Family & Companions
Bright and energetic comedian Eddie Griffin, at one time named "the king of hip-hop stand-ups," won over a large audience with his straight-talking comedy routines, but reached even more people as an actor, excelling especially in comedic roles, but proving more than capable of dramatic fare as well. As star of "Malcolm & Eddie," one of UPN's most successful and long-running sitcoms, Griffin was able to try his hand at other facets of the entertainment industry, serving as writer, producer and director of select episodes, as well as co-writing the theme song with co-star and former "Cosby" kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The series also occasionally showcased Griffin's choreography, harkening back to his pre-comedy dance career.
Born on July 15, 1968 in Kansas City, MO, Griffin opened a dance studio at the age of 15, and following a brief teenage marriage and stints in both the US Navy and jail, found himself back choreographing before accepting a bet to take the stage at a comedy club, an effort that won him $50 and eventually stardom. The aspiring comedian headed for Los Angeles, where he went on to secure a show at the legendary Comedy Store, and impressed patrons with his perceptions and impersonations. His take on Andrew Dice Clay became particularly well-known and landed Griffin the opening slot on the Diceman's national tour and a part in his concert film "Dice Rules" (1991).
The comedian also toured with Robert Townsend and The Dells in a 1991 music and comedy revue to promote Townsend's film "The Five Heartbeats." He would work again with Townsend with a guest spot on his short-lived Fox TV series "Townsend Television" and as co-star of his urban superhero comedy "The Meteor Man" (both 1993). Griffin landed more TV work, appearing on the network's "Roc" as a intimidating hustler in 1993. The following year, he headlined his own CableACE award nominated special, "HBO Comedy Half-Hour: Eddie Griffin." Also in 1994, he proved his acting skills with a memorable performance as Rat in the gripping inner-city set drama "Jason's Lyric," starring Allen Payne. Griffin reunited with Payne in 1995's "The Walking Dead," both playing African-American soldiers in this Vietnam War drama.
In 1996, Griffin landed the sitcom role that would make his uniquely expressive face a familiar one in many more American homes. On "Malcolm & Eddie" (UPN, 1996-2000), Griffin portrayed Eddie Sherman, a freewheeling twenty-something tow-truck driver who forges a friendship and later g s into business with polar opposite Malcolm McGee, an aspiring sports commentator. With trademark hats and irrepressible energy, Griffin's characterization of Eddie was a cartoonish take on his own comedy persona minus the profanity and urban edginess, leaving an enjoyably fast-paced, bright and engaging screen presence.
Griffin returned to HBO with the highly-rated hour-long comedy special "Eddie Griffin: Voodoo Child." The following year saw him take on a part in the summer action blockbuster "Armageddon," starring Bruce Willis, who the actor worked with seven years earlier in the action vehicle "The Last Boy Scout." Griffin proved his acting skills once again with a part in "Foolish," playing the title character, an aspiring stand up comedian who-in a two heads are better than one realization-joins forces with his brother, an aspiring big time gangster (played by hip-hop mogul Master P), working together to reach their respective goals.
Having proved himself on the stand-up circuit and as an actor with varied film roles and a successful television series, Griffin lensed a spate of films in 1999, including "Picking Up the Pieces," with Woody Allen and Sharon Stone, "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," starring Rob Schneider, and "The Second Coming of Sammy," starring as a homeless man with the gift of prophecy. Griffin's film career gained further momentum in 2002 when he appeared in the Denzel Washington thriller "John Q" and took the eponymous lead in "Undercover Brother," an infectiously amusing parody of 70s blaxploitation films. Griffin also delivered a spot-on parody of Laurence Fishburne's pretentious "Matrix" character Morpheus as Orpheus in the horror spoof "Scary Movie 3" (2003).
After making his screenwriting debut alongside playing a deadbeat dad in the little-seen comedy, "My Baby's Daddy" (2004), Griffin reprised his character in the unnecessary sequel, "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" (2005), playing a pimp who drags a low-life gigolo (Schneider) back into the life to ply his wares-such as they are-in Amsterdam, where European women seem to be just as lonely as American women. With gags that included the removal of a larynx and a woman with a penis for a nose, not to mention a steady stream of venomous jokes aimed at foreigners and gays from Griffin, "European Gigolo" stayed true to the fifth grade humor of the original. The paltry take at the box office all but ensured that there would be no third installment.
Griffin next starred in "Irish Jam" (2006) as an L.A. con-artist who moves to Ballygobnabod, Ireland after winning a p try contest where he learns about friendship, community and trust. After appearing in the completely unnecessary spoof comedy "Date Movie" (2006), Griffin costarred opposite the many incarnations of Eddie Murphy in "Norbit" (2007), a painfully unfunny comedy about a hapless man (Murphy) forced into marrying a large, mean and junk food-addicted woman (Murphy) just when his childhood sweetheart (Thandie Newton) moves back to town. In "The Wendell Baker Story" (2007)-the bizarre and often laid-back feature debut from Luke and Owen Wilson-Griffin played a scam artist running a Medicare scam with his partner (Owen Wilson) at the Shady Grove Retirement Hotel. Though filmed in 2003, "The Wendell Baker Story" was released four years later after it made the festival circuit rounds. Box office success looked bleak with "Shrek the Third" looming over the weekend.
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Opened a dance studio in Kansas City at age 15 (date approximate)
Was married at age 16 (date approximate)
After his divorce, joined the Navy at age 17 (date approximate)
Discharged from the Navy
Served a six-month jail sentence for assault at age 19 (date approximate)
Landed a small role in the Bruce Willis action vehicle "The Last Boy Scout"
Appeared in Clay's concert film "Dice Rules"
Toured with Robert Townsend and the vocal group The Dells in a series of nationwide promotional appearances for the film "The Five Heartbeats"
Co-starred in Townsend's urban superhero comedy "The Meteor Man"
Guest starred on the premiere episode of Townsend's short-lived comedy series "Townsend Television" (Fox)
Played hustler Al Fontaine on an episode of "Roc" (Fox)
Appeared in the comedy feature adaptation "Coneheads"
Performed in his own CableACE Award nominated HBO special "HBO Comedy Half-Hour: Eddie Griffin"
Landed a featured role in the inner-city set drama "Jason's Lyric," starring Allen Payne
Reteamed with Payne as African-American Marines looking back at their lives while under attack in the Vietnam war drama "The Walking Dead"
Co-starred with Malcolm Jamal Warner in the UPN sitcom "Malcolm & Eddie"; also wrote and produced select episodes
Starred in "Eddie Griffin: Voodoo Child," an hour-long HBO comedy special
Founded Blue Light Records
Appeared in the summer action blockbuster "Armageddon," starring Bruce Willis
Co-starred as an aspiring stand-up comedian with a gangster brother (hip hop mogul Master P), each trying to make it in their chosen professions in "Foolish"
Appeared in the comedy "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," starring Rob Schneider as a man who takes over a male escort's business
Cast in a supporting role in the black comedy "Picking up the Pieces," starring Woody Allen and Sharon Stone
Teamed with Orlando Jones in "Double Take"
Provided laughter in drama feature "John Q"
Starred in the hit comedy feature "Undercover Brother"
Wrote and starred in the documentary "DysFunKtional Family"
Along with Anthony Anderson, co-starred in the feature "My Baby's Daddy"
Reprised role of pimp T.J. Hicks in "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo"
Starred in "Date Movie," a cinematic spoof of romantic comedy features
Co-starred with brothers Luke and Owen Wilson in "The Wendell Baker Story," a film co-directed by Luke and Andrew Wilson
Co-starred with Eddie Murphy in the comedy "Norbit"