Eddie Griffin’s act contains questionable content
Carnival brought a lot of things to Carnegie Mellon University – Booth, flea markets, rides, food stalls, games with stuffed toys for winners, warm and sunny weather, girls in skirts and shorts once again, frat boys out of their houses, geeks out of the library, Pitt students from a couple of blocks away — and one comedian all the way from Kansas. So who was this guy standing on a newly built platform in a shiny peach tracksuit pretending to be all that? It was none other than Eddie Griffin.
On Friday night, Carnival got a lot more than its usual dose of fun and entertainment as comedian Eddie Griffin hit the stage. Organized by the Activities Board Comedy, this show turned out to be a memorable one. By 7 p.m. there was a long queue of students waiting to watch Griffin perform. Although Griffin reached Carnegie Mellon a little after 8 p.m, the time gap left students even more anxious and excited to watch him. After the buildup, Griffin entered holding a glass of champagne and asked for refills repeatedly throughout his performance but maintained that college students were not allowed to drink. He covered a wide range of topics, from legalizing marijuana, to the Obamas, to obituary columns. But he maintained his signature style and stuck to racist and sexist jokes, and expected the audience to take them in good humor. Griffin also involved members of the audience and made them part of his gimmick. He teased almost everyone present from the old people in the front row, to the young students at the back, to the policemen on the sides, and even the students who were standing outside the tent hoping to catch a glimpse of his performance. But it made the audience crack up, and that was the entire point of the show. Dan Ladenheim, an information systems and human computer interaction major and an organizer of the show, said, “I think his stand-up is great, and I thought it was hilarious the way he interacted with the audience. You’re never supposed to sit in the front of a comedy show unless you’re prepared to get made fun of, and Eddie proved that true.”
So what did Carnegie Mellon think of his performance? Michelle Berman, a sophomore economics and statistics major, said, “Although I haven’t seen Eddie Griffin perform previously, I was excited as many people have told me previously that he is hysterical.” But with the kind of jokes Griffin made, some students booed, and even cringed. As Berman said, “I enjoyed the show; however at times I was concerned as to what more conservative people in the crowd were feeling.” On a similar vein, Aashish Jindia, a first-year computer science major, said, “Griffin was really funny in the beginning and I felt as if the show was a lot of fun. But then he got kind of drunk and started cracking jokes that were not in good humor.” Many people in the crowd felt that he should have left once he hit the one hour mark, as his jokes became far too crude toward the end.
Ladenheim said, “The content of the show was definitely for mature audiences, but we were prepared for that. All alumni who got tickets were told about this in advance, the onsite line management crew were looking for kids to warn their parents, and on top of that we printed and laminated about 20 warning signs. I don’t believe the content was overall a bad thing. It’s a part of Eddie’s personality and his culture, which is everything in a comedian. And in the end, it’s important to remember that this is a comedy show. Everything is really just a joke.”
Aditya Goyal, a sophomore statistics and economics major, said, “I think it was a good change to see an artist like Eddie Griffin come to CMU — [it was] something unique after last year. Unfortunately, however, keeping with the crowd, it felt like he may have upset a large audience of both parents, elderly, and also the LGBT community. The show could have been better if there was more sensitivity both to CMU administration and possible members of the crowd present, but on the whole it was a good show.”
Landenheim said, “We made a good choice to bring Eddie Griffin. He actually wasn’t our first choice, but I’m still really happy we got him. He has a very different style than some comedians we’ve had in the past such as Michael and Michael, and it’s important to bring these different styles so you can appeal to all audiences. Obviously in a school of over 5,000 people you can’t please everyone with one show, so we try our best to do that over a few years.”
Ladenheim added, “I was happy that we were able to fill the tent up, but to be honest, the comedy show is always that packed. It’s more important to us that people enjoy the show.”