Kathy Grif­fin on the KenCen: ‘It is heaven’

The Washington Post Sunday - - THIS WEEK - BY ROGER CATLIN style@wash­post.com Catlin is a free­lance writer. Kathy Grif­fin June 20 at 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Cen­ter, 2700 F St. NW. Tick­ets: $49-$99. 202-467-4600. www.kennedy-cen­ter.org.

Celebri­ty­ob­sessed co­me­dian Kathy Grif­fin has won two Em­mys (in 2007 and 2008) for her re­al­ity show “My Life on the D List.” Last year, she took home a Grammy for the al­bum “Calm Down Gurrl.” This week, her 24th standup tour, Like a Boss, comes to the Kennedy Cen­ter.

The venue is clearly im­por­tant to her. In­deed, she named a 2013 com­edy spe­cial, taped in Min­neapo­lis, “Kennedie Cen­ter On Hers,” and, the 54yearold prom­ises, she’ll be “well-prepped to talk about

any­thing and ev­ery­thing.” But there was one thing her han­dlers warned she would not ad­dress in in­ter­views: Her short­lived stint ear­lier this year as a re­place­ment for the late

Joan Rivers on “Fash­ion Po­lice.” In a state­ment at the time, Grif­fin said the show wasn’t a good fit, adding: “I do not want to use my com­edy to con­trib­ute to a cul­ture of unattain­able per­fec­tion­ism

and in­tol­er­ance to­wards dif­fer­ence.” Grif­fin spoke by phone from Cal­i­for­nia, giddy about the news of the day: the Van­ity Fair cover of Cait­lyn Jen­ner. The con­ver­sa­tion has been edited for

space, but not nec­es­sar­ily for taste.

Howare you?

I feel very Cait­lyn right now. It’s all about Cait­lyn.

I was go­ing to try and leave Cait­lyn out of this, but I guess there’s no avoid­ing it, huh?

You can’t keep Cait­lyn out of it. The transes will come af­ter you, guns a-blazin’. First of all, I call her Caitie. I call her Caitie be­cause we’re des­tined to be­come besties. I ac­tu­ally love that Cait­lyn is do­ing what she’s do­ing at the age of 65. I love that Cher is the face of Marc Ja­cobs at 68. All that stuff is great. Think about it: I could ac­tu­ally be on­stage at the Kennedy Cen­ter when the de­ci­sion comes down about the le­gal­iza­tion of gay mar­riage. It could not be a bet­ter time to be in D.C. at the Kennedy Cen­ter.

Have you played the Kennedy Cen­ter be­fore?

I have, and it is heaven. First of all, the acous­tics are so per­fect. You’d think that wouldn’t mat­ter to a comic, but it does. The Kennedy Cen­ter au­di­ence is no­to­ri­ously smart and open­minded and di­verse. I’m go­ing to have my vets there, and I’m go­ing to have my soc­cer moms, and I’m go­ing to have my LGBTQIA2s— I keep up with all the let­ters and num­bers— and I’m go­ing to have my mar­ried cou­ples, my un­mar­ried cou­ples. That’s the great thing about the Kennedy Cen­ter: You get au­di­ence mem­bers who are com­ing be­cause they have a sub­scrip­tion, or you get peo­ple be­cause they’ve been fol­low­ing my so­cial me­dia and they know that a cou­ple of nights ago I went to see Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl, and Lady Gaga gave me a box filled with eggs from her own chick­ens, so . . . .

What’s go­ing to hatch out of those eggs? It might not be what you think.

I don’t care. What­ever hatches was “born this way.” It was so in­cred­i­ble. If I can tell you what it was like to be in an el­e­va­tor two nights ago with Tony Bennett and his wife, and Gaga and her body­guard: I was with my boyfriend, who is 17 years younger— and don’t even start with me on that. I’m in no mood. Life is short. Grab joy when you can. So I’m in an el­e­va­tor and it’s just us, and ev­ery­where I go, I’m look­ing for the funny. And there isn’t much hap­pen­ing. Then Lady Gaga pulls out a box, and hands it to Tony Bennett and ex­plains, “Th­ese are frommy own chick­ens, and Kathy, I brought some for you.” I said, you know what, that is a story. I’m go­ing to go into more de­tail about this at the Kennedy Cen­ter. I said thank you for the eggs— and the ma­te­rial.

I was go­ing to ask how you can come up with new ma­te­rial each year. Is it be­cause there’s no end to the celebri­ties do­ing things like that?

Yes. Be­cause the Dug­gars aren’t go­ing away, not comed­i­cally. As long as the Dug­gars con­tinue be­ing very pi­ous and very re­li­gious, I will be mak­ing fun of them. And they’re mul­ti­ply­ing. As a co­me­dian, you have to look for funny in ev­ery­thing. There is a cer­tain de­li­cious irony that when you read in­ter­views with the Dug­gars, they’re quite ho­mo­pho­bic and big­oted, and yet the show is pred­i­cated on how in­cred­i­bly re­li­gious they are and how much they love the Lord. There was a party at “Glee’s” Chris Colfer’s house last week­end, where he screamed “Mommy dear­est!” sit­ting next to Academy Award nom­i­nee June Squibb, do­ing color com­men­tary with Jane Lynch. You can’t write this stuff. This is the stuff I’m go­ing to bring to the Kennedy Cen­ter, be­cause the Kennedy Cen­ter au­di­ence knows who June Squibb is. That, cou­pled with a Lady Gaga omelet, cou­pled with the minute-byminute Cait­lyn up­dates I’ll be giv­ing them, is so much ma­te­rial it’s go­ing to be all I can do to get off the stage by 10:00.

You are friends with so many celebri­ties now. Does that make it harder to make fun of them?

A lot of them are fi­nally com­ing around, and I very much en­joy that. I don’t mind if the oc­ca­sional Demi Lo­vato or Lana Del Rey is mad at me. But I ap­pre­ci­ate it when a celebrity comes up to me and goes, “Oh, I get it.” Mi­ley Cyrus fi­nally gets it. She goes, “Oh, you’re just kid­ding.” Yes, Mi­ley. This whole time I’ve just been kid­ding. I don’t dis­like you. I think you’re great. The thing peo­ple don’t be­lieve is I’m a gen­uine fan of 95 per­cent of the peo­ple I make fun of. I was raised in a fasttalk­ing fam­ily where you gave as good as you took. And it’s kind of with an af­fec­tion­ate wink that I make fun of th­ese celebri­ties. I have many, many things to say about Kirstie Al­ley. And the last time I saw her, she was very pleas­ant. And I felt like, “Oh, it’s like a turn­ing point.” I used to think she re­ally, truly loathed me, and now she kind of gets it. She’ll say some­thing to me like, “Oh, God, I’m afraid to say any­thing to you, be­cause I’m afraid you’re go­ing to put it in your act.” And I say, “Yes, you should know that I am go­ing to put it inmy act.” So as long as we have that un­der­stand­ing, we’re fine.

Your New Year’s Eve gig with An­der­son Cooper on CNN: Did you think when you’d started it that it would be­come the an­nual event that it’s be­come? You’re like the Guy Lom­bardo now of New Year’s Eve.

Well, I hope that makes him the Len­non Sis­ters. Never inmy wildest dreams could I imag­ine how much fun that was go­ing to be. I al­ways say it’s one ofmy fa­vorite jobs of the year be­cause as much as I love to make ev­ery­one laugh, there’s some­thing spe­cial about mak­ing An­der­son ab­so­lutely lose it year af­ter year. I have not achieved my bucket list of ac­tu­ally get­ting him fired yet, but a girl can dream. And we will be do­ing it again this New Year’s Eve. So I look for­ward to that. I don’t know if he does, but I don’t care. I was born to it, and that’s enough for both of us.


Kathy Grif­fin ex­pects a “no­to­ri­ously smart and open-minded and di­verse” Kennedy Cen­ter au­di­ence.

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