Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
I was gifted two tickets to see Kathy Griffin in Boston tonight. I'm not an enormous Kathy Griffin fan. I think she's funny, and enjoy when she's on shows like The Green Room, or being interviewed by the news, but I find her standup pandering, and mostly just a series of stories about meeting other celebrities that end up being neither interesting nor hilarious. And I imagine,if I were one of the celebrities she talked about, I'd be fairly annoyed.
At least when Aziz Ansari tells a story about Kanye or Seal, it's hilarious, and can't be boiled down to "I met someone famous, and I'm now I'm going to belittle them, and I didn't even bother to make a punchline out of our interaction."
As soon as I got to the theater, I was a bit worried. I'm 41 now, but I felt YOUNG at this show. The mostly older, mostly whiter, mostly gayer people in line were generally being loudly "honest" with each other in the way that really toxic people are "honest" by saying shitty things at the expense of the people around them, and their compatriots would then laugh and do something similar.
The show was at The Shubert, and if you ever get a chance to see a show there, don't. The rows are so cramped, that virtually everyone who left their seats to use the bathroom, or get drinks, or just leave, were limping because their blood circulation was cut off. If there's ever a fire there, everyone but the lobby staff is going to die.
Issues of comfort notwithstanding, I was looking forward to hearing Kathy Griffin talk about how that photograph with a replica of Trump's severed head had impacted her career. This was THE story for her style of celebrity interaction. And in the hour before I walked out, she started maybe twenty to thirty antecdotes that sounded like they'd be great.
Her next door neighbors who were kind to her were Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. WHAT? Tell me how your interactions with Kanye went during this past year when he went Full Trump. That sounds amazing.
Oh, you're not going to tell that story? O....k.
She was removed from the White House Correspondent's Dinner after almost getting in a fight with "Fuckabee" Sanders? Yea, that person is an awful demon. I can't imagine a scenario where I won't be on your side. What happened?
Oh, you're not going to tell that story either?
"Anderson Cooper is an asshole." Audience boos Anderson Cooper.
Why? I HAVE NO IDEA. And I suspect neither did they.
During the hour before I left, Kathy finished precisely one antecdote (an actually interesting conversation she had with Roseanne, ten years ago, about why Dennis Miller turned into a Republican shill: "He must not have needed a job."), and zero jokes. None. I laughed a few times at her constant apologizing for never finishing a single sentence she started, and she said things that were, sort of amusing. But mostly she did bad impressions of celebrities that served no purpose except to say "Celine Dion told me that being in my act meant she was still important, so I still talk about her." or "I know Cher. RIGHT GAYS? AREN'T I GREAT, GAYS? I KNOW CHER."
It was gross. And the audience applauded every time she paused or said a name or did a ridiculous gymnast pose after namedropping someone, even if that person was her mom, her boyfriend, or her dogs. It Felt like a Trump rally. People were applauding nothing. She almost never completed a thought.
During the midst of talking about last month's Samantha Bee vs Trump story (another antecdote I would have loved her to have actually explored) she said "I say 'cunt' a lot because I have one, so I can. The problem with Fuckabee Sanders and Trump is that they don't realize that when Samantha called Ivanka 'a feckless cunt', 'cunt' wasn't the insult, 'feckless' was."
Please go further on that. Please.
"Oh, before I get to that...." rambling story about Joan Rivers that might be starting to go somewhere when "Oh, before I can talk about that, let me explain..." rambling story about e-mails that never threatens to be about anything. "Melanie Griffith was nice to me." Audience explodes into applause. "Oh, before I talk about Melanie...." ad infinitum.
With an editor there could have been an amazing show in there. Not just a funny show, but an important one. An Anti-Trump comedy show by someone who actually knows him, filled with stories about Kanye, and the Samantha Bee "scandal", written by someone who acknowledges that Democracy is important, and speech has consequences, and most celebrities (and Trump is more of a celebrity than a politician) need to be called out on their hypoccritial bullshit? We NEED that show now.
And if the theater wasn't originally designed as the set of Saw 24, I might have stayed to see if there was any sort of payoff to her rambling Almost Interesting stories. But it really felt like 1.) She wasn't coherent enough to write a payoff. 2.) The audience was going to lick her ass and giver her a standing ovation whether or not she managed to complete a sentence during the show.
So I left. I wasn't the first. I wasn't even the only person who left at that moment. Six of us were walking out of the lobby, coming from three different areas, and the ushers asked if we were coming back. We all said "No."