“I was raised right – I talk about people behind their backs.”
Kathy Griffin is someone who definitely makes an impression. I remember years ago sifting through YouTube clips, watching bland A-list celebrities promo their latest projects on Chelsea Lately, and coming across a fiery haired woman I had never heard of before. I randomly decided to watch an interview with her on Chelsea’s show, and I remember two distinct things: one, that she was extraordinarily quick and hilarious, and two, thinking to myself, “Jesus, she doesn’t hold back at all, she’s gonna get herself killed.” And I wasn’t entirely wrong. She is infamous for her nonexistent filter and her notorious run-ins with celebrities (who nine times out of ten are hesitant, which is an understatement, to approach her in the fear that they will be the next subject in her upcoming comedy special). Kathy is a devisive person, and not everyone agrees with or embraces her brand of comedy, which pretty much consists of her telling red carpet stories, and dishing out all the dirt that the public has always wanted, recounting her strange friendship with Cher (with a comically horrible Cher impression to match), making occasional references to her adorable, equally strong-willed mother (who is a 90-something, long functioning alcoholic), and frequent digs at Ryan Seacrest and the Kardashians. There are varying attitudes and disagreements regarding her role in the celebrity lexicon: is she an obnoxious, gossipy bully, or does she represent the every man, the outsider that got their way in, and somehow lived to tell the tale (to thousands and thousands of audience members)? Either way, no matter what your stance is on her, Kathy is here to stay, and remains to be one of the most hard-working, hysterical, ridiculous, fearless comedians in the business.
Say what you want about her, but she is an example of someone who has truly found their calling. At 55, she is just as funny, hungry, and obsessed with comedy as she was 20 years ago, and is constantly touring. Something that I think is very unappreciated is how hard she has had to work, and how much work she continues to put into her craft. She’s released 20 televised stand up specials throughout her career, and for those of you unfamiliar with comedy, that is no joke. It’s completely unprecedented, no comedian has ever put out that many specials, and she still has not earned the respect that she deserves for that astounding accomplishment. And yes, I do believe that it has to do with her being a woman. If it was Louis C.K. (who I love, I’m not trying to knock him) I think there would be a lot more attention surrounding it. Women have had to work ten times as hard in comedy to gain the same recognition that male comics get, and unfortunately, that still seems to be the case.
“I have no limits, no filter, no class, no poise. No decorum. Just fun.”
However, these things have not stopped Kathy from doing what she loves most, which is telling everybody every detail about her life and a lot of shit talking. She talks shit about douchey celebrities, famous friends who are equally as insane as her, but most of all herself. She comes at comedy from the angle of being successful, but still insecure about her place in the hierarchy, not quite in the “in crowd.” On some level she will always see herself as a D-Lister, which only helps her keep a healthy distance away from the uber- famous celebrities that would not necessarily be friends with someone so unapologetic and observant, but can certainly be called out for not being able to laugh at themselves, or for blatantly revealing their fame-fueled egos and ridiculousness. And I, personally, love that kind of stuff. I love when I get to hear things I’m not supposed to hear, and when celebrities are shown for their true colors. It’s fascinating to hear behind the scenes stories about glitzy award shows and learn what people are actually like, and Kathy gives audiences a glimpse into that life.
I’ve been a fan of Kathy for a long time, and have watched many of her specials (which are largely accessible through YouTube), as well as various interviews that have left me nearly incapacitated with laughter. She is one of those people that is always herself, and never afraid to push the envelope, so you can tell that when she goes on a show, the talk show hosts embrace her with a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation. It makes their job way easier with someone like Kathy, who is always hysterical and not afraid to “go there” on any topic, but they know she truly is fearless, so they are aware that probably about 30%-70% of the viewership is going to be offended. But it makes for great entertainment!
One of my favorite Kathy stories is about her feud with Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who at one point was a panelist on The View and greatly disliked Kathy for the things she had said about her at the time. Hasselbeck was one of the staple conservatives on that show, and Kathy herself admitted to calling her “an uneducated idiot and Sarah Palin kiss ass,” and for generally calling her out for her elevated attitude about herself. Therefore, when Kathy went on The View, with Elizabeth also on the panel, it was bound to be an uncomfortable situation. However, the way Hasselbeck handled the situation was objectively immature and unprofessional, and although Kathy didn’t notice it at the time, throughout the entire program Hasselbeck was purposely not paying attention, rolling her eyes, and even made show of her yawning and stretching in disinterest while Kathy was speaking. Completely juvenile, like I said, but the really juicy part is when Hasselbeck decides to call her out on live television, and completely fails in the process on her own show. It’s amazing to watch. Because here’s the thing, if you’re going to call out a comedian for doing their job, you better be ready to make a pretty good argument, because most of the time they will win. And with Kathy in particular, who forms her act through situations like this, I have no idea what Hasselbeck was thinking when she decided to do that, especially so unprepared, but Kathy’s response is so priceless, and so incredibly satisfying. You can watch Kathy talk about that incident here to hear how it all went down (x).
There are many hilarious interviews with Kathy out there, but the one that is close to my heart and pretty iconic for a multitude of reasons, is when she went on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show for the first time. Now, if you’re unaware of Kathy’s work, it’s a favorite go-to of Kathys to playfully make fun of Seacrest, which she’s done for years. He’s the perfect person to roast, as he’s significantly well known, not only as a red carpet interviewer, but also for his unparalleled generic-ness. I don’t think he’s a bad person, per se, but I can’t help but agree with Kathy’s allegations against Ryan for being “ridiculous” and giggle gleefully at her willingness to tell him right to his face. But the interview itself… wow. It’s nothing short of comedy gold. She makes fun of him for over 20 minutes straight, and you can tell it’s a special moment. What makes it even better is hearing how loud the staff is laughing at her digs at Ryan, which adds an extra layer of hilarity. To his credit he takes it rather well, but occasionally drops some pretentious A-listy comments that make it somewhat more understandable why Kathy chooses to make fun of him. I laugh so hard every time I watch it, and it perfectly captures her humor and amazing riffing abilities, so I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a laugh. If you’re not a Ryan Seacrest fan, this may be the best thing you’ve every watched; here’s the first part (x), but go ahead and watch the other 2 as well, it’s all necessary viewing.
“You know what I want from you Ryan, a hug and a good BM.”
Kathy Griffin may be devisive, but she is undeniably a comedic force. She’s quick, incredibly intelligent, hilarious, and unyielding. Her soul is dripping with comedy, and lives and breaths for the stage, as is made clear by her 20 stand up specials. She is currently on her “Like A Boss” tour, has won 2 Emmy’s for her show “My Life on the D-List,” which ran for 6 years, and has been a long standing advocate of the LGBTQ+ community, donating large sums of money to the Trevor Project and raising awareness for the cause. She’s also been the co-host of the CNN New Year’s Eve special with her friend Anderson Cooper since 2007, and every year she tries even harder to embarrass and humiliate him on a national level.
Love her or hate her, Kathy is a comedy beast, with no signs of slowing down. If you want to check out her social media, I’ll link them below. Prepare yourself for ridiculousness, but more importantly, a lot of laughs.