“Let me just cut to the chase: My show is going to be epic. It’s not for the faint of heart,” said comedian Kathy Griffin. “In other words, there’s going to be a lot of cursing. I’m going to make fun of the Precedent. I call him the Precedent because in his tweets, he spells ‘president’ wrong.” In a whirlwind of wit and riffing, Griffin, who got her break in TV as a cast member of Suddenly Susan and then became a household name with My Life on the D List, held me entranced for the entirety of our 19-minute phone interview. I had planned to ask probing questions about women in comedy and the state of the U.S., for example, but once she was on the line, my journalistic skills went out the window as I was quickly reduced to a giddy fan girl enraptured by her amiable, unpretentious charm and quick mind. The following are a few of the topics bandied about:
On having her dog and 96-year-old mother as a presidential ticket: [My dog’s] running mate was going to be my 96-year-old, alcoholic, box-wine-drinking mother, Maggie. She actually is rooted more in reality than the Cheeto. Even though she might drink a little too much, but my feeling is, fuck it. At 96 … I feel she’ll be more popular … I’m thinking that either an Oprah-Suze Orman ticket, or my mother and my dog, are vast improvements.
On Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt: On New Year’s Eve … I was with my beloved Anderson Cooper. He’s no Gloria Vanderbilt, but he’ll do in a pinch. He knows it. I told him right to his face. I said, “You’ll never be your mother,” and he just goes, “I know.” … They had to do that documentary to show the world that no matter how gorgeous he is, or how blue his eyes are, damn it … he’ll never be Glo-Vandy. I call [her] Glo-Vandy ’cause I roll like that. I do. I’ve been to her studio. I’ve heard her talk about how she had sex with Brando in a cloakroom … That’s my kind of gal.
On her involvement with the LGBTQ community and audiences in the South: Believe it or not, sometimes when I go to these areas, the audience are almost more liberal and excited. I call it “the gays and ladies who have made the drive.” … Literally, busloads of either ladies who ditch the husband or gay guys … I’ve also done shows in my beloved South where I’ve met couples backstage — a man and a woman couple, and I’m a little surprised when the man introduces me to a female as his spouse … I’ve just noticed that that’s something that gives me joy. To think that I’m going to come to your town, and perhaps you’re a gentleman who is not ready to be out at this moment. You have a wife, who you clearly haven’t touched in 10 years, and she’s put some weight on, with three adorable children. But you, yourself, the husband, are very, very fit and you love Kathy Griffin. I don’t judge. I just say, “I’m glad you made it, y’all,” and we take a picture, and everybody gets a hug … Later they go home, and they put on Cher and Gaga’s duet; it’s a whole thing.
On hanging with Cher: I actually got a very nice text from her the other day. She’s discovered emojis … She tweets like an 11-year-old. Her emoji for Trump is just a toilet. She refuses to say Trump; she just calls him “toilet.” … She’s fearless. We campaigned for Hillary together … Believe it or not, Cher still gets nervous … I decided to go up to Secretary Clinton in a very big rally backstage and go, “Hey, my friend Cher is here, but she’s nervous. Can you go calm her down?” Hillary goes, “Really? She still gets nervous?” I go, “Yeah, even with the Oscar — you know how the divas are. They still get nervous … Go talk to her.” She’s like, “Okay,” and Hillary Clinton put her cup down — she had a glass of water. It was like the cutest thing. I see her just go into Cher’s room, come out five minutes later. I go into Cher’s room, and she’s on cloud nine. It was so cool … Then, they ran into each other one more time in the hall, and Secretary Clinton says, “My Oscar winner,” and then Cher goes, “My president.”
On proof she’s still on the D-list: I was doing a book-signing where people were waiting in line … This was on the East Coast. They stood in line for, let’s say, an hour. The guy finally gets to me, and he couldn’t have been nicer. I swear this is true. I’m signing the book, and he’s saying these things that are just lovely. “I’ve just always loved you. I’ve been watching you since I was 4.” I was like, “Okay,” a big smile on my face, and I’m just thinking, “Oh.” Then he goes, “And that chemistry you had with Regis.” I swear to god, I had a line of people, and I just wrote “#blessings, Kathie Lee,” and I gave him the book … If this guy wants me to be Kathie Lee, I am happy to just say “blessings, Kathie Lee.” … I was happy to sell any books to Reba fans or Kathie Lee fans or Carrot Top.
On the Taylor Swift squad: The squad is still not a fan. I’m a little bit in with Gomez, because I’ve known Selena since she was 14, but I’m not in the squad. Although, I’m trying to get a new squad going: myself, the folk singer Judy Collins, the iconic model Beverly Johnson, and Courtney fuckin’ Love. When we are at the Grammys together, we were all in a cluster at the Grammys … While I was standing there with those three, I just turned to them and I said, “Courtney, Judy, Beverly” … By the way, they don’t know each other. I went, “I think that we should be the new Taylor Swift squad. I think we should have meetings, and occasionally we might have to bang the same guy, eat somebody up.” All four of them were in.
On her current tour: Every show is highly improvisational … I can’t even say what’s going to be in the act. I can tell you it’s all new, like I had an epic Thanksgiving dinner at Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas’s apartment that was epic. It was just amazing. The boyfriend and I ended up giving Gloria Steinem a ride home in an Uber. There’s a lot to that story; hopefully I’ll be telling that one that night. Like I said, every day I turn on the news or I personally go to something like a Grammy party, and I run into Lorde, who still doesn’t find me one bit amusing … I know that you can go see any comic and you can hear knock-knock jokes, but you come see me and you’re going to hear about the time that Donald Trump drove Liza Minnelli and I around in a golf cart. I mean, come on: Liza, not quite knowing what’s going on, and by the way, she doesn’t have to. Then, The Donald, who wants you to call him The Donald, which is weird. And me, on a golf course. That’s my idea of hell. That’s my Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit: me, a guy who doesn’t want to fuck me, and a golf course … I have so much new material. I’m so excited. I’m loving this tour. Every show’s different; every city is different. I love it.
411: Kathy Griffin performs Saturday, April 1, at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.). Call (805) 899-2222 or see www.granadasb.org.