Born in Kansas City, Missouri on July 15, 1968, Eddie Griffin’s stand-up career began when he accepted a dare to take the stage on amateur night at a local comedy club. Developing an irreverent style of humor reminiscent of legends like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, Griffin gained national exposure opening for Andrew Dice Clay on a 22-city tour and also in impromptu performances at L.A.’s Comic Store.
Over the course of a burgeoning career, he has built his ever-growing fan base on the strength of memorable work in such films as Undercover Brother, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo 1 & 2, My Baby’s Daddy, Double Take, Scary Movie 3, House Party 3 and Armageddon. On the small screen, he’s had his own sitcom, Malcolm and Eddie, and he’s appeared on a variety of specials and other series, including Chappelle’s Show, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, Roc and Punk’d.
Here, the irrepressibly profane funnyman discusses not only Date Movie, his latest movie, a spoof of the romantic comedy genre, but weighs in on everything from Christianity to profanity to mating with midgets to his fellow-comedian, Dave Chappelle.
Hey, Eddie thanks for the interview. I’m not sure you’re allowed to smoke here.
Well, I’m gonna smoke. So, if you’re one of them freak non-smokers, now’s the time to run. Get the f*ck out with that Nazi s*it.
Are you aware of the Surgeon General’s report that second-hand smoke can kill?
Shut up. If you’re mother-f*cking immune system is so weak that second-hand smoke could kill you, go die.
Fair enough. I heard that in your new stand-up act, you joke about mating with midgets. Is that going too far?
Hey, man, there’s nothing like a midget. If you get a chance, f*ck one. Midgets need love, too.
I write for a lot of family-oriented outlets. Have you ever thought of substituting clean words for dirty ones.
Hell no, man, that ain’t how I was raised. You have to be yourself. You know what I’m saying? You were probably raised Christian. Me, I grew up in the projects. My mother would come home and call me motherf*cker.
So, you’ve internalized that?
That’s just how we talked to each other. So, of course, I’m gonna be myself. And I AM a motherf*cker. I f*ck mothers, soon-to-be mothers, already mothers, I’m a motherf*cker.
Well, I was raised Christian. But I’m just wondering whether this whole interview is going to be dirty.
Oh damn, I hate to hear that. Here we go. Come on, tell me all the rules of engagement, and the morally-sound s*it. Don’t force your religion on me. This is America. We have a choice of religion, and I choose none.
What have you got against Christianity?
It’s a slick game. When we was in Africa, we had all the land, all the gold, all the diamonds. They had all the Bibles. Now we got all the Bibles. They got all the land, all the gold, all the Bibles. Somebody got game. And now there’s tithing. God needs 10%. I didn’t know God was broke. What, is God on food stamps? I ain’t never seen a tube that goes up to heaven, sucking all the cash to God. Somebody’s running a slick-ass game. Kill Jesus and then you sell crosses. And putting Jesus on a bumper stickers and s*it. I’m a thinking motherf*cker. Moving on. Back to the movie.
Okay, tell me a little about your character in Date Movie, Frank.
I play this old dude, with caterpillars for eyebrows.
How did you prepare for the role?
I did a lot of research. I watched everything De Niro did to get ready for the role.
Do you have a favorite date movie?
Yeah, Scarface. There’s nothing like taking a woman to see Scarface. It gets the panties off quick. [laughs]
Is Date Movie misogynistic?
I have yet to see the film, so I don’t know if it’s misogynistic or not.
Are you at all worried that it might be?
Me, myself, I don’t get into that. It’s a comedy. We’re not trying to build a Space Shuttle or save a country. This is just something entertainment, something for you to enjoy. I think people read into it too much, like we’re here trying to make a point. It’s called “Date Movie,” not “Hi, I’m Going to Save Your Daughter from the Misogynistic Men across America.”
Have you arrived at a point in your career where you don’t have to do stand-up anymore?
No. S*it, as long as I’m breathing, I’m gonna be on that mike. That’s my first love.
Do you think being on stage helps you keep an edge?
Hell yeah, that keeps you sharp. Never give up what got you there in the first place. It keeps you funny. You watch the ones that give up doing stand-up, their movies start becoming bland, non-funny, suck. [laughs] You know what I mean?
Yep. What’s so great about stand-up?
I like the peoples. It’s like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. You’re living or dying on your next word. Every motherf*cking line, you’re taking a chance. That’s what makes it exciting. It gets your d*ck hard.
Do you ever have an off-night?
Hell no! Eddie’s always on. I’m a studier of the art. I never go on stage and f*ck around. I always bring my A-game, because you never know what a person had to sacrifice to buy a ticket that night. They might have not bought their children some shoes for school because they need a laugh. So, you can’t come out and just f*ck they $20 off. I don’t have any off-nights, because I can’t afford to f*ck up.
How do you study stand-up comedy?
It’s a science, man. Every comedian is a psychology major, naturally. You have to know the human condition to get that many people to all respond at the same time to the same subject.
I guess that helps you with acting, too.
You’re goddamned right. Yes indeedy. You gotta understand humanity in order to portray it. [chuckles]
What’s your process for joke-writing?
I never wrote a joke in my life. I just get on stage and let it flow. You’re either funny or you’re not funny. God cursed me with a gift called, “retarded.” S*it just be going through my head and comedy, for me, is therapy. If I wasn’t doing stand-up, I’d probably be in a mental institution somewhere, talking to myself. “Hi.” “Hi, how’re you doing?” You understand me?
Yeah, how do you deal with hecklers?
I don’t get hecklers that often, because they pretty much know to leave me the f*ck alone. I’m too quick and my tongue’s too slick to be f*cked with.
When did you first know you were funny?
Let’s see? When I came out of my mother’s vagina. The doctor smacked me on the ass, I turned around and asked, “What the f*ck’s your problem. This ain’t Brokeback Mountain.” You been in a nice, warm, dark p*ssy, then you come out and all these lights in your f*cking face and some white dude you don’t even know. You understand?
Yep. Speaking of Brokeback Mountain which is up for the most Academy Awards. What did you think of last year’s crop of movies?
The Oscars have never been about comedies, but it was a great year for comedies. You had Wedding Crashers, rated R. Finally, somebody’s listening. There ARE adults that want adult films with “motherf*cker” and “f*ck” in it. You know what I mean?
Not all these bland-ass comedies. What kind of s*it is that?
You’ve worked with Dave Chappelle. Do you have any insights you can share on his situation?
[breathes deeply, and sighs] Let me put it like this. Dave is a very close friend of mind. There is nothing wrong with Mr. Chappelle. Dave is fine. Alright? Dave makes his own choices. Obviously, there was something going on at Comedy Central. If it’s the #1 show on the network, why you wanna fix a wheel that ain’t broke? Leave it the f*ck alone. That’s my take on it.
But why walk out on all that money?
The guy’s got nuts to say, “F*ck your $60 million. I said I want creative control Kiss my black ass! I’m going to Africa.” From what I hear, the show’s coming back.
Did he get creative control?
He had creative control from Jump Street. That’s why I’m asking, why you wanna fix what ain’t broke? Them corporate suits show up with some “comedy genius” from behind a desk whose saying, “I can help the show.” Yeah, you can f*ck it up. Sit back and let the money flow, motherf*cker. Let the money flow.
Tell me a little about your upcoming animated movie, Bunyan and the Babe, where you play an ox.
That was as fun as a motherf*cker. I ain’t never did no shit like that, the voiceover stuff. And when I finally seen the CGI [computer generated image] of the blue ox, I look just like the motherf*cker. I’m looking at the ox, it’s got my nose, chin and sh*t. It even had the n*gger’s grill. I was like, “These motherf*ckers are good.”
Thanks for the frank, forthcoming interview, Eddie.
Did you get enough?
More than enough.I want to make sure you got good stuff you can use, like “motherf*cker!” [laughs hysterically]