Erik Griffin is straightforward. Ask him a question and he will give you an answer, even if it might not be the one you want. I started by asking him about Buffalo. “The one thing I know about Buffalo is you can’t win a Super Bowl,” he said good-naturedly. Ouch. True, but ouch.
The comedian, who performs at the Helium Comedy Club tonight through Saturday, first tried his hand at stand-up in 2003. “I didn’t want to wake up at 50 and be one of those guys who didn’t pursue his dream,” Griffin said.
The Los Angeles native started by taking a comedy class at the storied Comedy Club, taught by owner Mitzi Shore’s daughter, Sandi. He then made the commitment to follow his passion, going to open-mics every night and quitting his full-time job. “I went to my mom and asked her if she could help me out. I told her I really want to pursue a career in comedy,” he said.
“Luckily there was always something going on, at a club or a music venue. It was never good or bad really, it’s more what you make it,” Griffin said of his open-mic experience. “It’s something that has to be done to get good at stand-up. It takes years to be yourself on stage. That’s what you strive to do.”
He comes from a multicultural background. His mother is Central American-Caribbean and his father is European, but he doesn’t make that the main theme of his comedy, which is more introspective and about life in general.
Griffin currently plays Montez Walker on Comedy Central’s show “Workaholics,” where he beat out more established actors for the role, including comedian Jay Phillips. “I just read the part the way it was written. I think that’s why I got it. I didn’t try and add anything to it. It was just this urban guy who works in a office and that’s what I gave them,” he said.
Enjoying the perks of being on TV, he has been touring constantly since December. And it’s a little better with a TV credit. “Unfortunately, a lot of comedy clubs don’t take responsibility for their shows anymore, but with a TV credit, it’s easier to get people out to the club to see me,” he stated. And I really do enjoy meeting the fans and taking pictures. For some people, ‘Workaholics’ is their favorite show and that’s why they are there.”
It’s a long way from his first paying gig in 2004, which was in a hotel in Helena, Mont., that was a best of times, worst of times type moment. “On one hand, it was a great experience because it was my first time getting paid for comedy. But on the other hand, I was performing for 15 people in a hotel in Montana,” Griffin said. In 2008, he made his second TV appearance and did the “Just For Laughs” Montreal Comedy Festival and was making a living off his passion.
His album “Technical Foul: Vol 1” was just released, and his half-hour stand-up special will premiere this year on Comedy Central. “At this point in my career, I’m still growing and excited by my prospects,” Griffin said.
What: Erik Griffin
When: 8 tonight; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St.