Kathleen Mary "Kathy" Griffin (born November 4, 1960 in Oak Park, Illinois) is an American stand-up comic, actress, and televison host known for her crass, storytelling-like humour that focuses on celebrities and her self-appointed status as a D-list celebrity.
At the beginning of her career, Griffin landed small roles in movies and regularly performed on the comedy circuit. Her big break was on the TV show Suddenly Susan, where she played the sassy restaurant critic Vicki. This, however, was not enough to make her a household name, and after the finale of the series she reverted back to semi-obscurity, landing small roles in TV and film.
In 2003, Kathy participated in and won the third season of The Mole, Celebrity Edition. She claims this was the moment in which she officially became a D-list celebrity (meaning she felt she was just barely one) and in 2004, she officially claimed the title by naming her third comedy special The D-List. This comedy special was popular enough to lead to her Emmy award-winning reality show My Life on the D-List that followed her attempts to gain stardom in Hollywood, which lasted six years. She would go on to host her own talk show, called Kathy, for two seasons and hosted E!'s Fashion Police after the passing of Joan Rivers.
She had co-hosted CNN's New Year's Eve coverage from 2007 to 2017 with best friend and frequent humiliation target Anderson Cooper (why he agreed to do it with her every year is a mystery to everyone, up to and including Cooper himself). Every successive broadcast required her to go to even further lengths to kill him with embarrassment; despite (among other antics) spray-tanning his face with no warning, painting stripes in his hair, and getting her kit (mostly) off on live TV. Repeatedly. Though its ratings were far lower than that of the famous "New Year's Rockin' Eve", it did have a loyal fanbase. She was fired from the show in May 2017 after she released a graphic publicity photo that depicted her holding the decapitated head of Donald Trump.
Griffin's comedy is mainly based on celebrities, whether it's ones she comes into contact with in real life or ones she sees on TV. While this has gained her some admirers, many celebrities actively avoid her (such as her former Suddenly Susan co-star Brooke Shields). She's also an outspoken LGBT activist, and fought the anti-gay marriage Prop 8, and in recent stand-ups has read hate mail she receives from people opposed to gay rights.
Griffin currently holds the world record for the most comedy specials by a stand-up comedian in history, with (as of 2015) 20 comedy specials aired. She's also a Grammy winner, and is known for her shameless attempts to get nominations for awards shows, such as the previously mentioned Grammys (with her album "For your Consideration"), the Tonys (with her one-week Broadway show Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony, and even an attempt to align herself with Oprah Winfrey's book club with her autobiography Official Book Club Selection.
She also hosted The Roast of Joan Rivers on Comedy Central. Oh... and she has a blink and you'll miss it moment in Pulp Fiction; the scene where Bruce Willis tries to run down Ving Rhames (in the credits she's listed As Herself).
Some of her TV works include:
- Seinfeld: She had a small role in one episode, and was called back to do another one after she trash-talked Jerry Seinfeld on her comedy specials.
- Suddenly Susan: As the snarky Vicki, a role often accused of being a Captain Ersatz of Newsradio's Beth (it certainly doesn't help that Beth was played by Vicki Lewis).
- A semi-regular during the H2 era of The Hollywood Squares.
- Dilbert: as Dilbert's co-worker Alice. Uncredited, as she was starring in Suddenly Susan at the same time and her NBC contract prohibited her from receiving on-screen credit for roles she played in shows on other networks.
- The Mole: She was the winner of the third season of Celebrity Mole.
- My Life On The D List: Her reality show, which lasted six seasons over five years.
- Fashion Police: She became the main host after Joan Rivers' death, but left after only seven episodes.
This comedian provides examples of:
- The Artifact: Her status as a D-list celebrity. Following her reality show, she (briefly) hosted Fashion Police and the New Year's Eve show on CNN from 2007 to 2017, has won several awards, is a household comedy name and is also friends with very, very famous people. This is one of the reasons why she didn't continue with her reality show, as in her own words, "[She's] too famous now."
- Black Comedy: In heaping amounts. She once made a joke of Demi Lovato being a "cutter" and got enough death threats on Twitter that police officers contacted her for protection.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: Firmly opposes this, and claims that fame and awards make her feel better than any other type of accomplishment.
- Child Hater: Only as part of her comedy. She thinks babies are selfish and hopes she doesn't have any eggs left
- Cluster F-Bomb: Known for having a sailor's mouth. She can go off in any type of show, and she's often bleeped at least once in her talk show appearances.
- Crosses the Line Twice: She has mentioned in her specials that she moves the line and then crosses it.
- Dark and Troubled Past: In her most serious interviews, she has talked about how as a child she was called a dog and barked at for four years straight during her years at a Catholic school, the severe beatings she got from the other girls, and how her brother was a pedophile of whom she was scared until the day he died.
- Evil Counterpart: To Ellen DeGeneres. As Kathy herself has said, Ellen is a comedian who's in the "business" of being nice to celebrities, while Kathy is in the... opposite business.
- Fag Hag: Self-described due to her large LGBT fanbase.
- Hatedom: Kathy revels in this, reading hate mail in her standup act.
- Mrs. Robinson: Griffin is 21 years older than her second husband Randy.
- Odd Friendship: Would you believe wacky, brash Kathy Griffin was once good friends with straight-laced, stoic newsman Anderson Cooper? It did veer into Vitriolic Best Buds, however, since it seemed a good chunk of their dynamic seemed to be Kathy pushing Anderson's buttons. Fortunately, he seemed to react with bemused affection and mild annoyance as opposed to genuinely being angry about it. Even more oddly, she is also extremely close to Anderson's mother, Gloria Vanderbilt; he inadvertently introduced them by phone after one of their New Year's Eve broadcasts, and a genuine, close friendship was born. They have since become estranged after Cooper criticized her controversial Trump photo shoot.
- Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Griffin is no stranger to these type of situationsnote , lost a large amount of her support and show appearances in 2017 after posting a picture of her holding (depending on the source) either a pineapple dressed to look like or a mask that resembled Donald Trump's severed head, complete with a knife and fake blood. Being outspoken about her dislike of Trump, it was clear Griffin was making a "shocking" image, but this backfired as many people called her out on what came across as a call to violence against the president, or in general, seeing it as too extreme of a joke. Griffin initially apologized and removed the image after she received backlash for it, but by that point, the damage was done; she was dropped by her marketing team, followed by CNN, several of her comedy shows were outright cancelled, and several state senators cancelled their support or events with her in response. By the end of it all, she had been put on the No Fly List and investigated by the Department of Justice for two months. She attempted to continue her comedy career in spite of this, but the events around it made it very difficult for her to do so, causing her to largely back off from comedy as a result. In early 2019, she attempted to offer her perspective of the whole controversy with an interview movie about the experience, but very little buzz occurred for it despite her best efforts to spread the word. Griffin's stand-up tours still sold well, though the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on live stand-up comedy.
- Serial Escalation: Every successive New Year's Eve broadcast requires her to go even greater lengths to try and kill Anderson Cooper from embarrassment. Or so she tells it, anyway. Poor Anderson would beg to differ. Eventually this became the primary selling point for their coverage, which now seems to be advertised as "See what ridiculous thing Kathy Griffin will do next and how Anderson Cooper reacts to it!"
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: It's up in the air as to whether or not Griffin strips down to her knickers and bra on New Year's Eve purely to embarrass Anderson Cooper, or because she has a "rockin' bikini bod" and wants to show it off. Knowing Griffin, it's probably both. She also did the ALS ice bucket challenge naked because Suze Orman asked her to.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A staple of Griffin's act is claiming she is mutually this with a number of celebrities. Barbara Walters, Andy Cohen, Donald Trump, Sharon Stone and Ryan Seacrest are her most frequently cited nemeses.
- The Teetotaler: Griffin proudly claims to be one of these, as her response to growing up in a house with many alcoholics when she was a child. Griffin says the only time she's ever drank alcohol in her life was when she accidentally took a sip of a beer as a child.
- What Would X Do?: There was this one time she had to sing right after Kristin Chenoweth on her reality show, so she said in the recap "WWASD: What would Ashlee Simpson Do?"