Nick Griffin and Gene Pompa hop on stage at Harveys’ Improv
May 23, 2013
How long have I known Nick Griffin? Fifteen years? I’m not sure, but long enough where he feels comfortable talking when he would normally be hiding somewhere in a broom closet because he’s comfortable in dark places with no one around. Kind of like his mind actually. Nick’s been doing stand-up for quite awhile touring the country and making tons of television appearances. Since moving to New York from Los Angeles seven years ago he’s done nine (yes, 9!) appearances on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” several on “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” Conan O’Brien and still has one of the best Comedy Central specials I’ve ever seen. He’s also been a staff writer for The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show and for ‘The Pit Bull of Comedy’ himself, Bobby Slayton. You know what’s really funny? When I mention those credits (and others) he says it hasn’t increased his pay or bookings that much. Nick is, without a doubt, one of the most positive guys I’ve ever known.
Nobody else spends as much time on the road as Nick. OK, maybe Rocky LaPorte, but Nick is right up there. There are many things that make Nick such a great act to see but for me it’s his take on the absurd, idiotic people such as those who try too hard being cool when in reality they’re a doofus. We share a common interest in movies, particularly horror movies. He’s written a plethora of scripts, treatments and full-blown screenplays, his best work being kind of dark (like Nick). Sometimes he’ll text me late at night asking how many bagels I gave a certain movie (I rate movies by bagels, 5 being the best) and why I liked or disliked it. Some of those texts are pretty outrageous now that I think of it.
Nick was made for New York and I was happy when he relocated from the West Coast because his temperament suits the big apple and was immediately embraced by the very tight-knit comedy community. A far cry from his Midwest upbringing where he started performing at age 19 in Kansas City. Nick’s latest CD, “Shot In The Face” is available online but he sells them after the show so I would go with that after seeing his show. The last time he was here he had just released “Bring Out the Monkey” on CD, which is still one of my favs.
I don’t want to say things have been looking up for Griffin because then he would question what went wrong and that wouldn’t be good. I just tell him he’s been adequate so he doesn’t have to decide which direction to go. Nick likes Tahoe though as he feels safe up here, which allows him to concentrate more on his writing and less on having to worry that he’s about to make another bad decision. I always know when it’s time for Nick to make a trip out here after reading his online journal commenting on how things are going for him. For example, the last time he was to appear here he posted, “Things have been OK lately, which is huge for me because I always expect the worst.” The timing is good having him here because it is spring, which means there’s hope for going on. OK, maybe not.
I like starting my day having a hot cup of Joe before the sun rises, getting ready to go on the air and read what comedian Gene Pompa is saying on Facebook. I can’t repeat some of what he says here because this is a family-friendly and Gene isn’t. Odd considering that some of his best writing gigs have been for shows on Nickelodeon. There’s a dark side to people with comedians being the darkest. Pompa is a prolific comedian/writer and is well respected by his peers. Some of Gene’s television gigs include “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” starring in his own half hour Comedy Central special, FOX’s “In Living Color,” “The Brothers Garcia” on Nickelodeon, Showtime, HBO, MTV, MUN2, Galavision and the Game Show Network just to mention but a few.
Gene’s also done some big screen work I think his favorite being Adam Sandler’s “Just Go For It,” which starred Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman. Rent it if you haven’t it just to watch Gene’s scene with the former ‘Friends’ star (Jennifer) because it’s hilarious. There’s one scene where Gene gets to cop a feel on Aniston’s boobs. Gene said it took more than 37 takes before the director (and probably Gene) were satisfied with the final edit. Sandler was cracking up watching the takes.
Gene was born in East Los Angeles, California. He has been a Mexican-American most of his life, except for a few years during the 1970s, when he was a practicing being a Chicano. Gene became a product of his multi-ethnic upbringing in the suburbs of Los Angeles and it was this diverse background which ultimately inspired Gene to incorporate universal themes into his stand-up comedy and writing. Pompa’s offbeat perspective on comedy crosses all racial and ethnic lines and goes over well with everyone from college-age audiences to a more mature crowd. Gene credits comedic legends Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Steve Martin as being his influences. In fact, Gene Pompa was been inspired to develop his own brand of late-night humor with “The Nite Nite Show,” a show that had great social relevance and irrelevance as its format (kind of like Gene).