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Kathy Griffin

The comedian, 59, on her ultranotable neighbors, industry sexism, and that infamous Trump tweet

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke
Illustration: Kathryn Rathke

I don’t have an agent now. Nobody will touch me. I’ve made $75 million over my career and generated millions for networks. I’ve done Super Bowl ads. I have two Emmys and a Grammy. I have two New York Times bestsellers. And they’re all scared of the Trump tweet. I’m the patron saint of Trump tweets.

It is still staggering to me how quickly the Trump machine was able to take that photo that I took and, within 12 hours, manipulate and distribute it globally. I also got Lisa Bloom’d when I did that horrible press conference — or, as I say, the shitshow. Feel free to watch it if you want to feel better about yourself. I had met her one time on a TV show, and she seemed legit. I had no idea at the time that she was quite literally working for Harvey Weinstein. When she said we were going to have a press conference, I was like, Are you kidding? I’m from Forest Park; we don’t have press conferences. My actual attorney came in the next day, when the Secret Service opened the investigation into me. That’s when things got serious.

I lived in Chicago until I was 17, and it was my dream to be in a Second City–like environment. That’s what the Groundlings did for me in L.A. It was very competitive and I learned a lot. It taught me how to write and develop characters. And I was there for a long time, so it also taught me patience. I’m not the cute, skinny blonde, so I thought, OK, I’m gonna have to work a little harder and jump a little higher.

I’m just gonna come out and say it: The levels of sexism and misogyny and ageism haven’t gotten much better since I was 18. There are a lot of men who pretty much say to my face, “Who do you think you are, staying in the game?”

What has always kept me going through the highs and lows is, I never lose my desire to make you laugh. I’m gonna sound like an asshole for saying this, but I never run out of material. I know a lot of comics who struggle with getting an hour together, but I have the opposite problem. I call it Standup Comedy Disorder.

I love playing Chicago because they just don’t do bullshit. Like, you can’t go into a set at the Chicago Theatre and talk about how mad you are at your hair and makeup person for being late.

Audiences love to hear who’s naughty and who’s nice, and I love to tell it. That started before I worked in television. My whole act, really, was guys I was banging and my family. There were a lot of really quiet Christmases.

I was just a nightmare as a child. I’ll never forget, one of my report cards said, “Doesn’t apply herself because she’s too boy crazy.” I still am.

My dad could read a room and say something funny and people would laugh. Then my mom would say something ridiculous after having an old-fashioned and a Manhattan. The whole room would laugh, and she’d be like, “What’d I say?” I am definitely my parents’ daughter.

My mom, Maggie, is 99 and has dementia. Up until 98, her mind was sharp as a tack. The heartbreaking thing is that she still sounds like Maggie and has the energy of 10 men. And here’s the kicker: She has an older sister. I’m terrified I’m never gonna die.

Living next door to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West while I was going through that Trump thing was so surreal. I’ve met a lot of famous people, but they’re fucking famous. Like, helicopters over the lawn. They’d have a fight and I’d try to get the dirt. I’d be like, “Hey, Kim, I redid a room. Come look at it.” I’d just make shit up. And then she’d come over, and I’d listen in on her phone calls. One of them was about Jay and Bey, and it was heaven. I’m like, I’m not gonna tell her I can hear every word. I’m going to tell Chicago magazine.

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