A quick Google search will reveal how underestimated women are in comedy. This is a topical assessment, but it is also a pertinent one. Some of the biggest hustlers in the industry are women. This game changer has proven that. Kathy Griffin tours around 80 cities per year. She holds the Guinness World Record for filming the most televised comedy specials with a whopping 20. She has been nominated six times for a Grammy, winning one in 2013. She is one of three women to attain the award for the funniest comedy album. The other two are Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg. Clearly, there’s a gender gap, and Griffin is working to help change that.
Raised in Oak Park, Illinois, her parents were first generation Irish Americans. They had five kids, and Griffin was the baby. In her memoir, she cites her gift of gab coming at young age. She realized the “power of juicy material” when she would visit the neighbors and reveal to them the happenings of the Griffin household. As she grew older, her interest in acting and musical theatre peaked. While in high school, she scored a spot as an extra on a commercial for the Chicago White Sox. When she graduated, she knew she wanted to be in the entertainment industry.
In 1978 at the age of 18, she moved to Los Angeles. Griffin convinced her parents relocate with her. She lived with them until she was 28 years old. When she moved out, she found a one room place in Santa Monica for $289 per month. Of course, this is unheard of in this part of LA today. Aspiring to be an actress, she studied drama at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. For a year or so, she frequented shows at The Groundlings. One night, she sneaked backstage to talk to one of the performers to learn more about the improv institute. That performer was a young Phil Hartman, and he must have said something right because Griffin enrolled.
By the 1990s, the comedic actress began doing stand-up. Her and Janeane Garofalo hosted a comedy showcase, Hot Cup of Talk. This also served as the title to her first HBO hour special in 1998. Her first big TV role was on Suddenly Susan with Brooke Sheilds. Griffin played Vicki Groener, a quirky supporting character. Similar to her icon Rhoda Morgenstern from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Groener enabled the comedian to enter into scenes stealing all the laughs.
Griffin’s style demonstrates that she will say almost anything for a good laugh. Most of her material contains stories about celebrities. She will analyze the relationship of Oprah and her best friend Gayle and label them as a “power couple.” She would riff on Lindsay Lohan and her drug issues. Power divas have ended up in punchlines as she has a number of bits about Britney Spears, Celine Dion, and the late Whitney Houston. Griffin utilizes her lower celebrity status to take on the bigger ones. She even satirized it in an Emmy winning reality tv show, My Life On the D List.
While some may criticize the comic’s work for being too brutal, most of her routines are based out of speculations and silly anecdotes. At the end of the day, she is doing her job by entertaining people, and it shows. Right now, she derives most of her income from touring. She actually recently bought a 10.5 million dollar home in Bel Air. She calls it her “trophy house” against all the ageism and sexism that still exists in Hollywood. How can that not inspire every girl or even every comedian to make a good hustle?