Thursday, July 18, 2024

Q&A with Kathy Griffin

Stand-up comedian, author, co-host of “Fashion Police” on E!

Over the past 10 years, Kathy Griffin has recorded 18 stand-up comedy specials, appeared in more than 35 movies or television shows and penned a New York Times best-selling memoir. Her net worth is estimated at $20 million, and the ubiquitous and fearless television personality is currently carrying the torch for the late Joan Rivers as co-host of E!’s “Fashion Police.”

It’s safe to say that Griffin is no longer a “D-Lister;” she’s just played one on TV. And she continues to play one in her indefatigable stand-up act (she recorded four specials in 2011 alone, including “50 and Not Pregnant” and “Tired Hooker”).

Her comedic style is dominated by embellished encounters with even higher-bankrolled celebrities, in whose presence she has stealthily managed to bask. The targets of her satire and ridicule run the showbiz gamut, and some happen to be her friends.

On William Shatner: “He is like my favorite red-faced, bloated booze bag.” On Oprah Winfrey: “I prefer big Oprah. I know Oprah wants to be skinny Oprah, but her head is too gigantic to fit on a skinny body.” On Lindsay Lohan: “I know that [she] has lost a lot of weight recently, due to diet, Pilates and crack. Without the diet and Pilates.”

It’s no surprise that some her comments have generated backlash. She essentially outed Anderson Cooper during one of her annual appearances on CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage.

She’s been denounced by the Catholic League and been called a “pinhead” by Bill O’Reilly. She’s been banned, then unbanned, then re-banned from “The View,” and she’s similarly weathered bans from the Apollo Theatre, Jay Leno’s version of “The Tonight Show” and “Hannah Montana.”

Controversy aside, one of the funniest comedians in the country remains a formidable force on the stand-up circuit, not to mention a staunch advocate for the U.S. military and LGBT rights. As she prepared for two South Florida appearances, she proved to be as sharp and witty as ever in an interview with Boca Raton.

Q1 You’ve always come off as a monologist as much as a comedian. Are you influenced by long-form storytellers as well as great comics?

Great question. My style is in fact closer to a monologist, or as my pal Sarah Silverman calls me, “a raconteur.” My act is really stories with a bunch of jokes inside them. Of course, I am influenced by all the great comics—female comedians, in particular. Bill Cosby, not so much.

Q2 You’ve had several “first female comedian to …” distinctions. Why do you think comedy is still such a male-dominated field?

Well, chicks are just funnier. The boys know it, they can’t keep up, and this is the only way they know how to fight back. Actually, the stigma and sexism is still very real. In fact, I had to stop watching “Mad Men,” Season Two. Does Peggy become a stand-up comedian in the finale? I hope so.

Q3 What’s been the best—and worst—celebrity reaction to a joke you’ve told about them?

The best: Jerry Seinfeld wrote me a hilarious letter in which he “wishes me much good luck in whatever it is that (I) do.”

Worst: The late, great Whitney Houston waving a very angry finger in my face, saying, “Don’t ever talk about me.” I had to talk about that.

Q4 What is your writing routine like, and how do you know when material is finally stage-ready?

I’m writing right now! I’m always writing in my head. Pretty much every situation I see or am immersed in, I start to try and spin in a funny way that may soon end up onstage where it belongs.

Just know that I will be thinking of new things to put in my show the moment I hit the stage in West Palm.

For more from our interview with Kathy Griffin, pick up the March/April issue of Boca Raton magazine. 

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