Originally published on Playbill.com
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“I don’t mean to be cocky, but I could probably step into Hamilton this weekend,” Kathy Griffin said solemnly. “I wish I could have played the lead in On the Twentieth Century, but I’m afraid only my pal Kristin Chenoweth could play the role like that.”
Yes, Kathy Griffin, a Grammy and Emmy-winning comedian is bringing her opinions back to the New York stage when her Like a Boss tour lands at Carnegie Hall Nov. 12.
The 80-city tour marks Griffin’s third time at Carnegie Hall, and she is looking forward to returning to the acclaimed stage. Her previous two visits to the performance venue were rushed, but this time she is determined to take in her surroundings: “I’m going to put on a costume as the third chair trombone and walk around.”
It’s safe to say, even in disguise, Griffin might be recognized while prowling around backstage. The actress, comedian, writer, producer, television host and activist is a highly recognizable presence, known for her raucous sense of humor as well as her biting commentary on celebrities, politics and religion — none of which will be spared during her time on the Carnegie Hall stage.
Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow are just a few of the celebrities Griffin has skewered in her act, and to varied results. She calls Paltrow “Goopy” and the two have laughed together, while Lovato fans, known as Lovatics, have sent her threats via Twitter. Griffin is on a mission to befriend Taylor Swift, but the last time she tried to speak her, Swift’s “girl gang” stood in between them, seemingly to prevent a fight and much to Griffin’s amusement. (“I’m the one who’s 54 [years old] and 5’3″. I’m scared of her!”)
“I’ve really, really had fun over the years seeing who takes it seriously and who doesn’t,” Griffin said. “I’ve had many many conversations with the great comedic giants who have the same story: If you stay in it this long, eventually some of them never come around. Demi, I’m talking to you. It’s actually kind of gratifying when they come up to me and are like, ‘I get it.’ I think the audience at Carnegie knows if there is an air of danger I bring to the stage, there could be some kind of angry paintballer at any moment on behalf of Oprah or the Trump campaign.” (Griffin has been tweeting to the presidential candidate, “Get my coffee b*tch!” an average of once a day.)
A self-proclaimed feminist who grew up worshipping activist Gloria Steinem, Griffin swears to dedicate time Nov. 12 to the ongoing efforts to defund the women’s health center Planned Parenthood — what she calls her “soapbox” and which required no prompting to discuss.
“Growing up Planned Parenthood wasn’t even controversial!” she said. “When I was a little girl, I remember reading a People magazine story about a girl who died getting a back alley abortion. At the time the feeling in the country was, ‘Oh my God, this has to stop.’ I cannot believe that in my lifetime the pendulum has swung back. So people don’t even know what Planned Parenthood is. The day that I made so little as a Kelly Girl temp, I had to bring in my pay stub and prove I made small enough to qualify for Planned Parenthood.
“If it wasn’t for Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t get my Pap smears. If I felt a lump, and I’ve had two lumps removed from my breast… I don’t think the average American dumbass understands that Planned Parenthood is where women go for health care. I love that they want all these women to have children but don’t want to take care of them, even when the women have come out and said, ‘I’m not ready for this baby,’ or, God forbid, ‘I was sexually assaulted.’ It’s so insane to me that people think Planned Parenthood is something it’s not. It’s not like these are clinics that are everywhere saying, ‘Free Beer and Abortion.’ It’s Planned Parenthood. It’s been around forever.”
And Griffin has a plan to demonstrate the importance of the health-care provider: “I would love to give every single one of the Republicans running right now, including Carly [Fiorina] a Pap smear. I will personally do it.”
These kind of statements are nothing new coming from Griffin, who, along with her stand-up work and sitcom, has published a New York Times best-seller (“Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin”), participated in two USO tours and been written in the Guinness Book of World Records for writing 23 stand-up comedy specials. But her ultimate dream is to host a late-night talk show. She recalled different moments when discussing television, she was shot down in sexist ways — but she wouldn’t name names.
“This industry is absolutely run by men, and there are some powerful women up there, but when it comes to the real decisions, in my experience, it comes to a dude or a group of dudes. Being in stand up, I could not be in a more male-dominated field. I have heard everything. Several executives have had no qualms about saying to my face, thinking they’re helping me — ‘Well, I think you’re great. I think you’re actually naturally the quickest, funniest comedian I’ve ever met. It kills me that if you were just prettier… The sky’s the limit. But you just keep doing your thing.’
“I’ve had many executives say in a meeting, ‘We’re just not considering any females at this time,’ to which I’ve said, ‘Just a heads up, you know it’s illegal to say that.’ [And they say], ‘Oh, Kathy! You are too much. I love ya. If it were up to me… you’ve earned it. Anyway, have a great day.'”
With several Emmys and a Grammy (she is the third woman to win a Grammy for a Comedy Recording, along with Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg), Griffin is halfway to EGOT status, and she attempted to win a Tony in 2010 when she appeared in a limited 10-performance run of Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony on Broadway, an accomplishment she credited with “getting away with murder,” because she never officially obtained permission to use the word Tony.
“I was trying to win the limited run category, and they removed it that year because of me. They had it the previous year and Liza [Minnelli] won it. I remember watching the Tonys thinking, ‘Wait a minute. I’m going to do a limited run and win a Tony!’…That did not exactly work out.”
But Griffin remains confident in her future Broadway endeavors.
“I’m in some very preliminary talks with Gloria Estefan to play a young Cuban Gloria in On Your Feet! I know it’s a stretch. I might have to wear a wig. And I don’t speak a word of Spanish. I just asked her to think about it. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but once she sees me at Carnegie, she’s probably going to fire whoever they hired… and at least offer me the role of Emilio.”