Kathy Griffin on Life on the Run From Trump

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Why you should care

Because Griffin got graphic in criticizing Trump ... and faced an investigation from federal authorities as a result.

Comedian Kathy Griffin sat down with OZY’s CEO and co-founder on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show, providing a revealing look at the sometimes outrageous star. The following are some of the best cuts from the full conversation, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed.

Carlos Watson: How much of your shows are improvised, and how much is prepared?

Kathy Griffin: Highly improvisational. So when you tour as much as I do, and of course after COVID, that’s going to be my great joy to go back to the road, but often I’ll play a market maybe twice in a year. So if I’m playing the state theater in Minneapolis or something, and then I’m fortunate enough to go back there within 10 months or something, I keep in mind, I’m cognizant of the fact that there might be some people that came to the show 10 months ago. So I love to turn over my material a lot.

CW: How do audiences react when you make jokes about Donald Trump?

KG: There’s been honestly a night and day reaction from before my Trump photo scandal and after. Number one, I’ve known Trump off and on for decades. So when he announced that he was even running, all of a sudden I had all these Trump jokes and these stories about sitting next to him at a roast in Manhattan. I was actually a part of two challenges on The Apprentice. And I spent this crazy time with him on his dumb golf course for part of an episode with Liza Minnelli. Like it’s actually a great story, but to tell you the truth, nobody really wanted to hear about Donald Trump prior to really 2015 or 2016. So prior to my photo scandal, everybody loved those stories because number one, I don’t think that Trump cult was quite as indoctrinated, and number two, people were kind of letting themselves laugh at him.

He wasn’t really showing himself to be as dangerous as, in my opinion, he has shown himself to be. So it kind of makes me sad because the same folks who, whatever they think about me now because I’m polarizing, those same folks were more than happy to hear about what it’s like to spend a day with the Donald and the crazy things he said to Liza, and how Liza was the sanest one out of the two of them, and people could laugh about something like that. On my last tour, the Kathy Griffin Laugh Your Head Off tour, I actually had incidents with Trump supporters. I had a guy pull a knife on me. I had several security incidents. It was a whole different ball game when I went on tour after the photo scandal.

CW: What’s it like to be in the crosshairs — did you feel like the risk was real?

KG: You’re talking to someone who’s sort of seen the whole arc from like, “Oh, OK. She’s making fun of that reality show guy who might run for president. Oh my gosh. She knows the guy who’s running for president. Who’s crazy. Oh my gosh. She knows the guy who’s the nominee.” And then it was like, “Oh my gosh, she’s a member of the Deep State and whatever else folks think about me now, because I’m now drawn into like every scandal from, I’m a member of ISIS.

I’m kind of the first, like the first person that Trump went for, certainly who was at least a civilian. And of course he goes for a female comedian and private citizen … but what happened was after the photo scandal, not only did he tweet about me … but he actually instructed the Department of Justice to put me under a legitimate federal investigation by two federal agencies, the Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And they were investigating me and I had to be interrogated under oath. And that also didn’t happen to anybody else.

They were considering charging me with the crime of conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States, which has a lifetime sentence. So I can certainly make a lot of jokes about it. And I’ve done a tour based on it. I’ve made a film on the whole thing, but it was also very real at the same time.

For someone like me, who of course, all I want to do is make people laugh and joke around all the time, to be in that very serious situation … I wish you could have seen our study sessions for my interrogation. I mean, it was like they had me like a lightbulb flying above me, like, “No, do not make dick jokes!” I was like, “Oh, come on.” But ultimately, it did become very real and it kind of goes on in some ways.

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