By Michael Benninger
Fresh from ringing in the New Year with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and soon to be filling the shoes of her late friend and mentor Joan Rivers, ribald redhead Kathy Griffin will bring her brazen brand of comedy to Pala Casino on January 10. To get San Diegans fired up for the show, Griffin spoke to PacificSD about her late-night aspirations, sleeping with skanky dudes and being treated like a dog by Britney Spears.
PacificSD: Why should PacificSD readers come to your show?
Kathy Griffin: I have a crazy act that is imperfect and highly improvisational and will be based on whatever is happening up until I take the stage at 7:30. My act could be some tried-and-true material, but it could also be about something that happened at Pala at 7:10 p.m. that very night. We can talk about whatever the audience wants to talk about. The world is going to be our oyster. I just hope everyone shows up with an open mind. And, for God’s sake, leave the kids at home. This is not Blue Man Group.
What do you like best about performing in San Diego?
I like very good Mexican food, and I find that what makes Mexican food really good is when it’s prepared by genuine Mexicans. So, the geography is very much in your favor. I like the water, of course, and it’s always nice to pass a wildfire. There’s a nice mix in San Diego of folks who obviously want the Southern California-lifestyle, which means very shallow, and yet they don’t want to be like Los Angeles and be that shallow. So I am happy to bring my shallow, bottom-feeder style of humor to San Diego.
Do you have goals that you’re still striving for?
Women are so behind in show business that it’s ridiculous, so whenever I can make an accomplishment as a woman, that’s my Number One goal. That’s why it’s important to me to be only the third woman in history to win a Grammy for Best Comedy Album. I would like to sort of follow in the footsteps of my pal Joan Rivers, because she really was a feminist, whether she identified as one or not. She broke down so many barriers for me and all the other girls.
What’s your dream gig?
Hosting a late-night talk show, but the guys have it all tied up. And it’s shocking to me that no one notices that, not since 1988 with The Joan Rivers Show, has a woman had a nightly, network, late-night talker. That’s the last time it happened. There are women in daytime, and women in cable, and Comedy Central is now going to have Minority Report, and Andy Cohen is obviously a really gay man on Watch What Happens Live, but the group that’s underrepresented in late-night is women. Just plain ol’ women. The white guys have it all pretty much locked up, and that’s something that I think should change. The opportunity isn’t here now, but I will wait it out, because I will wait you out like nobody. It’s going to be Cher, the cockroaches and me after the apocalypse.
What are you working on now?
I just, as the kids say, dropped my latest CD, which is called, and I’m very proud of the title, Kathy Griffin: Look at My Buttcrack, and is available wherever you can buy anything.
Which celebrities do you find the most fascinating?
I’m certainly fascinated by Bruce Jenner, because that is a show where we’re supposed to be fascinated by all those other numbnuts. But, in fact, in my opinion, Bruce has emerged as the most interesting character all of a sudden, and whether or not he is transitioning is very interesting to me. He kind of started as the feckless stepdad and former decathlete who was on the cover of the Wheaties box, and now I don’t know what he’s going to be on the cover of. Harper’s Bazaar, hopefully. So I’m a fan of that situation. And then, of course, I’m always fascinated by whatever Tea Party nut-job is chairing a committee or has any kind of power. I’m always fascinated to hear what the climate-change deniers and whatever politician is saying, ‘Well, I can’t possibly be responsible for knowing about climate change. I’m not a scientist.’ To which I would say, ‘Well, look, I don’t have a penis but I know how to jerk-off a guy.’ Right? I mean, I wouldn’t say that to a high-ranking member of the Armed Services Committee... Also, I recently did a cameo in Britney Spears’ Las Vegas Show - you can see it online - and I’m fascinated by her. I’ve known her since she was sixteen; I don’t know her well, but when I saw her in Vegas, I got to participate in this song she does called “Freak Show.” I just couldn’t stop looking at her. Her eyes were like pinwheels, and I’m not sure how aware she was of where she was, but I was just happy to be in the room with her. And she put a dog collar on me and walked me around like a dog on stage for a minute, and it was just the most fun you can have. People like that are fascinating because she does the songs, and the songs are catchy, and I don’t think she sings them, but it’s kinda fun to watch her dance around. But it was really fun to be up there with her, because she’s functional. And someone like her, we’re just happy if she’s functional.
You look incredible in the photos from your recent nude shoot with Tyler Shields. Any secrets for staying in shape?
I loved that photo-shoot. As a matter of fact, I think people should be nude as often as possible. My home is a nudist colony. I’m not wearing pants now, and I’m not going to put them on for this interview. There’s a chance I might be nude on stage at Pala, but I’m going to bet against it. I’m trying to get some inhibitions, but I don’t have any. I hear it’s good to have a couple. So, I do workout a lot and I do it because, if I don’t, I will have a mental breakdown sooner than later. But I’m also vain. I would like to have like a teeny bit of bulimia. Not a lot, but like weekend bulimia. I would like to eat more but I can’t because I’m in television. And, I know it’s a serious disorder, but can I just get like a trace of an eating disorder, where no one gets hurt? I haven’t figured out the science yet, but in the meantime I have to just do it the old-fashioned way. I actually do watch what I eat and workout. And I do whatever drug is popular with the kids now. Like, what do the kids do? MMA? Is that a drug or is it a sport? Let’s just say I do that because it sounds like a sport and it keeps me fit.
Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?
I’m going to stick with my usual New Year’s Resolution, which is to try and get Anderson Cooper fired once and for all. Every year, I really give it the college try and I try to set him up to say something live on CNN, globally, that will get him fired or banned from all TV. A fatwa on his head would be good. Just anything to just take him down, because he’s a very, very, high and mighty model who does the news, and one of these days I will be the victor. Other than that, I guess my resolution would be to eat more carbs and swear more.
You had a long, close relationship with Joan Rivers, and will soon be taking over for her as host of E!'s Fashion Police. Can you share one funny memory of Ms. Rivers that you’ll never forget?
There are so many. She always gave me such good advice. We always laughed the whole way, no matter what adversity she was going through. Typically, I would tell her something embarrassing that I had done, like, if I would confess to her that like I slept with some skanky guy or something. I would tell her, ‘Oh, God, I can’t believe I’m still doing this, Joan. I’m too old; I should know better. And I don’t know who I can tell this stuff to except you, but I slept with this really skanky guy last night and I regret it.’ And she would just look up and say, ‘Isn’t it fabulous?’
KATHY GRIFFIN: January 10 @ Pala Casino, palacasino.com
Count on It
Kathy Griffin, by the Numbers
1 - Spot that Kathy Griffin’s book, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list
2 - Outstanding Reality Show Emmys Griffin won for My Life on the D-List
23 - Number of Griffin’s televised stand-up specials
378 - Griffin’s age, in dog years
2014 - The year Griffin won a Grammy for her comedy album Calm Down Gurrl