Kathy Griffin has the smartest mouth in show business. Whether that’s a blessing or a curse is subject to debate.
Certainly the 44-year-old comedian, who will be appearing at the Warfield for sold-out shows today and Friday, owes her self-proclaimed D-list celebrity to her brutal, often hilarious honesty. After fleeing the suburbs of Chicago for the Hollywood Hills, she has thrust herself into the national consciousness with memorable stints on "Seinfeld" — as, naturally, an acid-tongued comedian — and "Suddenly Susan." She starred alongside Eminem in his video for "The Real Slim Shady." Since then, she has reinvented herself as the First Lady of reality TV, thanks to pivotal roles on shows such as "Celebrity Mole," "Average Joe" and, of course, her Emmy-nominated, tell-all Bravo series, "My Life on the D-List."
But honesty isn’t always the best policy. Although Griffin’s good-natured barbs and off-color critiques have won her a legion of hardcore fans, her lack of an internal censor has earned her a spot in the A-list doghouse. She’s been unofficially banned from — drum roll, please — "The Tonight Show," "The Late Show with David Letterman," "Live with Regis and Kelly," "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" and even the "Ellen Degeneres Show." (Happily, she’ll always have a spot on good friend Jimmy Kimmel’s couch.) After joking during last year’s Golden Globes telecast that 12-year-old star Dakota Fanning had checked into rehab, she was fired by the E! network.
And she has even received mock fan mail — in the form of a lavish floral spread and a card that had her name misspelled — from none other than Renee Zellweger.
Not that Griffin has any intention of backing down. Her standup routine is still stuffed with digs at her favorite targets (Nicole Richie and the Olsen twins, among others), and the second season of "D-List," which debuted in early June, is sprinkled with similar potshots ("Tom Cruise is a [expletive] nut-job who thinks he’s from Mars!"). If her celebrity dishing seems self-serving and occasionally cruel, remember that she’s just as brutally honest about herself. Griffin has acknowledged her many plastic surgeries, including a brow lift and a nose job, and she recently divulged to Larry King the sordid details of her divorce from IT consultant Matt Moline, who she claims siphoned $72,000 from her various bank accounts.
Still, Griffin remains unfazed, at least publicly. Despite her obvious fondness for the D-list, she harbors not-so-secret aspirations to climb the ladder, insisting that she sees "a solid C" in her future. To that end, she’s willing to do. … well, pretty much anything. This season on Bravo, she plays corporate parties before audiences that don’t include her biggest fan base — her "gays" — and accepts low-profile speaking engagements to educate wannabe comics. She has even auctioned off a weekend at her 7,300-square-foot Hollywood mansion on eBay, raising $5,000 for charity.
If all else fails, she can always get a little help from her friends. Recently, Bravo encouraged fans to vote for different ways to help the diminutive comedian off the D-list. (Releasing a sex tape with Dame Judi Dench was the clear winner, though Griffin still plans to adopt a Namibian baby, give Ryan Seacrest a pedicure and join the Church of Scientology.) Of course, it’s unclear how Griffin, whose public persona is that of the Hollywood outsider, would handle an ascent to the ranks of its elite. But if history is any indication, it won’t change her a bit.