.Uncanceled: Kathy Griffin is back—and in Napa

In an age where the court of public opinion can decree the rise or fall of a career overnight, Kathy Griffin stands as a defiant testament to resilience, humor and the unyielding power of speaking one’s truth. Let it be known that Kathy Griffin is officially uncanceled.

Griffin’s career, marked by historic achievements and groundbreaking milestones, has seen her writing and starring in an unprecedented 20 televised stand-up specials, more than any comedian in history. Her hit Bravo series, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, aired for six years, winning two Emmys and earning a GLAAD Media Award for Best Reality Program. Her memoir, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, debuted at #1 on The New York Times Bestsellers list, followed by her second book, Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index, also a New York Times bestseller.

This is not to mention her advocacy work, particularly for women and the LGBT community, Honored with awards from The Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and The Trevor Project, among others, Griffin’s activism is as integral to her identity as her comedy, which she brings to Napa on April 5.

Yet, it’s Griffin’s resilience in the face of controversy that truly defines her legacy.

“That actually scares me because I don’t want to be this fucking resilient,” Griffin countered. “Let me tell you something. My mother, may she rest in peace with a box of wine, or she might still be in purgatory. Frankly, the jury’s out. My mother lived to 99. If I fucking live till 99, I want you to come to my house in Malibu and shoot me. No, I mean that. I mean that. I don’t want to fucking live to 99. That’s a nightmare. Look, I’m 63 now.” Griffin comically added that 65 might be her limit, saying, “Fuck it. I’ve had a good run.”

“That’s why I named the show ‘My Life on the PTSD-List,’” Griffin shared, her diagnosis with complex PTSD becoming a poignant chapter in her storied career. Despite facing a whirlwind of public backlash, a suicide attempt and a battle with lung cancer (which cost the non-smoker half a lung), Griffin’s capacity to find humor in the face of adversity remains undiminished. “I’m not a combat veteran, although I’m a combat veteran of comedy, which means something,” she quipped, encapsulating her journey with the sharp wit that has endeared her to millions.

The Trump photo controversy became a defining moment in Griffin’s career, igniting a national debate on free speech and artistic expression. (Griffin was photographed holding a prop severed head that resembled Trump.) “Trump picture alone, it’s still circulated once a week online,” Griffin remarked, underscoring the enduring impact of the incident.

“The madness that surrounds even the notion that you’d get so mad at a 57-year-old female comedian who didn’t even have a job at the time because she took a picture that angered you or scared you or pissed you off or whatever,” said Griffin. “And they would go to these lengths and put you on the no-fly list. It was definitely a crazy time.”

Of course, Griffin is not alone in her comic criticisms of the former president. Jimmy Kimmel, her good friend and host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! as well as the recent Academy Awards show, lobbed a punchy gag Trump’s way, which Griffin lauded in an email to him.

“I’m like, ‘I didn’t like the suit.’ I’m just teasing him. And then I go, ‘A chef’s kiss to the joke about Trump’s post on Truth Social and then saying, ‘Isn’t it past your jail time?’” She then added, “Maybe we could be cellmates at Guantanamo… If Trump gets reelected, it might come true. You might be seeing me on a secret flight to Cuba.”

Despite the backlash at the time of the Trump photo controversy, she remained unapologetic, using her experience to fuel her return to the stage, where she finds solace and connection with her audience. “Laughter is the best medicine,” she affirmed. Moreover, performing is cathartic for her. “A hundred percent. It is the best. And it’s cathartic because I ask the audience when I’m talking about these topics, and trust me, I sprinkle in a lot of juicy celebrity stories, too. So I haven’t changed.”

Inside Outsider

Griffin’s insights into celebrity culture, peppered with anecdotes from her encounters with stars like Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus, reveal her unique position as both an insider and an outsider in the world of fame. “Celebrity itself is ridiculous,” she stated, never one to mince words.

“Look, I admit I am one—I’m a ridiculous celebrity,” she continued. “But I do know the Kardashians, and we are friends, but I’m not going to go easy on them. I told Kim, I said, ‘I’m going to call you a dirty whore the rest of your life.’ And she said, ‘Okay.’”

Miley Cyrus gets the same deal from Griffin: “‘I’m not actually saying you’re a slut. I’m teasing you about your outfits and the crazy shit you say.’ But I’m also saying, ‘You’re an amazing singer and you’re a living fucking legend that’s going to be on forever.’”

Griffin added, “By the way, I’m the least of their problems… This is what I try to impress upon them. If a certain celebrity gets upset about a joke I made or a name I call them, I just go, ‘Look at your life. Look at your life. You’re going to worry about a Kathy Griffin joke? Give me a break.’”

As she looks to the future, Griffin’s legacy as a comedian who faced adversity with laughter is secure. “I’m so fucking canceled. I’m like the premier example of celebrities getting canceled,” she said, yet her voice carried a note of triumph. In the face of controversy, health scares and personal turmoil, Kathy Griffin remains indelibly Kathy Griffin.

“Jim Carrey told me most comedians would give their right arm for this to have happened to them,” she reflected. “And he said, ‘You’re going to put it through your Kathy Griffin prism, and you’re going to make it funny.’ I practically burst into tears when he said that.”

And then she laughed.

Kathy Griffin performs ‘My Life on the PTSD-List’ on Friday, April 5, at the Uptown Theatre, 1350 3rd St., Napa. Tickets start at $50 and are available at bit.ly/kathygriffin-napa.

Daedalus Howellhttps://dhowell.com
Daedalus Howell is the writer-director of the feature filmsPill Head and the upcoming Werewolf Serenade. Learn more at dhowell.com.

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