Full-Time Funny Man
Tym “The Comedic Ginger” Griffin has made a career out of comedy and is helping others do the same.
The increase in entertainment spaces eager to host comedy shows means local comedians have more places to perform. But it’s not just the venues that are driving the comedy resurgence from New Hanover County to Craven County and everywhere in between. Quite simply: Local comedians are funny.
Leland’s own Tym “The Comedic Ginger” Griffin is among them. Five years ago, he gave up his 9-to-5 gig to become a full-time funny man and hasn’t stopped since. His current mission? “Build a local empire of comedy here like New York and LA,” he says.
The 32-year-old husband and dad of three started his comedy career doing open mic nights at the Dead Crow Comedy Room, the only full-time comedy club in eastern North Carolina. But it was growing up as the class clown when he first got the idea of being a comedian — from a teacher who wasn’t necessarily a fan.
“I always thought I was funny when I was a kid,” he says. “I had a teacher who would always say to me, ‘You think you can just be a comedian when you grow up?’ I thought, ‘Maybe I can,’ but I had no idea how to even get started.” Griffin admits he had never been in a comedy club before he got his own start because there weren’t a lot of venues.
But being funny in school and being funny enough to make a career out of it are two entirely different circumstances. With a 9-to-5 income comes security, and, like any entertainment career, comedy felt like a long shot to Griffin at first.
“With comedy, you’re depending on yourself,” Griffin says. “And I have a wife and kids depending on me.” But he found himself at home on the stage and began writing material for more shows.
Griffin’s wife, Victoria, is very encouraging and supportive of his career now. But as he was making the transition to comedy, she wasn’t quite as certain. “She used to roll her eyes when I said I was going to work,” Griffin says. “Then she would say, ‘You mean you’re going to have a beer and tell some jokes.’”
Victoria is also his sounding board for trying out new material. She’ll let him know if something isn’t funny. “But I usually try to convince her that it’ll be delivered better when I do it live,” Griffin says with a laugh.
From a financial perspective, Griffin wanted to make sure he could provide for his family on a comedian’s salary. He was spending up to eight hours a day trying to get himself booked into venues. He also began helping book shows for other comedians, which turned into a small business on its own. Griffin now books 15 shows a month with 300 performances between himself and other comics at more than a dozen venues around the region including Leland, Wilmington, Sneads Ferry, New Bern, Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Surf City and Hampstead.
As venues began reopening in spring 2021 after COVID, everyone’s need to laugh was evident from the surge in comedy performances. Breweries, bars, cafes, restaurants and markets quickly began booking comedians to entertain their customers.
“People are starving for comedy right now after COVID,” Griffin says. “You can hear music every night at every venue. Comedy is a specific draw night.”
And he guarantees that he and other funny men and women will fill a room.
“I take the gamble out of it for the venues,” Griffin says. “I guarantee my shows because I know I can fill the seats.”
Griffin and his fellow comedians have been packing the venues with 100 to 120 people every show. Some of the comics that Griffin books drive from as far away as Raleigh and Charlotte “because they know the spaces that we book are worth driving for.”
So, what can you expect when you come to a Tym Griffin performance? With a repertoire built over five years, he always treats guests to a fresh show with new jokes. His only rule for guests coming to a comedy show, whether it’s his show or someone else’s, is to come with an open mind.
“The comedians I work with have great intent,” he says. “Sometimes we toe the line and sometimes we step over it. At the end of the day, it’s just art. If you hear a joke you don’t like, but maybe 99 percent of them you do like, remember to look at the body of work as a whole.”
Griffin is grateful that the comedy scene is growing. He is especially honored to work with so many other talented comics. He counts local talents like Brian Granger, James Hodge, John Felts, Rich Neilsen, Khari Reid, Justin Scranton and so many more as peers, mentors and friends. And he is forever thankful to the Dead Crow owners for providing the place that gave him his start and for laying the groundwork for putting the Cape Fear region on the map for comedy.
“One hand washes the other,” Griffin says. “To grow the comedy scene here, you have to have everybody included.”
And he is certainly doing his part build it.