Kathy Griffin: Danger and dishing 

'There are many times that I really wish I could keep my mouth shut'

Now that it's a wrap on the sixth season of her TV series, My Life on the D-List, two-time Emmy winner Kathy Griffin is back on the road, doing what she loves the most - standup comedy.

Just her, a microphone, and a bottomless well of celebrity foibles on which she can dish.

She is a best-selling author (the 2009 memoir Official Book Club Selection), a Grammy-nominated recording artist (Suckin' It For the Holidays, Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt), and earlier in 2011 she sold out a six-week Broadway run (she unapologetically titled the show Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony).

Griffin is also a well-known advocate for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) rights; she was honored with the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2009.

Outspoken and blunt, Griffin takes no prisoners with her onstage observations and prognostications. She's the sort of comic who makes the tastiest hamburgers out of sacred cows.

We spoke with Griffin this week, in advance of her show this Saturday in the Johnny Mercer Theatre.

For those (few) of you who don't know precisely what she does, Griffin has this to say:

"The live shows are not for the faint of heart. There's going to be more swearing than you can imagine. Don't bring your goddam kids, and don't bring your bible. Leave the bible at home because guess what, it's too late for you.

"I'm just excited to do one more show between Raptures. Because last Saturday's Rapture kind of fizzled out, but I understand there may be another one coming next year. So I'm trying to get in as many dick jokes as possible until the next Rapture."

On your Facebook profile, the question is asked, What is your profession? And you answer that you're a teller of dick jokes.

Kathy Griffin: It's a profession that I hold in high esteem. I'm a big comedy fan, so I pretty much laugh at everybody, but especially the people who are a little dangerous and get in trouble. You pay hard-earned money to see a live show. And I like the feeling of sitting there thinking "Boy, I don't know what this person's going to say next. I'm a little nervous. I'm a little excited."

So I believe really strongly that with the live shows, I don't do something that I've done on TV - so if you come to see me live you're not going to see any material from the televised specials. I feel like, if you're cashing the paycheck and buying tickets, and getting the babysitter and paying for parking and dinner, then you deserve to see something different than something you could have seen on TV a week ago.

I cannot wait to hit the mic again after all of the Arnold stuff, and Newt Gingrich - and yes, I know I'll be in a red state, but I don't care. I'm letting the fur fly. I'm gonna let the fur fly so much that I'm hoping to be protested by PETA.

So, bin Laden? You must have gotten that out of your system by now.

Kathy Griffin: Yeah, exactly. The bin Laden story obviously, in and of itself isn't funny. We're all about the porn collection. I want to know if he was into girl-on-girl, I want to know if the burkas were flying off the shelves. I'm curious to know if it was like Showtime After Dark softcore with gauzy lighting, or if it was just him and a goat, lettin' it rip.

I'd heard you got dumped from the CNN New Year's Eve thing with Anderson Cooper. But there you were again this year.

Kathy Griffin: I get dumped every year, and then they usually re-hire me somewhere in December. They issue an apology. They ask me to apologize and I say no. Then they wait for whatever I said to blow over.

I'm telling you right now, I don't know if I'm going to do it again next year. I get dumped because of my big mouth. I'm not the person that gets the long-term contract.

But I would love to do it again because I love him so much. And I think it's funny that he and I have turned CNN into the only comedy destination for New Year's. Which, who would've thought? If I do it again, they'll probably let me know Dec. 27.

Every year, it's a battle. But the guy that didn't want to hire me got canned. So once again ... like my idol Cher, being the cockroach that I am, I'm going to outlive them all.

Knowing the way you are, how do you not say something about Dick Clark?

Kathy Griffin: What I do is go a roundabout way, and make the joke about Ryan Seacrest being Eve Harrington in All About Eve. He's outside Dick Clark's dressing room, pointing at his watch.

Ryan Seacrest is the perfect foil for me, because he has more money than God, and he's ridiculous, and everybody knows who he is.

I've always wondered - As time goes on, and you get more and more famous ....

Kathy Griffin: Diet and exercise. I assume you're going to ask me about my hot body?

You're getting pretty famous yourself, and a lot of people like you a lot ...

Kathy Griffin: Hey hey, watch it. That could be a career-ender for me.

Don't you have to keep a certain distance from famous people? To avoid becoming "one of them"?

Kathy Griffin: I don't run in a celebrity crowd. I certainly have a few celeb friends, but I absolutely can't run with that crowd. One time I met Drew Barrymore, and she was so sweet. She said "Oh, I love you - we hate all the same people." And I said "Yeah, but I say their names on TV."

I certainly have friendly rapports with certain celebrities - and the tough part is, I run into all of them. I mean, all of them. Whether it's at the Emmys, or the Grammys, or some party I've BS'd my way into. I've had one celebrity give me a warning, and say "so-and-so's at two o'clock," and stuff like that

But I can't help it. I can't seem to stop myself. And much to the chagrin of my beloved 90-year-old alcoholic mother, there are many times that I really wish I could keep my mouth shut. But I just can't, I'm sorry ... really, Arnold was schtupping the housekeeper the whole time? Like, a Kennedy wasn't enough?

And let me tell you, what will weed out a celebrity friendship faster than the speed of sound is being friends with someone and then you put them in the act. Let's see how long the friendship lasts! It's what separates the men from the boys, and I get to see who has a sense of humor.

I really think that's what people enjoy about either watching The D-List or my standup specials. And, more than anything, the live shows.

You seem to be the same person offstage and on. Is your mind really riffing on this stuff all the time?

Kathy Griffin: Mm-hmm, yeah. I don't sleep well. I'm just constantly, constantly writing. That's what I love. And touring is my first love and always will be. You know, a lot of comedians write an act, and they tour with it for a year - that's just not how I work. Because the nature of my act is so much water cooler talk, and it's what was on the news yesterday, and what was on this wacky reality show, and what was online, it's too good! I can't rest for one minute. Not as long as there's another housekeeper out there that possibly has another love child.

I'm on the case! I'm like your TiVo-slash-investigative reporter who doesn't care one bit about facts or figures.

Why did you write the book?

Kathy Griffin: I wrote the book when I was 49. I'm 50 now. I didn't want to be Miley Cyrus and write my memoir when I was 16. I done some livin'!

I really like the books that are brutally honest and show all the flaws. In fact, when I'm in Savannah I'll be visiting my pal Paula Deen. I love all of Paula's books, but I especially loved her first one. I liked that it was funny, the way she is, and it was also honest. And it was educational - I felt like I was getting to know somebody when I read her book.

Her book, and Barbara Walters' Audition - and Barbara can't stand me, but I really liked her book - those were really inspirational when I was writing mine. And also Joan Rivers' Enter Talking. Because I like to hear about the process, and crazy, outrageous stories that you might not know about somebody.

So when I told Paula "I read your first book a couple of times," she had this great answer: "You mean the one where I told all mah secrets?" And I said "Yes! That's why I read it!"

Kathy Griffin

Where: Johnny Mercer Theatre, Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe

When: At 8 p.m. Saturday, May 28

Tickets: $34.50-$69.50 at etix.com









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About The Author

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.

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