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Nave: Comedian Griffin left his heart in Tahoe, last show before closures

Howie Nave
Special to the Tribune
Howie Nave (right) with comedian Nick Griffin.
Provided

After chatting with comedian Nick Griffin while he is sheltered in place in his tiny New York City studio apartment, I can tell you I have no reason to ever complain about my situation up here, ever.

Griffin has been in the epicenter of the COVID-19 in the United States and reminded me that his last week of doing stand up comedy was here in Tahoe before everything closed up.

“I’m kinda happy my last gig was up in Tahoe,” he said. “We had a great show at Harveys on Saturday night then we got canceled on Sunday so my heart is in Tahoe.”

Most folks are familiar with his comedy in part because of all the comics I play on my morning radio show, Griffin is probably the most played, right up there with comedians Mitch Hedberg and Greg Giraldo.

There’s not too many comedians I can also talk movies with who know his stuff especially when it comes to all things horror. Griffin has written several screenplays with an emphasis on the scary. I’m wondering if this pandemic will find its way into a future screenplay? No doubt he will make an appearance in his act.

Griffin has performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan, his own comedy special on Comedy Central and appeared on David Letterman 11 times. Oh, and his latest special, Cheer Up, was finished before the coronavirus and you can watch it on Amazon Prime and it is classic Griffin.

Like many comedians his bookings dried up almost overnight with the closing of comedy clubs and theatres nationwide so he’s been relegated to his apartment which barely meets the 6-foot social distancing requirement. Yes, it’s that small.

“I have this tiny studio apartment that I’m in and as my friend says, ‘those walls aren’t gonna watch themselves’ so I’ve been going a little stir-crazy, Howie. Everyday I walk for about an hour and the people who are out have masks and gloves on. It’s a little bit like ‘Escape From New York’ as it’s just the street people and the cops. My neighborhood used to be a little bit safer but now it’s like all drug addicts and street people so you gotta be careful.”

If you know Griffin, you realize he’s not one of those comics that will zoom online and invite people to watch him perform in his living room at a certain time. First off, he needs to be able to feed off a ‘live’ audience and second, his apartment is more a green room than a living room.

I will say this though: Nick has always been a well disciplined comedian when it comes to writing be it screenplays or stand up material so I know that’s given him some normalcy during all this.

“I keep a regular schedule and write screenplays and write jokes every day and I still do that every single day but Sunday I usually take off and don’t do anything” he said.

When I asked if he was still writing horror-oriented scripts he said, “Oh sure, in fact I’ve been writing a lot and just finished the first draft of a nice little horror movie and I’m going to get some notes from that from my manager.”

Like myself, Griffin has a podcast called, Scary Monsters Podcast that he co-hosts with fellow quarantined New York comedian Lori Palminteri each from their own place and I personally find it very entertaining. So, at least Griffin between his writing and podcast and occasional guest appearance on a New York sports radio show he’s getting by as best as one can expect.

“I was just telling my therapist even if I do everything on my schedule I’m done by 1, 2 o’clock at the latest.”

It’s interesting observing not just how comedians are handling this pandemic but people in general. Yes, we all have decent days and others not so great, but we don’t have the added stress of kids to keep entertained which is probably good in Nick’s case given the size of his apartment. Don’t get me wrong it would make for a great playpen but then there’d be no room for Nick.

“I’ve been keeping in touch with a handful of comics and Dave Attel got bored one day and walked up to my neighborhood and we had coffee together so that was fun.”

On a serious note I detected some concern in Nick;s voice.

“I guess we’re all going a little stir-crazy. I have a pre-existing condition, I have asthma and I’ve been a little scared so we’ll see what happens.”

I’ll be keeping tabs on him. No, not like a mother hen but I text him somewhat regularly and he’s one of the few comics I can text pretty much any time and he always returns my message. I think it’s a good reminder if you have friends or family that live by themselves reach out and see how they’re doing. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

Before I said, “Goodbye” to Nick he reached out saying, “Howie I can’t tell ya, you made my day today by calling so stay healthy.”

I echo that response and look forward to this pandemic, or as I like to refer to it as, ‘the new C-word’ ending soon. To quote Griffin, “Stay healthy” and go wash your hands (and other body parts too) people.


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