David Alan Grier was born for the stage.
The Detroit native and Yale School of Drama graduate is a three-time Tony nominated actor who rose to mainstream fame on the sketch comedy hit “In Living Color.”
These days, Grier, 60, is putting his theater and comedic chops to work on the promising new NBC sitcom “The Carmichael Show,” which was shot in front of a live studio audience. On it, Grier plays Joe, a blue-collar husband and father unafraid of telling it like it is. Stage and screen veteran Loretta Devine (“Waiting to Exhale”) plays his wife, Cynthia, and star Jerrod Carmichael plays his son.
Grier said when it comes to the role, he drew inspiration from his own father, psychiatrist and author William Henry Grier, and his schoolteacher mother, Aretas Ruth Grier.
“When I first got married, my parents tried to impart all this wisdom that they never had before,” said Grier, who has been married and divorced twice. “It’s like being the president and being told about the red phone. It’s like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ But it’s too late, you’re one of them now.’ ”
Co-starring on “The Carmichael Show” has also reunited Grier, a Cass Tech and University of Michigan alum, with Devine. The two first worked together on the original hit Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” in the early 1980s. The pair’s history and chemistry are apparent on the small-screen show, and they seem to have a shorthand full of comedic quips and jokes.
“I met Loretta in 1982 and there is a line in the pilot where I tell Jerrod, ‘I’ve been married to your mother for 38 years,’ ” Grier said during a NBC press panel in April. “The funny thing is Loretta and I have known each other almost that long and I love her. I just love working with her.”
Devine, 66, feels the same way for Grier. “David Alan Grier and I go way back,” she said. “So I was excited that we were going to get a chance to work together again because I know how good David is in terms of his work.”
Although “The Carmichael Show” is ending its abbreviated run Wednesday (no word yet on if it will be picked up for a second season), Grier is just getting started on NBC.
He’ll play the Cowardly Lion on the network’s highly anticipated production of “The Wiz Live!” It premieres Dec. 3 and also stars Stephanie Mills, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah.
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based TV critic and entertainment reporter.
‘The Carmichael Show’
9 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday
NBC (Channel 4)