Artist

Eddie Griffin

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Born on July 15, 1968 in Kansas City, MO, Griffin opened a dance studio at the age of 15, and following a brief teenage marriage and stints in both the US Navy and jail, found himself back choreographing before accepting a bet to take the stage at a comedy club, an effort that won him $50 and eventually stardom. The aspiring comedian headed for Los Angeles, where he went on to secure a show at the legendary Comedy Store, and impressed patrons with his perceptions and impersonations. His take on Andrew Dice Clay became particularly well-known and landed Griffin the opening slot on the Diceman's national tour and a part in his concert film "Dice Rules" (1991).

The comedian also toured with Robert Townsend and The Dells in a 1991 music and comedy revue to promote Townsend's film "The Five Heartbeats." He would work again with Townsend with a guest spot on his short-lived Fox TV series "Townsend Television" and as co-star of his urban superhero comedy "The Meteor Man" (both 1993). Griffin landed more TV work, appearing on the network's "Roc" as a intimidating hustler in 1993. The following year, he headlined his own CableACE award nominated special, "HBO Comedy Half-Hour: Eddie Griffin." Also in 1994, he proved his acting skills with a memorable performance as Rat in the gripping inner-city set drama "Jason's Lyric," starring Allen Payne. Griffin reunited with Payne in 1995's "The Walking Dead," both playing African-American soldiers in this Vietnam War drama.

In 1996, Griffin landed the sitcom role that would make his uniquely expressive face a familiar one in many more American homes. On "Malcolm & Eddie" (UPN, 1996-2000), Griffin portrayed Eddie Sherman, a freewheeling twenty-something tow-truck driver who forges a friendship and later g s into business with polar opposite Malcolm McGee, an aspiring sports commentator. With trademark hats and irrepressible energy, Griffin's characterization of Eddie was a cartoonish take on his own comedy persona minus the profanity and urban edginess, leaving an enjoyably fast-paced, bright and engaging screen presence.

Griffin returned to HBO with the highly-rated hour-long comedy special "Eddie Griffin: Voodoo Child." The following year saw him take on a part in the summer action blockbuster "Armageddon," starring Bruce Willis, who the actor worked with seven years earlier in the action vehicle "The Last Boy Scout." Griffin proved his acting skills once again with a part in "Foolish," playing the title character, an aspiring stand up comedian who-in a two heads are better than one realization-joins forces with his brother, an aspiring big time gangster (played by hip-hop mogul Master P), working together to reach their respective goals.

Having proved himself on the stand-up circuit and as an actor with varied film roles and a successful television series, Griffin lensed a spate of films in 1999, including "Picking Up the Pieces," with Woody Allen and Sharon Stone, "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," starring Rob Schneider, and "The Second Coming of Sammy," starring as a homeless man with the gift of prophecy. Griffin's film career gained further momentum in 2002 when he appeared in the Denzel Washington thriller "John Q" and took the eponymous lead in "Undercover Brother," an infectiously amusing parody of 70s blaxploitation films. Griffin also delivered a spot-on parody of Laurence Fishburne's pretentious "Matrix" character Morpheus as Orpheus in the horror spoof "Scary Movie 3" (2003).

After making his screenwriting debut alongside playing a deadbeat dad in the little-seen comedy, "My Baby's Daddy" (2004), Griffin reprised his character in the unnecessary sequel, "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" (2005), playing a pimp who drags a low-life gigolo (Schneider) back into the life to ply his wares-such as they are-in Amsterdam, where European women seem to be just as lonely as American women. With gags that included the removal of a larynx and a woman with a penis for a nose, not to mention a steady stream of venomous jokes aimed at foreigners and gays from Griffin, "European Gigolo" stayed true to the fifth grade humor of the original. The paltry take at the box office all but ensured that there would be no third installment.

Griffin next starred in "Irish Jam" (2006) as an L.A. con-artist who moves to Ballygobnabod, Ireland after winning a p try contest where he learns about friendship, community and trust. After appearing in the completely unnecessary spoof comedy "Date Movie" (2006), Griffin costarred opposite the many incarnations of Eddie Murphy in "Norbit" (2007), a painfully unfunny comedy about a hapless man (Murphy) forced into marrying a large, mean and junk food-addicted woman (Murphy) just when his childhood sweetheart (Thandie Newton) moves back to town. In "The Wendell Baker Story" (2007)-the bizarre and often laid-back feature debut from Luke and Owen Wilson-Griffin played a scam artist running a Medicare scam with his partner (Owen Wilson) at the Shady Grove Retirement Hotel. Though filmed in 2003, "The Wendell Baker Story" was released four years later after it made the festival circuit rounds. Box office success looked bleak with "Shrek the Third" looming over the weekend.
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