** Kathy Griffin @ Park West, (773) 929-5959, Oct. 10.
Wicked funny red-headed comedian Kathy Griffin has been making us laugh in movies and in sitcoms for more than 10 years. However, some of her more recent successes have been slightly more reality based. Griffin claimed victory in the 2003 Celebrity Mole: Hawaii and took home the purse. She's also had a wildly successful return to stand-up with her regularly sold-out gig at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. Luckily for Chicagoans, the hometown girl is coming to town for what promises to be an evening of non-stop laughs.
Gregg Shapiro: Do you think that being from the Midwest, specifically the Chicago-area, figures into your performance and your presentation?
Kathy Griffin: Yes, because I believe that I have what you call Midwestern common sense. I think that is something that I had growing up in Oak Park and it is something that I will have till the day I die. I just always think of myself as a Chicagoan, even though I haven't lived there since high school.
GS: Would you consider Joan Rivers to be an influence when you do your celebrity slashing stand-up at your sold-out Laugh Factory shows?
KG: She's a huge influence. She's also a good friend of mine. I have very few celebrity friends. I don't hang out with famous people at all. But I really, really love her. She's a good lady and I think she's great. She's really and truly a trailblazer and that's what bothers me when (Janeane) Garofalo gets on her case. There was Phyllis Diller, and she was the only one for a very long time. Then there was Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers, and those two were the only ladies doing their thing for years and years. I really appreciate all the stuff that Joan has done. Every time I go to a club and I'm the only girl on the line-up that night or for the first two hours of a show, I just think of all the years that Joan Rivers was the only girl on the line-up all month. (She was) in the trenches in the clubs.
GS: Will you be doing any of the material that you do in your Laugh Factory show when you perform at Park West in Chicago?
KG: Oh, yeah. I change my act all the time. I haven't been at the Park West for two or three years. But I do remember that the last time I was there, I swear to God, I was leaving my hotel and I was running late and I ran into Mr. T outside the hotel and he gave me a ride to the Park West in his limo. I spent the first 10 minutes of my act just talking about that. So you never know what's going to be in my act. It could be anything from what happened that day to what was on the news to what happened to me to my latest celebrity gossip. I'll be serving up some really good celebrity dish.
GS: Many comics have released live CDs and published books. Do you have plans to put out either a CD or a book?
KG: Yes. I'm actually talking to Bravo about doing a stand-up special, which I think is kind of cool because Bravo has really taken off since Queer Eye (For The Straight Guy) and Boy Meets Boy, and I love both shows. Also I think I may do some tapes that I'm calling 'The Too Hot Tapes,' a la the Jerry Springer tapes, and just do really raunchy tapes and just release them as they are.
GS: Speaking of books, you provided the voices for the characters Dandy and Dr. Beaverman in the audio book versions of Dennis Hensley's Misadventures In The (213) and Screening Party, respectively.
KG: In fact, we do live readings of those sometimes. That's really fun. Dennis is a really great writer.
GS: Do you enjoy doing that kind of work?
KG: I love it. Mostly, I really love Dennis. I think he's super talented. So when he does these readings, it's just like a bunch of buddies getting together. It's more fun for me than anything. And I love exposing people to his books because they're so good.
GS: They are hilarious, yes. You were the winner of the 2003 Celebrity Mole.
KG: (Modestly) Oh yes I was. Although I think to call it the 'celebrity mole' is kind of a misnomer. Let's be honest. It was me and six other people that no one's ever heard of. The point is that I won the money and I didn't give a penny to charity.
GS: Good for you!
KG: I feel that others should give back to the community. I'm trying to pay my mortgage.
GS: That's perfectly acceptable.
GS: As the winner of a reality TV show competition, I was wondering what you thought of Chip and Reichen, the gay couple that won the Amazing Race?
KG: Let me tell you something. They're not all good. Every once in a while you get yourself a bad gay. I'll tell you, I am not a fan of that Chip. I'm not against the Chip and Reichen team, but I found Chip to be moody and difficult. I feel that Reichen had to work twice as hard because Chip was having his fits all the time. My favorite moment was when Chip was in Seoul, South Korea and he was yelling at the taxi driver, saying 'Hello! English.' Also, if you recall, Chip crashed not one, but two, vehicles.
If I was Reichen, I would just make sure that every car we had had a roll bar.
GS: You have been working on developing and expanding your one-woman show, The D-List, into a series for NBC. What can you tell me about that?
KG: We're writing the script now. The studio is DreamWorks, which I think is a good thing. It's a sitcom based on my life as a D-List celebrity and all that that implies. Whenever you do a pilot it's such a crapshoot anyway. The chances are so small that it can even get made, much less get on the air. I'm giving it a shot.
GS: As someone who has long been a friend to the LGBT community, will there be gay characters on the show?
KG: Yes, as of now, there is a gay assistant character. I almost invariably have a gay assistant, although I lose a lot of them to the musical theater world. I'll hire a guy, he'll tell me he's not an actor and that he just wants a job, and then three months later he's crying because he's going to be late for his rehearsal for Blood Brothers.