"I was so enamoured with Hollywood that once I moved to California I just thought I was going to get my own TV show within a week. And when I hear about young actresses and actors that have that experience, I want to punch them in the face."
– Kathy Griffin
Guy MacPherson: Hello?
Kathy Griffin: Guy?
KG: It's Kathy Griffin!
GM: Kathy, how are you?
KG: Good, how are you doing?
GM: Good, thanks.
KG: I'm ready to rock the River Rock.
KG: Again. I've filmed the D List there, I've played there, the infamous Howard is there, who introduces me. I'm ready to take on Richmond. I come without fear.
GM: Is this your third time?
GM: What's the deal with Howard?
KG: Howard's obsessed with me.
GM: Well, who isn't?
KG: Thank you. Especially in Richmond.
GM: Last we spoke you were coming up early because Lily Tomlin was here the night before you.
KG: Yes. You know what, I haven't looked on their website. Are you in front of a computer?
GM: Yeah. I looked it up.
KG: Who's there?
GM: Nobody I've heard of.
KG: Shit. But I will say, this is called – and by the way, I learned this phrase from Bette Midler, so I'm dropping a very A-list name – what I'm doing is called a 'pod', which is when you're on tour year-round, like I am, but you don't go out 365 days; you go out, like, ten days a month, or whatever. So I'm actually going to be in the middle of a pod, so I'm going to go from Portland to Richmond, BC, to Berkeley to Santa Cruz. So believe it or not, no matter who was at the River Rock prior to me or after me, I wouldn't be able to attend.
GM: It's Streetheart playing the night after you.
KG: Well, you know what? They sound fantastic and I could kick myself but I can't stay. But I'll be very busy moving on to Berkeley to tell Lindsey Lohan stories. And who knows what will have happened by October 16. And you know there's two shows so it's what we call in the business a 'double'. So the 8 pm show and the 10:30 show. I love doing a double because I honestly have so much material that I have this environment where I can get to all of it.
GM: So if somebody were to go to both shows--
KG: They wouldn't see two completely different shows, but believe me, every time I do a show I say, "Oh, I forgot to make fun of Elizabeth Hasselbeck as much as I should have."
GM: What's the deal with Elizabeth Hasselbeck? Do you get along?
KG: I don't get along with her, no.
GM: Because you've done The View numerous times and you have to be civil to a certain extent.
KG: Not anymore. I don't feel that I do have to be civil to her.
GM: So it's just cold backstage?
KG: If you YouTube my appearance on The View, you'll see that she was so rude that I no longer have to be civil to her. Prior to that, I was civil and she was civil to me. But you know what? I think she's just looking to make a name for herself on Fox News. Do you guys have Fox News there?
GM: We do. I don't know anyone who pays for it. It's on a pay channel.
KG: Oh, perfect. That's how it should be.
GM: But we certainly all know about it and know what it stands for and we see the clips. We watch The Daily Show and they make fun of it a lot.
KG: Oh, well that's how you get the real news.
GM: So how's your show going?
KG: The show is going fine. The touring is better because, you know, that's really where the fur flies. So I have to give the disclaimer, and even though it's a casino I do want to say leave the kids at home. Leave the kids in daycare or just leave them at a slot machine. But there will be far too much swearing and negativity for anyone with a weak stomach to come to my shows.
GM: Do people actually bring kids to your shows?
KG: You know, when I started out I used to have people who would yell from the audience, maybe after I had said the f-word or something even worse for the 17th time, "There's kids here." And I would just say, "What the hell are your kids doing here? This is not the place for them. This isn't Chuck E. Cheese." Which I also don't know if you have there.
GM: Yes, we do.
KG: It's a children-themed pizza restaurant with plastic balls that children run in and apparently probably spread viruses. Anyway, so no, it happens rarely. But every so often I do get walk-outs, which are fun. And I might get some walk-outs at the River Rock because you know when you do a casino it's a little different. A lot of the people in the audience are what's called 'casino comps'. They're people who have lost money at the tables or they're friends of the casino and often they just come to whatever show happens to be there the night that they're there. So at the River Rock it's possible I'll have audience members that really think that they're going to see Air Supply or Helen Reddy or one of your other Canadian jewels.
GM: (laughs) Hey, wait a second. Helen Reddy is Australian.
KG: She is?
KG: Oh. Who's a Canadian person I can make fun of?
GM: Uh... well, there's Celine Dion, of course...
KG: No, no, no. River Rock level.
KG: Well, Air Supply is almost always on the video screen when I'm there.
GM: Yeah, you're right. I'm just looking at the schedule. Kris Kristofferson is coming but he's not Canadian.
KG: He's not Canadian.
GM: I don't think Air Supply is Canadian, either.
KG: Well, that's what's great about the River Rock is it's a combination of me, Canadian superstars and legends. And while I will never be a Canadian superstar, some day I can hope to be a legend. And that's of course my goal, to just be the new Kris Kristofferson but with dick jokes.
GM: One day.
KG: Here's hoping!
GM: Back to your show for a minute, you're in the sixth season now?
KG: Season six, yes.
GM: You joke about being on the D-list. Where do you really see yourself?
KG: It depends where I am. So for example, on my birthday I'm going to go to Gloria Vanderbilt's apartment so I will have an A-list moment. So I have A-list moments. If I go to the Prime Time Emmys, and I win, I feel I'm on the A-list. But if I go to the Emmys and I lose, I feel that I'm on more the C- or the D-list. I guess I would have to be on the B- or the C-list because to be on the D-list would mean you couldn't even go to the Emmys. So it's ever-changing.
GM: You're going to Gloria Vanderbilt's because of your relationship withAnderson Cooper?
KG: Yeah, that's how I met her.
GM: Oh, so you've met her before.
KG: Yes. And she's fascinating. A friend of mine said she finds her to be the most fascinating woman of the last century.
GM: What kind of conversations do you have?
KG: We talk about whatever she wants. But she thinks I'm naughty and funny and she is very accepting of my naughty and funny ways and I appreciate that.
GM: Do you feel you have to be 'on'?
KG: You know, it's more like I'm interested in her story because she's so fascinating and she's led such an incredible life, so I'm kind of trying to get the dish out of her. But I try to amuse her. It's the least I can do for what she's done for the world as an icon. I like icons.
GM: Were you always starstruck as a kid?
KG: Always. I was always starstruck. Grew up loving Judy Garland, wanting to be Liza. Then, of course, met Liza at the River Rock.
GM: That's where you meet all the greats.
KG: They really do go there. That's what's kind of great about that place. And I'm always looking for the comedy in everything. There's so much happening right now between Paris Hilton and her powdery bubblegum that was in her purse... allegedly. Now, are you guys getting Jersey Shore?
GM: I hear it referenced but I have no idea.
KG: What does that mean? You don't know it's on or you don't watch it?
GM: I don't know if it's on but people talk about it.
KG: Yeah, well we'll probably be talking about The Jersey Shore. Of course, I will be making fun of any Canadian superstars I can think of, starting with Celine and working my way down.
GM: Alan Thicke.
KG: I just saw Alan Thicke so of course I'll be making fun of him. I saw him at the Bill Maher Hollywood Walk of Fame star-giving ceremony, or whatever you call it. Bill Maher had the oddest group of people. He had O.J. Simpson housemate Kato Kaelin, he had Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, he had Larry King, he had Alan Thicke and me. It was a really weird group of people. It's perfect for my act. It's a great, crazy mix of people.
GM: I saw you on Larry King recently. When was that?
KG: Well, I was on Larry King two nights ago as well, so I'm not sure which one you mean.
GM: Yes, that one, about the teen suicides.
KG: Yeah, the teen suicides. Very serious. But don't worry, the shows at River Rock will be offensive and inappropriate as always. It's not like I'm doing shows about teen suicide. I'm just doing my side work about that.
GM: Understood. Do you like having to delve into the serious?
KG: I feel compelled to; it's not like I like having to. It's just that when I'm doing interviews like this one I just have to be very, very clear. And my stand-up agents are always on me to say, "Make sure people know that you might go on TV and help these various causes but they shouldn't think they're going to a show where they're going to hear about these serious topics. Make sure that they know you're just going to be offending people and telling dick jokes as always." I believe that's my best way to help the community. And by that I mean the Canadian community.
GM: I saw the clip on an online queer magazine, and they wrote that Larry King had on all these gay guests, and they mentioned you. And I thought, "Kathy's not gay."
KG: I'm not gay, although people think I'm gay. So I like to call myself gay-adjacent or gay-friendly. But I do enjoy vaginal sex with a penis. I don't know how much clearer I can be about that.
GM: You're so popular with "the gays", as you call them.
KG: Right. Maybe straight guys think I'm a lesbian.
GM: You told me why you love them as a crowd. Why do they love you?
KG: You'd have to ask them. I don't know. But I've certainly got many, many positive twats on my Twitter from members of the gay community regarding the Larry King appearance and donations to the Trevor Project, etc., etc. You know, I kind of feel like we're there for each other.
GM: But you don't hold back when you're making fun of somebody, or, you know, calling Ryan Seacrest a 'she'.
KG: Right. I don't hold back calling Elizabeth Hasselbeck a moron, either. I don't hold back whether it's gay, straight, LGBT or otherwise.
GM: And so they just appreciate, like anyone else, your honesty.
KG: I hope so. I know I keep mentioning the live shows, but in particular that's really where I get to do that. Because on TV, you know – I just taped one of my latest specials – you have to edit certain things out or they bleep the swear words. But at the River Rock, nothing will be edited, nothing will be bleeped. Come with an open mind. And buy a t-shirt.
GM: What's the t-shirt?
KG: Oh, I have merchandise now. And I have t-shirts and I have maglets, which are like Snuggies but for people who drink, like my mother. They have pockets for a little individual box of wine. I have eco-bags because I'm going green. Who knew? People love eco-bags. I have pens that say "Holy fuck balls."
GM: So you say you were always starstruck. Can you remember your first brush with greatness?
KG: Um... I've had many brushes with greatness. I was in a movie that wasn't received well but it was called Shakes the Clown and it had a cameo with Robin Williams so I got to see him in the make-up room and see him in rehearsal. And that was really exciting to not just see a celebrity in a restaurant across the room but to actually see somebody work and the process. It was very exciting. And I remember it fondly because my dad was still alive and he and my mom visited me on the set and they brought folding chairs because they thought it was okay to just go to a set and just put up folding chairs and drink wine and watch everything. But Robin Williams kind of put on a little show for them and it was really sweet and I always will think of him fondly for that.
GM: Did you meet anyone or get autographs before you got into the business?
KG: I got some pictures but I wasn't that big into autographs. But I was looking through some old photos when I was writing my book, my New York Times number one bestseller, Kathy Griffin, Official Book Club Selection, now available in paperback, and I found some old pictures. I think I have a picture with Jack Lemmon, which is pretty phenomenal. Yeah, I was always starstruck and always trying to sneak into celebrity events or sneak onto sets or sneak onto the lot at Fox and stuff like that. I was a little rascal.
GM: You grew up in that area?
KG: No, I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. But I was so enamoured with Hollywood that once I moved to California I just thought I was going to get my own TV show within a week. And when I hear about young actresses and actors that have that experience, I want to punch them in the face. When I hear about actresses that say, "You know, I moved out to L.A. from Kansas and I didn't get my first job till I was here for a week," I want to then punch them in the face.