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Friday, December 30, 2011

Interview: Kathy Griffin

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Kathy Griffin
  • Kathy Griffin
Comedian Kathy Griffin, known for the Bravo reality show My Life on the D-List and from her many stand-up specials that air on the network (the most recent being Tired Hooker), comes to town Thursday, Jan. 5 for what will likely be a profanity-laden set filled with juicy Hollywood gossip, over-sharing anecdotes and merciless ridiculing of the various Kardashia. My full story on her appears in this Sunday's Gambit, but here's some bits from our conversation that didn't make it into the final story.

Have you spent time in New Orleans?
Yes, but not in a while. I love a beignet, and I’m prepared for my hair to start frizzing because of the humidity.

Do you have any funny stories from the last time you were here?
I just usually have some sort of stomach ailment because I overdo it with the delicious food. And I might accidentally hop into one of those old-timey funerals you see in every movie that’s ever taken place in New Orleans. You might see me with a trombone, hopping onto an old-timey funeral.

You're really liberal and include politics in your act. I'm wondering if you're disenchanted by Barack Obama like a lot of liberals are.
I’m not disenchanted by Obama. I stand by him. I think he’s very smart and he inherited an administration that was in the middle of many situations that I think a lot people would think are untenable. So no, I’m not one of those Democrats that’s going to cut and bait. He’s a very smart guy, he’s doing a great job and the country was left in dire straits — I have a long memory. I don’t see how anyone could think Obama created these problems. He’s trying to solve these problems.

You wrote an essay for the Hollywood Reporter about the scrutiny women face in the entertainment industry when it comes to to age and physical appearance. You said that sometimes, being a comic "alleviate(s) some of the pressure to stay young." With comedians like Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler who have a kind of goofy hot-girl thing going on becoming so popular now, do you think female comics will end up facing the same kind of scrutiny actresses face?
I would say that as a comedian, we kind of benefit from not being held to that standard, but of course comedians like Chelsea and Whitney who are so pretty are always — I’m not going to say be held to a different standard, but it’s part of their personality. It’s a part of what they bring to the table. Same with Sarah Silverman, who is hilariously funny and inappropriate and also was on the cover of Maxim. So I don’t know if we’re ever going to see anything more than we’ve seen change for the whole gender, but I would say that by and large hopefully when a comedian’s work is discussed, the way they look isn’t the first thing on the list. That’s definitely different than the males in my field. You have these great male comedians that are not lookers and no one says “Well this person isn’t very attractive but they’re very funny” — they just say they’re funny. But with female comedians, especially certain girls like Whitney Cummings, they’ll say “she’s beautiful and funny” or “she’s cute and funny.”

What comedians are you into right now?
You know, I’m not a comedy snob. I really like all kinds of comedians. I always love the female comedians because I love that sense of humor. There’s that old stigma about how women aren’t funny, and that’s just never been the case in my life. My mom and her friends and the women I grew up with and the women I hang out with are just so funny and make me laugh so hard. As far as comedians I’m into, I’m kind of into all of them. I definitely watch all the sitcoms and I watch stand-up specials. I can watch Katt Williams’ special a million times. I love all my contemporaries — Lisa Lampanelli, Whitney Cummings, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig. I met Melissa McCarthy last week. I love watching all these girls. They all crack me up.

In the first season of My Life on the D-List, you seemed to struggle a lot with body issues and diets. But now you often appear in very little clothing — most recently you posed topless for Out magazine. What changed?
Two things have changed. Number one: I stopped giving a shit. There was something about turning 50 that I couldn’t give a shit anymore. There’s something nice and liberating about realizing that stuff wasn’t as important as I thought it was. And also, concurrently, I did start eating better and working out more because my body just couldn’t take the overeating or the crappy food or the lack of exercise.

What really started it was unusual. I was doing an episode of My Life on the D-List with Paris Hilton, and we thought it would be funny if we walked through a super Hollywood hotel pool together. And I truly had not put on a bikini in I don’t know how many years. But I put it on as a joke and then Paris found out that I have a much hotter bikini body than she does. So I’ve barely been out of a bikini since then. I’m in a bikini right now.

Kathy Griffin performs 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Tickets are $60-$85 (plus fees) and are available here.

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