By MIKE CHAIKEN
Wikipedia being Wikipedia, as sometimes happens, the story of Godfrey’s first stand-up routine has bent a bit away from the truth.
It says the comedian’s first run at standing up in front of a crowd and making people laugh, was at a talent show in college.
But in a phone interview, Godfrey said his entry into the talent show wasn’t exactly voluntary.
Godfrey played football in college, he explained. And one of the aspects of being a rookie was going through an initiation.
So, this stand-up routine at this talent show, said Godfrey, was a forced endeavor inflicted on all rookies, akin to having his head shaved.
Godfrey comes to Comix at Mohegan Sun, starting Dec. 27.
Actually, despite this forced bit of comedy in college, said Godfrey, he had been funny all of his life. His family was funny. And since you keep the company of people like you, his friends were all funny as well.
However, Wikipedia did get the time period right as to when Godfrey was drawn to comedy.
Godfrey said he was in college when he decided he wanted to do stand-up for a living.
“In college, you’re rebellious and trying your hand at being a fake adult. But you still need money from your parents,” said Godfrey. However, the comedian said, college is also when you find yourself.
And the defining moment of his future career, he said, was when comedian Tommy Davidson (“In Living Color,” “The Proud Family”) came to his campus. Godfrey spoke to the comedian. “That motivated me.”
Godfrey decided that when he left college, he would “take a stab” at stand-up.
Godfrey said his first gig was an open mike night in Chicago. “That’s how it started.”
On that first opportunity to perform stand-up, Godfrey said, “It was terrifying” when he first stepped out. But when he got his first laugh, he realized that other people thought he was funny—not just family and friends.
Talking to Godfrey about his comic influences, he provides a “Wikipedia”-worthy list of the greats. He cited George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby (despite his later issues, Godfrey said, Cosby was a great comedian), Jackie Gleason, Jonathan Winters, Bob Hope, and Redd Foxx.
“I was inspired by a lot of people,” he said. But, he said, his biggest inspirations came from Pryor and Murphy.
Watching his clips, it’s clear that Godfrey’s comedy is drawn more from his observations than his personal life.
Godfrey noted that all stand-up comedy is observational. “You just record life,” said Godfrey, and “you paint it as you see it.”
Godfrey said he likes observational comedy because he can talk about things that he sees and look at them in ways most people don’t think about. Observational comics, said Godfrey, put life “under a microscope. We magnify things. “
For instance, in one bit on the web, Godfrey talks about how coddled children are in the playgrounds of today. He speaks about how when he was a kid, playgrounds were tough. For instance, he notes the extreme heat generated by the metal slides, which literally left behind scorch marks.
The laughter of these observations, Godfrey said, is generated by an audience remembering those moments in their own past and enjoying his assessment of what they remember.
“I love that I can bring out a detail most people didn’t think about (in this way),” he said.
One of the advantages of observational humor is that it’s always fresh, said Godfrey. There is always something you’ve seen and you can talk about it.
Lately, comedians have taken quite a few brickbats from the public for their role as social critics.
But, Godfrey, who is willing to make cracks about figures like President Trump and former president Barack Obama, said “I think it’s important there’s an honest dialogue to create change.”
As Godfrey sees it, honesty is missing in the world today.
“We’re lied to all the time,” said the comedian. “You watch TV, it’s a lie. Reality TV, it’s scripted…. CNN, Fox News, they’re all liars. They put up what they want to see.” In commercials, every product is touted as the greatest. If everything is great, he pointed, how can one product be the greatest?
“These corporations let you see what you want to see. That’s control,” said Godfrey.
And honest people, he said, are shouted down when they say something truthful.
And that’s where some comics have run afoul of the public. People get upset because they believe the lies and can’t handle views that don’t conform to the lies.
Some people want stand-up comedians to be a form of escape, said Godfrey. Audiences don’t realize that comedians live in the same world as they do and the comedians have their own concerns. And that’s where they want to generate their laugh.
Comedy, said Godfrey, is an “art form of truth.” And, he said, “I’m talking about how I feel.”
In terms of future projects, Godfrey, who also does film and television said he has a lot of irons in the fire. He just finished filming a Pakistani-American film, “My Sister’s Cousin’s Wedding.” He filmed a Christmas film with fellow comedian Judy Gold, which will be out next year. He did a special on Comedy Central called “This Week At The Comedy Cellar.” He has a new podcast on GaS Digital Media called, “In Godfrey We Trust.”And he has a radio show on Sirius XM’s Urban View channel, “The Godfrey Complex.” He’s also been headlining stand-up gigs in Russia and Berlin, Germany.
“I’m pretty busy.”
Godfrey comes to Comix at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville on Thursday, Dec. 27 at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
For more information, go to ComixMoheganSun. com or GodfreyComedian.com