Kathy Griffin Details Fight With Ellen DeGeneres, Talks Fallout From Trump Photo During Comedy TourVariety
The comedienne who was told she would never work again just played a sold-out show at the Dolby Theatre.
Kathy Griffin, who was dropped by her representation, fired by CNN and Squatty Potty alike, and put under a media blackout after she took part in a photo shoot that saw her holding a Donald Trump mask dripping in ketchup, implying the president had been beheaded, has been on a Laugh Your Head Off world tour to prove that just “because they tried to put [her] out to pasture” doesn’t mean she would moo, she said at her Los Angeles stop Thursday.
“It’s not all jokes tonight,” she said. “I’m also spilling piping hot tea.”
Self-proclaimed to be known for being a “starf—er” who tells “dick jokes,” her three-hour set — performed in the now-infamous dress from that Tyler Shields photo shoot — didn’t skimp on the usual brand of raucous, frank storytelling that helped her earn an Grammy for best comedy album (in 2014) and hit the bestseller list twice. (She also has two Emmys for her former Bravo reality show “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.”)
Despite the fact that it was an LA crowd and “you all probably know her,” Griffin revealed she got into a fight with Ellen DeGeneres after Joan Rivers died.
“One of the things that really hurt Joan, and we talked about it at our last meal together, was that Ellen always shunned her and Ellen thought she was vulgar and not funny,” Griffin said, noting that DeGeneres thinks she’s also too vulgar. But when Rivers died, Griffin wanted to reach out.
“I just called her and I just said, ‘Look, woman to woman, comic to comic, I think you need to let go of your hatred for Joan Rivers. She’s passed away, just do a f—ing tribute, be cool,'” Griffin said.
But according to Griffin, DeGeneres wasn’t having it and responded that “there’s a difference between mean and funny” and Rivers was mean.
“That f—ing set me off,” Griffin admitted. “So we had a fight in which I used inflammatory words like, ‘Look you f—ing untalented hack.’ … You know when you’re fighting with someone and you can kind of laugh at a point? Yeah, not that day.”
A couple of days later, Griffin said she texted DeGeneres to say she couldn’t stop thinking about the fight they had. “It was so ‘Dynasty’ that I demand to be Alexis as long as you’re Krystle,” she recalled writing. “I think we should do a scene in the pool, I think there should be big hats [and] that bitch didn’t even respond! But that was a good idea!”
Griffin told tales of being neighbors with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, including that he keeps the mannequins from his “Famous” music video in his house and that the night he was placed on his 5150 hold he had been blasting Enya and screaming in his backyard. “I’m such an artiste, I moved in next to my act!” she said.
She shared an experience of meeting Chrissie Hynde, who upon realizing Griffin was the one in the Trump photo called her “punk rock”; she deadpanned that she was “so surprised” by Roseanne Barr’s racist tweets; she revealed that a pre-scandal Matt Lauer contacted her boyfriend and tried to have a “bro” moment with him so he could get an exclusive with her after the Trump photo; she played an audio recording of KB Home CEO and her other neighbor Jeffrey T. Mezger screaming at her over his fence; and she half-joked that if the FBI was wiretapping her phone all they would hear is her explaining “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to her mother.
Griffin also talked about the first time she met Trump, “so long ago he was still with Marla,” when he “had three lines on ‘Suddenly Susan’ and introduced himself by saying, ‘Call me the Donald.'” Over the years, Griffin said, Trump hired her twice to roast him, and when she appeared on “The Apprentice” to help her “beloved, dear departed Joan Rivers” fundraise, he would often call her over to “hang” with him and his daughter between takes.
Griffin didn’t want to acknowledge most of the Trump family by their names and instead called his three eldest kids “Feckless, Eddie Munster, and ‘Date Rape.'”
After the year she has had, which also included being under federal investigation by two government agencies, placed on the no-fly list, and having people truly believe she is now a member of ISIS, the primary focus of her show was the backlash after the photo came out.
“I actually was so naive because I thought, ‘Oh big deal, it’s on TMZ,'” Griffin said of the photo breaking as news. “I actually went back to bed. Then an hour later I get a call from Rosie O’Donnell. Now let me tell you something, when it comes to anything related to Donald Trump, the one call you f—ing take is Rosie O’Donnell — the preeminent expert on being trolled by Donald Trump. He’s been after her for 12 years!”
It was O’Donnell, Griffin said, who told her she had to make an apology video. “I said, ‘Ro, we don’t apologize for jokes,'” Griffin responded. But O’Donnell pointed out it was all over the right-wing websites and people truly believed she was in ISIS. “And then she famously said, ‘What if Daniel Pearl’s mother saw the picture?’ And that’s when I said, ‘OK I get it.’ So for her, I made the apology,” Griffin continued. “But I said to Ro, ‘I look like s—. I have no make up on.’ And she goes, ‘That’s better. That’s more real.'”
Combining prepared commentary with stream-of-conscious asides, some of the most memorable parts of that portion of the evening include her breaking down Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ recent call for her to apologize for comments she made on “The View,” as well as her unique take on her interrogation.
“I just like the logistics of how these Trump people think I actually took a picture with the Donald’s severed head,” she said. “Let’s walk that through. I’m a very accomplished surgeon … Somehow I snuck into the White House, chopped off Donald Trump’s head, took it back to Bel Air, where I live, took a picture of it in my stairway, which is where I took the picture, flew back to DC, and then sewed it back on like an episode of ‘Skin Tight.'”
The story of her interrogation started seriously enough but of course came with Griffin’s unique stamp of somewhat twisted humor, specifically when she relayed the moment she remembered she did actually have a weapon in her house after being previously asked more than once if she did and answering in the negative. Excitedly proclaiming she had a “big sword,” she then prompted to tell the agents about how it was procured when she hosted the Gay AVN Awards, all about the film that “swept” those awards that year, and how the sword’s “distinctive markings” included an engraving that said “You’re on the F-list now.”
She also seamlessly rolled with the more vocal fans, who weren’t heckling but still yelled things out occasionally, including one call for her to run for president.
“My platform as president would not be very popular,” she adlibbed. “It’s not personal, but I have to say, men for two years, just let women run everything. Two years, two years — not forever. Two years. And preferably a lesbian — there’s nothing those gals can’t do, can you imagine?”
The most visually emotional Griffin became during the show was when relaying the phone call she got from Al Franken after the Trump photo went viral. “Why would you do that? I can’t be associated with you,” she recalled him saying, which stung because although she admitted he made some bad decisions, she had respected him as a senator.
But she also recalled some positives that came from the experience. “Do you know how many people contact me today and say ‘Put it up again?'” she said of the photo. “Do you believe those kids at the border? Put it up again!”
Early support also came from Jim Carrey, who pointed out that she was “the most famous comedian in the world” and after she picked herself up from the emotional turmoil, she would have a “unique and historical” story to tell.
And if her Laugh Your Head Off tour is any indication, that story is only getting started.