Q & A with Kathy Griffin
Comedian Kathy Griffin. (CBS)
You might say it was ANYTHING but by-the-numbers for Kathy Griffin, who joined Anderson Cooper in Times Square last night for the dropping of the Times Square ball. She's been shocking - even offending - audiences with her comedy for years now. But as our Mo Rocca discovered, she makes NO APOLOGIES . . .
Kathy Griffin makes fun of pretty much everyone. Her mother Maggie, herself, and - more than anyone else - Hollywood stars.
A lot of people think she's funny. If you don't, well, she says that's too bad.
"I have a no-apology policy," she said. "No apologies for jokes. I apologize in my real life all the time. I say ridiculous things, I make mistakes constantly. But when I'm on stage, I'm at a microphone . . . it's a joke!"
But sometimes, the audience isn't quite in on the joke, like the time in 2007 when her reality show "My Life on the D-List" was nominated for an Emmy.
Leaving nothing to chance, Griffin plotted her speech carefully.
"I wanted a speech that would be water-cooler worthy," she told Rocca, "meaning, I thought if I don't get up there and say something outrageous, no one's going to ever know I won an Emmy"
People certainly knew she'd won that Emmy!
"A lot of people come up here and they thank Jesus for this award . . . I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. So, all I can say is, 'Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now!'"
The speech angered religious groups across the country, from the Catholic League to a Christian theater group in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., which ran a full-page ad in USA Today denouncing Griffin.
She said the fallout was "heaven" for her: " I mean, it was comedy gold."
"So if you were going to answer seriously somebody who said, 'Kathy Griffin, why are you attacking Christianity,' what would you say?"
"I wouldn't even indulge them in an answer. I probably wouldn't even say anything as serious as, 'Get over yourself.'"
That sort of scorched-earth approach to comedy has endeared her to fans, but in Hollywood, she still gets close to no respect.
"A few years ago, Vanity Fair did a spread on women in comedy. Why the heck were you not in there?"
"Normally I try not to let that stuff bug me. But I have to admit when I saw that cover, you know, I had a couple of tearful days. When I'm not in the Maxim 'Sexiest Comedians' article, that one, you know, doesn't really hurt. But the Vanity Fair one hurt because I'm such a fan of the magazine."
Being a fan is what makes 51-year-old Kathy Griffin tick. She lays the blame squarely on her parents, John and Maggie, and her upbringing in Chicago, where the Griffins kept up on the latest celebrity gossip.
"Our dinner-table conversations were often political, current events, but also just peppered with a lot of celebrity - you know, we put these celebrities on such a pedestal."
"And you worshiped celebrity - was it like a love/hate thing?"
"No. I only worshiped celebrity at that time," Griffin said. "Keep in mind, I had never MET a celebrity and never thought I would in a million years."
But Griffin did dream of heading west and becoming a star. So after graduating from high school, she convinced her parents to move to Los Angeles for their retirement.
By day Griffin hustled as a temp. At night she honed her comedy chops at L.A.'s famed Groundlings Theatre, all the while living at home, until she was 28.
Her mom Maggie was just fine with that.
"You know why I didn't want her on her own?" Maggie Griffin told Rocca. "I didn't want her posing, like all the girls that pose nude on the calendars, cause they had no money."
"You didn't want Kathy having to go topless to make bread and butter," said Rocca.
"No, not at all. Honestly, we didn't want her doing any of that stuff."
"No, I don't think that, but, you know, other girls did, 'cause they needed the money. They had to pay rent and, you know, you read that about a lot of the girls that did that stuff. So we felt 'Keep her at home safe!'"
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