Anthony Griffith and Suli McCullough perform at Harveys Improv
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Last month I was watching one of my favorite, classic horror-spoof shows, “Tales From The Hood,” on HBO — and who should I see? Comedian (and actor) Anthony Griffith playing a zombie! Then I remembered he was coming up here in April, performing with Suli McCullough at the Improv at Harveys.
Long before becoming a comedian Anthony ‘s dream was to be a world-renowned escape artist.
“While other boys were playing sports in high school, I was getting out of handcuffs, chains and straitjackets,” he explained. “I still played basketball since escape artistry wasn’t in vogue yet with the women, but by this time I had become a fan of the legendary escape artist Harry Houdini. I was building a fan base in the community, until unexpectedly someone stole my straitjacket — one of the drawbacks growing up in the inner city. My attempt to get another one through my parents was met with resistance. ‘You need another straitjacket? Boy, you act like straitjackets grow on trees.’”
Anthony is a Chicago native and started doing stand up while attending college. He would literally perform anywhere including comedy clubs, colleges, restaurants, hotels and strip clubs.
Along the way things started paying off; he began winning local comedy competitions around Chicago and eventually got a shot on national television on “Ed McMahon’s Star Search.” Then other networks came calling, including being on The Tonight Show. He was in the television drama “Our Father,” where Anthony was awarded an Emmy and appeared on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He also was part of the “Apostle of Comedy Tour” with comedians Jeff Allen, Brad Stine and Ron Pearson (where they performed in churches throughout the country and in comedy shorts that Anthony wrote and produced). On the big screen he was seen in the aforementioned “Tales From The Hood,” in Mario Van Peebles’ “Panther,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”
A lot of Anthony’s material comes directly from his upbringing and family.
“Kids in my neighborhood loved playing cops and robbers, which I hated, because I was always forced to be the prostitute,” he said.
For as long as I’ve known him, Anthony has made people laugh in a soft-spoken kind of way. He’s what you would refer to as a “clean” comedian where folks of all ages can enjoy him and not feel nervous that he’s going to slip in any offensive language.
A lot of comedians have written books about their experiences being on the road and some have been a pretty fascinating read. But when I recently came across comedian Suli McCullough’s book, “150 Ways to Know You’re Ghetto,” I was in stitches. I forgot how funny it was.
Written by Suli, with Shawn Wayans and Chris Spencer, it was nice reading something that caused an out-loud, gut-funny reaction. Suli is known more as a writer for heavyweights in the business; they call on him every now and then when they have an important function coming up. When comedian (and Oscar-winning actor) Jaime Foxx was asked to host Saturday Night Live, guess who wrote some sketches for him? Suli McCullough, that’s who. Before that Suli was a writer for Jay Leno, when he was the host of “The Tonight Show,” and also for comedian George Lopez, when he had his late night talk show, “Lopez Tonight.”
When not writing or performing, Suli also acted in some pretty impressive movies. He played the character of Mouse on “The Jamie Foxx Show” and alongside Charlie Sheen, James Gandolfini and Nastassja Kinski in “Terminal Velocity.” However, it was his character known as “Crazy Legs” (the dude in the wheelchair) in the cult-classic Wayans Bros. movie, “Don’t be a Menace to South Central while Drinking your Juice in The Hood,” that Suli will forever be identified with (which Suli embraces).
Suli told me that “fans still come up to me and ask, ‘Where’s my wheelchair?’ or if I’ll do a ‘Crazy Legs’ laugh for them.”
Suli has been featured on Comedy Central, late-night talk shows, NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and he even appeared on an episode of “Seinfeld” in the late 1990s.
Howie Nave is the MC at the Improv at Harveys. The comedy club is inside Harveys Lake Tahoe. Shows begin at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and tickets are $25 plus fees, except Saturdays. Tickets are $30 on Saturdays. The Improv is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays. Must be 21 or older to attend. More information is available by calling 775-586-6266.