Kathy Griffin’s stand-up is updated so much that fans rarely see the same show twice

By : Zach Caruso
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Kathy Griffin is looking forward to coming to Florida. Not only does her current tour bring her newest stand-up to Orlando’s Bob Carr Center on Friday, July 12, and Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday, July 13, but she is preparing for a healthy dose of spiritual reflection.

“I’m so excited to come to Clearwater and join Scientology!” she says. “The first few times I played Ruth Eckerd Hall, I had people waiting for me in the parking lot, fearfully warning me saying ‘Ms. Griffin, do you realize you’ve just been making fun of Scientology in their hub?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s why I do it!'”

Her upbeat personality and sharp wit bubble over when she speaks, and it is that infectious positivity and enthusiasm that has helped her build a career that spans more than three decades.

“Growing up, I was told ‘You’re going to one day lose it all and have to live in your car,'” she says. “So I just stay on that hamster wheel, but I love it. I’ve been nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album and lost five times, my talk show [Kathy on the Bravo network] was cancelled, but it’s always ‘Ok, what’s the next thing?'”

And her hamster wheel has yet to slow down. She was a cast member of NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan from 1996-2000, she had her own hit reality show on Bravo called Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List that ran for six seasons (All six of which were nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program, with season two and season three winning the award in 2007 and 2008). She released her book Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin in 2009 which became a New York Times bestseller, and with her last stand-up special-last month’s Calm Down Gurrl [“It makes it gender non-specific,” she says] which aired on Bravo-she broke the record for most stand-up specials of all-time in comedy.

“Nobody gave a shit,” she says with a laugh. “But I love stand-up so much that I’m going to break my own record and do another in November.”

And for all that she has done, her stand-up is one area of her career that she is especially fond of.

“The constant that has been there for me, that’s been invaluable, has really been the live shows,” she says. “I love whatever I can do that makes people laugh, regardless of the medium, but it feels great to know I can do these live shows and people will come out and they know that they’re going to get different material than the last time they came to see me.”

She prides herself on rapidly changing and updating her material, avoiding the trap of allowing a routine to become stale-especially when fans come to see her multiple times.

“I once had the honor of playing one market in Minneapolis twice in three months, and I thought to myself ‘You know what, even if there are five people who came to the show three months ago, I’d better just change the entire act,'” she says. “I’m so flattered when people say things like ‘This is my seventh time coming to see you,’ because they know they are going to get something different every time they come out.”

Her up-to-the-minute approach, however, is not just to keep things fresh for fans, but also because Hollywood is giving her new material to work with on a second-to-second basis. “You never know if Lindsay Lohan has decided to stay in rehab or if she’s at the kind of rehab where she can go out on the balcony and do three wardrobe changes for photographers,” she says.

Case in point: Amanda Bynes.

“I’m keeping up with what direction her wig is on,” Griffin says, “I’m keeping up with her nose-sometimes her nose looks more webbed than other days.”

Bynes claimed to have needed recent plastic surgery to fix a patch of “webbed skin” between her nose and eye. Griffin has a different explanation.

“There was a show in the ’70’s called The Man From Atlantis with Patrick Duffy, and this was an entire show that was based on a man who had webbed feet and therefore could swim faster than a normal person,” she says. “I’m wondering if Amanda Bynes wasn’t up late one night doing some salvia and saw a rerun of this show and decided that she had a webbed nose.”

What makes Griffin’s comedy so entertaining is that she calls it like she sees it, giving her fans an insider’s view of the outlandish goings-on of Tinsletown.

“My comedy is really based on my personal run-ins with celebrities and pop-culture figures, and the ever-changing news of all these crazies,” she says. “The more I work in Hollywood and television and all, the more astonished I am at how openly crazy these nut-bags are.”

Florida fans are in for the most current and up-to-date material Griffin can throw at them. “I have to give a disclaimer-don’t bring your kids or your Bible,” she says. “There’s going to be cursing, I’m going to be calling the Kardashians whores, I’ll be making fun of Oprah, I’m sure my drunken mother will have said something very inappropriate earlier that day on the phone. I’m like Brian Williams, I keep it up to the minute.
“Last week in New York I did the Don Rickles Friars Roast and there were people there like Bette Midler, Billy Crystal,
Joan Rivers, so I’ll be giving all the backstage dirt on that. And I’m also throwing in politicians and heads of state, everyone is fair game and everyone is on the table.”

And speaking of politics, Griffin-a longtime advocate for and supporter of the LGBT community-says she was ecstatic to hear the recent Supreme Court decision overturning DOMA and Prop 8.

“What I find as one of the most encouraging things about the Proposition 8 fight are the two attorneys who are involved, David Boies and Ted Olson,” she says. “Olson fought on behalf of George W. Bush in the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, so I had written this guy off as a conservative ‘enemy’ of the LGBT community, and then next thing you know Ted Olson and David Boies are working together. If that isn’t a sign of progress, I don’t know what is.”

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