David Alan Grier talks comedy and performing arts with Jalen Rose

If David Alan Grier’s agents had their will, we might never have met iconic “In Living Color” characters like Calhoun “I wrote a song about it” Tubbs or Antoine Merriweather, co-host of “Men On …” In fact, he has never at all would have appeared in the Fox show.

“My agent did not want me to do that,” he told me in this week’s Renaissance Man. David, who received an MFA from Yale, was a stage and film actor. He was not a cartoon. He saw roles with a little more gravitas. But all that changed when his friend and “A Soldier’s Story” co-star Robert Townsend introduced him to his funny friends – a group of then-unknown siblings with the surname Wayans. They were making the pilot for the sketch show “In Living Color” and took a shine for David. In native Detroit, Keenen saw Ivory Wayan’s raw, untapped talent. He told him, “No one knows how funny you are. I want you to do this show,” David recalled.

At the time, he was auditioning for a number of other pilots, but he did not land anything. And his representatives warned him that he would not make money on it.

“Kim Wayans called me and ‘it was like an intervention, a pep talk, everything. She said,’ This is the wrong decision. You’re making the wrong turn in your life. You have to make this show. ‘ “I finally said yes, and it changed everything. It really did.”

The groundbreaking and apologetic sketch show became a showcase for elite talents: Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Damon Wayans and Fly Girl Jennifer Lopez became big stars at the box office. David’s crazy style and intellect (hey, he went to the University of Michigan) made him a fan favorite and launched him into the comedy world.

When he started doing stand-up, the novice was schooled by a voice at the back of the room.

” Living Color ‘was really great and I played in this club in New Jersey. It was packed. When I came out, this guy was at the very back … It was like he was shouting in my ear. ‘We do not want anything we can get for free.’ It cut through everything. It was total silence. It told me I needed to come up with some new stuff. ‘We do not just want these sketches that you make on TV. We want new things. ‘ “

Ever since, he has consistently given us freshness, including his large, swollen white beard, which he has been growing for about a year. The “Boomerang” actor plays the father of his “In Living Color” co-star Jamie Foxx in the Netflix show “Dad Stop Embarrassing Me”.

And in September, he won a Tony for his role in “A Soldier’s Play.” He cried over winning after four decades in the industry and just as many nominations.

“I would say it did not feel like 40 years. It was so funny. It was not because I’ve suffered for 40 years. It’s a crazy trip that went like this. I’m glad I won it this time and not when I was 25, because I would have been a mess. ”

It’s all gone in full circle. In 1982, he was in the off-Broadway production of “A Soldier’s Play” with two guys named Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson.

“There was no difference, no difference in his personality … He was exactly the same then as he is now,” David said of Jackson. “He checked the locker room.” The actors religiously watched “Family Feud” on a small black-and-white television.

In 1984, the play was made into a feature film, which garnered several Oscar nominations and helped make Denzel a celebrity with one name.

David Alan Grier won a TONY for his role in 'A Soldier's Play'.
David Alan Grier won a TONY for his role in ‘A Soldier’s Play’.
Getty Images

“Sam was not in the movie. His part was cut down in a way … I’m like, ‘poor Sam,'” David said.

Well, they all did. Sam is fine. And David, star on stage, cinema and stand-up, is not too shabby either. And if there is any doubt, just look at his cheering department, past and present.

While he was the main name in Detroit’s Fox Theater for the first time years ago, he found a surprise in his locker room.

“Aretha Franklin had sent the biggest bouquet of roses. And let me just talk for a moment about Miss Aretha. She always reached out and reached back and reached down to give me love and just shower me… with encouragement. ‘I’ve been watching you ‘… Every time I did a play on Broadway, she came and visited me. She was just really sweet. “

Smokey Robinson is also in his fan club. “I was an adult and a kid,” he said of Smokey, who appeared to see him appear on Broadway in “Porgy and Bess.”

Another Detroit native who admires him? That would be me. I have always been in awe of his reach and talent. One minute he plays a stuttering prisoner in “The Prison Cable Network” (his favorite sketch “In Living Color”). Next, he’s finding a place on his mantle for a Tony Award.

Before we even met or became friends, I boasted that he was from my hometown. Here’s another treat. Sure, he looks and sounds like a professor, but he’s into motorcycles. So I asked him if he had a motorcycle gang, what should it be called? His answer: “The black squirrels.” It’s appropriate. That animal is everywhere: in houses, in trees, running in your garden. They were even in the attic of my townhouse in Greenwich at one point. Squirrels are undefeated. And that’s the best way to describe my friend David Alan Grier.

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, which rocked the college-hop world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before switching to a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby”. He produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book, “Got To Give the People What They Want”, a fashion designer, and co-founded Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.


Give a Comment