Comic Eddie Griffin addresses Floyd, Wright deaths in packed Minneapolis show

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Neal Justin, Star Tribune
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Eddie Griffin comes from the school of comedy in which spouting hyperbole and stoking emotion are all in a good night's work.

Those not familiar with that style may have been unsettled by his late night set Friday at the Lumber Exchange Event Center in Minneapolis. Griffin boasted about starting fires during the L.A. riots, fantasized about turning white people into plantation slaves and dropped the N-word more than a hundred times. He had less-than-supportive words for law enforcement, including National Guard members on duty just blocks away.

But the audience of more than 250 fans, most of them Black, reveled in the bits, thrilled that Griffin — whom Comedy Central once hailed as one of the top 100 stand-ups of all time — was offering a very different kind of relief than the Minnesota Orchestra musicians performing on the other end of downtown.

The venue was less than ideal for comedy. An echo made many punchlines hard to decipher. Security was slow to shut down fans shooting video or interrupting the show. Social distancing barely existed as strangers sat tightly together.

But the evening was largely about breaking the rules. At one point, Griffin hopped off the stage and took a drag of what appeared to be weed from an audience member. Near the end of his one-hour plus set, he encouraged the crowd to join him as he made the Black Power salute — then sang snippets of Michael Jackson songs.

Griffin will perform two sets Saturday. Both shows are sold out.

Neal Justin • 612-673-7431 @nealjustin