An Interview with Kathy Griffin

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 11.29.32 AM

Comedy legend Kathy Griffin is bringing her “Like a Boss” tour to Rhode Island for two shows on August 21. Kathy recently took time out of her busy schedule to dish about her life on the D-list, her thoughts about Rhode Island, and her next targets.

by Kristen Connolly

Options: You’ve performed in Rhode Island more than a few times. As a native Midwesterner who’s spent a lot of your time on the West Coast, what’s it like to visit here?

Kathy Griffin: I have a thing for the accents of your people. Right now, there’s this skinny, adorable gay guy on Big Brother with a nice, strong Rhode Island accent and it tickles me just to look at him and listen to him. I’m banking on that with my audience. Unlike most people, I proudly say, “I hope you laugh just looking at me.” Then I make fun of President Trump.

O: Tell us about your shows on August 21 in Newport. What should we expect?

KG: First of all, leave your damn kids at home. After an unprecedented 23 televised stand-up specials, I hope you get it by now. My material is up-to-the-minute, brilliant, current—but mostly wrong, and all kinds of inappropriate.

O: What have those who have never been to one of your shows been missing?

KG: A combination of belly laughter, nervous laughter, and a lot of looking around to see if what I have just said made anyone in your row want to storm out of the show. I mean, how can you resist that? I take no prisoners. I don’t hold back. And when you come to one of my shows, you get to hear all of your horrible thoughts come out of my mouth. You just relax, sit back, and laugh at everything I say. I think this is a fair and equitable deal.

O: What’s your pre-show routine? How do you warm up when you get to a new city?

KG: I typically have a Cobb salad three hours prior to show time. Whatever. Here’s the fun part: I have the best time making each show unique and different. I will be making fun of you people right to your faces. I love gathering local material and luckily, you nut jobs never let me down. God only knows what crazy local business establishment I will pass on the way to the show or a breaking news story I will catch on one of your local news channels. Every city has a Ron Burgundy. I bring the local flavor kind of like Anthony Bourdain, but the parts will be known, not unknown.

O: What’s on your Rhode Island bucket list? Any favorite spots, places?

KG: This is where you get your directive from me. I am counting on my fans to tweet me @KathyGriffin or send me Facebook messages with any appropriate or inappropriate insider dirt about Rhode Island that I can sneak into my act. That is one of the wonderful things about the “Like a Boss” tour. When you play 80 cities in a year, people will give you dirt via social media at the drop of a hat. Start tweeting me now and I will follow your lead.

O: You’ve been on TV, in movies, you’ve written books, hosted talk shows, and, of course, done standup. What have you enjoyed most?

KG: There is nothing like LIVE touring. Ten years ago, my agents were telling me that television and live entertainment were dead. Well guess what? No one is ever going to want to watch the Super Bowl on their cell phone and while I love doing all kinds of television, from live New Year’s Eve coverage with Anderson Cooper on CNN to winning my two Emmys, nothing can replicate the delicious and twisted energy that comes from a live audience. Most of the things I will be saying on stage Friday, August 21 in Newport, Rhode Island could not be televised!

O: I polled some friends and asked them what they would ask you. They wanted to know when you would be on Law and Order again.

KG: Look, I have carried that show like the world’s heaviest backpack for long enough. I had so much fun playing a lesbian on Law & Order : SUV. (Yes, my 95-year old alcoholic mother Maggie insists on calling it Law & Order: SUV.) That guest appearance was written for me by the show. I would love nothing more than to do a guest appearance that is juicy, and on a show that will run forever in reruns. Are you listening, Scandal? Modern Family? CSI? Come on, Black-ish!

O: I loved your takeover on Big Brother this summer, and the Ginger Pride house guest competition. Is Ginger Pride a real movie? (Because if it isn’t, it should be.) Who would you pick to be your co-star if you could pick anyone?

KG: First of all, it’s Ginger Fever, you hack. I have been handed a list of names by CBS and turned them all down. Brad Pitt? Too old. Jake Gyllenhaal? Never heard of him. Chris Pratt? Too doughy. Not if, but when Ginger Fever is made into a series and a feature film, I will only allow Tom Brady to be my co-star. How’s that for pandering?

O: You’ve been a huge proponent for marriage equality for as long as I can remember, and even went door-to-door to campaign against Proposition 8. How did you celebrate the recent Supreme Court ruling?

KG: I think I cried a little, actually.Then I went on every retail website I could think of because the 700,000 gay men that I know are all registered there now. Look, equality is a marathon, not a sprint. As a woman working in an extremely sexist field, I have always identified with the LGBT community. I have been front and center and happy to be involved in this struggle because I identify with living a life where you know you have to work twice as hard to get the same opportunity as others.I too, was born this way—including the dance mix.

O: Beyond marriage equality, you’ve done a lot over the years to support the LGBT community, and continue to work for HIV/AIDS support and prevention. (I remember your rally against “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” on My Life on the D List.) Why did you choose to be so involved and, of everything you’ve done, what are you most proud of?

KG: I became more involved with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” after I went to Afghanistan on a USO tour and performed for our troops. I have many friends in the military and have heard many heartbreaking and heroic stories from the LGBT-proud military members. In my small way, I think the best way I can help is by simply giving them a laugh. And when that doesn’t work, you testify before a Senate committee before they kick you out.

O: I know you love your gays. What do you want to say to your Rhode Island gays?

KG: Let’s be honest, the Rhode Island LGBTQIA2’s can be a little, how shall I say, rough around the edges. I mean, what has the world come to when I look out into my own audience in Rhode Island and see both straight and gay men who are quite muscley and clad in either Ed Hardy or Affliction T-shir t wear? Give a sister a break. Just a simple, “Hey Gurrl,” will give me a little clarity. I know we are all equal and God’s children and all that, but I am bilingual; I speak English and Gay.

O: How’s Cher?

KG: Cher is F-ing Cher! That’s how Cher is. She will tell you that herself. Her cat, Mr. Big, died recently. I loved that cat. Cher and I would be sitting in her room eating delicious sushi from Nobu and Mr. Big would hop on the couch and Cher would yell,“Get down, Mr. Big” in a very thick Cher accent. Many emojis were passed back and forth between us. Not me and the cat—Cher and I.

O: What’s next for Kathy Griffin? Any new TV or movie projects?

KG: I’ve just finished my first script for a comedy series that I may or may not be in. I write my own entire stand-up material. I don’t know if you know this, but a lot of famous comedians don’t even write their own TV stand-up material or live material. That is baffling to me. My stand-up is highly improvisational, as you will see. But I also love to bang some stuff out on the computer until it’s good and funny. I also would love to do a juicy role in a feature film. It’s time, don’t you think? That’s right—I’m looking for my Precious. You can think of me as either Mo’Nique or Mariah Carey, just as long as you think of me. Oh, and did I mention that I’m playing the iconic Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles the first week of November and the incredible Carnegie Hall in New York on November 12?

O: Who’s the next target?

KG: Obviously, Donald Trump. But trust me, I have my eye on the whole line-up. All the candidates are imploding in a way that is a dream for a comedian such as myself. Be warned: I will be talking about Caitlyn Jenner. When she sat down with Diane Sawyer (and you can look this up), the first thing she said to Diane was, “It’s very important to me that we maintain a sense of humor about all this.” I hope she meant it. I had just about run out of Kardashians to make fun of.

O: Anything else you’d like to mention?

KG: I’d like some damn credit for the fact that after two Emmys, a Grammy, the Guinness Book World Record for the most televised stand-up specials of any comedian male or female, and decades of activism, I’ve decided to do 80 cities in this “Like a Boss” tour. I’ve clearly lost my mind, but I must admit that the best part is truly going everywhere in America. From my sold-out Kennedy Center show to Billings, Montana, to Rohnert Park, California (and I don’t even know where Rohnert Park is), touring is so much fun! Please go to KathyGriffin.com and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I promise that each of the 80 shows will be dangerous and different on each given night. And thank you for supporting live entertainment. There’s nothing like it.

Catch Kathy at 7pm and 9:30pm on Friday, August, 21 as part of the Newport Summer Comedy Series, now at its new home at the Newport Hyatt on Goat Island. Order your tickets now at www.NewportComedy.com. Tweet Kathy at @KathyGriffin and you could end up in her act!