Interview: David Alan Grier
by Laura Tucker
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Recently a conference call was held with David Alan Grier, host of the upcoming Comedy You Can Believe In on TBS on Sunday, Jun 28, at 10:00 PM EST. Sadly, there wasn’t time to get around to my questions for Grier, as I wanted to know if he felt the same thing I did, that the folks on Dancing With the Stars didn’t really seem to understand his comedy very much. I think it would have played nicely into this special. Regardless, in the short time he had for this conference call, he filled us in on just why he chose to do this special, along with how he feels about the other areas of entertainment he works in..
Grier explains there will be five comics appearing in this special, and he will be hosting, on request from TBS. He wanted to do it because he wanted to do something “a little more involved than just me coming onstage and telling a couple of jokes,” then telling us we’re going to love the next comedian. They have written some original material specifically for the special, with an opening piece, and interspersing material as well.
The fact that the comedy festival was moved to Chicago for this special was another motivating factor for Grier, saying it’s one of his favorite cities, and to be paid to hang out there was an easy call. Some of his favorite comics are on the show, too. Grier started out in the comedy business along with Mark Curry, and enjoyed the chance to work with him again, saying he’s “still really funny, really relevant, and putting it down.”
There doesn’t seem to be any one area of entertainment that Grier really likes more than the other. He likes the variety of doing TV shows, movies, standup, etc. What he would love to do more of is drama, since it’s something he doesn’t get a chance to do all that often, and he feels he has “everything locked down” in the area of comedy. He also enjoys writing his own material, even screenplays, as well as collaborating with others.
If there’s one area Grier didn’t used to like too much, it was improv, in fact he has strong words for it, saying he hated improv. When he auditioned for In Living Color, he auditioned with Martin Lawrence, Susie Essman, and someone else. He absolutely did not want to do it. Keenan Ivory Wayans and the others would name off the situation, and the comedians would just have to wing it. What he found was that he fell in love with it. He felt comfortable and “totally in the zone,” while it turned out to be really, really fun.
What Grier hasn’t done is the lead role in The Nation, a musical based on the life of Louis Farrakhan. It was just one of his jokes at one point, then someone picked it up and added it to his Wikipedia page as if it was truthful. He was trying to think of “something bizarre that would never actually happen,” and now by way of the internet, everyone thinks he’s actually going to do it.
Trained in theater at Yale, Grier isn’t sure whether it helped him with his comedy or not. It helped him learn to persevere when he has a bad night, that’s one thing. Yet, he never imagined his career would “go through the travails that it has.” At one point his goal was just to be in “the chorus of a Bus Set truck production of a play, because he thought it sounded fun. He’s glad he found bigger goals eventually.
Grier knows that if Comedy You Can Believe In is successful, the viewers will be repeating what they saw. He wants us to be telling our friends they have to see it and repeating the jokes they heard around the water cooler, but of course never as good or as funny. And if it’s really successful people will be telling the guy that’s telling the jokes he retold it the wrong way and he’s not doing it right. Grier thinks that would be awesome.
I have to think that’s what every performer, or writer even for that matter, wants, and I think indeed that it is the best compliment.
Laura Tucker Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack, and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, as well as Troubled Hollywood, and is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com
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