"My joke used to be, 'As a citizen, it would be bad if Donald Trump won, but I have to admit as a comedian it would be great.' And now I'm living it. So in a way, the picture that almost took me down, the picture that was supposed to take me down, is also the picture that allowed me to tour the world for the first time. I want you to know that I was the eighth-most googled person in the world last year. You heard me."
– Kathy Griffin
Kathy Griffin: Guy, we found you!
Guy MacPherson: I heard you the first time.
KG: No way. You did?
GM: I did, yeah. I heard all those things you said about me.
KG: They were vicious, Guy. I don't take one back. It's the new me!
GM: It's been ten years since we first spoke.
KG: Oh, my God! What dog and pony show was I peddling then? Who knows? It could have been a special, could have been My Life on the D List. God only knows.
GM: It was all of that and you were coming to town. And it was eight years ago when we last spoke. Apparently I hooked you up with Lily Tomlin.
KG: Oh my God, thank you so much. That's when she was on My Life on the D List.
GM: Yeah, and she was performing the night before you.
KG: Yes, and we got her to stay. She taped with us that night and even the next day. Thank you. And by the way, I actually got the most moving, lovely email from Lily on Sunday, like two or three days ago. Just very detailed, supportive. I just want to go on record for the ones that have been there for me during the craziest year ever. And Lily Tomlin knows her shit. She's legit. She's legit. I love her.
GM: You sound really good. I guess if I spoke to you six months ago, would you sound this good?
KG: I wouldn't sound this good, although six months ago I was actually on tour overseas so I'd still be excited. Look, I'm probably going to cry three times today based on a dog video or Trump pulling out of the Iran deal. By the way, can we just take a second, and this may not be prescient to your piece when you run it, but we're in a world where I'm kind of like half-assed listening to you – I don't mean to be rude – but I'm also watching the TV going, 'Why the fuck did he pull out of the Iran deal? When is someone going to step in and go, "Hey, you, the mentally ill orange Cheeto, you have to step aside. You, too, the blonde gay-bashing vice-president, you gotta go. Who's next? Paul Ryan? Gotta go."' It's so crazy. I just hope that you people appreciate, you Canadians, I hope you appreciate what it's like to not have to wake up every day wondering the crazy things your prime minister could be tweeting that day.
GM: I'm watching CNN along with you right now. I've muted it. You knew him before, correct, before he ever ran for anything?
KG: That's one of the reasons I really love doing this show. I can tell you that that day – that day, May 30, 2017, the day that changed the trajectory of my life forever – I got a call from your very own Jim Carrey, you heard me, who I don't even know that well. And it was so sweet because obviously I was a complete wreck. I call it the wall of shit. A wall of shit fell on me. First of all, it's unprecedented in the history of the United States, that a sitting United States president would use the power of the Oval Office, the First Family, obviously the right wing machine including Fox News and every Alex Jones conspiracy theorist and stuff to actually try to imply that I had, a) broken the law, which I didn't, or b) that I – I mean, I'm laughing, I'm sorry, because you have to laugh – that I had joined ISIS or Al Qaeda. It's so horrible – you're right, many times you could have called me and I'd be sobbing – but the idea that to this day you can just put the words 'Kathy Griffin' in Twitter and either a robot or a robo or a something will have tweeted the Trump mask picture. And keep in mind it's a Halloween mask with ketchup on it. It's not a severed head. Oh, you know who said it was a severed head? Get this shit. This is some juicy gossip.
KG: Matt Lauer. So Matt Lauer reports on The Today Show, 'Comedian Kathy Griffin holds up a severed head.' In the meantime, he calls my boyfriend's cell number. Because at the beginning everybody wanted the interview. How ironic is that? Like, I have a gig and Matt Lauer doesn't. And more importantly, how did Matt Lauer get my boyfriend's cell number? These are the types of things I want your readers to buy a ticket for. I'm telling you this story has tentacles. It's not just the Trump stuff. And you're right, I take you back to the day I met him. He was a guest star on Suddenly Susan! Take that in. Oh, you know what? He was with Marla then. So I've known this fool a long time!
GM: But I want to know, did you think he was a fool at the time? Or did you think he was a nice guy or whatever?
KG: Okay, we all – and when I say 'we all' I would truly say most people that knew him in a very casual way like I did, like not well, whether they're performers or not... First of all, he was doing The Apprentice when I was working at NBC, whether it was Suddenly Susan or My Life on the D List or my specials or my talk show, so I would run into him at NBC events constantly. I mean, first of all, this guy would show up to the fucking opening of an envelope, so his reputation in the entertainment industry was as a publicity whore. I always thought he was like these idiots on Million Dollar Listing. Like, I always sort of thought he was like a fool and maybe at the most a realtor. No one took him seriously. And then, of course, The Apprentice happened and I watched it, I admit. I was actually on it twice as part of challenges. Oh, I talk about that live, too. One time when my beloved Joan Rivers, who went on to win at the age of 75, which is badass, but one time she called me up to be part of a challenge and I had the pleasure of spending some time alone with The Donald and The Ivanka – they weren't dating then that I know of – but these are two stable geniuses if you want to talk about nail polish for four hours. And, one time I was seated next to Trump on a dais at a roast for Larry King for four hours! Can you imagine?! The person on the other side of me was Gilbert Gottfried and I've never loved Gilbert more in my life, I swear to God. So we kinda thought he was just a buffoon. Like honestly, I personally – and I haven't had a lot of one-on-one dealings with him, thank God, although I have a story in the act about having alone time with The Donald and Liza Minnelli, and that story alone is worth the price of admission. But he's aggressively stupid, which I have to say for a comedian is funny. There are some people that maybe aren't very intellectually curious; he's aggressively stupid. He does not want to know things and will tell you so right to your face. What's ironic is that when he decided to, as Don Jr. said on Good Morning America, 'We don't just want to ruin Kathy Griffin's career; we want to decimate her.' So no, I did not know that he had even those interests. He was just so happy to be on camera and happy to be on television. I didn't think he'd ever become the president.
GM: When he first ran and you didn't realize how incompetent he would be, although maybe you could have guessed. Were you thinking, 'Hey, I'm going to know a guy who might be president!'?
KG: No, I was secretly thinking this is going to be great comedy because the campaign got so out of hand that my joke used to be, 'As a citizen, it would be bad if Donald Trump won, but I have to admit as a comedian it would be great.' And now I'm living it. So in a way, the picture that almost took me down, the picture that was supposed to take me down, is also the picture that allowed me to tour the world for the first time. I want you to know that I was the eighth-most googled person in the world last year. You heard me.
KG: Oh, stop it. It was nothing. So I really try to stand by the photo now because it is a First Amendment issue and there are a lot of twists and turns. For example, I don't know if you know who my next door neighbours were during this entire ordeal.
KG: That's right. Kim Kardashian West and Kanye Kardashian West. So that free thinker was right next door the whole time free-thinking his mind away. So I have stories about going over there and her coming over to my house. It just was a swirl. Oh, also, I don't know if you know this but the day the photo went live on TMZ, of all places, they recorded every single show that was cancelled of my tour in real time, which is also unprecedented, so obviously Harvey Levin has it out for me. Plus, Harvey Levin talks to the president multiple times a week. I think that's kind of weird. Like, if I were you guys, I wouldn't want Justin Trudeau talking to Harvey Levin really at all. All right, that aside, I'm just saying, we're living in a society where there's a president who personally wants to take me down but what I didn't realize is I was kind of just in, like, the Trump woodchipper. They kind of already had this apparatus in place. And it was really no different than what he would do to even his own opponents, like 'Lyin' Ted Cruise' and 'Little Marco' and all that stuff. But my incident was pre-Kaepernick, it was pre-Weinstein. There's a theory that maybe if the photo had been released after that, things wouldn't have been so bad. But I was the first, baby!
GM: He also used to say 'Rocket Man' for Kim Jong-Un and he doesn't say that anymore.
KG: That's right. I went to the White House Correspondents Dinner last week, I don't know if you know that, but you must admit that's a fucking triumph. That is a fucking triumph. A year ago, I was under a two-month federal investigation. Because remember, it wasn't just Trump and all the bad press, he then brought in the fucking Department of Justice! Headed by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, oh my Lord! Somebody get me a mint julep. And to be under a two-month federal investigation, where they were trying to decide whether or not to charge me with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States...
GM: Were you worried at this time that it might stick?
KG: Of course! First of all, babe, I'm on the Interpol list. So when I went overseas – I did 15 countries and 23 cities – I was detained at every single airport. And that's scary as hell. So no, that shouldn't be happening to a comedian. And I'm going to be detained, probably, when I first come into Canada. They don't tell you why. I talk about that process, too. Let me tell you, when I was detained in Singapore, I was nervous. Although, when I did my show in Singapore – fun fact – I have what I call my opening reel, and it's like funny little clips and stuff like that. When I say 'the government', I kind of don't know what I'm talking about, but the powers-that-be in Singapore, they actually edited the video and they tried to take out the naughty bits. So I was kinda like scared to play Singapore. So I get detained in the fucking airport and on one hand I'm scared shitless; on the other hand I'm like, 'Alright, I'm on stage in four hours. I gotta start thinking of some jokes.' So it's definitely been a crazy time.
GM: So they edit the video for swear words or naughty bits? Could you say anything?
KG: Oh, God no! Are you kidding? You know the weird stuff, right? You can't spit on the sidewalk. Those laws, I don't even know how much they enforce those, personally, frankly, but that's kind of the usual comedic way. But yeah, they said, you cannot mention their own government. You can't mention their... I believe it's their governor. But the funny thing is they were like, 'Oh, you can make fun of your own president all you want.' Also, I have a lot of gay guys that come to my show and that's a culture where the gay life, the LGBT life, is not accepted. But I gotta tell you, the meet-and-greet was fabulous. I have never seen, oh my God, these down-low Singapore gay boys, they showed up. Once they were in the safety of the theatre, honey, it was like knock-off Hermès bags and Gucci scarves. My whole meet-and-greet was a bunch of Singaporean gay guys going, 'Hey girl! Get over here, bitch! Love you!' So it's just crazy. I did a show in Denmark and a bunch of drag queens showed up dressed as me in the blue dress. Oh, and I want you to know, I wear the blue dress in the show, which, at one point they told me was evidence not to destroy. So before I was exonerated, which took two fucking months, so I thought not only will I not destroy the evidence, which is something I can't say for Donald Trump who's probably putting something in a shredder right now like Nixon with those tapes, but I thought, I know what to do with this dress; I'm going to wear it on tour. So I actually had copies made of the blue dress from the infamous photo. So as you can tell, I'm leaning in to the topic; I'm not running from it and saying 'Everything's fine, let's talk about the difference between puppies and kittens.' This is a show where there is cursing, I name names, I tell tales, and I have a unique story.
GM: So no different from any other Kathy Griffin show, except for the topic. You always named names.
KG: Oh, absolutely. That's the thing. Wait, can I finish my Jim Carrey story?
GM: Oh yeah.
KG: He called and he goes, 'Kathy, you're the most famous comedian in the world today.' And I was sobbing. I'm like, 'Yeah, for all the wrong reasons.' And he goes, 'Kathy, no.' He didn't say 'lean in' but he said, 'Embrace this.' And he goes, 'Do you know how many comedians would give their right arm to have this story?' He goes, 'At the end of this, you're going to have a story no one in the world can touch. Not another comedian. Nobody.' And so I was like, sniff sniff, and then I just started writing. So I've been hunkering down a lot but I've also been writing and obviously doing the 23 shows overseas was great. Oh, I have a disclaimer for your readers. When I started in Aukland, New Zealand, I was so excited I did two hours and by the time I did my show in Rejkavik, Iceland – you heard me, Rejkavik – the show ballooned up to three hours because I kept gathering more material along the tour. So you should tell your readers to either wear a colostomy bag or be prepared to take bathroom breaks.
GM: How do you gather more material? It's a story that's already happened.
KG: This is what's so beautiful about it: It's a story that's been told but honey, my audience loves to hear every single detail about what it's like to go to Kim and Kanye's. I get to walk them through that, because it's all kind of intertwined now. So what I do is I interweave with some stuff throughout the show because some of it is, like, kinda heavy, right? but then I always want to intersperse it with the crazy stuff like going to Kim and Kanye's. I have a whole bit about that that's classic. She came over one time. The day the photo went live on fucking TMZ, I happened to have over for dinner that night none other than Kris Jenner and Melanie Griffith, and that was funny because Kris Jenner's going, 'Apologize!' and Melanie Griffith is going, 'You should have done Mike Pence's head, too!' So like I said, you have to find the comedy in everything. When I was in Australia doing this show, I am friends with Stevie Nicks – you heard me, just a little name-drop for you. I then added a show in my act about going backstage and Stevie invited me to her soundcheck and she was very sweet and she was saying, 'I've been really worried about you because you took this picture and I know you've been in a lot of trouble.' She was just being lovely. And then Chrissie Hynde walks in. It's like the new Witches of Eastwick. So I have a great story about that. And that was just like a story I picked up along the way. So last weekend I attended the White House Correspondents Dinner and got into three altercations with Republican – how should I say? – influencers. So there's some new material. Like, I was supposed to do this little, tiny 500-word piece for the Washington Post and they ended up putting it above the fold in the style section because I got in so much trouble.
GM: Do you name names with these Washington influencers?
KG: Oh, honey, you have no idea. Because I know I'm never going to be invited again. I'm like too notorious now. But to go this one time – and by the way, you should have seen that horrible Sarah Huckabee Sanders sitting there with her fucking pissy face. She was worse than Paltrow. Like, the old Paltrow, not the new more fun Paltrow. Anyway, the whole thing was fascinating to me. And at the next table was Sean Spicer. So yes, I had some choice words for them. I ruffled a few feathers. Oh, you know who I now know? I hope you're impressed by this: Stormy Daniels.
KG: Thank you. So I donated to her legal defense fund. So now we're Twitter buddies and she's going to come see one of my shows in the States. I took a picture with her attorney, Michael Avenatti, who's very famous here because all of my gay guy friends want him to be their daddy. So I post a picture of the two of us together at one of the post parties and then my timeline is just filled with gay guys being like, 'He's hot! Put him in a suitcase with air holes! Bring home my daddy!' So the story kinda keeps getting bigger and bigger. I swear to God, if you let me, I could do five hours straight at this point. Five hours solid. Because it just keeps ballooning and some of it is just so nuts. Like the idea that I'd be in the same room with this high-ranking Republican woman who was trying to call me to the carpet until I just told her to fuck off and she's a horrible person. And then I turn around and there's a really big AP reporter and I see he's recorded it, and I'm like, 'Oh boy.' I'm like, 'Well, that's in the act.' I should have realized, 'Oh wait, everyone here has an iPhone.' Maybe Michael Cohen was there recording it all. Now let me ask you this: How much are the Canadians going to know the other players besides just Trump and Pence?
GM: If they're like me, they know them all.
KG: Everyone here is waiting for Ivanka to dump Disposable – we call him Disposable now, Jared – for Justin Trudeau. That's a very big meme here, her giving him this sort of come hither look with her eyes. I'm just saying I've met her, I've spoken to her, she's not the sharpest pencil in the box. She's got a voice that's... this is allegedly: I call it the Xanax voice. But honestly, it takes her so long to get a fucking sentence out, half the time I just leave the room. Like I said, I don't know them well, but I've known them for years. The two grown sons coming after me, that is the richest part of all. I call them Eddie Munster and Date Rape. Those morons. Can you still say 'morons'? I'm not sure if you can still say that? Those two idiots. So it is a comedy bonanza, even though what happened to me is fucked up. And I am also on a mission to just say you can hate that photo all you want but it didn't break the law, it was covered by the First Amendment, and this kind of harassment shouldn't happen to a citizen, much less a comedian.
GM: It was clearly comedic.
KG: Obviously! First of all, I purposely had this very stoic look on my face. And as you know, I'm like a high-strung maniac. And I wore a high-collar dress, which I never do. And I really thought I'm going to put so much ketchup on this five-dollar mask everyone's going to know. By the way, I actually looked at the picture again for the first time yesterday. It's not even that bad. The idea that they would pixelate it, it's sort of funny to me because the people that were like, 'Oh my God, it looks like a real decapitation,' actually it doesn't.
GM: Not at all.
KG: So the idea that anyone thought I was holding an actual severed head, Matt Lauer... Like I went to the severed head warehouse and bought one, or I happened to have some severed heads laying around. So even that part's funny.
GM: And the fact it couldn't have been because he's still alive. It couldn't have been Donald Trump.
KG: That's right. There was that one issue which was, 'Um, so does he have a removable head?' and I was able to borrow it for a while and then they were going t sew it back on? Oh, have heard about the White House doctor that got canned last week? Dr. Feelgood?
KG: Oh, I love this guy. He was giving out frickin' uppers and downers. I think one of the reasons Trumped is pissed that guy isn't head of the VA, which he wasn't qualified for, I think he's going to miss the candy man. So I'm just saying the story continues for me because when I go to something like the White House Correspondents Dinner, obviously half the room there wants to pretty much kill me so I can't resist just going up to them. And I'm going to just tell you something, and I'm proud of it: I was in the nicest dress in that whole fucking room. I was in a vintage Oscar De Laurentiis ball gown that Oscar fucking made himself. And I'm also going to admit that I purposely stood outside the mens room and just had some choice words for certain members of the Trump administration. And I would do it again! I would do it again!
GM: I know you didn't want to go back into clubs when you thought your career was over. You sit down and write material but how do you test it? Or do you just know that you've done this for so long that you'll be able to get out there in front of a huge crowd and it'll kill?
KG: Oh my God, I love this question. Thank you. This is such a good question. I do standup a little different, right? I don't have an opener because I have standup comedy disorder and I tend to do, like I said, two to three hours. And I also, at this point, believe it or not, was so notorious that I really couldn't go out and test this material anywhere because I knew at that point it was so hot that whatever I did, I could have gone to the most obscure club in the world and somebody would have their frickin' phone, tape it, and put it up on YouTube. You just can't work out material that way. So get ready: I would do it in my house, in my living room. I didn't even tape it. I'm so embarrassed to even admit this to you. I haven't done sets, like a twenty-minute set or whatever, in honestly years. I tour by myself. I don't even know that many other comics. I know the people from my era. I do my own show. It's me, a bottle of water and a microphone. As my beloved Joan Rivers would say, nothing but a mouth and a microphone. I write every word of my act. It's very tangential, it's very improvised. Who knows what will have happened by the time I open in Ottawa – sold out, by the way; sold out show. So I keep it fluid and that's why I kind of couldn't really go practice it. So a) it's weird for me to have gone that long without doing standup. I went and I did one charity performance and I was definitely shaking. Then the next time I did my show in Aukland, New Zealand, and the third time I did standup since the photo, which was supposed to ruin my whole life, was at my sold-out show at the fucking Sydney Opera House. So yeah, I don't wanna brag, but I know how to flick the switch, baby. That's just how I roll. So believe it or not, it's actually easier for me to kinda like work on my bullet points, work it out of my crazy-ass head, and then get out there and do the whole thing instead of like testing 15 minutes here and testing 20 minutes there.
GM: Kanye's a big Trump supporter and you've been to his house. What did he say about this? Is that something you talk about on stage?
KG: Yes, I do. And he didn't say anything about this. First of all, he doesn't follow politics at all. He doesn't read anything. He's never heard of the Rachel Maddow Show. I'm just saying he's not... Here's my theory: I think someone had Fox News on and he literally walked past it for five minutes. He's never seen Candace Owens, he doesn't know who she is and her background. Trump invited him to Trump Tower and he maybe wasn't in his right mind, if you know what I'm insinuating. I'm not giving him a pass; I'm just saying if you remember his visit to Trump Tower, even that was weird. Because they were asking him questions and he had this crazy frozen – which I've seen up close – smile. And he just goes, 'I'm just here to take pictures.' Let me just say he's not the greatest conversationalist. I would not call him highly intellectual. I think he is creative, and good for him. But I, of course, as a comedian, of course I'm loving this. Because you know, Kris and Kim are doing clean-up, like the train of my Oscar de Laurentiis dress. They are in damage control. They have to act like half of it is just him being wacky and creative. In the meantime, he's photographed in Montana yesterday. So, you know, he's going rogue. He's just walking down a street in the middle of Montana and Kim was at the Met Ball in a gold dress going, 'Fuck it.' She's just counting her money. Sometimes I think I used to hear them actually printing money next door. I can't verify that. Sometimes I wanted to open the windows and go, 'Kim, is that your money-printing machine?' I don't think she gives a shit.
GM: Do you still live next to them?
KG: No, they moved and I'm pissed. Because they were actually fantastic neighbours. They were quiet. We actually had kind of a fun relationship because, I don't know why it was exciting but almost every day I could look out and see something crazy like Kim walking down the driveway in Yeezys, you know, his fake clothing line. You know what I call him? I call him Pabs because he wears clothes that say Pablo, because he thinks he's Pablo Picasso. And I don't want to fucking get into an argument with him so I just call him Pabs. I want to just keep it friendly. So I'm just like, 'Hey, Pabs!' And the wife's like, 'What?' But almost every day I could see something like her walking down the driveway in Yeezy clothing, which is really called sweatpants, and heels that are like six-inch heels. And I'd be like, 'Kim, where are you going?' And she'd be like, 'The grocery store.' Like, that's just funny. Like, I don't know about you, but I don't go to the grocery store in six-inch heels.
GM: Me, neither.
KG: And I doubt you do, either, Guy. And if you do, I don't judge you. And welcome to the LGBTQI community.
GM: I know you've got to run but thanks, it was a blast.
KG: Oh, you're so great, and I really, really appreciate it. And I hope you come to one of the shows, damnit. And, are you ready?: Hope you laugh your head off!
KG: No pun intended. Alright, though. Thank you very much for the interview. I really, really appreciate it.