Erik Griffin played a Vietnam vet in Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, but his 2018 stand-up comedy special portrays him as a different kind of AmERIKan Warrior.
“There’s a war on comedy and free speech, and I’m a soldier on the front lines,” Griffin tells the audience.
Only he’s not about to wage the kind of offensive for offensive language that you may expect from a comedian making such a proclamation. To wit:
Griffin not only diffuses and confuses the tension in the room with his Black Panther review, but also lets us in on his playful demeanor.
He’s the comedian who reminds us that we often get most excitable and agitated at the wrong times for the wrong reasons. He’s a voice of reason. Even with that cartoonish face to accompany his friendly stage presence.
If you squint just right, you can convince yourself Griffin is wearing a Groucho Marx mask.
But the Marx Brothers made some healthy points amid their madcap antics.
So, too, Griffin wants to know there’s a time and a place for protesting society’s big problems, and an awards show ain’t it. “It has to have a threat of arrest, a threat of violence, or you actually have to do some shit,” he says.
If you’re wondering how he feels about protesting the National Anthem at sporting events, well, Griffin has a strong opinion not only about that, but also about the people who perform the anthem.
“The point is, we’re too sensitive. We don’t want to be criticized.”
Although we have critics, myself included, for the arts, and we have juries passing the ultimate judgement on alleged criminals. Griffin found himself in the latter predicament, even though he might have hoped sitting with Workaholics fans would have in itself gotten him out of jury duty.
Griffin doesn’t shy away from Trump, either. He makes a good-faith attempt to rationalize Trump supporters, and even one of the president’s notably awful comments about good people on both sides of the Charlottesville protest. Good people can do bad things, Griffin jokingly observes, but even Griffin can’t find a good reason for a good person to walk with the Klan. He’s also willing to call out himself and all men for our roles in prompting a revolution among women. “Women are shaking the establishment tree and perverts are falling out!” he jokes. “We had a good run. A solid 3,500 years. Time’s up!” For his part, Griffin acknowledges that his tendency to hug a lot might not be such a good move any longer.
Whether he’s ready to retire certain words from his own lexicon, well, he sounds ready for that, too.
“We’re far more sexist than we are racist, and we’re pretty racist!” Griffin says.
If only Black Panther and Wonder Woman could save us now. In the meantime, at least Griffin may keep the worst of us at bay until they get here.
Erik Griffin: Amerikan Warrior is available On Demand via Showtime. It’ll be released Dec. 11 on the Comedy Dynamics Network via iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vimeo, cable + satellite, and more.