Howie Nave, special to Lake Tahoe Action

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October 30, 2008
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Cheer up " Griffin's headling The Improv

It has taken three years, but we finally have Nick Griffin back at The Improv.

The last time he was here, Nick was living in Los Angeles, middling onstage and depressed. He has since relocated to New York, has made a few appearances on the "Late Show with David Letterman" and is now headlining venues all over the country. He's still depressed, though, because some things just never change.

Mom would joke, "Why is Nick unhappy? He seems to have so much going for himself." I wouldn't say that Nick is depressed more than he is a loner. OK, so maybe a little morose but that's why comedy is such a perfect outlet for him.

He started way back at the age of 19 in Kansas City, Mo. After peddling his jokes around the Midwest for a few years, Nick shuffled off to New York City, where he got mugged: Welcome to the Big Apple.

For more than two years, though, he cut his teeth on midnight shows in Greenwich Village. After getting what he could out of the East Coast, Nick moved to Los Angeles, where he excelled as a comic and a writer. He was a staff writer for "The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show" in 1997 and later became the head writer for Bobby Slayton and Sue Murphy's morning radio show. His relationship with Slayton ( "The Pitbull of Comedy") still continues, and took Nick on the road to open for him, opening a lot of doors.

Other comedians often quote Nick, which is a huge compliment. He seems to hit a nerve when it comes to the times we live in. He might seem to speak from a dark place, but that's only because he's drawing from what is happening in his own life. Nick always thinks he isn't quite up to par, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Oh sure, he still feels insecure about dating. When he used to do some Internet dating, he filled out the "how far" question with "seven blocks." Seven blocks? Nick told me that way if the date didn't work out he didn't have too far to walk if he had to get home. He did have a short fling with British actress Lucy Davis ("Shaun of the Dead" and BBC's "The Office") back in 2006 (in London for an adaptation of Lord Byron's "The Wounded Heart"), but Lucy decided it was best to move on after that project finished.

His first major TV late-night appearance was on Craig Kilborn's show, and he's a regular on Comedy Central's "Premium Blend." When Nick decided it was time to move back to New York, he promptly landed a spot on "The Late Show with David Letterman." He was bumped for a dog act, but Letterman introduced him anyway to remind people that he would be back soon. He did and has since appeared two more times on Letterman.

Nick also is a brilliant screenwriter, having collaborated with fellow comedian Mike Ferrucci on many scripts.

We have a very special guest comic this week in the way of Marc Price, otherwise known as Skippy. Marc has no qualms about the name that made him a household fixture on television during the '80s. Yep " Marc played the nerd-next-door on the NBC sitcom "Family Ties" from 1982 to 1990.

Marc is much more than that, of course, but he knows people still like to refer to him as Skippy. And, unlike his fellow former childhood stars who cringe when you refer to them by their TV name, Marc has no problems with it. Just don't call him Extra Chunky.

Unlike some other post-sitcom brats who rob convenience stores or strung out Marc has been able to carve out a decent living for himself, always trying to get new shows the green light.

Marc has actually appeared in a ton of shows but can you remember all of them? The Disney Channel's "Teen Win, Lose or Draw," where Marc starred in more than 150 episodes? And what about "Trick or Treat" with Ozzy Osbourne, Touchstone's "The Rescue" and 20th Century Fox's "Killer Tomatoes Eat France?" But Marc has also produced countless bits, including man-on-the-street segments for "The Ricki Lake Show."

Price co-produced those cooking-with-the-comics segments for Dick Clark's "The Donny & Marie Show." Before "Family Ties," Price guest-starred on "One Day at a Time" and "Archie Bunker's Place." Price's other acting credits include starring roles in New World Pictures' "The Little Devils" and "The Zoo Gang," the ABC TV movies "All That Glitters" and "Semester at Sea," an Aaron Spelling pilot for ABC titled "Hearts Are Wild," a USA pilot that National Lampoon founder Matty Simmons produced, as well as another TV movie, "Combat Academy."

Between producing and starring on countless TV and game shows, Marc still enjoys the art of stand-up. That's because there is a history of entertaining that runs in his family: Marc's father, Al Bernie, performed at the Playboy Clubs and was a frequent guest on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Price spent his childhood in the company of his Dad's friends Sid Caesar, Milton Berle and George Burns.

He still enjoys doing standup as Marc Price, but to me he is and always will be "Skippy." It's OK for you to call him that as well. Really.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 30, 2008 04:13PM Published Oct 30, 2008 04:13PM Copyright 2008 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.