COURTESY SONY PICTURES
The 1999 movie "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" gave Eddie Griffin, left, staying power in the movie industry. He resurrected his role as T.J. Hicks in the 2005 sequel "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," pictured, which also starred Hanna Verboom and Rob Schneider.
Keeping up the laughs
Did you hear the story about Eddie Griffin getting sued for hitting someone's car while driving under the influence and watching porn on an in-dash DVD player?
» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
» Time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
» Tickets: $42 and $52
» Call: 591-2211
Oh, wait -- that was NBA player Eddie Griffin, not the Kansas City-born comedian with the same name. Turns out the guy who performs this week at the Blaisdell Concert Hall spent the last six months living the life of a Hollywood star, with time for little more than filming upcoming projects and a few stand-up comedy gigs.
"2006 has been wonderful," Griffin said last week from California. "I'm on the set right now filming 'Norbit' with Eddie Murphy, Katt Williams and Thandie Newton. I did another flick called 'Redline,' you know, and I've been out touring."
Comedy might be Griffin's current calling, but there was a time when dancing was all that mattered.
At 17, he ran a dance school, teaching students how to move to music. This was one year after he married (and subsequently divorced) his first wife.
But there were glimpses of Griffin's future in comedy, such as his reported three-year run in high school as the students' pick for class clown. Just don't ask if it was a prerequisite for his career.
"I don't know where that comes from," he said. "Who comes up with that? I was never a class clown. In order to get an entire audience to laugh at the same thing at the same time, you must know human psychology. The neurons connect, and thought can begin. But that's a whole 'nother subject."
It wasn't until his mid-20s that Griffin entertained the thought of being a comedian. One night in 1990, he accepted a $50 bet to perform during open-mic night at a local club. Drawing upon his experiences with family and friends, he won over the crowd and quickly discovered his new calling.
AFTER purchasing a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, Griffin landed a job at the famed Comedy Store, working as a doorman when he wasn't on stage. A year later, Andrew Dice Clay signed him as the opening act for a national tour.
Then he was selected for Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam.
"The Def Jam thing just blew up, and ... I did 'The Five Heartbeats' with Robert Townsend," Griffin said. "Things moved on after that."
With only a few years of stand-up under his belt, Griffin found the Def Comedy Jam gave him the experience and confidence to take things to the next level. Small roles in movies "The Last Boy Scout," "Coneheads," "House Party 3" and "Jason's Lyric" got audiences familiar with his comedic style.
In 1996, Griffin made the switch to television, co-starring in the UPN series "Malcolm & Eddie." He also served as a director, producer and writer on select episodes. When the show ended its run four years later, he decided the big screen was where he wanted to be.
"Well, you know, I'll never say never," Griffin said about a possible return to network TV. "If they give me the artistic control to do the show that I want to do -- no 'Malcolm & Eddie' type (of stuff), but some real (stuff) -- if they give that to me and the check is ... proper, then they can get at me."
A role in the 1999 movie "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" cemented Griffin's staying power. He followed with roles in "Double Take" and "Undercover Brother," and also provided comic relief for Denzel Washington in 2002's "John Q."
And the laughs haven't stopped -- Griffin also had roles in "Scary Movie 3," "My Baby's Daddy" and "The Wendell Baker Story." In 2003, he took fans home with him to film the documentary-style flick "DisFunKtional Family." Griffin also starred in "Date Movie," released earlier this year.
What's up next? One of his favorite topics of late is the war in Iraq and a certain someone running the country. More surprising is his interest in getting elected to a political position somewhere down the line.
"Yeah, I might run for office," he said with a chuckle. "I'll be Schwarzenegger-like. Let them big corporations give me some lobbying briefcases -- a plethora of briefcases!"