Journey to "Grifftopia"
Young comedian finds humor in Facebook
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Newman began performing stand-up at the age of 12. Raised in New York City, he developed a love of comedy from an early age, influenced by such comedians as Andy Kaufman (from whom he borrows his deconstructionist approach), Steve Martin, and Bob Newhart. Throughout high school he wrote various short plays and films. He attended a semester of college at the California Institute of the Arts, studying filmmaking before dropping out and moving back to New York. Newman says that he was unhappy with school and the traditional learning environment. He says that it was reading an article his grandfather had written about being young and moving to New York City that provided him with the impetus to finally return there to pursue his dreams.
In "Grifftopia," Newman depicts an alternate version of himself. The recent college dropout hangs out in his apartment all day, where he “method acts” by anthropomorphizing his various appliances and conferring with them about his current lot in life while simultaneously trying to hook up with a girl from down the hall whose New York University I.D. he found.
Having been influenced by "Pee-wee’s Playhouse" and "The Muppet Show," Newman has incorporated some of those elements into his comedy, particularly the man-child persona/archetype of Pee-wee Herman. But he also wanted to add some additional, more thoughtful context for the show. “I wanted this to be very simple and accessible on the surface, a parody of this type of show, but in certain ways more if you want to look for it,” he said. The subtext could perhaps be seen as some cultural commentary about how the existence of the internet pre-determines human interaction in reality. This comes out in the performance when Newman thinks that he has met the girl of his dreams on Facebook based on her perceived love of "The Muppet Show," and it blows up in his face when he actually sees her in person.
“My show is a skewering of various writers, comedy as a parody of doing comedy, a deconstruction.” Throughout the sketch Newman eagerly anticipates meeting the girl of his dreams based on having seen her Facebook profile but when she finally gets to his apartment they do not hit it off at all and it ends in disaster.
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