NICK GRIFFIN INTERVIEW
Comedian Nick Griffin is somewhat of a machine. He’s really in his element when he’s on the road, headlining everywhere from Mason City, Illinois to San Francisco and back again. Along the way, he’s managed to wrack up an astounding 16 late night television appearances, bringing his salty, cynical, and hilarious material to the national stage. The idea of downtime is somewhat lost on Nick, so he fills his days writing TV pilots and working on his horror movie screenplay. On April 3, Nick will release his second album with Rooftop, Shot in the Face, building off the success of his previous title, Bring Out the Monkey. We recently chatted with Nick about his work ethic, love of horror films, and being called “less happy” than Marc Maron–by Marc Maron.
Rooftop Comedy: When did you record Shot in the Face?
Nick Griffin: I did it in 2004. It was in Columbus, Ohio. I wasn’t even planning on recording, but I think another guy on the bill said he was recording and he said, “You know, if you want to, you can just record after me”. It ended up being a really great show and I really was happy with it and I didn’t have a CD at the time. I was one of those geniuses that didn’t think selling CDs after shows was cool, so I waited until CDs had pretty much gone out of fashion before I started. Anyway, the show went really well and I had all this new material I really wanted to get out, but I really hadn’t spoken to any record labels. So the reason I wanted to re-release was I recorded it myself and I sold it after shows. So people haven’t had access to it unless they were at one of my shows. So I thought it was a good idea because I was really happy with the way Rooftop did my first one and how they worked with me.
NG: I think there’s a lot of parallels going on. I think being a comic or an entertainer or whatever you want to call it, it’s always hard to keep relationships together, so there’s a lot of that in there. I think I did this CD probably two years after my divorce, so there’s a lot of that in there that was kind of the material that really helped me elevate my game. It’s sad that getting divorced had to happen, but the divorce material is what got me on my first Letterman spot. They just really liked how I framed it in my act and so there’s a lot of relationship material. I think it’s a little bit angrier than Bring Out the Monkey. I don’t know if I’m just more medicated now than I was, but it’s definitely a little angrier.
[Nick Griffin’s most recent Letterman spot, from February 2012]
RT: Some 16 late night appearances later, that first Letterman spot did you a lot of good.
NG: Yeah, like I said, I did that first Letterman spot and it went really well. I actually got a little development deal with Letterman’s company right after I did my first Letterman spot and then I just started getting a lot more people interested. I was probably 17 or 18 years into the business before I got my first TV spot. I had a lot of stuff saved up and that’s still the most fun for me. I love clubs, but when you’re in the middle of Boise, Idaho on a Thursday, you’re wondering why you’re doing this. When you get to go on Conan or Letterman, it really makes it worthwhile.
RT: Any pre-show rituals before you go on stage?
NG: I always check my notebook and write out two or three of the newest jokes and make sure to remind myself to get through them on stage. You can get lazy on the road and not work on your act as much and I’m just trying to prevent myself from doing that even as I continue to go on after all these years. Just reminding myself to do the new material is one thing I do.
RT: You’re also somewhat of a horror movie enthusiast.
NG: I am. I unfortunately haven’t sold any [screenplays], but I’ve written four or five movies. I had an older brother, who’s only three years older than me and when we were kids, there was a late night show on Fridays that they called Friday Fright Night and they had a host and they would introduce these movies. We’d watch them all the time and it just got into my DNA. With all this time on the road, I’m just trying to figure out what the hell to do and I just thought, you know, as a goof, let’s try to write a horror movie and I did and it was just fun to do it. I haven’t sold it or anything, but I continue to write them and someday hopefully something will happen.
RT: Do you have similar writing practices for comedy and horror? Or are they completely different monsters?
NG: It’s kind of a completely different monster. I mean, I can’t start a screenplay until I have a beginning and an ending and that’s what I’m always looking for. It’s rare that I come up with just a little scene or something. I do come up with horror ideas, just walking around.
RT: Marc Maron once called you possibly the only comic that’s less happy than he is. That’s quite an honor?
NG: Yeah I’ve done WTF a couple times and I moved to New York when I was 22 or 23 and he was there. I just have a horrible walk-around face. My daily walk-around face does not look particularly happy and it’s often misconstrued as being depressed or whatever. I get as depressed as the next person, but I don’t think Marc Maron knows me well enough to make that statement, but we’ve spent some time together and chatted about getting divorced and struggling and all that. I did a live WTF in Brooklyn and that’s where that came from.
RT: Do you like doing podcasts?
NG: I’d like to do more. I haven’t done a ton of them. I spend so much time on the road. I get asked, but I don’t end up doing them just because I’m always on the road when they’re doing them, but I love doing them. I think they’re a blast and they’re cool and it’s a great way to get your material out there.
Shot in the Face will be available on April 3. You can pre-order the album and get 15% OFF at the Rooftop Comedy Shop with the discount code: ShotInTheFace. Shot in the Face will also be on iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, Grooveshark, and wherever you can find good comedy.