Friday, June 08, 2012

Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin at Hard Rock Live
Hollywood, FL
June 2, 2012

I don’t know why I love Kathy Griffin so much. I think it has something to do with her courage, or her ability to seem accessible even as she is speaking to thousands of people, or the very natural way she tells a story. She is credited as a comedienne, but in truth, she is a story teller.

Griffin doesn’t make up characters, nor does she deliver one liners that deserve a rim shot from a snare drum. Kathy Griffin just tells stories about people she meets, topical events from the daily news, interactions with people in her life, confrontations with detractors, ups and downs of her show business career. She just tells stories, true stories, but with a mischievous grin and a naughty delight in being provocative or even shocking. Her stories are funny, mostly because of how she tells them, otherwise, they really are just things that happened in her life or on reality television shows or in the news. Her ability to tell every day stories in a way that is entertaining, for two hours, as if she were having a conversation with a dozen people at a party rather than with 4000 people in a casino performance space is amazing. OK, I guess I do know why I love Kathy Griffin.

This is how captivating Kathy Griffin is: the Hard Rock Live is a glorified basketball court! People on the floor (it’s all one level) have to look up to see the stage and screens. Then, there are two more levels (bleacher style seating), but, like gymnasium bleachers, the people in the elevated seats are facing each other, with the stage to their left or right (there is a small section of “stands” in the back that do face forward, but they are the most removed from the performance area). So, on advice from a friend (who may have been trying to kill me I now believe), I got seats in the bleachers, which meant I watched a two hour performance looking over my left shoulder! I’m about to have my third chiropractic treatment since the show last week and I’m still barely mobile; and yet!...I enjoyed every minute of her performance and am so glad I didn’t miss it. When a performance provides enough joy to override excruciating pain, it is a triumph!

Kathy came out and surprised the audience by being briefly joined by Gloria Estefan to sing with her the theme song from Kathy’s new television late night talk show. While they were on stage together, Gloria (who had been, apparently, tricked into performing the song unrehearsed) promised to “get” Kathy for dragging her out on stage, and Kathy’s response was that there is nothing Gloria could do that would embarrass her and to prove it, she flashed the audience showing her white cotton “granny panties” (and Gloria seemed genuinely shocked).[1]

After that, the rest of the show was just Kathy Griffin’s non-stop stream of consciousness storytelling. She talked about celebrity gossip, her love life and cosmetic surgeries, her mother and personal assistant, her new show, Scientology (she had a lot of fun and spent a lot of time on Scientology), and the recent news of people using bath salts as recreational drugs and becoming extremely violent. In common parlance, such a topic would be inappropriate for jest, but Kathy milked it throughout the show, and being able to laugh about it seemed to actually relieve some of the horror that people had about it (one of the cases of someone becoming extremely violent after ingesting or inhaling bath salts was here in Florida).

Notwithstanding spinal injuries from seating that should be forbidden by the Geneva Convention, the evening felt like playful gossip with an old friend, and a few thousand other acquaintances. Griffin ingeniously featured her status as a “D-List” celebrity in a way that catapulted her to major stardom, but she remains, I fear, underappreciated as an artist. She is funny, of course, but she is also smart and has developed an easy, almost ADD[2] style of storytelling that is engaging, compelling, and hilarious.

No comments: