Griffin is unapologetically foul-mouthed, his ideas are so logical that it’s hard to argue with him. His audience was mesmerized the entire 90 minutes he spent on stage. Hopefully the experience will be enough to make him want to return and perform again soon.