“Where do we begin?” Kathy Griffin wonders aloud via phone interview, fresh off a Grammy win, though she wasn’t referring to the series of questions about to follow – she wanted to know how to even scratch the surface of the habits of one of her favorite celebrity punching bags, Justin Bieber.
And that would be just the beginning, as Griffin rattled on in her signature quick-witted musings about the likes of Rob Ford (“I am obsessed with him.”), the Grammy awards (“[Madonna] was wearing a grill like Flava Flav.”), and even the state of the very city she will visit on April 17 at the F.M. Kirby Center (“I will wear a Kevlar vest, and maybe even a helmet like those kids from Daft Punk,” she said upon hearing about last year’s homicide rate in Wilkes-Barre).
And though the fiery redhead is known for her jabs at the elite, it’s clear she’s a good-natured gal who, at the root of it all, is trying to make a name not only for herself, but her female counterparts in the comedic world.
It becomes most apparent when the subject of the aforementioned Grammy comes up, for which she won Best Comedy Album for “Calm Down Gurrl.”
“I’m the first woman to win since 1986,” she said excitedly, “and I, of course, was nominated six years in a row – that’s also a record.”
Smashing records seems to be Griffin’s gig as of late, just more steps in her crusade to show that, yes, women are funny.
During a live stand-up performance in San Antonio, Texas in 2013, Guinness World Records honored Griffin for logging the most televised stand-up specials by any comedian, male or female.
“This is really why I did it, honestly,” she begins, “because I love stand-up more than anything, of course, but my whole career I’ve been hearing this, ‘Chicks aren’t funny,’ thing. There hasn’t been a female host in nightly network late night since my friend Joan Rivers, so I just do whatever I can as a female comedian to debunk this sort of myth that chicks aren’t funny. Winning the Grammy was very meaningful because a woman hasn’t won it in so long, and getting inducted [into the Guinness Book] was meaningful to me as a woman, so I’m on my little feminist mission here.”
She doesn’t limit her repertoire to stand-up gigs: Griffin is also an Emmy award winner for “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” a New York Times bestselling author with “Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin,” and is also 2009’s GLAAD Vanguard recipient, the 2011 Trevor Project Life Award honoree, and IAVA’s 2013 Leadership in Entertainment Honoree.
For all the versatility she shows and all the good she’s done (she’s a huge advocate of LGBT rights), it comes down to really one thing: shattering the bulb that shines the spotlight on those high up in societal ranking.
“I kind of enjoy his delusional, ‘I stand by it,’ policy, even in light of the fact that he has admitted doing crack,” she said of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. “I don’t mean to be pro-crack because I’ve never had any, but in Rob Ford’s case it almost seems to be like a truth serum. Maybe we don’t know that Rob Ford is on the cutting edge of some sort of new form of truth serum. There’s a lot of TV shows that deal with life in the future, and maybe Rob Ford is like a superhero who, in futures to come, might be portrayed as someone who’s made medical breakthroughs, because I don’t know how the f—k he’s still alive.”
She even parlays interests of her own into vehicles for skewering fellow celebs. She recently tweeted about her love for AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and talked about how she views the show.
“I think with ‘The Walking Dead’ you watch it and insert your own circle of friends and of course, inevitably, you have to think about who you would put a sword through” she said, “and I feel terrible about saying this, but every time I watch it I think for me that would be Ryan Seacrest or Oprah because I know they’re walkers, and no one believes me.”
She also likes to make it a point to familiarize herself with the area to which she’s coming and, don’t you worry, she definitely knows what’s up in Wilkes-Barre.
“I’m very excited about the name alone, ‘Kids for Cash,’” Griffin said of the court-based scandal that rocked Northeastern Pennsylvania years ago and was the subject of a recent documentary. “I mean, I’ve been doing that for years; I did not know it was illegal. But I will be doing it in Pennsylvania because you people are super into it.”