By Ashika Raval – Staff Writer
As the beginning of the year stresses begin to unfold students struggle to find some lighthearted humor. That’s where stand-up comedy kicks in.
“They don’t give a f**k about my character,” said Erik Griffin, also known as Montez on the popular Comedy Central television show “Workaholics.”
Griffin said he gets recognized everywhere for his character Montez, although he is one of the least important characters and is inconsistent throughout the seasons.
Though most people know him as Montez, Erik Griffin is making a name for himself in the world of stand-up comedy. He first gained national exposure performing and writing the 2007 ALMA nominated “Payaso Comedy Slam” on Showtime and Comedy Central Networks. Griffin is also recognized for his work on “Live at Gotham” which aired on Comedy Central, “Last Comic Driving” on NBC, “Comics Without Borders” on Showtime and “Comics Unleashed,” which was nationally syndicated in 2006-2007.
In 2008, Griffin received outstanding reviews for the Just for Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival. Most recently he was on “Surviving the Holidays” with Lewis Black on the History Channel. He is also featured in the 2010 Tribeca film festival documentary “Just like us,” which was directed by stand-up comedian Ahmed Ahmed. Griffin was also a guest star on hit TNT show “Franklin and Bash,” and on the Emmy winning Bud Light “Swear Jar” commercial.
After releasing his debut comedy album “Technical Foul: Volume One,” Griffin currently headlines clubs and colleges throughout the United States and Canada.
Last Saturday, UNC Asheville students lined up in the Highsmith Union Grotto awaiting to experience the Griffin effect. Unfortunately, many students were turned away due to the limited amount of space in the Grotto. There wasn’t a single empty spot in the room, and though it was uncomfortably hot, everyone was in high spirits and excited for the performance.
Elizabeth White, a sophomore student from Wake Forest, said she just recently heard about the event through the UNCA Underdog Productions Facebook page and was thrilled for the program to start.
When asked if she had ever seen Griffin’s stand-up, she said “No, but oh my God, I love his show ‘Workaholics.’”
As soon as Griffin hit the stage there was never a moment of silence amongst the audience, and for the next two hours roaring laughter was heard throughout the room.
Throughout the show Griffin touched on everything from the recent film “The Purge,” to constant Facebook changes to airport security. With a Central American-Caribbean mother and a father of European descent, Griffin says he is constantly being questioned about his ethnicity and asked if he is Drake’s father.
Griffin says he was planning on becoming a teacher and didn’t take his stand-up comedy seriously until one day when he asked himself if he would be happy with his life in 50 years. Watching his favorite stand-up comedian Eddie Murphy, he found his inspiration to follow his dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian.
Griffin ended the show with warm encouraging words for every student to follow their dreams, never be limited by what other people think and to never apologize for what you say.
“I never apologize for anything I say, the only apology I will give is, ‘Oh I’m sorry I didn’t realize everyone was a sensitive b**ch today,’” Griffin said.
Guests like Griffin are brought to students at UNCA by the student-funded, student led entertainment programming board Underdog Productions. Underdog Productions provides free entertainment for all UNCA students and open to the public.
“We really like to know what the students like to see but it can be really hard. It creates some problems because we can’t afford or even accommodate performers like Beyonce. She is always our example of the unattainable. So when we think of entertainers we have to think about both what people would want to see and what is in our price range. Erik Griffin was the perfect candidate because he fit in both categories,” said Underdog Productions executive member Allison Meyer.
As for future events, Underground Productions has a reggae night coming up called “Roots. Rasta. Raggae.” This will take place in Mills Plaza from 3-6:30 p.m. on Sept. 6 and will have ice cream from The Hop, free t-shirts, local vendors, a face and body painter and a performance by Sister Carol.
Meyer says they have many other events up in the air, but events set in stone include their chalk competition which will be Sept. 4 and a second annual performance by the Rural Academy Theatre.
“So definitely keep a look out for Underdog Productions this year,” Meyer said.