New York City comedian Sam Grittner’s humorous exploration of depression has become less of a focus to the St. Paul native.
The 2000 graduate of St. Paul Central has put his comedy career on the back burner while he concentrates on maintaining sobriety. With incredible vulnerability, intelligence and, of course, wit Grittner gives his 67K Twitter followers an unflinching look at his daily struggles.
Lately he has been doing well. He has the support of some NYC friends, his parents Fred Grittner and Theresa Lippert, and his brothers Dan and Jesse, all of whom live in the metro. Grittner also wanted to publicly thank comedian Patton Oswalt and Twin Cities-based rapper Sean Daley for their emotional support. “I try to keep my friendship with Patton on the DL but Monday he said it was more than OK if I mentioned him. How much Sean Daley [aka Atmosphere] has helped me on a personal level” leaves Grittner nearly speechless. “We became friends through Twitter and I consider Sean a mentor. His encouragement over the past two years has helped me more than I can possibly express.”
Grittner is not often at a loss for words, as anyone knows after listening to his poignant 2016 appearance on John Moe’s “The Hilarious World of Depression” podcast.
This is Part 1 of my interview with Grittner, who is in the process of writing a book (he reads one a week since being sober) and a movie script.
Q: You were asked to write a book?
A: Yes, I do have a publishing agent. I started it last year. I attempted to write my memoirs and stopped abruptly due to my using. I’m happy to say that I’ve restarted the process and am very pleased with the progress.
Q: I hear the chapter about working at TGI Fridays in Woodbury is very entertaining?
A: My agent doesn’t want me to get into that too much, but this was during a time when I was doing hard drugs while apparently excelling at work. [Laughter]
Q: But I’ve heard that TGI Friday’s chapter is great.
A: I think I know your source on this [yep, his mom]. I’m very happy with it.
Q: How is the work as a comedian coming?
A: It’s slow but steady. I moved out here when I was 25 — that was 11 years ago — to only do stand-up. I ended up declaring bankruptcy within the first two weeks. That was a big reason I turned to Twitter, [which] has been incredible in terms of my career and my social life. The people I’m currently living with, who I’m best friends with, I met there. I got my first full-time comedy-writing job through contacts there. Basically I’m doing stand-up two to three times a month; I’m not going very hard core at it. But in terms of creating, I’ve been working with a friend. I don’t know how much I can disclose but I can say this: We are two-thirds of the way done writing our first movie. We have another writing project that I can’t get into but we are very excited about [because] we have been able to share it with writers from the “Simpsons” and Conan, a couple other places and have really good feedback.
Q: Your priorities have shifted since moving to NYC 11 years ago?
A: My main priority in life is sobriety. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 on my list of things to do. And then after that it’s trying to give back. I did the AIDS Walk this year. This is the third time I’ve done it; I was able to raise $4,000. On the day of the Women’s March I was able to raise over $5,000 for Planned Parenthood by people matching a donation I made on Twitter with my followers. I do a bimonthly show called “The Feel Good Show.” We raise money for a group that helps at-risk homeless LGBQT youth. The new company that I’m going to be working for weekends/part time is very involved with giving back to society. Basically, my main goal is to stay sober and try and give back in charitable ways, just in small ways. You’d be surprised how much that will make someone smile. As far as comedy goes, I had a lot of expectations about what I deserved. Up until the last two years, I thought I deserved to be a writer just because of X, Y and Z.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.