February 16, 2012

No topic off-limits for comedian Kathy Griffin

Bill O’Reilly labeled her a “pinhead.” Sarah Palin dismissed her as a “bully.” And she’s been banned — twice — from ABC’s dishy chat fest, “The View,” for daring to poke fun at venerable Barbara Walters.

Bill O’Reilly labeled her a “pinhead.” Sarah Palin dismissed her as a “bully.” And she’s been banned — twice — from ABC’s dishy chat fest, “The View,” for daring to poke fun at venerable Barbara Walters.

But, hey, those are “badges of honor” for comedian Kathy Griffin, the self-proclaimed “D-List” celebrity, in her never-ending quest for truth, justice, the American way — and a few laughs at the expense of the pompous, the hypocritical, the grandiose and the just plain stupid.

“When you watch a Michele Bachmann or a Rick Perry (one-time presidential hopefuls), you just have to laugh at the sheer ignorance and stupidity,” said Griffin, who is known for her societal-political observations and her rapid-fire, no-holds-barred wit.

“But what really gets me going are things like the veiled racism and homophobia, and the willful distortion of the truth for momentary political gain. And I just can’t believe that the supposed good moral people of this country are still considering Newt Gingrich for anything,” Griffin snorted. “For a comedian, this is heaven. But for a citizen, it’s a nightmare.”

Griffin will bring her stand-up act to Wichita’s Cotillion at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. She’s says she’s stoked for the show because Wichita is the hometown of Emmy-winning Kirstie Alley, a favorite target because of Scientology and very public weight battles. She also knows that Kansas is the home of internationally reviled anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps. Griffin said she’s going to enjoy herself immensely.

Most people first encountered Griffin in 1996 as the wisecracking sidekick to Brooke Shields on the sitcom “Suddenly Susan.” But she began her career as a member of the Los Angeles-based improv group The Groundlings in the early 1980s after being encouraged by soon-to-be “Saturday Night Live” star Phil Hartman.

Now 51, the flame-haired Griffin has a wide-ranging resume that includes appearing in more than 30 movies, from “Pulp Fiction” to “The Cable Guy” to last year’s “Hall Pass,” and making TV guest shots from the silly (“Seinfeld”) to the soapy (“Days of Our Lives”) to the serious (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).

She’s received two Grammy nominations for comedy albums and given Donald Trump a run for his money on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

For six years — 2005 through 2011 — Griffin starred in her own cable show on Bravo, “My Life on the D-List,” spoofing her status as a Hollywood wannabe. She got the last laugh by being nominated for an Emmy five times and winning twice. On April 10, she plans to launch her new talk show on Bravo called simply “Kathy.”

How much of wacky, outrageous, say-anything Kathy G

riffin is stage persona, and how much is the real woman?

“I’m pretty darn close off-stage to what you see on,” said Griffin, the youngest of five kids born to Irish immigrants who settled in Chicago.

“It’s easy to keep straight who you are when you don’t get caught up in some false persona. I’m pretty much ‘on’ all the time. I’m unfiltered, uncensored because I don’t consider anything off-limits to joke about. But on stage, I’m more jacked up because of the excitement.”

Griffin is known as a longtime gay-rights activist who marched to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and is now rallying for marriage equality.

She also is a lapsed Catholic who says she is continually searching for a church she can believe in. Meanwhile, she proclaims herself a “militant atheist” who is “doing the Lord’s work” by calling out the hypocrites.

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