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Nearly eight months after he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin is coming back to Los Angeles.
But the former L.A. Clippers star won’t be taking the court at Staples Center. Instead, the 6-foot-10 forward will be taking the mic tonight at NeueHouse in Hollywood to host his own variety show, comedy. by Blake, an annual Red Bull-produced fundraiser for his youth-focused Team Griffin Foundation.
“I’ve grown up watching comedy, and it’s just what I love,” Griffin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the most fun thing I can think of to go to if I was going to a charity event.”
The inaugural comedy. by Blake, which raised $135,000 for Team Griffin, took place last December at Avalon Hollywood and featured sets by John Mulaney, Norm Macdonald, Jim Jefferies, Whitney Cummings and Phoebe Robinson. “I invited five of my favorite comedians to join me tonight, but they weren’t available,” Griffin joked in his opening monologue. “So we have these comedians instead.”
Griffin wrote his own material, as he has again this year, in addition to producing and directing the show. Instead of doing stand-up again, this time Griffin will show off his sketch skills. “Since I had the whole summer to prepare for it, I wanted to do something more in the sketch world, make it more of a variety show,” he says, “and let the real stand-up people do the actual stand-up.”
Those “real stand-ups” are being kept under wraps as a surprise for the invite-only crowd of 600, but will include at least a couple of top-secret headliners. Emerging comic and Detroit native Ron Taylor will warm up the audience of bold-faced Hollywood names and Griffin’s Clippers and Pistons teammates.
Griffin, a faithful Saturday Night Live viewer since “the Adam Sandler era,” won’t rule out someday starring in a feature comedy like fellow NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James, but for now he’s content to keep his day job and save the funny business for the offseason.
And although Griffin has competed in sold-out arenas and for worldwide TV audiences, he says performing stand-up, which he did at Montreal’s storied Just for Laughs festival in 2016, still gives him the jitters. “I liked it, but it’s terrifying,” he says.
Still, there was an upside that has surprisingly proven beneficial in his professional career. “In basketball, we always have to speak at different events, and you have to address the crowd before some games,” he says. “I remember walking away from doing the Just for Laughs festival and feeling like, ‘Oh, I can do a tight five anywhere.'”
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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