EDGE Interview: Kathy Griffin Levels Up for Her New 'My Life on the PTSD List' Tour

Timothy Rawles READ TIME: 7 MIN.

Kathy Griffin performs onstage during FRIENDLY HOUSE LA Comedy Benefit, hosted by Rosie O'Donnell, at The Fonda Theatre on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Source: Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

"The audiences have been extra loving," she says. "Like I can't even. I don't mean to be an asshole, but I've got a standing ovation in every fucking show. Like I could practically burst into tears just thinking about it because it's like the audience shows up in an even more loving way than they ever have."

That's more than can be said for her celebrity friends. In one of her past bits, she joked about her friendship with Cher, but that connection has been lost.

"I haven't talked to Cher in a while," she says. "I haven't been to her house or anything or hung out with her since the Trump thing. It hurts. I'm not gonna lie. It hurts. And look, she's a legend and the times I had with her are very fond memories. So, you know, it's kind of like Anderson Cooper and like the people that ditched me during that period. I just had to let him go and go, 'I thought we were good friends, but I was wrong.' And so I've curated some new friends."

One of them being another mononymous singer, Sia. They gather at one of Griffin's dinner parties where devices aren't allowed at the table.

"People have real conversation like they look at each other and they speak to each other, and we laugh our asses off, and sometimes Sia comes, and I make her sing. I love it," she says.

Things have changed in stand-up since Griffin has been away. Some popular comics are using the notion of being "woke" as a punchline mostly toward the LGBTQ+ community, and especially toward trans folks. It's something Griffin despises. She admits to using questionable material in her past, and has changed with the times, but even those jokes feel tame in comparison to all the politically incorrect rhetoric passing as material these days. Griffin isn't a fan. Mention Dave Chappelle's name and her voice bristles with disappointment; mention Matt Rife and it turns to pure ire.

"Yeah, there's plenty of stuff you could do that's edgy as long as it's punching up, I don't care," Griffin says. "I really don't. But there's just no way –- there's no way anybody should be going for the trans community unless you're a trans comic and you're coming from your own experience, and that's the world we live in. Look, I'm no prude. God knows. But I wanna evolve as a comic."

"I admit there are jokes that I did in my special 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago that I wouldn't do now, I just wouldn't do that," she continues. "And it was a different time and blah, blah, blah. But I think that if I can say that, as someone who's made fun of all kinds of things that are considered, you know, off color now, I did that then, I wouldn't do that now. I'd like to say I, and above all, the audience has evolved and there's nothing wrong with getting it grown or shocking the audience, but there's so much to punch up for. You really don't need to punch down."

Kathy Griffin
Source: Courtesy of Kathy Griffin

As for Rife: "When you have Matt Rife opening for his largely female audience with a domestic violence joke about how the hostess has a black eye and maybe they should have kept her in the kitchen. Yeah, I guess that you're trying to make a point that, 'Oh, I'm shocking. Yeah, don't talk to me about it.' I tried to cut the president's head off [metaphorically] and I paid the price for it."

It's clear Griffin is still suffering not only from the backlash of the Trump photo, but everything that's happened to her since. So much so she's put her mental health status in the title of the tour and even she admits she will be flying by the seat of her pants on stage. She has her setlist ready, but there will also be some improvisation as things come to her. With this being an election cycle year, people such as George Santos, Marjorie Taylor Green, and Ted Cruz could be punchline cannon fodder.

"They've all come after me on social media," she says. "I have all of their tweets and all of their posts and all of them saying I should go to Guantanamo Bay now that QAnon thinks I'm harvesting baby parts with Hillary Clinton, Madonna, and Tom Hanks. I mean, it never stops. Now that is punching up if you're gonna make fun of the QAnon."

"And remember there are millions –- millions of Americans that believe QAnon bullshit. And these are the people that are rubbing horse dewormer on their own arm. And I'm talking to you Joe Rogan –- I mean, Doctor Joe Rogan," Griffin adds. "This country has never been so divided and yet there's still a line where you can go, 'I'm gonna make fun of these things but like, I'm not gonna actually make fun of the stuff that people really, really believe because it could be harmful. But I'm gonna correct Aaron fucking Rogers when he says Sandy Hook was a false flag.'"

Even though it's been seven years Griffin is still up against a lot. She says her PTSD is collectively the nation's when it comes to political pressure. The conservative right has really gotten under her skin enough, so she jokingly admits she would vote for a corpse as long as it was liberal.

"People have lost their minds in several areas," she contends. "So I love Joe Biden because he's nice and boring. I don't care if he's 107, he's only 18 months older than Trump. I would vote for Joe Biden's dead body over Donald Trump. You heard me!"

It is as if, speaking in gamer terms, Griffin has been in a boss battle with her own country. She hasn't fully won, but she's slowly dwindling its life gauge. But thanks to some serious grinding, her game has leveled up and it's called "My Life on the PTSD List."

Whatever she's bringing to the stage, "It's not gonna be the same thing I said at the show before," she laughs. "Every show is different."

"Kathy Griffin: My Life on the PTSD List" is a live stand-up special that goes on through December 2024 in cities across North America. Check out her website for details and ticket information.

by Timothy Rawles

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