March was a month in which comedian Kathy Griffin generated a lot of headlines.
“I say things I regret constantly, and I just can’t help it,” she says.
This time, it was over her departure from the E! Network series Fashion Police, where she had been brought in to replace the late Joan Rivers: “Kathy Griffin Describes Her ‘Fashion Police’ Experience as a ‘Dog Pile,’” “Kathy Griffin: Secretly Fired From ‘Fashion Police’?” and “Kathy Griffin Turns in Her ‘Fashion Police’ Badge.”
Asked about it, the Emmy Award-winning comedian (she won two for her Bravo reality program, My Life on the D List) advises us to read her social media posts.
“Luckily, inquiring minds can read my admittedly lengthy and somewhat self-righteous and yet earnest statement on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts,” Griffin writes.
“Here’s the real inside scoop: I’m the type of gal that is not afraid to reach out for help and acknowledge when I may be in over my head,” she says. “So, because I have never quit a job in my life, and wanted to sound like I had half a brain, I, in fact, reached out.”
Having taken the advice, Griffin will no doubt address the issue when she appears April 24 in a night of stand-up at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
“Kathy Griffin is one of the pre-eminent female comics of our time,” says Suzy Yengo, CEO of the renowned New York City comedy Club Catch a Rising Star.
Yengo saw Griffin early in her career, and liked what she saw.
“She was fresh and edgy, an interesting-looking woman with strong features. She can be extremely spontaneous on stage and she could handle an unruly crowd like the best of them,” Yengo says.
Always funny and always polarizing, Griffin has as many fans as non-fans.
Griffin, 55, was born in Chicago, and moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. After studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, she joined the improvisational comedy troupe The Groundlings.
In 1996, Griffin landed a role on the TV sitcom Suddenly Susan, which starred Brooke Shields and Griffin as restaurant critic Vicki Groener. To this day, goofing on the show and her co-star has given her fodder for much of her stand-up material.
Naturally funny and a class clown when younger, Griffin pushes the boundaries on sexuality, religion and other celebrities. She jokes, “I am and have always been hilarious.”
“My mother says I was the funniest fetus she has ever had in her stomach,” Griffin says. “Now, she may have been a little tipsy on boxed wine when she told me that story, but darn it, I’m sticking with it.
“I was absolutely the class clown, although in those days, the Catholic nuns did not use such a lovely term when writing furious notes to my mom and dad about my lost potential due to the fact that I was spending so much time trying to make the class laugh,” she says.
“Because of this, I am now seriously considering joining the Church of Scientology. I hear they need some new blood,” Griffin wrote.
New York comedian Will Watkins, a former comedy teacher and stand-up comic at the Improv Comedy Club in West Palm Beach, says Griffin “has an abrasive style of humor, and while it is not everyone’s cup of tea, she has parlayed it into a career.”
“As Joan Rivers and her style of comedy paved the way for Griffin, Griffin paved the way for a younger generation of women comedians such as Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings,” Watkins says.
“She created a niche for herself,” he says.
That niche is going strong. Griffin is contemplating an offer to join The View, and will undoubtedly continue her New Year’s Eve romps with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and star in more Bravolebrity specials.
Her autobiography, A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, topped the New York Times best-sellers list in 2009 and last year, Griffin became the third woman after Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg to win a Grammy for Best Comedy Album (Calm Down Gurrl).
Will she ever return to TV in a more traditional sitcom role?
She says, “I assume you are well aware of my 4-year turn as Brooke Shields’ best friend in the late ‘90s sitcom, ‘Suddenly Susan.’ How I could ever top the camping episode of that series is beyond me, but dammit, I will try,” she says.
“I would love to do a sitcom where I can play an offensive, funny, multi-dimensional, inappropriate, and memorable character,” Griffin says. “Until then, I’m happy to play a random walker on ‘The Walking Dead.’”
Critics have said the Fashion Police turmoil was a byproduct of the tragic sudden death of host Joan Rivers, whom Griffin had been brought in to replace. Griffin says she learned a lot about tenacity from her elder colleague.
“Joan lived by the basics and a lot of struggle,” says Griffin. “She taught me to stick with it as long as you love it and are having fun; be prepared to take the heat when you go too far, and laugh at EVERYTHING.”
Kathy Griffin will appear at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20-39 for mezzanine and balcony seats, $59 for loge and grand tier and $59-100 for orchestra. For more information, please visit kravis.org or call the box office at 832-7469.