In 2007, when Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List won its first Emmy for "Outstanding Reality Show," the creator/star accepted the award and said, "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this. He had nothing to do with this. . . . Suck it, Jesus!" Catholic League president Bill Donohue took umbrage, calling Griffin's statement a "vulgar in-your-face brand of hate speech" and crowed that her "celebrity stock has plummeted as a result of her scripted speech. . . . Griffin lost and we won."
Well, you decide. Griffin, who performs at the Wang Theatre Friday and Saturday, won a second Emmy in 2008. This year she got a Grammy nomination for her CD For Your Consideration. On Monday, her Bravo TV show began its fifth season; the 48-year-old redhead will have Cher, Bette Midler, and Salman Rushdie among her playpals. She also seems to have survived her latest shocker. During CNN's New Year's Eve broadcast with Anderson Cooper, some guys in the crowd were making too much noise. When she thought she was off-mic, Griffin said, "I don't go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth."
So, what about those New Year's Eve hecklers?
They were just being fun. I wasn't really angry. They were just drunks below us, and they kept saying, "Come out for drinks with us," so I used a very hackneyed retort to hecklers. It's timeless. I had some big manager say to me, "Man, that New Year's Eve thing was so subversive." I don't think so, but that's what it ended up being.
You do a lot of celeb dissing. Do you feel they secretly enjoy it or is there real enmity toward you?
I think a lot of the really big A-listers aren't really aware of what I'm doing, don't have time to bother with me. And then you have Ryan Seacrest, who has to be doing some kind of slow burn. I do believe Ryan Seacrest is going to kill me one day. I think he and Oprah will finally be together, and it will be like one of those great '70s cover-up movies and I'm playing the body.
You're mixing with folks above the D-list now. Like Cher. Haven't you thus been elevated?
No, not even one notch. I do get flattered when people suggest I might be on the C-list, but they're dreaming, living in a fool's paradise. I am constantly smacked to the D-list. I was at the Emmys last year, where I won, and Julianne Hough, who is a dancer on Dancing with the Stars, came up to me and said, "I don't know who you are, but nice to meet you." When one of the dancers from Dancing with the Stars puts you back in your place, it hurts.
Why did you insult Jesus?
I do it every year, every chance I get. I really enjoy making fun of the idiots in organized religion and people's political leanings — it's wherever people seem to have the least sense of humor, that's where I'm coming in. I like to make fun of people's children because they really don't have a sense of humor about that.
Bill Donohue lit into you, saying how pleased he was your celebrity stock had sunk.
Did my mom write that? I haven't ruled out that my mom is secretly the PR person for the Catholic League. I don't know who she's in bed with anymore. She's a ruthless climber in show business. She will stop at nothing.
I heard she is not living with you any longer.
She's back and forth between her place and my place. But it was a bitter pill, her telling me that she would not be cared for lovingly, by me, in her twilight years, but would really just be happier in her own place. She finds me annoying and, I guess, taxing.
Yet she is a prime source of your comedy — she's featured on your TV show.
I have beaten her down like a pound dog and convinced her that every time I make fun of her or make a joke at her expense, it helps me pay for my house, where she lives half the time. I try to make a direct link between her own survival and my jokes about her. I occasionally suggest if I'm not able to make jokes about her, she will be living in a state-run home within two weeks.
You do make fun of yourself, as well.
I'm my best subject. I can make fun of myself all day long. Even if one of my celebrities, like Lindsay Lohan, is behaving well for a week, I'm sure I will do something debasing.
What will you be doing in Boston?
I'll be riffing on whatever the news of the day is, anything from the latest politician to slip up to whatever's in the tabloids to my own personal run-ins with any celebrities that come my way. There will be lots of foul language. It is truly improvisational, as conversational as it seems, because that's the only way I know how to do it. I'm not a joke teller. I can't tell a one-liner to save my life.