A brand-new extensive interview with Kathy Griffin appeared today in The Hollywood Reporter, putting her on its cover as A Comic In Exile. The profile headline? “Can a Comic in Exile Come Back?”
For starters, she’s not exiled. THR met her for lunch in Santa Monica and visited with her in her Bel Air mansion. The magazine used a photo of her performing at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles just a few months ago.
Yes, her national tour planned for 2017 abruptly got cancelled after she posed with a fake head of Donald Trump to gin up publicity for the tour in May. So instead she took her “Laugh Your Head Off” tour abroad to sell-out crowds in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and replaced Trump’s head with a globe for the promo photos. The New York Times even went to Dublin to review her show there.
But when journalists asked me at year’s end about Griffin’s predicament, I thought they (or perhaps Griffin to them) were making more out of it than it was. Not that FBI and Secret Service investigations, cancelled theater dates and online death threats are anything I wish on anyone. It’s just. Well. This has been Griffin’s m.o. for decades now. Court controversy, and leverage the ensuing brouhaha into ticket sales and TV deals. Her stand-up act, as represented in multiple Bravo specials, dished dirty gossip on all of the A- and B- listers she encountered as a self-described D-lister. It served her well for a long time.
As THR even noted in this graphic accompanying its interview today:
You can hear Griffin tell her side of the story in this recent BBC interview:
I firmly believe, as I told fellow journalists earlier this winter, that Griffin could have leveraged her audience in America — who never left her, even if concert promoters and advertisers may have jumped ship — by mounting a rogue tour in smaller markets or smaller theaters than she had grown accustomed to in the past decade.
So what if she’s not on CNN on New Year’s Eve swearing and mocking Anderson Cooper?
She would still sell tickets in any liberal American city in 2018 wanting to hear her dish about all of this.
Griffin arrives for lunch at Santa Monica’s Ivy at the Shore in a glittering black Maserati. She hasn’t been out on the town much since the scandal broke, so she’s obviously put some effort into this interview date in mid-January. She’s in full makeup, her hair dyed a fiery red and neatly shorn. (She shaved it off as a show of support for her sister Joyce, who died in September of cancer, and now keeps it cropped.) She’s wearing a tight dress with a plunging neckline, large green sunglasses and carrying a fur-trimmed Chanel purse, which she plops down on the table with purpose. (“I got it at the outlet, but it was still very expensive.”) She orders the spicy corn chowder, of which she will eat three spoonfuls (“Too spicy,” she says). Despite the theatrical entrance, no one in the packed room seems to notice her; if they do, they don’t seem to care.
Griffin seems a little surprised by the low-key reception; nowadays she’s accustomed to “gasps” when she enters a room (as happened at a recent funeral). She is all too aware that she’s trapped in the Hollywood equivalent of a gulag. But not everyone thinks it’s game over. “She didn’t hurt anyone,” says Jimmy Kimmel, who already has offered Griffin a spot on his show whenever she’s ready to talk. He’s predicting a comeback in her future. “She is one of the funniest people in the world,” he says. “She’ll be bigger than ever.”