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Jun 27 2018
O Decapitation! My Decapitation!: The Bittersweet Art Of Kathy Griffin Comments (0)

DSC08139_newKathy Griffin, who forget to give a fuck (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Kathy Griffin's triumphant return to stand-up continued the DSC08171_new night after her Radio City Music Hall debut with a drop-dead funny set at Carnegie Hall in NYC Tuesday night.

Fitting, since the petite firebrand was opportunistically smeared as being a potential killer by her — our — political enemies, who didn't care that the trickle-down effect would be the lunkheaded Republican rank-and-file treating her like an actual murderer, not to mention a traitor and terrorist.

Griffin, whose set felt like a two-and-a-half gab session with your wittiest, most politically engaged fag hag (she rejects “fruit fly,” as will the poltically correct kids who already hate “fag hag” in a few years — wait for it), seems to have recovered nicely from the public shaming to which she was subjected by Trump and his flying-monkey minions, all over an image of Griffin holding a Trump mask covered in ketchup.

DSC08163_newGriffin called for Stormy Daniels to run in 2020, and referred to her lawyer Michael Avenatti as “zaddy.”

Jesus, when Roy Cohn went after the Rosenbergs, at least the stakes were higher. (I am imagining Mamie Gummer playing the ghost of Kathy Griffin taunting a rattled Donald Trump played by a freshly woke Barron in a far-future production entitled Angels in AmeriKKKa.)

Griffin bounded onto the stage in a royal-blue pussy-bow dress, looking fit and defiant, never pausing as she walked us all through her ordeal of being investigated for the alleged crime of plotting the assassination of President Trump (she was never charged, and made at least one investigator laugh by pointing out that the long presentation knife she owns was a gift for hosting a gay-porn awards show), and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend herself in the process.

Admitting her initial apology for the mask was ill-advised — and trashing her now-infamous press conference, along with her then-advisors Lisa Bloom and Cindi Berger — Griffin allowed that the potentially career-ending kerfuffle scared the shit out of her, becoming most vulnerable when recounting the fact that even her sister, who lay on her deathbed, received death threats from Trumpanzees every day until the end of her life.

On the bright side, Trump supporters' stupidity is such that they tend to include return addresses when they mail you death threats. Griffin cracked, “The FBI was great in that case. They looked at the envelopes and were like, 'Oh, Okay. We'll let you know by tomorrow.'”

What happened to Griffin is no laughing matter, so her ability to mine comedy gold from it is a testament to her will and to her talent. Yes, she is fucking hysterical when picking apart celebrity foibles and reality-star run-ins, but her comedy is a craft — and don't forget it.

Also good not to forget: Her feminism. Kathy bragged that she lives in a $10-million home she bought with cash, saying she isn't afraid to talk about her success because she is “thrilled” she hasn't had to rely on any men to get where she is, instead earning the money herself by doing what she loves.

I have a perfect part for her in my low-budget, soon-to-shoot Web series, but the prevailing wisdom is that she only does stuff for money. This is not actually an insult, it is a choice she makes to not devalue herself. I wish she'd do it, but I know why she holds out for the pay.

Not that she isn't humble — she stopped her show multiple times to profusely thank us all for our support, also acknowledging the handful of people in entertainment who had her back, chief among them Jim Carrey. Carrey, now known for his outsider-art tweets depicting the dire straits of Trumpdom, contacted her when she was crying in a ball on the floor, reminding her that the peak of her scandal made her the most famous comic in the world, and urging her to tell her story and find the funny in it.

Bette Midler was also a beacon of hope, sending Griffin a long note of support when others were telling her to leave the country and keep quiet for five to eight years.

Less helpful were people like Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper, who were excoriated in Griffin's act, Cohen as a self-aggrandizing asshole who fired her while continuing to re-hire himself (he is a Bravo exec as well as the host of an eternally renewed series on her old nework), and Cooper as a turncoat who dumped on Kathy during her darkest hour when he really had no obligation to comment. Griffin is clearly still mourning their broken friendship, and she dabbed at the tears by reading a vicious letter from one of her fans to Cooper that called him a “fickle faggot.”

DSC08198_newIf you're a letter, Kathy will read you!

The biggest laugh of a night filled with them came when she talked about Cohen DSC08212 (1)_newand Cooper's dreary New Year's Eve co-hosting duties, which were meant to replace her charming repartée with Cooper — and the laugh came from Griffin. Call it a schadenfreude-ian slip.

Billy Bush was similarly taken apart for sending her a letter of support, one that seemed to liken his predicament to hers (he laughed along with a sexual predator in private and sold out his colleagues, she held up a mask — nah, brah). Her skillful vivisection of his bizarre and self-aggrandizing words represented what she does best: Stepping back to give something or someone a second, much harder look, finding the humor that was there all along. 

The guy worried about her cortisol levels and told her to call him — but included no phone number. He did write that he hoped his letter would serve some purpose for her. Having just read it aloud for her throngs of admirers to great effect, she smiled and announced, “It just did.”

Other topics drew Griffin's savage contempt as well, including the disappointing “Nazi” Roseanne Barr, the pillow-like Sarah “Fuckabee” Sanders (who needs a belt), gay Republican Harvey Levin, harpy Megyn Kelly, CNN's Jeff Zucker (“Not a smart guy, and he told me I could only make one Trump joke per hour on New Year's Eve”), Trump's wall (she promised it'll never be built and kidded that she'd throw Selena Gomez back over if it were), feckless cunt Ivanka Trump (ripping apart the faux outrage over Samantha Bee's commentary), and the anything-but-blameless First Lady “Melanie” Trump.

Aside from the politics, Kathy grabbed chuckles with spot-on Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde impersonations, as well as with insight into what it was like being the next-door neighbor of Kimye. Kardashian's vapidity even provided Griffin's exit line, perhaps a preview of the fact that while Trump is Topic A right now in her act and in our consciousness, he won't always be.

Kathy Griffin is more than just funny, she's funny with a point — and never has humor with fangs been more necessary. We don't need traditional escapism, we need a new, more literal kind, so that we can laugh while we plot our escape from the embarrassing mess the lackadaisical U.S. voter has made of our democracy.