The Trump presidency has been a scary carnival ride for too many around the world, but Kathy Griffin has enjoyed her own personal hell with the man she has known casually for decades.
On May 30, 2017, she thought her career had come to an end. Griffin posted a photo of herself holding a severed replica of Donald Trump’s head that was smeared in fake blood. Since Trump was obviously alive, and since Griffin has made a name for herself the past 20 years as a standup comedian, it seemed obvious this was just for kicks. In the fractured world of American politics, though, she might have known better.
She became the subject of a two-month federal investigation.
“He brought in the fucking Department of Justice, headed by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, ‘Oh my lord! Somebody get me a mint julep!’ ” she says in full faux drawl on the phone from her home in Los Angeles. “They were trying to decide whether or not to charge me with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States.”
She says she’s currently on the Interpol list, which means she’s detained at every airport she goes to—a hassle at the best of times, but consider that she has played 15 countries since being cleared. “That’s scary as hell,” she says. “That shouldn’t be happening to a comedian.”
She soon found out who her allies were in show business.
“I can tell you that that day—the day that changed the trajectory of my life forever—I got a call from your very own Jim Carrey. You heard me!” she says. “It was so sweet, because obviously I was a complete wreck. A wall of shit fell on me. First of all, it’s unprecedented in the history of the United States that a sitting 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, 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 because I’m sorry, you have to laugh—that I had joined ISIS or al-Qaeda. And he goes, ‘Do you know how many comedians would give their right arm to have this story? At the end of this, you’re going to have a story no one in the world can touch. Not another comedian. Nobody.’ ”
So she got writing, running her lines in her living room. She toured Europe, first with a two-hour show, and it’s only grown since then. She recently attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, getting into it with influential Republicans. “Obviously, half the room there wants to pretty much kill me, so I can’t resist just going up to them,” says Griffin, who issued a public apology almost immediately after the incident. “I’m also going to admit that I purposely stood outside the men’s room and just had some choice words for certain members of the Trump administration. And I would do it again!”
She calls it a “fucking triumph”, given what she’s been through. She even met Stormy Daniels. “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.”
You can expect to hear all the stories, from her early meetings with Trump back when he guest-starred on Suddenly Susan in 1997 (she calls him “aggressively stupid”) to hanging with her next-door neighbours, the Kardashian-Wests. (“Let’s just say he’s not the greatest conversationalist,” she says of Kanye.)
“I’m leaning into the topic,” she says. “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.”
Buckle up. There’s a ton to tell and she won’t cut you short.
“Tell your readers to either wear a colostomy bag or be prepared to take bathroom breaks.”
Kathy Griffin’s Laugh Your Head Off World Tour plays the Orpheum on Saturday (June 2).