A pair of jokers

WITH AN EXCITING childhood growing up in North America surrounded by various cultural influences, Erik Griffin has a lot to draw on for his routine.

By David Light

Published: Mon 20 Apr 2009, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:59 PM

In much of his comedy, he pokes fun at himself, his mother, breaking up with a girlfriend, his Roman nose and people asking, “What are you?” Erik has played many venues throughout the States and ventured onto some television shows that few comedians dare to tread.

Rob Magnotti is a high energy, multi-talented comedian who mixes his stand-up comedy with a vast range of celebrity impressions and original characters. He visually and audibly transforms into Al Pacino, Ray Romano, Nicholas Cage, The Sopranos, Dr. Phil, President George W. Bush, CSI Miami’s David Caruso, Bill Clinton and Andy Garcia just to name a few.

Rob has been the featured guest performer for Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx, Michael Buble, Susie Essman, Dennis Miller, and Olivia Newton-John and continues to headline America’s top comedy venues such as Comic Strip Live, Dangerfield’s, and The Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

What can you tell us about yourself?

Erik: I am an only child from a single parent household. I was born in Los Angeles, California, and I always knew I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. My mother often tells me when I was a young boy she asked me what I wanted to be and I said comedian. In 2003 I decided I didn’t want any regrets, so I quit my job and pursued it full time and here I am all the way in Dubai!

How does it feel for the both of you to be performing in Dubai? Have you been here before? What have you heard about the place?

Erik: This is my third time coming to the region and I feel great about it. I think through comedy the differences we have between the cultures can be broken down and brought together. These comedy tours are going to change the world.

Rob: It’s very exciting and an honour to have been invited to the Comedy Convention Dubai. It’s my first visit and I’ve heard great things about Dubai from my friends and family. I also saw the CBS 60 minutes segment and was impressed.

How would you describe your act to those that haven’t seen it?

Rob: I do stand-up comedy with impressions and characters.

Erik: Ahmed Ahmed often describes my act as a living cartoon. I am very animated and crazy! I act out and exaggerate the things that I experience.

Does it travel well outside your home country?

Rob: We will see, but my Youtube reviews from other countries indicate it travels well in cyberspace

Erik: Yes. It doesn’t matter where you are from, everyone’s mother is crazy, everyone has drunk friends, and has been in a messed up relationship. Most comedy topics are universal to everyone.

Why did you get into stand-up? What is it about the job that you love?

Rob: I’ve always loved performing and making people laugh. Stand-up was the perfect venue for me.

Erik: I started out in my early 20s by taking a stand-up class. But at that time in my life it was just a hobby, it wasn’t till 2003 that I took it seriously and put all of myself into making it. I love this job, the travel, the people you meet, and the looks on people’s faces when they are just letting themselves go with laughter.

What is your favourite joke?

Erik: My favourite joke is the first one I ever wrote. It’s about my big nose. “Big nose people take pictures one way, straight on, people say turn to the side (I turn my body but keep my face straight).

Who do you admire in the business and why? Who were your inspirations?

Rob: There are far too many comedic greats, actors and singers to list. However, some of my early inspirations were Eddie Murphy, John Travolta, Billy Crystal, Bill Cosby, Al Pacino, and many of the actors I do impressions of in my act.

Erik: I admire all the guys and gals out there making a living in the entertainment business because this is a kill or be killed environment. Some of my favourites are some of my personal friends. Sebastian, Jonny Sanchez and a host of others. I was inspired as a kid by Eddie Murphy and George Carlin and many of the other greats.

Did you ever have another profession in mind? What did your family think when you told them you were going into comedy?

Erik: When I was sidetracked by life, I thought of being a teacher. I worked at a school for many years, I taught yearbook and I was the computer tech and a bunch of other jobs at the school. For a time I thought I would continue, but I didn’t want to wake up 50 years old and say, why didn’t I try, so here I am. My mom has been supportive from the beginning, she is the type of mom that if I said I wanted to be a rock climber she would buy me books and tools and sign up me for a class the next day. I love that lady!

Rob: Drummer, New York Yankee, kick boxer. My family told me to go to college first, which I did.

You’ve had many spots on TV shows. What has been your favourite appearance to date and why?

Erik: Nightcalls on the Playboy Channel wasn’t my favourite but it was my first and it was such a crazy experience. Naked women everywhere while I tell jokes like I am on the Tonight Show, imagine that!

Rob: The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, because it was my first national / international late-night spot on network television, in the prestigious Ed Sullivan Theatre.

What TV/ Film work do you have in the pipeline?

Rob: I’m auditioning in New York and each day presents new opportunities.

Erik: I am constantly auditioning for commercials and in the process of getting some representation for TV and film, I love being a stand-up so that is my focus at this time.

Which do you prefer to work on: films, TV or the stage? Which gives you the biggest thrill?

Erik: They are all different so I don’t prefer any one of those over the other, that’s apples and oranges really. Stage gives you the biggest thrill because anything can happen, and you have to be in the moment. With TV and film you get many chances to get it right. There is editing and someone else’s words, all done to get the funniest outcome. On stage one has to do all of that right there and then, no better thrill than that.

Rob: Each provides a different sense of satisfaction, but there’s nothing like the live stage.

Who has been the most enjoyable person to work with in your career?

Erik: Ahmed Ahmed. I have known that guy for 15 years. We have had many adventures together, and look where we are now, all the way in Dubai.

Rob: I really enjoyed being directed by Ron Howard on the set of A Beautiful Mind, and anyone else I have learned from in this business.

What has been the proudest/ most exciting moment of your career to date?

Erik: Watching my mum watch me on television. Making her proud is the greatest feeling.

Rob: I have had many proud and exciting moments in my career and each day brings a new one, like the comedy convention Dubai.

Are there any crowds you perform in front of that scare you?

Erik: Any close-minded, overly religious conservative crowds. They are the worst. Too serious and can’t take a joke.

Rob: No, but each one is different.

What are your expectations for the show in Dubai and the comedy convention?

Erik: Non-stop fun!

Rob: Big crowds and great shows!

Can you sum yourself up in three words?

Erik: FAB – U -LOUS

If you were a member of the Family Guy cast who would you be and why?

Erik: Stewie because I can’t believe how stupid people can be, and there are times they drive me to madness.

If you were stuck on a desert island with just one other person who would you like it to be?

Erik: Bill Gates, because I am sure he would have some kind of tracking device and his people wouldn’t stop until they found him.

What advice do you have for people trying to make it in the stand-up world?

Erik: DON’T EVER GIVE UP! It’s not easy, but you can make it. People don’t fail they just quit.

Event details

What: Comedy Convention

Where: Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai

When: April 22- April 24, 8pm- 11pm

Cost: Dhs 150, 250 and 550 each night

Tickets: Available online through boxofficeme.com, ticketingboxoffice.com and timeouttickets.com

For more details visit www.thecomedyconvention.com


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