According to website, The Moth is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling.” I love the story behind the name of the organization; apparently, poet, novelist, and Moth founder George Dawes Green wanted to introduce New York to his love for storytelling-filled summer evenings in Georgia. Apparently, moths snuck onto the porch through a hole in the screen, so the group started calling themselves The Moths.
I picked this episode because of the title, “It Was The Best of Times, it Was the Worst of Times.” 1 As I was scrolling through this week’s options, this title appealed to me because at the time, I thought that I had been having similar sentiments. But as I’m writing this, post-listen, I am pretty astounded at my naiveté. There’s a list of words to describe my emotion – shame, ignorance, and humility among them. But most of that is trumped by my feelings of utter awe when I think about Anthony Griffith’s life depicted in this episode.
For those of you (like me) who are familiar with the comedy scene, Anthony Griffith is something of a mogul, particularly in the pre-2000s comedy world. It seems that his first few appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson were integral to the launch of his career.
During the episode on The Moth, Griffith explains the extremes he was living on a daily basis in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Essentially, his family life starkly contrasted the nature of his actual work. Around the same time that he was invited to perform on The Tonight Show, he was told that the cancer had returned in his two-year-old daughter. So, at the same time that his career was taking off (and, keep in mind, his job is to make people laugh, and be lighthearted, and be funny, and have an overall positive demeanor), he was dealing with stresses beyond what most people’s imaginations allow. The episode is an absolutely heart-wrenching account of the intense emotions, internal conflicts, and daily struggles that Griffith was experiencing around the time of his daughter’s death. From the difficulty of not allowing his family life stresses to intrude on his career as a comedian, to the financial stresses requiring him to keep making people laugh, to feeling inadequate because he was an adult man who just couldn’t cope… this episode is just amazing.
Without doing too much research, I wondered if he had anticipated saying everything that he did. I have no doubt that he intended to talk about the subject, but to what extent? His voice cracks, changes in tone, tears, statements – they all seemed to be breaking out, violently and unrestrained.
From the outsider’s perspective, this guy was doing fine. More than fine, actually – his career was taking off, and he was funny and happy. It just makes you wonder how many people you know who could be suffering internally.
I cried. And not subtly. I’m talking guttural sobs that elicited a concerned roommate checking in on me.
Have a listen. Recently, I’ve been touting feelings of gratitude after listening to some podcasts I review – but this episode has provoked the most intense gratitude-oriented feelings.
By the way, I watched some of Anthony Griffith’s other sketches. He was/is remarkably funny. All the more reason to applaud him.
- Check out Saheel’s short write-up of this episode from our Favorite Episodes Ever write-up in August. ^
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