Welcome to another “Why So Serious?” — a column where we ask stand-up comedians a handful of questions, and don’t expect anything resembling straight answers.
For this installment we talked to actor and stand-up David Alan Grier, who’s probably best-known for playing a series of memorable characters on the groundbreaking ’90s sketch show “In Living Color.” The rubber-faced Grier has also appeared in a number of TV shows (some successful — some not so much. Remember “Life With Bonnie”?) and movies in addition to touring nationally.
We e-mailed Grier in advance of his headlining gigs at Comedy Works Thursday, Feb. 24 through Saturday, Feb. 26.
What was your first time on stage like and what made you want to come back?
The first play I appeared in was “Othello”… I wasn’t playing Othello, I played the other black guy…The one with three lines.
Out of all the things you’ve done — Broadway, TV, stand-up, films, writing a book — is there anything you haven’t done that you’d still like to?
I would like to do a dramatic role in a film. Something Oscar caliber… Like a one-armed, mentally challenged, deaf-mute, who must solve his wife’s murder.
You’re well known for your range of impressions. What was the hardest one to nail down, and why?
I am best at impressions no one else has thought of doing, that way you never fail, because there is no expectation.
“In Living Color” remains one of the most influential sketch comedies of all time, particularly because it addressed a lot of thorny race, gender and sexuality issues head on. Why are there so few shows doing that today, and did you feel the show was ahead of its time?
I don’t even know if “ILC” would even get on the air today…There is no room what with “The Daily Show” blowing so much hot air up liberal asses.
You’ve been nominated for a Tony Award several times, but they’ve been elusive so far. How important would it be to win one?
I would consider myself a complete failure if I do not win a Tony this year… So the pressure is on.
Who’s your favorite character you’ve ever played, and why?
Licorice Stick on “Chocolate News.” I just loved that whole sketch.
How would you describe your stand-up to someone who’s only seen you on TV and in films?
I provide a unique, and unforgettable evening of hilarious, shenanigans! Seriously, every stand-up talks about the same things. Sex, relationships, religion, politics, blah blah blah… I’m no different!
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
When I looked in the mirror.
What are you excited about (professionally or otherwise) in the coming months?
I am most excited about my newfound, born-again virginity, and I look forward to trying to maintain it in the coming months.
Tickets for David Alan Grier’s shows Thursday, Feb. 24 (8 p.m.), Friday, Feb. 25 (8 p.m. and 10 p.m.) and Saturday, Feb. 26 (8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.) at Comedy Works are $25-$30 and available via comedyworks.com.
John Wenzel is an executive editor of Reverb and an award-winning A&E reporter for The Denver Post. He is the author of “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” (Speck Press/Fulcrum) and maintains a Twitter feed of completely random song titles and band names.