Talking the Pith Out of Kathy Griffin
Though her TV reality show, My Life on the D-List, is on hiatus after its fifth season, Kathy Griffin’s pushing a heap o’ new product.
Her book, the cheekily titled Official Book Club Selection, spent several weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Her new standup CD, Suckin’ It For the Holidays, is just out, and a DVD, Kathy Griffin: She’ll Cut a Bitch, is due in January. And she’ll play two shows at the Gibson Amphitheatre on Thanksgiving weekend.
Griffin has come a long way from her days performing for few dozen of the comedy-enlightened upstairs at the Borders bookstore on La Cienega.
L.A. Weekly: You won’t see Chris Rock or Dane Cook playing huge venues on a holiday weekend. That’s a tough time to get people away from family.
GRIFFIN: That’s my theme: Ditch your family, or if they have a very good sense of humor, bring them. By Friday at 8 or Saturday at 8, you’re going to be full of food but also family.
I try not to talk that day, like Celine Dion. It’s one of the many ways I’m exactly like Celine Dion. I write material until the last second. I’m thrilled if anything happens that day. I watch news around the clock: You never know what’s on Nancy Grace. Jon Gosselin could have a new girlfriend or Kate Gosselin could have her hair with a little wave in it.
You know what’s funny? In L.A., they don’t come. When I played the Garden, I got celebrities right and left. In L.A., none want to come. If they do, it’s like under a shroud of secrecy. Hollywood has an even worse sense of humor about itself than politicians. I love to make fun of Fox News and the Glenn Becks, but I have to say that I would probably be more welcome at Fox & Friends than I would be at a Hollywood party.
Jennifer Hudson and I were on an elevator together. She was on her BlackBerry so furiously that her body language was literally screaming, “Please don’t look at me.” It was all that I could do not to press the emergency button to trap her with me.
Do you have close friends who you can relax around?
I saw them the other night. Sarah Silverman came over and her sister Laura and a couple Simpsons writers. That’s my kind of crowd, the comedy nerds. Like Dana Gould — nerdy dudes who still play Dungeons and Dragons.
There’s a comment online about your “Suck it, Jesus” remark at the Emmys: “I guess immorality runs rampant in her family. Hell is going to bust wide open for her when she dies.”
My instinct is to then do an episode of the D-List with this woman and go to her hometown. And see what she says.
Or maybe you could see her side of the argument.
Then I could become a Bible thumper. It’ll broaden my demographic. I wish I were a Christian who never swore. I would be more successful if I could keep my mouth shut and read the Bible. I’m excited to be playing the Gibson Amphitheatre with its 6,000 seats. But then you watch these Christian guys selling out stadiums. I always think it’s interesting when I see the Joel Osteens on Larry King and they leave out the part about how much money they rake in every single week.
What’s been the biggest price you’ve paid for success?
I don’t have a life, but I love that. My work is my life, and my work is my play. I certainly don’t have a life like someone who wanted to have kids at 25 and a house with a picket fence.
What about not knowing who your real friends are?
That got a lot tougher when the D-List started. I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, even though I kinda am. I’m lucky to have a TV show, and we just got picked up for season 6; I love doing the D-List, but the biggest cost is friendships. That’s the only thing I didn’t see coming.
Some members of my immediate family are upset at not being in the show. They didn’t want to when the show started, and now they do. And some very good friends are mad that I don’t put them in the show.
Will CNN let you return to its New Year’s Eve broadcast with Anderson Cooper, considering the trouble you got in last year? [Thinking she was off-air, Griffin told a person in the crowd, “I don’t go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth.”]
I’ve been a YouTube sensation only once, and I really did think I was off the air. I signed on to do New Year’s Eve again with Anderson Cooper, and it’s in my contract if I swear again, I have to give back all my money.
On New Year’s Eve, I’m going to be a nervous wreck and not about my jokes, but I’m going to be thinking about signing the check back over. Part of me thinks, Fuck the money. I’ll get more mileage out of swearing.
You’re so articulate and quick-witted — that’s a sign of a high intelligence. You might be a genius.
I really wish you would leave the Weekly and run NBC Universal.
Here is what Dr. Ben Gellman, an L.A. psychologist, told the Weekly about childhood incidents in your book, such as your having been mistaken for a boy, your refusal to drink because you have alcoholics in your family, and the nuns at your school, who didn’t intervene when girls once beat you up.
DR. GELLMAN: “She obviously has issues around control and dependency on others.
“The nun story may reveal how she was not taken better care of by authorities, which may also include alcoholic relatives.
“Being mistaken for a boy may reveal why she is so sympathetic to gay issues. She knew what it felt like to be seen as ‘different,’ not living up to sex-role expectations. Perhaps it’s why now she is so focused on looking good, staying thin and plastic surgery.
“She fits the patterns of adult children of alcoholics. She has problems with identity, fear of loss of control, anger, rebelliousness, not feeling she can trust that others will take care of her needs, and so she becomes the caretaker.”
Also, she likes to shock others, which may be a form of rebelliousness, too.
What is a trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m far too sweet.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My second nose job.
Who is the greatest love of your life?
What talent would you most like to have?
I would like to runway-model.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it be?
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favorite writers?
US Weekly, Star [magazine], The Enquirer and Life & Style.
Who are your heroes?
Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Jane Goodall and LC from The Hills.
How would you like to die?
Onstage in the middle of a really good dick joke.
What is your motto?
Everybody can suck it.
Kathy Griffin performs at the Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City; Fri.-Sat., Nov. 27-28, 8:15 p.m.; (213) 480-3232.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.