When comedian and actor David Alan Grier calls from Los Angeles, his main concern about Houston is the same as any in-town resident: the weather.
"What's it like there now? I just remember Houston as being hot, hot! And they had all these unfinished highways that went to nowhere!"
When informed that the city's roadways are still under construction and, indeed, the climate in the middle of record-setting temperatures and droughts, he offers with none-so-subtle sarcasm "Great! I can't wait! Houston, here I come!"
But stand-up comedy gigs are only one tentacle of the Entertainment Octopus that Grier (known as "DAG" to his fans) is these days. You're just as likely to see him pop up on talk shows (Jimmy Kimmel), TV episodes ("Bones"), and Adam Carolla's radio show. Recent years have also shown his sides as an author (Barack Like Me: The Chocolate Covered Truth) and as a dramatic actor on Broadway in David Mamet's Race, for which he was nominated for a Tony as a lawyer called to defend a white man accused of raping a young black woman.
Oh, and he cut the rug on "Dancing with the Stars," whose toll on his body he compared to "being in a bar fight every night." "I don't understand the popularity of that show, but I did it!" he says. "And physically, it felt more like I was in the MMA than ballroom dancing!"
And one only need to visit Amazon.com to see this rave review of Barack Like Me from none other than dirty girl comedienne Chelsea Handler: "David's humor, wit and intelligence are as big as his penis...Huge! He is single-handedly keeping the black comedy myth alive."
Um, care to comment, DAG?
"I don't know--you'll have to ask Chelsea. But she's an old friend, and that's the blurb she decided to put on."
Mention his name, though, and many people are most familiar with Grier from his seasons on the groundbreaking sketch comedy show "In Living Color." There, he created such memorable characters as Calhoun Tubbs, the a blues musician with limited ability, Al MacAfee, the school shop teacher who only spoke through a megaphone, and the swishy Antoine Merriweather from the "Men on Film" skits.
And while at one time you used to have to stay up late to watch Steve Martin host "Saturday Night Live" or catch the few showings of a new HBO George Carlin special, most of Grier's work on the show is easily accessible via reruns or YouTube.
"That's fine for what it is, it's not good or bad," Grier notes. "But it was [surprising] awhile back when I was talking to a friend about my first appearance at Showtime at the Apollo, and he pulled the clip right up on his phone!" As for her former castmates, he notes that he was closest to Kim Wayans, and has toured with Shawn and Damon Wayans. "And I'm getting to see Jim Carrey next week, so we'll hang out a little bit."
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For his standup material, Grier says that's there's plenty for him to poke fun at. "From Anthony Weiner to Schwarzenegger to whatever's going on politically, culturally, and socially, any of it could make it [to the stage]," he offers.
And Grier himself is also fair game for poking fun at. In Barack Like Me, he relates an incident when he was turned down for membership in the Black Panthers.
"I was 15 and tried to join in Detroit with a friend. It turns out that you had to be 16 to get in. But I never went back. I mean, I was scared of those guys! The two of us were black nerds--we didn't belong in the Panthers!"