In the first live comedy/R&B/hip-hop Web cast, Eddie Griffin showcased his comedic theatrics, musical talent and entrepreneurial spirit for a packed audience at the Comedy Store in a show dubbed “MLK 2K: We Still Have the Dream.”
Griffin, resident funnyman on the UPN sitcom “Malcolm and Eddie,” broadcast the show on eddiegriffnshood.com, launching his Web, he said, as a way of continuing the legacy of celebration of the work of Martin Luther King Jr.
After a short speech acknowledging the work of the slain civil rights leader, the performer, in true Griffin form, reversed the fortunes of King and other black icons: “What would’ve happened if our leaders missed their calling?” he proposed. Doing a good imitation of the thunderous voice of King and the attitude of a pimp, Griffin launched into his “girl betta have my money” routine. (His green turtleneck, green slacks, sharp black leather jacket and afro accentuated the “pimp-esque” vibe.)
The headliner also performed near-flawless imitations of Bill Cosby and Sammy Davis Jr. (a staple in Griffin’s repertoire). An animated and physical comedian, Griffin exhibited great execution and timing with his imitations of characters from various segments of society, from the snobbish, stern businessman to the nihilistic, self-righteous rock star.
Griffin was most effective when he made light of sensitive subjects, such as race relations and his growing up without a father, all without being preachy. Another touchy subject that got a rise from the crowd was his assailing of the BET network.
Though there were momentary lapses due to the slight overabundance of cover songs in Griffin’s musical material, he put across a commanding, confident stage presence. Though Griffin’s foundation is comedy, his solid musical performance spoke volumes about his versatility and creativity.
Before the main event, comedian and Griffin protege Chalantwarmed up the audience with tales of women, poverty and sports. Though his material was at times vulgar and tiresome, Chalant displayed improv skill in his interactions with audience members.
Segueing into Griffin’s performance was former Dazz Band member Jerry Bell, who grooved the crowd with the McFadden & Whitehead classic “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” The 30-year-old Griffin rushed the stage and, backed by his band, Eclectic Divinity, covered old funk numbers from the Parliament/Funkadelic catalog to the reggae of Bob Marley.
Rapper Nate Dogg added a little “gangsta funk” to the proceedings, doing background vocals on one of the band sets, but it was the appearance of Chaka Khan that truly thrilled the crowd. Her rendition of the reggae song “No, No, No, You Don’t Love Me” was smashing, showcasing her powerful range and sultry style.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.