On this day in comedy on June 30, 1956 Comedian, Actor, David Alan Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan.
Grier has received acclaim since he graduated from the Yale School of Drama. His maiden voyage role was in the Martin Charnin directed Broadway musical, The First. He played Jackie Robinson and won the Theatre World Award. He later performed the role of James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls and was nominated for a Tony Award. Then Grier took his winning ways to film in 1983 and won the Venice film Festival’s Golden Lion Award for Best Actor in Robert Altman’s, Streamers. He was nominated for an Image Award for Damon and Life with Bonnie and a Satellite Award nomination for the latter. He received his second Tony nomination for his performance in David Mamet’s 2009 Broadway production, Race and his third for Porgy and Bess, where he played Sportin’ Life. Grier was also in A Soldier’s Story on stage (to accolades) and again in the Norman Jewison film.
After working with Keenan Ivory Wayans in his theatrical hit, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Grier was hired as a cast member for Wayans Fox sketch show, In Living Color. There, he displayed his comedic chops. He played a variety of characters imagined (the shop teacher Al MacAfee, the bluesman Calhoun Tubbs, flamboyant film reviewer Antoine Merriweather) and real (Al Sharpton, Ray Charles, Clarence Thomas, Ike Turner, Joe Jackson).
Once In Living Color ended, Grier starred in the Preston Episodes, DAG, My Wife and Kids, Dream On and Damon. He had recurring roles where he played a reverend on Martin, the principal on CBS’s Bad Teacher and he hosted Premium Blend on Comedy Central. His film credits include Boomerang, Blankman. In the Army Now, Jumanji, Tales from the Hood, McHale’s Navy, 3 Strikes, Stuart Little, Bewitched Dance Flick and Tyler Perry’s Peeples.
Grier was so multi-faceted he returned to Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and in 2009 he published the book, Barack Like Me: The Chocolate Covered Truth. He appeared regularly on Adam Carolla’s Loveline, but was controversially banned under Dr. Drew Pinsky’s regime. He premiered his comedy special, The Book of David: The Cult Figure’s Manifesto on Comedy Central and was a recurring performer on the station’s Crank Yankers. In 2008 Grier hosted Chocolate News, a hilarious spoof on a TV news magazine show. It was raw and offensive and it was canceled after one season. In the year 2015 he introduced the character of Joe Carmichael on the NBC sitcom, The Carmichael Show; that was the same year he performed in the Live version of The Wiz playing the Cowardly Lion.
Comedy Central ranked the grossly underrated David Alan Grier # 94 on their list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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