"Do you have something to record on?" the publicist asked before our interview with Kathy Griffin started. Yeah, that should've been a warning.
From the minute we spoke to the proudly shameless, polarizing comedienne, reality-show star, talk-show host and self-proclaimed "D-lister," we knew this was going to be a hazy, fast-paced and entertaining experience. Even when she's on the phone discussing her performance this Thursday at Durham Performing Arts Center (which is also associated with this year's North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival at the Carolina Theatre), Griffin is, for lack of a better word, on.
Still snarky, catty and manicured-fingernail-sharp at 51, Griffin was all over the place during our brief chat.
INDEPENDENT: How are you this fine day?
KATHY GRIFFIN: I am very much looking forward to coming to Durham and shaking things up a little bit.
Wow, you appear to be in a very spirited mood about this.
I'm always in chill mode, Craig.
Well, you're performing at DPAC, but it's tied into the N.C. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. I don't know if it was a coincidence or this is how it was planned out.
I would not call that a coincidence, Craig. I would say when you think "gay and lesbian film festival," my name probably pops up. They probably talk about me, Joan Rivers, Margaret Cho, the usual suspects.
I gotta say, not to "wax your car" or anything, but this does seem like a step up –
Don't be waxing my car, Craig! I have psoriasis. You can actually take some skin off. And I wanna be clear—that's the only thing I share with Kim Kardashian.
Other than that, she and I have different ideas and different outlooks on life. Alright, go ahead, Craig. Sorry.
Well, first of all, I didn't know about the Kim Kardashian/ psoriasis thing. So, that's new. Secondly, your performing is kind of a step up from who they usually have perform at the festival. In previous years, they've had people like Tab Hunter and Bruce Vilanch. So, having somebody come down who is kind of relevant does seem like a vast improvement.
Well, I'm really relevant. I just have a new Emmy nomination, Craig [for her comedy special, Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker].
Now, I don't mean to "wax your car," but if you think "I don't mean to wax your car" isn't in my act, you are sorely mistaken.
That's definitely the opener. I assume that's some sort of a Durham expression that the entire town will know.
Craig, I thought you were giving me the hot, inside-Durham scoop!
"Hot, inside-Durham scoop?" First of all, I live in Raleigh!
Oh, I'm sorry! Big difference, Craig! Big difference! First of all, I've played Durham before. I love playing the South. I have found that when I play the South, even though that I am a "blue" person working in a "red" state, I find that, often, the audiences are even more enthusiastic in the South. Because let's cut the crap—people that come to see my show that night in Durham probably are not the people that are trying to eat at Chick-fil-A more than ever. They're probably not the people that are protesting against gay marriage or equal rights in any way. So, I'm not gonna say I'm preaching to the choir. I'm thinking that if you're someone like myself, who enjoys offending people by using—how shall I say—colorful language, if you're someone that does not walk around with a Bible all day, this is a show for you. I do not mean to "wax your car," Craig.
Actually, I stole that from Paul Thomas Anderson off the Boogie Nights DVD commentary. So, if you need a reference point, that was a term he used to butter people up and everything. I am glad to talk to you because we do share something in common, as you just said. We both like to say wildly inappropriate things. But, as opposed to you, where you get lots of money and fans and TV shows on Bravo, I get banned from places and I can't see a lot of my friends because their girlfriends don't like me. So, it's nice that we can have this time together where we can just talk about certain things.
You have just described my demographic: People that need a place to bond and talk about who has banned them in their personal life. Lemme tell you—the reason people love it when I talk about being banned from The View by Barbara Walters is—don't kid yourself—everybody has a Barbara Walters in their life. Everybody has something like The View, some sort a hostile work environment [begins to chuckle] where they are banned because they said something that they thought was completely acceptable, and everyone thought was unacceptable. So, this is going to be a night where we can celebrate being unacceptable, saying unacceptable things and, you know, not go to jail for it.
[The publicist jumps in, saying there is time for one more question. "Really?" this reporter asks. The publicist says that it's been 10 minutes. Technically, it's been six, but whatever. Griffin adds, "I am an Emmy nominee, for God's sake! People are lining up in both Raleigh and Durham to talk to me!"]
Finally, there has been a lot of stuff that's been going on recently for you to mine material out of, with Frank Ocean and your pal Anderson Cooper coming out and the Chick-fil-A drama that you mentioned. Of course, you're coming to North Carolina and everybody knows how we feel about gay marriage. What can people expect when you come down to perform?
Well, lemme tell you, when this stuff happens—and you're right, this month alone has been a bonanza—I truly cannot hit the mike fast enough. Something's happened, like you said— anything from the Chick-fil-A protest and, then, the counter-protest and, then, the online protest and all that stuff. I mean, after a while, you have to just laugh at the idea that an extremely profitable corporation is acting like a victim in this scenario and feels they need help from very, very healthy—I mean, wealthy supporters. And, in an election year, I mean who knows what politician will have said what by the time I get to Durham. Who knows who will have sexted someone or, you know, who knows if Romney will have chosen his vice-presidential candidate. I am, of course, pulling for Sarah Palin, only for comedic purposes. Who knows who I will have offended. And, also, I love doing the local material. So, I'll be doing all my research and development on whatever I can on all things Raleigh-Durham. I will be making fun of you to your faces as well as making fun of everyone in Hollywood.
I try to keep it as personal as possible and, then, very much what I talk about is the water-cooler talk. What everybody is talking about, you know, in the backyard. What everybody is talking about around the water cooler, in the office. What everyone is talking about online. And, then, we'll get to whatever personal trials and tribulations are happening in your area and in my personal life. We have a lot of ground to cover. Pack a lunch.
This article appeared in print with the headline " Kathy Griffin will wax your car."