It was only one year ago, almost to the day, that comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted a photo of herself holding a “severed head” of President Donald Trump. Actually, it was a Trump mask from a costume shop covered with ketchup.
Under the photo, Griffin wrote: “I caption this 'there was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his…wherever.” It was a spoof on candidate Trump’s earlier comment about Fox anchor Megyn Kelly during a Republican presidential debate.
Oh, it hit the fan, all right.
The president called Griffin sick. First lady Melania Trump said it makes you wonder “about the mental health of the person who did it.” First son Donald Jr. said, “disgusting … she deserves everything that's coming to her.”
Deserving or not, and most people voted deserving, it came fast and furious. Griffin was in the middle of a 50-city U.S. tour that fell apart. Venues canceled her shows almost immediately. She was the subject of a 2-month Department of Justice investigation. Showbiz friends dropped her. She received vulgar (she claims poorly spelled) death threats. CNN fired her from her New Year’s Eve hosting job. She became a comedian in political exile, playing theaters in Europe and Asia.
Griffin’s 98-year-old mother called and asked if she had joined ISIS.
At first, Griffin apologized for the photo. Then she took back the apology. Now Griffin is back.
Next month, she “heads off” on a North American tour, playing bigger venues than ever, including shows in Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall in New York, and two shows at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Griffin’s “Laugh Your Head Off” Tour has three stops in Texas: Winspear Opera House in Dallas (August 18), Bass Hall in Austin (August 19), and Jones Hall in Houston (August 20).
I asked Griffin, how long did it take you to come up with “Laugh Your Head Off” for the name of this tour? She fires back: “two seconds.” I would have taken the under.
More important, is this tour all about revenge and whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?
“The purpose of this tour is, this is such a unique situation, it’s never happened in the history of the United States. It’s such a crazy period. Our accidental president personally put his thumb on the shoulder of my life, not just my career. To quote Don Jr., ‘We don’t just want to ruin Kathy Griffin’s career, we want to decimate her.’
“Well, I’m not decimated. I think it’s important for me to go town to town and make people laugh with my dick jokes and Kardashian stories. Whether you liked that photo or not, it was completely covered by the First Amendment. This shouldn’t happen to any American citizen. God forbid one of your kids accidentally tweeted that photo. They shouldn’t be under a 2-month federal investigation.”
Griffin describes her last 12 months as “being put through the Fox News machine and the Trump wood chipper.”
Fans coming to her show should expect to stay a while. This isn’t a 1-hour comedy performance anymore. Her performances have turned into 2-hour, closing in on 3-hour, rants about Hollywood, American culture and, of course, the Trump family. A Kathy Griffin show is still about comedy. “Although the New York Times came to see me in Dublin and said I was this generation’s Lenny Bruce,” she says.
Maybe let’s hope not, at least not Lenny Bruce in his later years. The once-brilliant satirist turned into a bitter bore, reading transcripts from his obscenity trials onstage.
“I’ve been doing standup comedy a long time. I’m in the Guinness World Records for having written and produced more standup comedy specials on TV than any comedian living or dead, male or female. I am hardwired to see everything through a comedic prism. Even that day, when the wall fell on me, I find that funny.
“I’m twisted, I admit it. I had to call my mom and reassure her that I wasn’t in ISIS. Picture that, I, a 57-year-old red-haired comedian calling my 98-year-old alcoholic box wine-loving mother who watches Fox News with the sound off. It’s so over the top. Look, I’m just trying to be the best.”