At the Orpheum on Saturday, June 2
Kathy Griffin has a lot to say. A lot. While she warned the crowd assembled at the Orpheum Theatre that she runs long, she ran about three-and-a-half hours in Vancouver. And she gave the impression she could go on even longer if she were left to her own devices. Wow.
While Griffin has always been a chatterbox, her recent political experiences have given her a mountain of material to discuss. Accordingly, her routine has taken on a much heavier tone than anything she's done in the past. And she seemed more fired up than ever—with obvious reason.
While she's always been frank and discussed serious and dark topics, such as her botched liposuction or her estranged brother's alleged pedophilic behaviour, she has usually left such content for interviews. Her standup has primarily been built from a fluffy foundation of celebrities, TV shows, and ridiculous experiences, with occasional forays into political issues such as women's and LGBT rights or battles with Sarah Palin worked in.
For this stop on her Laugh Your Head Off World Tour, that proportional ratio was reversed.
Though she may be the queen of making fun of her own inappropriateness, the infamous Trump head photo scandal created the most intense challenge of her career: how do you make light of something when you're under federal investigation, are put on a no-fly list, are receiving daily death threats, have almost all your business contracts cancelled, have your friends and relatives abandon you including BFFs like Anderson Cooper, and are treated like a pariah?
Moreover, as a comic, how do you regain form after your mask cracks and your emotions spill out on national television?
(For those who are unaware, the 2017 photo she took of herself holding a mask of Trump's head with ketchup on it was a response to a 2015 tweet Trump made about Fox News host Megyn Kelly having "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever". Griffin has since retracted the apology she made about the photoin 2017.)
Leave it to Griffin to bounce back on-stage with both middle fingers held high.
From the get-go, she made it clear that she was on a mission to overcome whatever obstacles she faces. The evening was not just about her getting laughs but about garnering support—and the audience was there with her, cheering her on. Though she wasn't quite as emotionally naked as she has been in some candid interviews, her vulnerable side was always looming there, such as when she brought up Cooper which she discussed matter-of-factly without cracking any jokes.
While a lot of the content overlapped heavily with things she has said in interviews about the fallout from her Trump head photo, she also talked at length about the importance of her soldiering on despite the opposition and criticism she's received. She buttressed her motivation with things she has said repeatedly in the past, about fighting against ageism and sexism in the industry. Expectedly, it was a hate-in for Trump and his family: she had plenty of criticism for the missing-in-action Melanie (her nickname for Melania Trump), the "feckless cunt" Ivanka Trump, and the lot of them.
Topical as ever, she also took on hot topics like Samantha Bee (whom she supports) and Roseanne Barr (whom she criticized). And as always, she did her homework and was up to speed on B.C. and Canadian issues such as Justin Trudeau and the Kinder Morgan pipeline protests, and even worked in a lengthy story about meeting Wayne Gretzky.
She expressed much appreciation for the assembled Vancouver crowd, admiring how audience members immediately responded when she said the name Jeff Sessions, without her having to explain who the U.S. attorney general is. Concurrently, she had plenty of put-downs for Americans, particularly Californians.
Despite all the political issues she discussed, she did work in some juicy gossip about her real-life neighbours Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, as well as Kris Jenner and Mariah Carey. After all, it wouldn't be a Kathy Griffin show without them mentioned, now would it?
Although she has always remained focused in her TV standup comedy specials, her ADHD–style of storytelling during her untaped live shows hasn't waned. As in the past, she repeatedly went off-topic with side stories, and even side stories of side stories, until she had to ask the audience to remind her about what she was originally talking about.
As the last stop in Canada before she heads into the States (she wisely kicked off the North American leg in Ottawa), she appeared poised and fired up to take on whatever comes her way. She may have a seemingly Sisyphean road ahead of her but it's also clear that there's a market out there for her. After all, with a president like Trump, the world still needs the Kathy Griffins of the world. Joan Rivers would be proud.