!! OMG, a Q&A with Kathy Griffin !!

Kathy Griffin portrait by Jen Rosenstein

Photo by Jen Rosenstein

Notoriously controversial, infamously banned, utterly hilarious and totally fearless, Kathy Griffin requires no introduction. But following Kathy’s six years away from the spotlight where she took a trip to hell and back, her re-introduction is long overdue.

After stealing the show in beloved 1990s productions like Suddenly Susan and Seinfeld (where Jerry dedicated an entire episode to Kathy’s real-life beef with him), Kathy became a reality-television pioneer with My Life on the D-List, which went on to win the GLAAD Media Award for Best Reality Program. Now available to stream on Peacock, My Life on the D-List is a literal time capsule of the who’s-who in early aughts Hollywood—definitely worth revisiting for the nostalgia-fuelled romp down memory lane and all the Kathy face-time.

Kathy’s accolades and accomplishments don’t stop there: She won two Emmys and a Grammy, she penned Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, which debuted at number on the New York Times Bestseller List, and she co-hosted CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast with Anderson Cooper for years.

Perhaps what we admire most about Kathy (when she’s not making us laugh) is her conviction in advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, women, and other disenfranchised groups, a commitment that’s earned her the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality and GLAAD’s Vanguard award.

But it hasn’t all been rainbows and sunshine for Kathy. In 2018, misfortune decided to come for her in more ways than we can count. She was diagnosed with lung cancer, resulting in the removal of half of her lung and a permanent change in the sound of her voice. She developed an addiction to pills that led to a suicide attempt. She lost her mother. She filed for divorce from her husband of four years. And, last but certainly not least bizarre, she was investigated by the US government as a terrorist following her Trump photo scandal, which left her on the no-fly list and unable to work.

Kathy is living proof that when it rains, it pours!

Now, nearly four years sober, cancer-free and cleared to fly, we are happy to report that Kathy is back in action with her new stand-up show, My Life on the PTSD-List. Keeping in step with her broader comedy oeuvre, it’s a candid look at her life, including some of the foibles she’s been through with the A-list friends she’s made along the way (hi, Paris Hilton!). She’s bringing the show across North America this year (get your tickets here).

We caught up with Kathy to find out how she copes with life’s ups and many downs, why she never regrets sticking up for herself, and what it was like whoring it up with Christopher Meloni.

Read the full Q&A with Kathy Griffin after the jump!

First things first: Congratulations on your new show. 

I’m over the moon. I’m in the middle of a 40-city tour after years of being blacklisted by my own industry and, let’s just say, running into problems with the previous administration, who’s sitting in a criminal court today—and I’m on tour!

How has the tour been going? 

Oh my god. The audiences have been fantastic. I called it My Life on the PTSD-List because I was actually diagnosed with complex PTSD. I think that’s funny because I thought it only happened to combat veterans or something, so I talk about all the crazy treatments that I do for it. Some of it, I’m pretty sure, is just bullshit, but I do it anyway.

And I make fun of my pill addiction, which I’m in recovery for because I became a junkie at 57 years of age. That’s really being a late bloomer.

And I talk about the cancer shit because I got lung cancer after I was a year sober, even though I never smoked. And now I have half a lung on my left side. Can you believe all this shit?

It’s awful how those things always seem to happen all at once, and that’s an especially big dump.

And I filed for divorce four months ago and I’m heartbroken over it. Heartbroken!

Who have you been turning to for support? And what have you been doing? You said it’s all kinds of stuff and I know you’re doing yoga and your cat-cow.

I bring one of my four dogs with me on every leg of the tour and that’s very comforting. And then I’ve been bringing a babysitter, like a girlfriend that just comes along with me to hang out and have a coffee klatsch and get a meal or something. I’ve had some really good babysitters.

One of the babysitters that I had with me was E. Jean Carroll. How about that? She won 83.3 million dollars in a judgment against Trump and then she was nice enough as my good friend to come along with me on three gigs.

At one of them, there was even a big protest outside of Trumpers. They’re still mad about that picture after all this time.

Yikes, that’s scary. It sounds like you’re still very much in this and working through everything. 

I am! But I’ll tell you, going on stage is so therapeutic even if I’m having a rough day. The thing is, I’ve been doing this for so long—I’m 63 now—that I actually have muscle memory. As I get toward the show, I start to feel better. Let’s say I wake up depressed, right? And the day goes on and it gets closer to showtime, then I start to put on my makeup, I put on my certain songs that get me in the mood, and I’m ready for showtime and then boom! It’s lifted.

And for those two hours, I get to make everybody laugh. Yes, you heard me! I do a full two hours. No opening act. And I wear a headset microphone because the amplification is better because I got injured during my second lung cancer surgery.

And so the audiences have just been loving everything and are game for everything. And I’ll be making fun of you guys right to your faces so be careful out there.

What songs or what musicians do you listen to to get pumped up?

This might be a little embarrassing because I have the iPod of a 12-year-old and I use the word iPod: Backstreet Boys, Britney, Rihanna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Sia. I even have a story about Sia in my new show because we’re pals. It’s about a trip that we took to Mexico where everything went wrong and comedy ensued.

She always wears that big wig with the bangs and you can’t even tell it’s her! So she can actually travel the world in anonymity, which I think is genius. She’s got it all figured out.

You’re very well known for standing up to powerful men or the powers that be and the establishment, which a lot of people might find scary. Was that something that you were ever afraid to do? Did you know in your heart that you needed to speak your mind?

Well, I was dumb enough to think that that’s how everybody should do it. I mean, the reason I had this really bad reputation, which is—and I’ll give you the quote—“she’s difficult and expensive,” is because I was dumb enough to think I would be paid the same as my male counterparts. When I would watch them negotiate deals, they’d be hard-balling on this thing and they’d negotiate about that thing, they’d stand up for themselves about this part, and that’s what I’ve always done.

It’s just after years of being smacked down that I’m here to say, it’s still bad. It’s still bad for women. It’s still so misogynistic and ageist, I can’t even tell you. I wish I could lie and say it’s all better now. But we have a lot of work to do—a lot of work to do.

So you don’t have any regrets?

Nooo! Look—I get in trouble. I get fired more than I get hired. But I can’t help it. It’s like, take the Trump picture as an example. I felt like people were not reacting to him in an appropriate fashion, that people were kind of numb to him and not realizing how scary he is.

And so I just did that picture and I thought—I mean this cracks me up to this day—I thought everybody would have my back. But nope, the cheese stands alone! And to this day, I can’t resist. I’m in a big fight with Elon Musk. Leave it to me to be in a fight with the richest man or the second richest or whatever the hell he is these days.

You sure know how to pick ’em! 

I know! The bigger the better, baby. My dukes are up.

In terms of speaking out, you do a lot of LGBTQ+ activism. What about that has been most rewarding for you over the years?

I think the progress that the community has made. But I fear that if Trump gets reelected, it would be increasingly unsafe for a queer person to even walk down the street. I know that sounds like I’m being hyperbolic but I’m not. It’s that dire for the gay community and Trump.

You’ve been doing this for so long and the climate can be more openly hostile than it used to be.

Yes! We were making progress! And then Trumpism took us back. Every time I read in the paper about somebody being a pedophile, it’s a f*cking pastor. It’s a pastor or it’s a priest.

But what do they do? They focus on drag brunch. And they’re not playing. I certainly thought we were beyond a place where a drag brunch would be unsafe.

It doesn’t make sense. Drag brunch is pretty much the most fun thing you can do.

On Fox News, it’s on there all the time. They’re obsessed with drag queens.

With Pride month coming up, do you have any special plans to celebrate?

Yes. I bought—okay, this is so corny and tacky—I bought a full-length, rainbow, sparkly dress. And I’m not sure which parade I’m going to go to, but you’re not going to be able to miss me. I’m just going to be this red-headed Pride flag walking down the street. Maybe I’ll have a tambourine.

[The dress] is crocheted, it’s so tacky, but I couldn’t resist buying it and when it showed up at the house, I was like, “Oh my god, it’s worse than I thought it would be.” It’s so loud. You can probably hear it in the closet right now.

So I’ll be doing that somewhere, dancing in the street.

You gotta let it out the closet.

While we still can! Let it out the closet, baby!

I wanted to ask you about My Life on the D-List.

Oh my god, it’s finally streaming. I’m thrilled people can rediscover it, rediscover how funny my mom and dad were. It’s a little time capsule for pop culture in the early 2000s.

I saw Rachel Bilson on the first episode! 

Yes! Oh my gosh, she’s awesome. Everybody was in an episode. It was one of those shows where it’s like Where’s Waldo? I just put myself constantly in crazy situations where I didn’t know what the hell would happen.

To promote that you’re on the D-list is something a lot of people would find embarrassing if they’re trying to climb that celebrity ladder. How did you have the idea that there was some fun to be had in labeling yourself as a D-lister?

I think it stemmed from my stand-up because my stand-up has always been reflective of whatever I’m going through at the moment, whatever I’m witnessing at the moment, any situation that I get to be part of in the moment.

And the truth is, I couldn’t fool myself into thinking I was an A-lister. But I live in an A-list industry and I certainly know a handful of A-listers and I find that world very amusing.

Since that show, I’m not gonna lie, I know a lot more famous people than I used to and I live in a pretty nice house and stuff like that. But—trust me, honey—I’m still on the D-list. I’m still hawking tickets. I’m still doing whatever it takes. I’ll do cartwheels.

And I don’t even have a special. Everybody’s still a little bit afraid of me. I really hope I get to do a special based on this tour.

I’m excited for you and it must feel so good to be back like you said after five years or six years of nothing.

It does. It feels like heaven to be working. Making people laugh is the best job in the world. I know that sounds corny, but it’s really true.

Well now I have a corny question for you: Anytime I think of you and the appearances that you’ve done, they’re all so joyful. You’re such a bright personality and you bring so much to everything that you do and you really add a lot wherever you go. What does it feel like to be someone who is that kind of a presence in life?

Oh my god. Well, first of all, I don’t feel that way about myself but what a compliment! Oh my god you made my week, my month, my year! But look, I looked at the people before me, like my mom and dad, for example, and they’re just really funny. My dad was kind of comedian-funny, and my mom was funny, not knowing why she was funny.

I would look at my dad and his ability to walk into a room, say one thing and have everybody crack up. I just remember thinking, “My god, what a great quality that is.”

I started to think that I might be able to make people laugh. Then from as young as I can remember, I started working on it. I wanted to be a sidekick on a sitcom and I loved all the great sidekicks of all the great classic sitcoms. And then I fell in love with standup based on Moms Mabley and Phyllis Diller and Totie Fields and, of course, Joan Rivers.

Standup has really become my first love. I love the feeling of being able to make people laugh and give them a couple of hours as a little vacation from life, a little escape. And also to feel a little bit dirty afterwards.

You didn’t even try stand-up until you were 35. 

Can you believe it?

And it’s your thing. What would you say to someone who’s thinking of trying something new and feeling a little afraid?

Well, I would tell them exactly my story because yes, I was just a struggling actress on and off really my whole life. I was an extra for $25 a day and all this other stuff. And when I started doing stand-up, the industry took notice of me in a good way and I got my first special.

So I would just say to anyone that wants to start—look, I can’t say if you want to start at 70, but if you want to start at 36, which is very late for this industry, like very late—all I would say is, if you really love it, you should do it.

But, to be honest, you gotta love it because you’re going to bomb a lot. And you’re going to have all kinds of other ancillary craziness that goes along with actually being a professional and doing it. But when you’re up there and you’re making people laugh there’s nothing better, absolutely nothing better.

So I would say to someone if they really had a burning desire to hit the mic, they should do it.

Last night, I was rewatching one of my favorite Kathy Griffin moments, which is when you played Babs Duffy on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Babs Duffy on Law and Order!

It’s such a wild episode and I love the depth you brought to that Babs.

Honey, I’m telling ya—that show kicked my ass! It was such an honor to do but they are so fucking professional and good. Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, they have this thing where they just—boom! They get it done. And they’ve been doing it so long. That’s an environment where, like when you’re talking about stand-up, I was shaking in my boots the whole time.

And the funny thing is, Mariska Hargitay used to be a student of mine. I used to teach her comedy improv classes back in the day! So I knew her long before she was on Law and Order. And she was always sweet and always really nice.

When I did that episode, I got to have a scene where I kiss Mariska as well, but they cut it. They left in the kiss with Chris Meloni, but then the tape of where I get to kiss Mariska somehow got leaked online. Naughty!

Christopher Meloni and Kathy Griffin on the set of Law & Order: SVU, 2010

Christopher Meloni and Kathy Griffin on the set of Law & Order: SVU, 2010

In the episode, Babs tries to kiss Olivia and then it’s more of an awkward lunge.

Nope. We shot one with a real kiss.

Wow! So you got to kiss both of them? Lucky! 

Exactly. I was a dirty whore that episode and loving every minute of it!

OMG.BLOG readers love Christopher Meloni, obviously. What was it like working with him and sharing such an intimate scene? Is his charm real?

His charm is real. He often does push-ups in between takes, so you get to see his bulging muscles from head to toe. He is very funny. His first love is comedy even though he’s such a good dramatic actor. He loves talking about when he was in Wet Hot American Summer. And he loves working with the comedians that have been on the show like Carol Burnett and Robin Williams.

He also brings a lot of intensity to the work. There were certain scenes that he would be doing and I’d be like, “Okay, don’t go up to him and bother him now.”

I can’t believe they do this show without just dropping dead because it was such long hours, it was outdoor locations in freezing cold New York, and their fans are hardcore. Their fans show up to every shooting, and that’s a whole minor crowd-control situation.

I walked away from that with such admiration for them.

It’s such an interesting show to watch and rewatch, when you notice the New York extras that do those smaller parts constantly cycling through.

Yes! Everybody does that show! Everybody on Broadway does Law and Order. Eventually they finally got to me and I couldn’t have been happier.

Thanks for speaking with us today, Kathy.

It was lovely talking to you. And I hope the gays come to my show and have a good time and bring their hags and plus ones and everybody!

—Q&A by Caitlin Agnew (@caitlinagnew)

Visit www.KathyGriffin.com for show and ticket info.  

» share:

4 Comments on "OMG, a Q&A with Kathy Griffin"

  1. Remember when this site posted good content? Now it slams Kendrick for fat shaming and thinks Kathy Griffin is funny.

  2. Sheboonika La'Queef | May 4, 2024 at 6:05 pm | Reply

    She used to be hilarious. Now, she is boring and toxic.

  3. Legion Keign | May 4, 2024 at 9:49 am | Reply

    I hope that her new stand-up is taped so we can rent it and watch!

  4. The cheese should not have stood alone: it was obvious Ms Griffin was unjustly attacked just to silence a powerful critic but the media just joins in the frenzy instead of saying, “This is BS.” I hope Democrats know better now — & I can’t wait to see more of Ms Griffin.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.