Before her seventh gig in Clearwater, comic Kathy Griffin dishes on new talk show and disappointing Anderson Cooper
If you know Kathy Griffin at all, you knew it couldn't last.
Her Bravo talk show Kathy kicked off with an inspired, "no celebrities" rule, shoehorning the hyperkinetic pop culture queen next to regular people who talk about other celebrities. But then some of her big name pals found out about it.
"They started calling me," protested Griffin, who admitted future shows will feature Anderson Cooper, fellow in-your-face comics Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler, along with film star Jane Fonda and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. "At first I kept saying no. Sharon Osbourne said, 'I can tell you that Simon Cowell has a small penis.' OK, you can come on the show."
Watch an episode of Kathy, and you get the sense that's exactly how this program comes together, unfolding with the jagged, attention-deficited energy of a Real Housewives fan after downing a case of Red Bull.
Kathy stitches together segments from the 51-year-old comic's previous showbiz lives like a televised Frankenstein monster, opening with a bit of standup comedy, moving on to conversation with friends and relatives once featured in her My Life on the D-List series and featuring interview panels with self-proclaimed "Bridezillas" or hunky Chicago firemen seemingly grabbed off the street.
Before her seventh appearance in Clearwater on Friday, Griffin spent a few minutes chatting about why she's trying to break into TV's Zooey Deschanel Mafia and why her mom swoons over Petri Hawkins-Byrd, the bailiff on syndicated court show Judge Judy.
Griffin: This show is so off-the-cuff that, you know, we do a segment with my 91-year-old alcoholic mom, Maggie, and then some weeks she shows up and she’ll just say, I don’t want to do the last segment. I just wanna tape it first. And we just have to do it because she’s a diva and she’ll just run off the set.
Deggans: Can't you just withhold her box of wine until the end of the show?
No, she drinks more on show days because she knows I'm going to make fun of her. And then last night … you're not going to believe this, but we actually had … do you know this guy Byrd from Judge Judy?
Well, apparently you're not 91 because he's the bailiff on Judge Judy. So he just showed up to our taping and my mother was crying like in those pictures like, you know, when you see Help or A Hard Day's Night, the girls are sobbing? My mother lost it because Byrd, the bailiff from Judge Judy, came to a taping and she held his hand … that is her Brangelina.
How did you get the idea to do this show this way?
Well, you know, after doing My Life On the D-List for six seasons, Bravo came to me and they said, 'What if you did a show that had a little element of the D-List and then a little standup?' I really learned how to talk to everybody on the D-List, from Bette Midler to my mom to strangers on the street.
So did your celebrity friends get upset you wouldn't have them on your show?
Anderson called me and he said, 'I'm going to be in L.A. Why can't I just be on your show?' And I said, no, I don't trust you. You're going to be too protective of the news. And then he was hurt and insulted, and then texted me and said, 'Are you mad at me?' So I was like, okay. And then I ran into Chelsea Handler at Whitney Cummings' house and she said, 'I'll be on your show.'
Wait. You were at Whitney Cummings house?
There's a girl mafia that I'm trying to crack.
Shouldn't you be leading that posse?
My posse is like Suzanne Somers, Jackie Collins…that's my posse. So I found out that those girls actually are in some sort of Zooey Deschanel mafia. I actually volunteered to host the next party at my house.
I actually asked my readers to provide questions on my Facebook page, so I’m gonna run one or two by you. The first one was about the military tours that you do and they were wondering if you’ve done any since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has come down and if you can see any sort of difference. Are people feeling better?
Absolutely. First of all, you know, I went to Afghanistan, I went to Kuwait, I went to Iraq, I went to Uzbekistan, I went to Walter Reed Medical Center and now what I do is, every single show that I do, I work with a really good organization called Vet Pics. So every show that I do, veterans can come to the show for free and I meet them before every single show and it’s a great organization because instead of me just randomly like handing out tickets at a base, it’s a website where they can go and they can choose the artist they actually wanna go see. So whether it’s me or a country singer, so that is the best way for me to sort of bring the laughter to the vets.
And I have seen a difference in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It really is a generational thing. I have gone to hearings on the hill in Washington, D.C. I’ve heard the generals who are very, very old talk to the generals who are younger, and of course the younger … as you saw Colin Powell just say yesterday he doesn’t see any reason there shouldn’t be gay marriage. Colin Powell is for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It finally happened. In my experience and in my conversations, the younger men and women in the military, it isn’t even an issue to them. So I’m glad it was finally repealed and I do think that the military is a culture and it will take time and it will take patience, not unlike the women’s movement. It’s not going as fast as I would like but there is movement forward, so I’m always proud to work with the military because ,you know, who needs to laugh more than somebody that’s come back from a war zone?
And one other question. They were wondering if you’re still dating the Old Spice guy (Isaiah Mustafa).
I’m not still dating the Old Spice guy but, you know, I think he should be the next … I think he should be the first black bachelor. I did a bunch of interviews and I can’t believe nobody picked it up because … remember when that scandal came out, when they said there hasn’t been a black bachelor and it was in the news, and I happened to be doing interviews that day for the Kathy Show, and I did about 20 interviews. And in every single one, I said, I think that guy would be great. I think he’d be perfect. By the way, I don’t even know if he’s like seeing anybody now, but I’m just saying I just sort of have a dream that he’s the first black bachelor. I think it would be a huge hit.