David Alan Grier

Last updated
David Alan Grier
David Alan Grier.jpg
Grier in August 2007
Born (1956-06-30) June 30, 1956 (age 64)
Education University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1983–present
  • Maritza Rivera
    (m. 1987;div. 1997)
  • Christine Y. Kim
    (m. 2007;div. 2010)
Website www.davidalangrier.net

David Alan Grier (born June 30, 1956) [1] is an American actor and comedian. He is best known for his work on the sketch comedy television show In Living Color .


Early life and education

One of three children, [2] Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of mother Aretas Ruth (née Blaney), a school teacher, and father William Henry Grier, a psychiatrist and writer who co-wrote the book Black Rage . [3]

Grier graduated from Detroit's magnet high school, Cass Tech, and received a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film [4] from the University of Michigan, and an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama in 1981. Grier was singled out by visiting lecturer, Rachel Roberts, performing for her one night in a piece entitled The Place of the Spirit Dance. [5]

When Grier was young, his family marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in a March on Poverty in Detroit, where King gave an early version of the "I Have A Dream" speech. [6]


Immediately after graduating from Yale, Grier landed the role of Jackie Robinson in the short-lived Broadway musical The First , directed by Martin Charnin and written by Joel Siegel.

Grier got his start on the National Public Radio radio drama adaptation of Star Wars in 1981. He was the voice of a nameless X-wing fighter pilot during the Battle of Yavin.[ citation needed ]

Grier was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and won the Theatre World Award for The First . He later starred as James "Thunder" Early in the hit Broadway musical Dreamgirls . Grier made his film debut in 1983 in Streamers , directed by Robert Altman. He won the Golden Lion for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for the film. He also appeared in the Negro Ensemble Company production A Soldier's Play and reprised his role in the film version A Soldier's Story . Grier also appeared as a geology professor at the fictitious Hillman College in the show A Different World where he was a crush of several of the girls on the show including lead character Denise Huxtable played by actress Lisa Bonet.

In Living Color

Although primarily known for his dramatic work, Grier began to shift towards comedy, making memorable appearances in the cult films Amazon Women on the Moon and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka . Keenen Ivory Wayans, the director of Sucka, cast Grier in his new variety show In Living Color . It became a ratings hit and won an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series. Grier became a popular cast member through his characters, which ranged from hyperactive children to crotchety old men.

Some of his more well-known characters were flamboyant and effeminate Antoine Merriweather in the "Men on..." sketch series, blues musician Calhoun Tubbs (based on Shakey Jake, a busker who often performed near the Michigan campus) megaphone-blaring shop teacher Al MacAfee, the elderly Mr. Brooks, and Tiny, a prison inmate obsessed with female "breastesses".

Acting career

After his success on In Living Color, Grier began appearing in comedies such as Boomerang (as Eddie Murphy's shy friend Gerard), Blankman (with Damon Wayans), In the Army Now (as Fred Ostroff) along with Pauly Shore and Andy Dick in 1994, and as a policeman whose car is memorably crushed and eaten by a giant pod in Jumanji . He also played Rev. Leon Lonnie Love on the TV series Martin .

Grier appeared with Tom Arnold in the 1997 comedy McHale's Navy as Ensign Charles Parker. In 1999, he made a guest appearance as himself in the "Aw, Here it Goes to Hollywood" episode of Nickelodeon's sitcom, Kenan & Kel . [7]

After the cancellation of In Living Color, Grier starred in the short-lived sitcoms The Preston Episodes , Damon (with In Living Color co-star Damon Wayans), and DAG .

Grier had a cameo in the Robert De Niro and Edward Burns movie 15 Minutes as a Central Park mugger. In a departure from the childlike roles he often played on In Living Color, he portrayed an abusive father in Rusty Cundieff's anthology film Tales from the Hood .

In 2002, Grier joined the cast of the improv-based ABC sitcom and Bonnie Hunt vehicle Life with Bonnie which ran only two seasons. During this time, he continued to appear in comedy films but also returned to drama in the films Baadasssss! and The Woodsman . He starred in his own Comedy Central stand-up special The Book of David: The Cult Figure's Manifesto. He is also a frequent guest on the Comedy Central show Crank Yankers . Grier was the host of the NBC show Thank God You're Here.

Grier starred in Gym Teacher: The Movie playing the villain, Shelly Bragg. He appeared as Uncle Henry in the ABC 2005 television movie The Muppets' Wizard of Oz .

In October 2008, Grier hosted Chocolate News , a Comedy Central spoof of a TV news magazine show. Comedy Central did not renew the show for a second season.

Grier appeared as Sugar Bear in the 2009 movie Dance Flick .

Grier guest-starred in Season 6 of FOX's Bones . He played Professor Bunsen Jude the Science Dude, the host of a children's TV program. This character was inspired by Bill Nye "the Science Guy". [8]

In May 2013, Grier appeared in Tyler Perry Presents Peeples , playing the role of Virgil Peeples, alongside Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson. Also in 2013, Grier appeared in The Watsons Go To Birmingham, a Hallmark Channel adaptation of Christopher Paul Curtis' 1995 Newbery Honor-winning novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 .

Grier appeared on the CBS TV-adaptation of Bad Teacher , playing the role of principal Carl Gaines. [9] The series also featured actors Sara Gilbert, Ryan Hansen, Kristin Davis, and Sara Rodier.

He played the Cowardly Lion in NBC's live performance of The Wiz , which aired on December 3, 2015. [10]

In 1998, Grier co-starred with Jon Stewart in Elmopalooza , as the director of Jon's production crew, who he often rebukes at Elmo and Telly after realizing what happened to the rest of the cast.

In 2008, Grier starred in the Comedy Central series Chocolate News which had satirical sketches about current events and news stories. It lasted for one season of ten episodes.

Grier appears as Jimmy Dale in the series Queen Sugar appearing in Season 3. He will also be voicing Clifford in the upcoming Paramount Pictures film, Clifford the Big Red Dog . [11]


He began doing stand-up comedy and began hosting the Comedy Central series Premium Blend . He was ranked no. 94 on Comedy Central 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.[ citation needed ]

Grier made an appearance on the Dave, Shelley, and Chainsaw (DSC) Show (San Diego Jack 100.7 FM) on October 5, 2012 before performances at The Madhouse Comedy Club. He mentioned the "other" David Alan Grier and the "Farrakhan - The Musical" stories. [12]


Grier returned to Broadway to perform in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum .[ when? ] He returned to Broadway for the premiere of Race , written and directed by David Mamet, opposite James Spader, Kerry Washington, and Richard Thomas, which opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on December 6, 2009. Grier received his second Tony Award nomination for his role. [13]

He also appeared in the revival production of The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse directed by Des McAnuff.

Grier appeared on Broadway as Sportin' Life in the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess , which opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on January 12, 2012, alongside Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for this role. [14] In addition to his Tony Award nomination, Grier received a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album for his performance on the cast recording of the play. [15]

In January 2020, Grier returned to the stage for the Broadway production of A Soldier's Play, this time playing Tech Sergeant Vernon C. Waters, the role originated by Adolph Caesar in the off-Broadway production. [16]

Other work

David was a contestant on the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars , [17] partnered with Kym Johnson. By the fourth week of the competition, Grier announced that he had lost 26 pounds. [18] He was eliminated in the fifth week.

Grier's first book Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009. [19] [20] The book recounts Grier's own life story, and was written with Alan Eisenstock.

Grier appeared in an episode of Clean House along with his brother and his brother's family. Grier invited the show to help his brother due to his severe problems with clutter, and the family received a home makeover.

Grier hosted the game show Snap Decision , which debuted August 7, 2017 on the Game Show Network and many Sinclair TV stations. [21]

Personal life

Grier was married to Maritza Rivera and divorced in 1997. In July 2007, he married Christine Y. Kim, an associate curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She gave birth to their daughter, Luisa Danbi Grier-Kim on January 10, 2008, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. [22] On July 9, 2009, Kim filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. [23]

He is a fan of motorcycles [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] and owns the rare Yamaha YZF-R1 Limited Edition. [29] On the August 10, 2009, episode of Loveline, Grier agreed to auction it to aid Bryan Bishop's Tumor Fund, but walked off set while Carolla and the audio engineer bickered on air.[ citation needed ]

He is an avid cook and began food blogging during the run of the play Race, where James Spader helped to critique the food Grier made. [6]



1983 Streamers Roger Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actor
1984 A Soldier's Story Corporal Cobb
1985 Beer Elliott Morrison
1986 From the Hip Steve Hadley
1987 Amazon Women on the Moon Don 'No Soul' Simmons
1988 Off Limits Rogers
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Newsman
1988 Me and Him Peter Conklin
1990 Loose Cannons Drummond
1990 Almost an Angel Det. Bill
1992 Boomerang Gerard
1994 In the Army Now Fred Ostroff
1994 Blankman Kevin Walker
1995 Goldilocks and the Three Bears Spike
1995 Tales from the Hood Carl
1995 Jumanji Carl Bentley
1997 McHale's Navy Ensign Charles Parker
1997 Top of the World Detective Augustus
1998 Elmopalooza Himself (show's director)
1999 Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby Mr. Butz
1999 A Saintly Switch Dan Anderson Television film
1999 Stuart Little RedVoice
2000 3 Strikes Detective Jenkins
2000 Return to Me Charlie Johnson
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Measures
2001 15 Minutes Mugger in Central Park
2003 Baadasssss! Clyde Houston
2003 Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie Himself/Announcer
2003 Tiptoes Jerry Robin, Jr.
2004 The Woodsman Bob
2005 The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Uncle Henry Television film
2005 Bewitched Jim Fields
2006 Little Man Jimmy
2008 Kissing Cousins The Griller
2008The HustleRev. Isaac Montgomery Paid
2008 The Poker House Stymie
2008 An American Carol Rastus Malone
2009 Dance Flick Sugar Bear
2009 Astro Boy Mr. Squirt / Math Cowboy / Boxer RobotVoice
2010Something Like a Business3D
2011 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil Moss the TrollVoice
2013 Peeples Virgil Peeples
2015 Road Hard Michael
2017 The Big Sick Andy Dodd
2018 Arizona Coburn
2019 Native Son Marty
2020 Coffee & Kareem Captain Hill
2020 Clifford the Big Red Dog Clifford Voice; Post-production


1985 The Equalizer Desk SergeantEpisode: "The Lock Box"
1986 All Is Forgiven Oliver Royce9 episodes
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Deter PhibinEpisode: "Kingpins"
1987 A Different World Prof. Bryan WalcottEpisode: "Romancing Mr. Stone"
1988 Tour of Duty HaroldEpisode: "Soldiers"
1988 Duet GordonEpisode: "Oh My God, I Left the Baby on the Bus"
1988 Tanner '88 Secret Serviceman2 episodes
1989 ALF FBI Agent #1Episode: "Wanted: Dead or Alive"
1990 Equal Justice StoneEpisode: "A Sucker's Bet"
1990–94 In Living Color Various143 episodes
1993–97 Martin Reverend Leon Lonnie Love4 episodes
1995 Saturday Night Live Antoine MeriweatherEpisode: "Damon Wayans/Dionne Farris"
1995 Dream On MarshallEpisode: "Take Two Tablets, and Get Me to Mt. Sinai"
1995 The Preston Episodes David Preston10 episodes
1995 Pinky and the Brain Marlon (voice)Episode: "TV or Not TV"
1995–2000 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Various voices3 episodes
1998 Damon Bernard13 episodes
Nominated – Image Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
1998 Cosby GilEpisode: "Chemistry"
1998 Hercules: The Animated Series Memnon (voice)Episode: "Hercules and the Phil Factor"
1999 A Saintly Switch Dan AndersonTelevision movie
1999 The '60s Fred HamptonTelevision movie
1999 Kenan & Kel HimselfEpisode: "Aw, Here It Goes To Hollywood : Part 2"
2000 Angels in the Infield Bob BuglerTelevision movie
2000 The X-Files Cinema AudienceEpisode: "Hollywood A.D."
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Tubunch (voice)Episode: "Stress Test"
2000–01 DAG Jerome Dagget17 episodes
2002 King of Texas RipTelevision movie
2002 Sesame Street AladdinEpisode: "#33.45"
2002 Boston Public Laurence WilliamsEpisode: "Chapter Forty-Two"
2002 The Proud Family Reuben (voice)Episode: "Behind Family Lines"
2002–04 Life with Bonnie David Bellows44 episodes
Nominated – Image Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Television Series
2002–20 Crank Yankers Various voices20 episodes
2003 Samurai Jack Da Samurai/Junk Monster (voice)Episode: "Samurai Versus Samurai"
2003–05 My Wife and Kids Jimmy3 episodes
2007 Thank God You're Here Host7 episodes
2010 Bones Professor Bunsen JudeEpisode: "The Body and the Bounty"
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Jeremy SwiftEpisode: "Branded"
2013 Happy Endings Terry ChucklesEpisode: "In the Heat of the Noche"
2013 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Rudd Rhymez (voice)Episode: "Hip Hopocalypse Now"
2014 The Soul Man JesseEpisode: "Obama Drama"
2014 Bad Teacher Carl Gaines13 episodes
2014 Black Dynamite Doctor (voice)Episode: "How Honeybee Got Her Groove Back or Night of the Living Dickheads"
2014–15 Comedy Bang! Bang! Network PresidentRecurring role; 5 episodes
2015–17 The Carmichael Show Joe CarmichaelMain cast; 32 episodes
2015 The McCarthys Dr. Hugh MorrisEpisode: "Family Therapy"
2015 Cutthroat Kitchen Himself/judgeEpisode: "Taco Dirty to Me"
2015 The Wiz Live! The Cowardly Lion / Robert The Farmhand Man #2Live performance
2016 The Eric Andre Show Himself/David Alan ThickeEpisode: "Dennis Rodman; Haley Joel Osment"
2017 Snap Decision Host
2017 A Christmas Story Live! Santa ClausLive performance
2018 A Series of Unfortunate Events Hal2 Episodes
2018–19 The Cool Kids HankMain role
2019 The Resident Lamar BroomeReoccurring role Season 3, Episode 2

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