Eddie Griffin is the comedy equivalent of a funk-soul brother who can do variations on the same stomping, aggressive blues riff for 20 minutes. When he gets hold of a joke in DysFunKtional Family, like his notion that the geniuses of white culture must have been on cocaine, he drives at it from every angle: Here are the Founding Fathers on coke, here’s Alexander Graham Bell on coke, here’s a concert pianist on coke. At a certain point, you either give up or give in.
I gave in. Griffin’s view of the world is based on old Richard Pryor routines as much as it is on his own screwed-up clan, but for every bit that’s flatly derivative (e.g., his caricature of black women twitching their butts), there’s another that connects, like his impersonation of his junkie uncle’s rubbery defiance of gravity. That Griffin tells some of the most intolerant jokes since Andrew Dice Clay should hardly obscure his talent, even if it does tarnish it.