Griggs, Jeff 1971–
Griggs, Jeff 1971–
PERSONAL: Born 1971.
ADDRESSES: Office—ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60657.
CAREER: Actor, educator, and director. ImprovOlympic, Chicago, IL, artistic director. Travels throughout United States teaching and directing improvisation.
Guru: My Days with Del Close (nonfiction), Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Jeff Griggs is the author of Guru: My Days with Del Close, a chronicle of the final years in the life of Close, an actor and director who worked at Chicago's famous ImprovOlympic, a training ground for actors learning the art of improvisation. Among the school's most notable alumni are comedians and actors Bill Murray, John Belushi, and Chris Farley. In the book, Griggs—who was a student at the ImprovOlympic—writes about chauffeuring Close around on the weekends and acting as a general assistant in return for free tuition. By the time the two meet, Close is sickly and suffering from emphysema, a lung condition that causes coughing and labored breathing. Initially Close and Griggs engage in a battle of wills and continually antagonize each other, but eventually they form a close a friendship. The book is written in alternating chapters, interspersing Griggs's relationship with Close with a more straightforward biography of Close's life and his career dedicated to training actors. The pair's daily adventures feature episodes in which the two improvised various characters in public; in one case, in a restaurant Close takes on the persona of a nobleman and Griggs his mentally disabled sidekick. "Griggs' prose may be rough, but it is also energetic and heartfelt, honest and utterly riveting," wrote Jack Helbig in Booklist. Rosellen Brewer, writing in Library Journal, commented that the book "offers insight into the world of improvisational theater." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Guru "a wild and fascinating ride," adding that "Griggs's timed and textured prose is anything but improvisational, and each of the short chapters here is a success."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Griggs, Jeff, Guru: My Days with Del Close, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2005.
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Jack Helbig, review of Guru: My Days with Del Close, p. 1126.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of Guru, p. 100.
Library Journal, March 15, 2005, Rosellen Brewer, review of Guru, p. 87.
MBR Bookwatch, June, 2005, Diane C. Donovan, review of Guru.