Don’t Lose Your Head — Kathy Griffin Is Coming to The Vets

Last year I interviewed comedian Kathy Griffin in advance of her show at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. At that time she was just a funny female on the “D”  list. In the course of a year she has become an extremely controversial figure. I spoke with her last month about her life now and her upcoming show at Veterans Memorial Auditorium on June 20. If you don’t know, in May 2017, she released a photo of herself holding a replica of the severed head of our less than qualified, vile, Cheeto-faced, misogynistic, racist, bigoted, lying, narcissistic, sociopath, criminal, POS, POTUS, and squatter in the White House. (Did I leave anything out?) I loved the photo but others felt that it went too far. I posted it on my Facebook page in support of Kathy and the photo ignited many arguments in the ensuing thread. Griffin faced far worse and suffered a backlash that sent her reeling. Things have changed a lot for Kathy over the past year and unlike last year’s interview that was more light and general, this one discussed the trials and tribulations of her controversial year.  Read on…

KathyGriffinTIFFSept2011webKathy Griffin: Hi, John it’s Kathy, can you hear me on my old timey phone?
John Fuzek: Yes. I have an old-timey phone as well!
KG: I bought mine a year ago, but it looks like my ’80s phone and that’s all I can tell you.
JF: I have a flip phone.
KG: Oh, modern! I miss my Side Kick and my Palm Pilot!
JF: I had one of those, too.
KG: Me, too! With the stylus. Ugh, those were the days!
JF: So, we spoke last year around this time when you were going to be in Providence…
KG: My whole life has changed since then, John.
JF: I know and that’s why I wanted to talk with you again.
KG: How much can happen in one year?
JF: Evidently a lot! I do have to tell you I was behind you 100% what you did.
KG: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I mean this whole North American tour is kind of bizarre, but it’s almost based on like who has an open mind? Who forgives me? Who decided, in retrospect, the photo wasn’t worth the outrage? You know it’s such an interesting thing, I’ve never done a tour, I don’t want to say based on a single incident, but let’s cut the shit, it’s beyond the elephant in the room. The idea that I would do a tour and not tell the entire story-the good, the bad, the ugly, the actual interrogation, the two month federal investigation, the death threats, all the stuff. I am just honestly so grateful to be out there, and it’s odd to me that the American audience are the last ones to come around. It’s almost like I had to remind them, it’s just me, it’s just Kathy, it’s just me from “Suddenly Susan,” and from “My Life on the D List” and from comedy specials and my talk show…it’s just me! So, it’s been quite a journey!
JF: So you went to Europe to tour after this happened?
KG: Oh, not just Europe, honey. First of all I called my stand-up agent, who was the only one who stuck around out of the bunch, and I said this may be an unusual way to tour, but can you specifically send me to countries and cities where they can’t stand Trump? And that was very helpful! So, three weeks later he had 15 countries and 23 cities. So, the picture that almost decimated me, as Don Jr said on Good Morning America, “We are just going to ruin Kathy Griffin’s career, we want to decimate her.” Alright, Eddie Munster, shut the fuck up and I will do my job and by the way, what’s yours, besides being a criminal? They’re all going to jail!

Anyway, I started in Auckland, New Zealand, ended up in Reykjavik, Iceland, by the way, you should know you are talking to the darling of Iceland! Besides Bjork, of course, I’m not crazy! And, yes, I am on the Interpol list and I was detained at all 15 airports, London Heathrow, Singapore, every single time, my new thing is to figure out if I will ever know in my lifetime exactly what came up on the screen every time I was detained, and how do I get off those freaking lists? I am going to resume the North American tour in Canada, I’m not nuts, the whole time the Canadians have been saying what you said, “We get it, no big deal,” and then my first American show is in San Francisco, and they added a second night by popular demand!
JF: So San Francisco will be the first American show since this happened?
KG: YES! The first North American show will be Ottawa, which is already sold out, I am very excited, and I have five shows in Canada, and then I start in San Francisco, and you’re going to laugh, and this is what Granny Griffin just fucking figured out after all these years, after the overseas tour, like I said, not just Europe, it was all over Australia. Oh, by the way, in my current show I have the best story about having a little gab fest backstage with Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde because Stevie was very supportive during this whole thing with me, which was super sweet. And we were in Australia and she was at a giant stadium and I was at the Sydney Opera House, perhaps you have heard of it, so, I went to her (Stevie’s) sound check and some really funny stuff happened backstage, which I will share with the audience. I want your readers to know it’s not like a whole show where I am giving a first amendment lecture, there’s a lot of funny crazy shit going on.

Hold on, can I stop? I am watching Rudy Giuliani.

OK, I am going to be honest. My show started in New Zealand for two hours, and by the time I got to Reykjavik it was three hours! So tell your readers to bring a colostomy bag. I don’t have an opener because I don’t have time for one, I have a fucking lot to say! And a lot of crazy shit happened! Oh my God, you want to get this? You’re not going to believe who sent me his fucking box set, that piece of shit Tony Robbins. OK, John, start writing this down: Google Tony Robbins “me, too” woman or Tony Robbins pokes woman’s chest. So this is my life, this is what I fucking love about touring, I got my little Trump story, and you may think that you know it, but there’s other elements, like I get this box set from Tony Robbins, and I’m not like into that sort of thing. He’s got a hologram, I mean go fuck yourself. I’m a real person. You’re never going to see a Kathy Griffin hologram. I’m an old fashioned work horse, I am actually going to be standing on stage at The Vets. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be a hologram.

But anyway, he’s got one of those and he’s got more money than God, and whatever, and so he sends me this box set like this will change your life, and then next thing you know he’s one of the guys in the me too movement. So like I said, my act is changing. Just so you know, when I got that box set I didn’t pay that much attention to it because the things that people were sending to my home, like the death threats, and the um, I don’t know if your audience will think this is funny but I do, but people keep sending me Bibles, to my house. These religious people think if they send me a bible I’m going to become less vulgar or whatever. Do they not know or have they not met me?

So, I love telling all that stuff, some of it’s kind of inside baseball and then I get into the stuff that’s relatable. I mean everybody knows that feeling of, where either it really happened or we felt like everyone turned on us, so I tell the whole ugly story, and then, of course, hopefully, the triumph, coming back, being able to play a place like The Vets, which I thought would never happen to me again. I am thrilled to be asked back to The Vets, I’m thrilled to tell the story, I’m proud of the story, and who knows what will happen between now and The Vets’ show, anything?

JF: What did you think of Michelle Wolfe’s routine at the Correspondent’s Dinner?

KG: Oh my God, I thought it was great! Remember, I was IN the room, so, don’t tell me she bombed. I was in the room, the whole program was nice until then, they talked about scholarships and whatever … and so Michelle Wolf gets up there, I’m just going to put there, I think there’s a big part of that audience that probably thought she was mixed race, so I’m just going to say I think that was part of it, and I am going to put myself out there and say it in a Kanye West fashion, but we’re dealing people who work for a guy who says there’s two sides to neo-Nazis. So what happened was, she only did 20 minutes, her jokes were so solid you could practically fact check them, so she didn’t go too far, she was saying shit that was true, and  I’ve done many events like that where you’re in a ballroom. And what happened was she started her set and the people started giving her a pissy face, like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, of course, to John Karl, who I used to respect, who the president, if you recall, just days prior, told him that’s a stupid question, to John Karl of ABC, who fills in for George Stephanopoulos and Martha Raddatz. They were giving her the stink eye, because they’re so fucking scared of the Repubbies in the room or the Alt Righters or whomever might say something bad about them. I saw the first third of the room started getting a little quiet and I could see people looking around and not even making their own decision to laugh, like uh-oh, is Wilbur Ross laughing? Anyway, what the fuck is he doing in the cabinet? Then the middle section of the room did it and when it got to the back, I was on my feet standing and clapping, and giving Sean Spicer the stink eye like you’re lucky to not be in jail, in my opinion. And having hosted many events like that you can’t have the other people not laughing. But also John Karl kept slapping his hand on his forehead like oh, this is the seventh sign of the Apocalypse, I am just saying, as someone who has lived a year of faux outrage it’s my new favorite thing to point out, because we all have bigger fucking fish to fry for God’s sake.

JF: So, are you still on a watch list?

KG: Yeah, I am actually nervous about going to Canada because if I am detained again it’s the same thing, you know, they take your passport, they take your devices, they put you in a room, they go away, sometimes they come back in a little while, they take however long they want, you’re kind of the mercy at the one or two people who happen to be on shift at that moment. So, don’t even start asking, so did you tape it? NO! I am too fucking scared, I’m not taping shit. I don’t want to get in trouble for like trying like Dateline them, you know?

JF: So, is this call being monitored by the FBI?

KG: They told me that during my two months that my calls were being monitored and so, you want to know my new fantasy? They revealed today that Michael Cohen was wearing a wire so, maybe someone finds out that when my Trump scandal photo dropped on May 30, and on May 31 is when Trump personally tweeted about it and turned my world upside down, what if there’s a record of a fucking call from Sessions to Harvey Levin (TMZ) or some shit like that? Like that would be cool … I think I am accusing the Deep State of actually existing … wait, wait, I don’t believe in the Deep State, but, I also don’t put it past Donald Trump or John Baron or John Miller to put out the call. I don’t know if you remember, a lot of Nixon shit came out, years later, but I have to admit that there’s a piece of me as a comic, because Jim Carrey called me that day, the day of the photo, when I was in a ball sobbing, and he said, “Kathy, you are the most famous comedian in the world today, use it.” And that very day I did start thinking, how can I turn all this fucked up pain, I mean my mom got death threats at her retirement village, you know, shit like that, you know, how can I turn this into funny shit? And that’s one of those things that I have to say would absolutely crack me up, if somehow, years later, we find out,  that there’s some record of someone in Trump’s orbit personally calling you know like the Enquirer and saying let’s find a way to get Kathy Griffin or something.
JF: Yes, so we are the same age, we are within months of each other…
KG: Do you remember how many people actually went to jail for Watergate?
JF: I remember seeing it all on TV when I was young.
KG: Me, too, oh my God, I loved watching those hearings. I met John Dean, I told him, he’s no longer married to Maureen Dean, but I told him, I said, if you don’t mind, when I was a child, my dream was to have hair like your wife, it was blonde and it was straight, and mine’s red and curly like Bozo, so of course I was jealous, and it was the funniest thing. I never thought I’d meet John Dean in my life, and he turns to me and he says “Well, I’m not with Maureen anymore, but you’d be amazed at how long it took her to do her hair like that everyday, because her hair, in fact, wasn’t blonde, or straight.” That’s not going to make the article right? Ok, fine, i just thought it was interesting.
JF: So, you cut all your hair off?
KG: Yes, my sister got cancer during all this, so, like I say, quite a year. Oh, by the way, I was also in a four day open court hearing  because ironically while my neighbors were Kim Kardashian West and Kayne Kardashian West on one side, on the other side, and you can look this up, it’s all public record, there’s a guy who’s the CEO of a company called KB Homes, there like a tract house development company, he would stand at my wall, like the guy from Home Improvement, and he would yell, after the Trump photo, “Trump put the heat on you fuckin’ bald dike, talk shit, you fuckin’ cunt.” And there’s a tape of it, you can look it up online, that’s what security cameras happen to catch. So yeah, two days after my sister died, and I had shaved my head, because Trump put the heat on me I’m a fucking cunt, bald dike, and of course I’m not going to like shout back at him but yeah. So, during all this my sister got cancer, and I thought, alright, I’m kind of like undercover in a way. I wasn’t going out much very much, obviously, I still don’t, but I’m going to try to make her laugh. So, I shaved my head, I drove to where she was at the moment, and she really, really laughed, and so it’s finally growing back now, but that’s the reason that I did it. My sister didn’t make it I am sorry to say.
JF: I’m sorry to hear that, I didn’t know that…
KG: But, I’m glad that I did it ’cause while she saw it she would always get a kick out it, it was worth it, it grows back.
JF: Someone told me that women cut their hair when some huge change in their life is going on or coming.
KG: I know, because even then I had people in the Hollywood community they were so vicious, they’re like, you shouldn’t have done that, people are going to think you’ve lost it like Britney Spears, and I go I’m really not thinking about that right now, I really don’t care, like, I’m going to go see my sister in hospice, and I don’t really care about that, but whatever, you know? So it’s odd for me today when, like, I actually did the Wendy Williams show yesterday, and I like Wendy, she’s a hard working girl, she’s been doing radio, TV, whatever, and she was saying that stuff like everyone thought that you lost your mind, and I was like, AWKWARD! So, I’m trying to figure a way to say it in a very light way that I shaved my head in solidarity for my sister, and she was like, how’s she doing and I’m like, didn’t make it, anyway, so yeah. I do touch on that a little in my show to sort of give context, but I’m not there to like bring the audience down, so once again, I just want to make sure your folks know that it’s not a two hour lecture, they’re going to laugh their heads off. So, I finally decided, screw Cambridge Analytica, I finally decided to start my own mailing list four months ago, can you believe it?
JF: Yes, I signed up for it!
KG: After decades of touring I have a mailing list that you can sign up from my website and honestly that’s how I’ve been really selling tickets, so like I can’t really blanket advertise in certain cities because I don’t know who in that city, I don’t know if Bostonians think that that I am in fucking ISIS, I mean people thought I was in ISIS, and so, if not they were people who thought that I’m supposed to be in jail because they think that I actually did break the law, so, umm, so believe it or not my little mailing list and my little text list is getting me the people that know a little harmless, waif-like, because my hair is so short, little redhead with a very big mouth.
JF: Did your boyfriend stick with you through all of this?
KG: Yes, he absolutely did! He’s 18 years my junior, take that, gay community, that’s why I’m your queen, dammit! I also talk about in my show that I don’t like it when the younger gays want to call me a fruit fly, and I feel that at my age I would rather stick with the term hag, and some women may not like it but dammit I feel I’ve earned it! So my activism goes on, and yeah, the boyfriend stuck with me. He’s also my tour manager. Don’t even start. I’m in no mood, John, don’t start. But here’s what you will like: I actually poached him from the LA Times, the first year that we dated he was working at the Times and I was touring so it was almost like a long distance relationship. So I poached him, so I want you know that I’m actually part of the problem, and I I personally think that it’s my fault that they changed their name to fucking Tronc or whatever it is. Hey, is your paper a real paper or is it one of those papers that Sinclair bought?
JF: No, no, it’s not.
KG: Don’t fall for it, John, don’t you do it!
JF: I would quit before I would write for them.
KG: I know this is like Inside Baseball, but you do know the LA Weekly was like the Bible for decades and some conservative single party bought it out and they fired the whole staff except one person and now it’s like basically a blog, which is probably going to become right wing, The LA Weekly, I know.
JF: So, will there be high security at your show?
KG: Yes, but I can’t tell you what kind, I can’t discuss the details, but it’s kind a kill list where they say you’re on a kill list but you can’t say what agency because it’s an active investigation, so yes, there is security.
JF: That’s good! That’s good! I just have a couple more questions, we’re running out of time…
KG: Can we just take a minute and acknowledge that that is now where we are as a country?
JF: Yeah, it’s disgusting, that it is that way.
KG: I don’t consider myself to be a primarily political comedian at all but I have been entered into the zeitgeist and yeah I now have to have security at my shows and in freaking Providence and Boston, it’s insane.
JF: It’s crazy! I mean if someone can shoot up a high school or elementary school then no one is really safe these days.
KG: Right, being a stand up comic isn’t supposed to be life threatening, you’re supposed to live on the edge verbally, but yeah, I know, I commend folks who come to my shows and I promise to give them one of a kind stories and I will tell you some other things that Jim Carrey said that was honestly inspiring. He said most comedians would give their right arm for this story, and I was like yeah, that’s true, like nothing else, the good, the bad, the ugly, you know, it’s definitely unique.
JF: So, who, I mean other comics, came out in support of you?
KG: God, not many, that’s been the hard thing. I always kind of make the point, it wasn’t like the Dixie Chicks where the left wing and the artistic community really threw their arms around them and put them on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and Time Magazine. I really lost everybody, left, right, and center. So, I had to just honestly hunker down, several celebrities supported me that don’t want me to say that they supported me, and I had famous people call me and literally just say that I can’t be associated with you anymore. I got many e-mails from famous people saying what were you thinking? And one thing that I talk about in the show is several people, this is the part that’s sort of funny, you know I actually called like five different crisis managers? Right? And even though I didn’t break the law, it offended people. I mean I’m a comic, every single one of them, the reason that I didn’t hire one is I was like fuck their advice, one of them told me that I had to go away for eight years and another one said five and another one said three. I’m sitting there negotiating with crisis managers, who have never met me and don’t know a thing about me, so I thought, let me just weather the storm the only way that I know how, get back to basics, and honestly pretty much from two days after the photo I just started writing. I wrote a pilot, I made a bunch of funny videos, I took some meetings, I would kill to do a series kind of like the Leah Remini Scientology series, like season one I tell my story and season two you talk about other people because you know, this is a new thing. Just everyday Americans being arrested like never before for protests and things like that and who is going to stand up for them with this administration and stuff like that? And I can insert the funny, no matter how, because I always say “funny first”, so, the way to get a message across I think is with comedy. At least that’s my choice, but things are different, you know, what I want to say is trust me, if you’ve come to see me before, I don’t care if you came to see me ten years ago, five years ago, or two years ago, you are going to see all new material, cause I’ve got a hell of a story to tell!
JF: Well, like I said I am totally with you.
KG: You have to, it’s a first amendment thing whether you like it or not. At the end of the day I got to stand by it, at first I wanted to distance myself from it because of the fall out but I came to realize pretty quickly I have to stand by it because it truly is a first amendment issue.
JF: I stood by you and I got in arguments with people about it because I was very supportive of that photograph because I believed that you had the right to do that. I believed that you could have your opinion about that, and I shared your opinion with that photograph because I would love to see a Game of Thrones ending to this mess.
KG: I am sure that you took some hits on your timeline for supporting me, every now and then you’ll see me post something on social media, just again I want to apologize to anyone who writes something supportive, you’re going to get a flood of, troll bots, so, thank you for being brave enough to even say anything. Thank you so much for being on the RIGHT side of history! Dammit! I hope that I was more gracious than Ivanka Trump would ever be.
JF: I am sure you were, are… anyway, thanks so much for your time and I enjoyed speaking with you again!
KG: Thank you, John, I’ll see you at Vets in June. Bye!

Kathy Griffin will be at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence on Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30pm as part of her “Laugh Your Head Off” world tour 2018. For more, Ned Stark over to thevetsri.com

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