The controversial American comedienne on being a persona non grata (because of that infamous photo of a fake bloodied melon of President Donald Trump), and on what to expect in her show here (yes, she will talk about the POTUS).
8 DAYS: You’ll be performing here as part of the Laugh Your Head Off World Tour. It’s your first world tour and first time in Singapore. Did you ever think you’d one day take your brand of humour outside of the US?
KATHY GRIFFIN: I’m very excited to be coming to Singapore for the first time ever. I hope you guys will be able to handle it ’cos there will be a lot of cussing. You probably shouldn’t bring the kids — it’s not The Lion King. It’s just a redhead who caused a worldwide controversy with a photo. I don’t know if I can joke about that, but you have to admit that it’s pretty [expletive] funny. Our accidental President says so many stupid things in one day. I want to stand on stage and tell Singaporeans how [expletive] nuts he is and how crazy it is here [in the US].
Who else is going to be the butt of your jokes at your show here?
You know, I live next door to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West. That’s built for comedy. So don’t tell me that Singaporeans don’t want to know what it’s like when Kim Kardashian comes over to your house. Or how we call Kanye ‘Pablo’ ’cos he thinks he’s Picasso. The stories I could tell! I also have the cutest picture of my 97-year-old mother babysitting their kids ’cos she was depressed about being old.
There was a lot of backlash about that photo of the fake bloodied, severed head of President Trump. Your tour got cancelled, you were dropped by advertisers, you were investigated by the Secret Service, and you and Anderson Cooper are no longer friends. On hindsight, was it worth it?
That photo cost me everything and turned my whole life upside down. Everything was over, but, honestly, if it weren’t for that photo, I wouldn’t be able to do this world tour. You know, when the Dixie Chicks got in trouble for saying they were embarrassed that George W Bush was their President, the government turned on them, but the artistic community supported them. It’s the opposite for me. I didn’t get Dixie Chicked — I got Dixie D***ed. The government and artistes turned on me, but Cher was like, “Why didn’t you call me first, b****? I would’ve told you how to handle it better.”
Why do you think you were singularly targeted?
’Cos I’m a woman in a male-dominated field. Johnny Depp got drunk and talked about killing the President, but he was back on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise ’cos he’s a man. Bill Maher used the ‘N’ word and was back at work four days later with the full support of his network [HBO]. I have no problem with people not liking that photo, but it’s not against the law. Donald Trump Jr went on national television and said he wanted to decimate my entire life. It was a coordinated campaign against me and that has never happened to a comedienne in the history of this country. I can’t tell you how bizarre it is to have to tell your 97-year-old mother that you’re not in ISIS.
You apologised but then rescinded the apology. Why the change of heart?
I was under federal investigation, so I wasn’t exactly in a position to be sassy until I found out what my legal rights were. All that outrage about my photo was phony bulls*** meant to distract from all the shady s*** they were doing. We have a bunch of crazy characters in the White House now. For a comedienne, it’s a great time ’cos there is so much material. I liked Barack Obama, but there wasn’t a lot that was funny about him.
Being away from the US must be a welcome reprieve from the madness back home.
I’ve been doing comedy for 25 years. I have two Emmys, a Grammy, and I’ve done more televised specials than any comedienne. But I’ve never done comedy in a time like this. It is different. I’m shunned in my own homeland. Nobody was going to help me get out of this, so I asked my agent where I could go to make fun of Trump. He called me back and told me I can make fun of Trump everywhere else. I’m curious how I’ll be received in Singapore. It’s the one country I’ve been warned about. Everyone’s saying I have to be careful there. But you can’t say I can’t make fun of that ridiculous Cheeto orangutan. He is not off the table. If I can’t make fun of Trump, I’m not coming!
Is there really an unspoken line in comedy or is everything fair game?
I think it varies from person to person. I do admit that comediennes see the world through a twisted filter. Comedy is such a subjective art form. I personally don’t believe there should be limits on comedy. I’ll say all the good and bad things. A comedienne should be able to just cut through the bulls*** and shine a light on the situation. It’s part of our job to have fun with it.
Do unpleasant remarks about you on social media ever get to you?
Yes, and no. It changes daily. Some days I have a thick skin and some days I’m curled up in a ball crying on the floor. It’s completely human and unpredictable, but I try to be consistently fearless and honest with the work I put out there. That’s why my act changes every night. I do take a lot of risks and I try a lot of new material. Audiences are going to get an evening that’s unique and improvisational. It’s not going to be a monologue that I’ve memorised.
Would you rather be trapped in a room with Trump or have your jokes fall flat?
Wow, that’s a hard question. I don’t like to bomb and I obviously can’t stand Trump. Okay. I’d be willing to sit in a room alone with that idiot if it gets the audience to clap. That is how much I want to please them. I’d truly do anything for a laugh. I shaved my head ’cos my sister has cancer and I wanted to make her laugh. I look like a boy now. You can call me Miss or Mister. I don’t really care as long as you laugh at my jokes.
Main photo: LAMC
Catch Kathy Griffin’s Laugh Your Head Off World Tour at The Star Theatre on Nov 3. Tix from Sistic.