'Workaholics': Erik Griffin on His Comedy Album and Playing Montez (Q&A)

Erik Griffin Portrait - H 2013
Getty Images

Erik Griffin Portrait - H 2013

Workaholics actor Erik Griffin is living up to the name of his Comedy Central show.

Best known for playing the hilariously irritable office dweller Montez, Griffin released his debut comedy album Tuesday, recently recorded a half-hour special and has a calendar full of stand-up dates.

Technical Foul: Volume One, which was recorded live at the Comedy Store last October, showcases a different side to Griffin’s humor than seen on Workaholics, with bits tackling the hassles of air travel to the confusion people feel when trying to figure out his race.

“I never really say [my race] on stage because I just don’t think it’s important,” Griffin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It also leaves it open for me to talk about anything, because once people know what you are then they decide in their minds what you can and cannot say.”

STORY: ‘Workaholics' Stars on Their Big Screen Dreams and 'Arrested Development' Cameos

Technical Foul: Volume One is the first comedy record for the Los Angeles-based punk label SideOneDummy Records, and label co-founder Joe Sib says he wants the record to serve as a “snapshot” of where Griffin’s comedy is today.

“This record is just another step for Erik. Now I hope he can go from releasing this record to the spot on Conan to the spot on Letterman to the spot on The Tonight Show,” Sib says. (More information on Griffin's album can be found here.)

In a conversation with THR, Griffin reveals what inspired Montez, what Workaholics has meant for his career and how he writes his material.

The Hollywood Reporter: How did this record come together?

Erik Griffin: I met Joe Sib, the owner of SideDummy at a show and that was when he approached me saying “I wanna do comedy albums.” I thought it was a little crazy at first because it was a punk rock label, but they were just so gung-ho about it I couldn’t refuse.

VIDEO: The ‘Workaholics’ Cast on their Manliest Qualities

THR: Did you come up doing stand-up in LA?

Griffin: I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I started going to the open mics everyday in 2003. You make the comics laugh, they get you work and you build up your reputation. It was a slow process.

THR: You have a bit on the album about how nobody knows what race you are. Has your material on race evolved to that point?  

Griffin: That has always been my take because people never knew what I was. So I have used it as like a weapon, really. I never really say on stage because I just don’t think it’s important. It also leaves it open for me to talk about anything, because once people know what you are, then they decide in their minds what you can and cannot say.

THR: You knew Adam DeVine from Workaholics through stand-up, right?

Griffin: He was the one that I just knew briefly from stand-up and seeing him out on the circuit. We weren’t buddies or anything like that. I just knew him as a fellow comedian.

PHOTOS: Life After the Finale: 16 TV Shows Brought Back From the Dead

THR: Can you talk a little bit about how you do Montez? He’s quite different from how you are on stage.

Griffin: Well that was the description of the character. He was a little out there, a little crazy, very urban-ish and hip. That is how they described him, and I knew people like that when I was growing up. I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood, and so that is who he is. There’s a little bit of me in there, and I just went buck wild with it. I really enjoy playing that character.

THR: Montez is able to steal the scenes he’s in. How do you manage that in a show whose leads are so energetic?

Griffin: I am just so different from everybody on the show. Everybody is white. I am the one guy who has lines -- who is ethnic -- and I think it is just a testament to that. It’s a great show to be on because those guys are great and together it's a great synergy.

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes Photos From THR's Comedy Showrunners Roundtable

THR: Does Workaholics bring you bigger audiences or open doors for your standup?

Griffin: Oh yeah. My calendar is filling up. Every day I get a new gig it seems. Workaholics seems like it’s doing wonders for my career. I just did a half-hour special, so that’s going to help. This album's coming out and is going to help. I love doing stand-up and the more you do outside of stand-up to raise your profile, the better your stand-up becomes in terms of the quality of gigs.   

THR: Anything we missed?

Griffin: I just want people to give me a chance. It doesn’t always have to look the way people think it should look or sound the way people think it should sound. It’s like “just give me a chance and find out ... you might enjoy what I do.”