Well, “her gays” were out in force Friday night when Kathy Griffin performed to a sold out house at the Orpheum Theatre. And she did not disappoint. This was one of her campiest, bitchiest shows ever. Her straights were there as well. In fact, I was a bit surprised at the diversity of the demographic. There were the expected twenty- and thirty-somethings, but there seemed to be an amazing number of affluent fifty-something couples as well.
She took the stage like a major rock star, to a standing ovation and deafening cheers. This was an audience that was primed. She had had the audacity—and good sense—to serve as her own warm-up act. The evening began with ten to fifteen minutes of video clips of her appearance on sitcoms (Seinfeld) and in movies (Beethoven’s 5th), as well as on talk shows and, of course, her reality show, My Life on the D-List.
I came to the event a little concerned. I loved her routines Straight to Hell and Strong Black Woman, which make frequent appearances on Bravo. I was afraid she was going to rehash a lot of familiar material. But I underestimated Griffin’s fertile, twisted imagination. This was a totally new show.
And it was a completely current one. She started out talking about the vice presidential debate of the night before, reveling in the mockery of “vice president Tina Fey.” She skewered Sarah Palin’s hypocrisy, but, as might be expected, was less interested in politics than in celebrity, focusing on pregnant daughter Bristol. (“What’s with those names?” she asked. “Bristol? Track? Willow? Who does she think she is? A movie star like Gwyneth Paltrow?” [who named her daughter Apple]). Griffin made much of Palin’s Katie Couric interview when the woman could not name a single newspaper or magazine that she’d read. Griffin made even more of Bristol's redneck boyfriend’s profanity-filled My Space page—where he insisted that he didn’t want kids…
(She basically steered clear of attacking Obama, confessing that she didn’t find much about him that was funny. She professed real admiration for Michelle Obama, who she dubbed “Blackie O.”)
Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton were frequent targets, though those barbs are starting to get tired, as are her continual putdowns of Barbara Walters and The View. She commented on Clay Aikin’s coming out on the cover of People magazine (“such a shock”), but her riff on the supposedly-dottering old Larry King verged on the nasty.
She tried to focus much of mockery on the Emmys, where she was an ubiquitous presence. She won her second award at what she called the “Schmemmys,” the Creative Arts Awards, (when she announced that, she raised both hands and gave the world the fingers) and she presented at the Prime Time Emmys.
But she was especially wired last night and her monologue was more than usually stream of consciousness. She was all over the map. Sometimes, with all her digressions, she would be in the middle of three stories at once. But to her credit, she always got back to them and made each story pay off. That is the sign of a true master.
She made much of Oprah’s showing up at the Emmys with her “friend” Gayle and found the Desperate Housewives to be “really not nice. They got jaded real fast.” To Terry Hatcher’s insistence that she had never had any plastic surgery, Griffin retorted, “What? You just woke up Korean?”
The one moment when she drew in the fangs was when talking about presenting with Don Rickles. She did an homage to the eighty-two-year old comedian that was sweet and touching, yet tart and funny at the same time.
As usual, her best target is her mother. She is at her funniest when imitating the potty-mouthed eighty-eight-year old and her boxes of wine. “Bottles are for rich people,” she quotes her mom as saying. And Mom rejected any kind of caregiver with, “The last thing I need is a Polack going through my underwear drawer.” It started to become clear where Griffin gets it…
At one point, I began to notice that her targets were primarily women. When talking about California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, she saved her choicest barbs for wife Maria Schreiber. When excoriating the awful five Emmy cohosts, it was Heidi Klum whom she singled out. It began to feel a little misogynistic. But maybe I’m reading too much into that. It may simply be a case or ridiculing what you know…
I’m not sure that I would find her very amusing up close and personal. Her encounter with “nemesis” Ryan Seacrest at a restaurant was cringe-worthy. Talk about a lack of boundaries. But from the distance of the stage, she remains one of my favorite people to spend time with.