Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin’s life is like “The Truman Show” … as produced and directed by Kathy Griffin.

Perhaps no other comedian has mastered so many layers of self-promotion: signing copies of her book at a Borders in Anchorage, Alaska, and at the same time filming it as content for her Bravo TV show. (It works, because Sarah Palin’s family nemesis Levi Johnston sits next to her signing his Playgirl spread.)

That episode of “My Life on the D-List” in turn primes the pump for ticket sales to Griffin’s Saturday performance at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

At 4,300 seats, it’s the largest venue in her four years as a Las Vegas headliner. “That’s a lot of seats to fill for bitter Cher fans,” she notes.

But now is the best time to try it, Griffin says, because her live ticket sales are strongest while “D-List” is on the air. The 49-year-old comedian works the reality genre like a Real Housewife, while still milking it as an endless source of stand-up material.

“I keep mining it as long as they do,” she says.

The big difference is the “Housewives” have a “fourth wall.” They ignore the cameras, and viewers are supposed to forget about them.

“D-List” started this way as well: More or less a documentary of a comedian’s quest to “slowly, brick by brick, take over the world.”

The sixth season still has some of that, but just as often it’s stunt comedy, such as Griffin’s getting Johnston to drive her to the Palin residence, then knocking on the door and leaving a note (of course no one answers).

“I kind of feel like the fourth wall is the live audience,” Griffin says. “So when I’m doing ‘The D-List,’ I know the camera is there the way that I know an audience is there. But I don’t talk to an individual person in the audience, I’m talking to the whole audience. The camera kind of is the live audience.”


Griffin claims the lines have blurred so much “it’s all kind of one to me.” And who’s to argue? Especially when she says she would alert the media to cover her pap smear whether “D-List” filmed it or not (it did). “Every year (Bravo executives) decide if they want to keep doing ‘The D-list.’ Last time I talked to them, I said, ‘You can either film this stuff or not, but I’m going to do this stuff I think is funny.’

“When I took Levi Johnston to the Teen Choice Awards last summer, there were no ‘D-List’ cameras around. I just knew that it would be a funny thing to do.

“I pretty much do the same stuff on-camera as off-camera,” she says. “Sometimes I do it obviously for publicity and for laughs. Sometimes I just do it to amuse myself, and sometimes I just do it for ‘Life on the D-List.’ ”

If the first-person exploits don’t end up on TV, they will end up onstage, fueling Griffin’s prolific stand-up. Some comics labor for years to craft an hour of material. Griffin’s pop-culture targets write her act for her.

“The whole celebrity culture has blown up in a way so that I can barely keep up with it myself,” she says. She’s of the school that once a stand-up set has aired on television — the latest is “Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt” — then you won’t pay to hear it again.

“I really feel strongly that if you’ve doled out money to come see me live, you shouldn’t see me just re-do my TV special. I’ll certainly hit some of those topics, but you will see all new material,” she says.

“The last thing I want to do is a story about Jon Gosselin from a year ago, when I could do a story about Jon Gosselin from yesterday. I think people coming to my live shows are absolutely expecting an update on stuff like this.”

But apparently, even in Las Vegas, they don’t always expect them to be so profane. “You’ve gotta do the disclaimer: There’s naughty language. To have to do that even in Vegas is really pitiful. Somebody told me people were getting offended at Chelsea Handler’s swearing (in a recent Colosseum date).

“I thought, ‘Oh boy.’ I might be able to out-curse just about anybody. But we’ll see. I don’t feel like I’ve done my job until I have walkouts.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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