Proof of Evolution (Or Intelligent Design): Blake Griffin vs.…

Thanks to the constant reminders I have received from comedian/actor/Disney music enthusiast Chris Lamberth (@ChrisLamberth) I have learned that I have officially been replaced in comedy before I had even reached the level of replaceable.  I always believed that I would carve out a unique niche in comedy, at least demographically – a 6’7″ (241 lbs playing, 270 lbs doing comedy), bi-racial comedian seemed like a pretty safe calling card.  Unfortunately, my reign of obscurity was short lived because Blake Griffin (a 6’10”, 250 pound bi-racial dude), the Los Angeles Clippers power forward, has also proven himself quite adept at humor.  And thanks to the NBA lockout he is now working at Funny or Die, probably hanging out with Will Ferrell, workshopping new ideas, perhaps getting himself a role in Step Brothers 2, etc.  Even though Evolution usually takes a long time, much like this Summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I am seeing myself improved upon right before my eyes.

The Evolution of the Multi-Racial Humorist

I was born in 1979, 9 years and 11 months before Blake Griffin so I had a good head start on comedy.  However I started performing stand up shortly after my 24th birthday, whereas Blake Griffin made it on to comedy central shortly after his 22nd birthday.  Fairly impressive since he was also spending time being the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.

We have similar backgrounds.  We both have black fathers and white mothers.  We both played basketball in high school and college (I averaged 15 points a game senior year in a terrible private school league.  He slightly one-upped me by being a McDonald’s High School All-American).  He was Division I’s college player of the year, I was a 9th man on a Division III team.

After reading his NBA draft workout summaries the only thing I think I was his equal to was bench press, but he complemented that with a tremendous vertical leap, each inch of which represented every one of my collegiate points scored.

It was as if God had created me and then said, we can do better.  A lot better.

Before we get into comedy here are the top dunks of our basketball careers.  Both were on people.  Mine was not filmed by NBA TV.  And I only had one in my career.

Now for pure drama I would argue that mine was better.  The dunk took place with about two minutes left in my entire college career.  I had scored about fifty career points and none had come from dunks.  It was sort of like the ending of Rudy, when Rudy gets a sack, except I actually was big and strong and fairly athletic so it was a little more expected from me.  And no one was chanting my name.  But Blake Griffin’s dunk was slightly better.  So much so that I featured it in my dunk workshop spoof video.

Comedy Origins

After college I went to Georgetown Law Center, the #14 law school in the country (turning down Michigan, the #7 school at the time, in sort of a Kobe Bryant-draft style move).  After college Blake Griffin was the #1 pick in the NBA draft.  And during both experiences our professional comedy careers began.  Deeply depressed I began doing comedy in Washington D.C. as an escape from law school and the pressures of a long-distance relationship.  Blake began doing comedy sketches and making late night television appearances to escape from the pressures of having beautiful women in Los Angeles throw themselves at him.

Once again God watched my comedy career struggles and said, “I made him funny, but he is not accomplishing what I thought he would.  I can do better and easier.”  Here are our comedy debuts on television:

I wrote all my own material, but Griffin proved to have some good natural talent.  And he got on Comedy Central within his first year, and without having to grow a beard or tits.  I have yet to be on that station.

Where To Go When You Find Out Evolution Has Passed You By

Blake Griffin has now raised the bar very high for basketball playing-comedians. In fact this whole post may actually be an endorsement for Intelligent Design and not Evolution.  Either way I have been rendered completely irrelevant  (versus fairly irrelevant which was the status in comedy that I had grown comfortable with).  So perhaps I will just wait for Blake Griffin to really blow up as a comedy presence and then present myself as the “Alt Blake Griffin.”  While you ponder that, here are two pictures of us looking cool in our element for one final comparison:

Tall, multi-racial, shades, red carpet.
Tall, multi-racial, shades, bathtub for a NYC comedian's sketch

A Comedy One Hit Wonder

I realized this morning that in a few months it will have been four years since I appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, my only modest claim to fame.  I think at this point I may be able to call myself a comedy one-hit wonder.  And being on Ferguson is not like having a #1 one one-hit.  It is more like I peaked at #27 on the charts back in late 2007.

Sadly, for comedians there is not the same effect of being a one-hit wonder as there is in music.  I remember being in Birmingham, Alabama back in 2009 and hanging out with some guys after one of the shows who were in a rock band.  Their claim to fame was that they were opening up for Hinder (a one hit-wonder band from the mid 2000s).  The conversation consisted of them telling stories of what their favorite threesomes were.  In other words they had had enough threesomes (and from a comedian who knew them – the women they had were quite attractive, which is not surprising since southern women only come in two varieties: women who love pastries or women who look like porn stars/beauty queens) to then rank threesomes.  And they were the opening band for a one hit wonder a few years removed from their one hit.  Meanwhile in Ferguson land, the closest I ever got to sex for fame was when a buddy of mine told a girl that I had been on TV in a bar, asked her if she wanted to see the set and then got a blow job from her in his apartment.

"Your friend was on TV? I should totally suck YOUR dick!"

In all fairness I was engaged when I did Ferguson.  I remember after I did Ferguson I got several MySpace friend requests and comments (see how long ago it was) and one was from a woman who said “When will you be back in LA?” because Ferguson is filmed in LA and this woman had no reason to believe that I was a lawyer and not a full time comic at the time.  My significant other at the time told me she found the comment overly suggestive (especially when she read it back to me over the phone in a 1-900 sex hotline voice).  I replied – “I think she was just a fan – I have never met this person.”  She responded: “You don’t have fans.”

And of course I got a great response from a then-up and coming comedian who is now pretty well-established who decided to sh*t on me (behind my back of course, but overheard by a friend) about me getting Ferguson (“who watches that anyway?” I believe was the mocking statement he made).  Of course his success as a comedian should dispel any notion of karma.

So that was basically what I gained from a Ferguson appearance – a blow job for a friend, an insult from a comedian and a piece of humble pie intended to choke me to death.

If this were music I could look forward to that retro-comeback reality show bullsh*t world that exists for them, but no one is wondering, whatever happened to that guy from that one appearance on Ferguson?  And of course without management that is most likely the outcome for me.

I do have something to do with my one-hit wonder status (here is the cautionary tale part for all you newbies or people starting to get some heat).  After getting Ferguson and another regional tv spot (both of which I did well on), my manager parted company with the management agency (a big outfit well known in comedy).  Being new and nervous I decided to stick with the management company and learned too late that it had been the individual manager who had pushed for me, not the company.  So like Don Corleone after the strangling of Luca Brasi, I was left unprotected.  Without him I was worthless to them.  So after one mediocre showcase and one admittedly awful NACA audition (but I did not think that eating it in front of a few hundred college students from Montana could derail a budding career) I heard nothing for about 6 months (every 4th e-mail I would get a useless response from the person who I had been assigned to).  They then told me at the end of a fruitless six months that I should seek representation elsewhere.  I don’t know how I would have had the foresight to make the right decision there, but obviously I will be more careful in the future.

That is it folks, in those few easy steps you too can become a one-hit wonder in comedy.

So this Fall I will be making a big attempt at getting management again.  Some people may say that management is not necessary, but those people are often those who got a head start thanks to management or are just full of sh*t.  For example of the “New Faces” at Montreal, only two of the comedians were without representation.  They are the gate keepers to a lot of this industry.  Whether you like me, love me or hate me, I am objectively a much better comedian than I was 4 years ago.  Significantly better.  So it should stand that having been on television already and having had a very good set, it should not be that hard to get back on, right?  All I can say to that is I will not be looking for the television cameras at Wisecrackers Comedy Club in Scranton this weekend where I will be performing.

This may sound bitter and it some ways  it is.  But I am happy with some areas of improvement – I am a better comedian and I have gotten more gigs each year than the year before for four straight years.  I really want to get more TV credits to just increase the bookings I get because the life of the up and coming feature is not economically sustainable and not mentally healthy.  So hopefully efforts I make this Fall will pan out, but if they don’t my experience is still no less instructive to up and coming comedians.

Now let’s crank up some Hinder!