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15 minutes talking Snooki, D-List and donuts with Kathy Griffin

Wes Eichenwald
Kathy Griffin is always ready to spread celebrity gossip ... and munch on doughnuts.

One doesn't conduct an interview with comedian Kathy Griffin so much as listen to a nonstop monologue, occasionally managing to get in a word or two edgewise. Over the phone from the vicinity of Battle Creek, Mich. ("I know you're jealous"), she importunes, no, commands the interviewer to be sure to mention she'll be playing not only the Long Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Aug. 5, but San Antonio the following night. ("Think about the people we're going to touch who are between the two cities!")

Talking with — or more accurately, being the target audience of — the star of "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" on Bravo, and 5,000 nights on the road, is about what you'd expect. Griffin is her own tacky infomercial, playing "Kathy Griffin, D-list celeb" to the hilt, but we're always in on the joke, and she makes sure we know it's one. That taken care of, she's off and riffing on Mel Gibson ("I just might be making fun of an easy target"), followed by the inevitable George W. Bush reference for the Texas crowd.

Knowing Griffin is a doughnut fan, I recommend she try Gourdough's over-the-top gourmet doughnut trailer on South Lamar Boulevard during her visit. This grabs her attention: "Now you've totally (wrecked) the interview," she tells me, reaching for a note pad. "You've derailed it."

American-Statesman: How has the Internet affected stand-up comedy? It used to be that the stand-up comic had a near-monopoly on truth-telling in America, but with the rise of blogging and reality TV, everybody seems to be dishing the dirt and gossip and reveling in talking trash about everyone. Do you get annoyed at all these amateurs trying to do your job?

Kathy Griffin: No, because they're not me. There's only one me, and I have become the cockroach that won't go away, no matter where I am. There are many comedians that I love and admire, but most of the stuff in my act is experiences I have had with celebrities. Anyone can make a joke about Snooki or Whitney Houston or Oprah.

Reality really seems to have taken over from fiction in the entertainment world. Is it possible for anyone to be a celebrity in America these days without being humiliated at some point?

As an Emmy-nominated and Emmy-winning reality star, I'm going to stuff doughnuts down your throat for that. I've tried to do a reality show which is really kind of a sitcom in disguise. But obviously, we're in a time where it's very different than 10 years ago, and Snooki thinks she's as famous as Angelina Jolie. Ten years ago I might have made a joke about how thin Angelina Jolie is. Now, I have so much more material.

If you're on the D-List, what list would Snooki be on?

She's on the A-List, but she hasn't been around long enough to know it's going to be a short ride.

It sort of lets Kate Gosselin off the hook, anyway, which you were focusing on last year when you visited Austin.

She is almost in the cockroach club. Believe me, Kate Gosselin or one of the Lohans, they've done something new and exciting for me.

So you're not afraid of being so successful that you'll lose your street cred as a D-List person because you have a best-selling book ('Official Book Club Selection') and . . .

(After reeling off an impressive list of other accomplishments) ... here's an example of why I'm on the D-List. I did a special called "Kathy Griffin Does The Bible Belt." I'm now going to release a CD for one reason, to try to get nominated for a Grammy. That is very D-List. Bravo did not even want to. The only reason I want to put out the CD is because I want to walk the red carpet at the Grammys.

Four years ago, Newsweek ran an article on you stating that the only demographic you had yet to crack was straight, white males. Do you think you've made any inroads in that area since then?

I think I've made some accidental inroads. More and more, men will come up to me after the show — (in an exaggerated Southern good-ol'-boy accent) "Mah waaafe dragged me here and I don't really like you 'cause you're annoying, but guess what, you're pretty funny for a chick. I'm embarrassed; don't tell mah waaafe."

A lot of your material is light and skims the surface of the gossip world, but you don't shy away from talking about yourself and your family and serious subjects. Do you think there are subjects that really shouldn't be talked about, or is it anything goes?

No, nothing is off-limits; everything's on the table. I believe you can laugh at anything. When I went to Iraq, I was told, "Whatever you do, don't talk about the mission, don't talk about the armed services." But that's what the (troops) wanted to hear the most. People need to laugh, that's what they need to talk about most.

This is when her publicist cuts in, and it's on to the next media op. Griffin will rendezvous with her faithful in Austin, one city among many on her schedule and will undoubtedly give them what they're looking for.

And, of course, there will be the doughnuts.

Kathy Griffin

  • Tuesday, Aug. 3: The season finale of ‘Kathy Griffin My Life on the D-List' airs at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
  • Thursday, Aug. 5: Griffin performs at 8 p.m. at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. Advance tickets are $45 and up. 474-5664, thelongcenter.org