Kathy Griffin: "I'm hoping Singaporeans can handle my level of honesty"
Run your mouth
In a telephone conversation at 1.30am, this writer found herself being interviewed by Kathy Griffin, and not the other way round. It's not entirely unexpected, of course. The 56-year-old Primetime Emmy and Grammy-winning comic is a brash pottymouth who courts controversy everywhere she goes — but what a delight it was to speak to her, even in the wee hours. Me, groggy-eyed and about to head into snooze town while Griffin's on the other side of the pond, sprightly and dominating the conversation.
I gave props to the comic for doing her research. As soon as niceties were covered, she proceeded to ask me what the hell was going on in a picture of myself using a showerhead as a microphone in the bathtub — not the most professional of shots to come up on a Google search of my name, of course. "I was really excited by a huge bathtub in Bali," I replied sheepishly. "Oh stop it, you're adorable!" she exclaimed. "By the way, I have done stand-up comedy to my showerhead many times, you're not alone".
"Yeah, no one knows me better than my showerhead, to be honest," I said.
"You know what, that is a relationship that I will respect," she surmised, before launching into the next question: Will she be allowed to stand on stage and make fun of Donald Trump? Griffin shared that while she knew she couldn't make fun of Singapore's government and religion, she wanted to make sure that she could make fun of the "Cheeto orangutan Nazi in the White House".
An insult to Cheetos and orangutans all around, but I let it pass. "You can, definitely," I assured
"Oh my god, Adibah, alright, I might have to come live with you. How big is your apartment?" she exclaimed. "I'm a comedy fugitive in my own country. Because of that photo, the President's mission wasn't to get me fired from CNN, it was to decimate my whole career!"
Griffin's talking about that infamous photo she released in May this year. Holding a mock-up of Donald Trump's severed head in a photoshoot, the photo has since caused the comic her job with the CNN, her friendship with fellow anchor Anderson Cooper and even got her death threats. At a recent show in New Zealand, a Trump supporter threw a bottle of tomato sauce at the comic while she was performing.
"My life turned upside down overnight, and I'm still shunned by my own countrymen," she continued. "I called my stand-up agent and said, 'I know this is crazy and I've never played all these markets that are far away, but can I go far enough where people can let me make fun of Trump?' She called back in two days with 15 countries. So that photo that was supposed to decimate my life actually turned into my ticket around the world."
It's also her first ticket into Singapore, where the Los Angeles-based comic has never visited before. In our 20-minute chat, Griffin shared snippets of her life with the Kardashians and her qualms about performing in a country she's been warned about.
Kathy Griffin: I'm so grateful that I'm playing in Singapore. You can hear from an American that we know how crazy and freaking scary it is. The majority of Americans are working really hard to get him out. During all of this, I happen to live next door to a famous couple. Do you know who they are?
Um... John Legend and Chrissy Teigen?
Their names are Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West.
Way! I cannot wait to tell the story about Trump and all his craziness, and then also what it's like to have Kim Kardashian come over to your house and comfort you. One time my mom was over and she drinks way too much — my mom Is 97. I called Kim and I said, "Can you send over the kids, my mom is feeling a little down and she wants to babysit". So that's my life now. One minute I could be getting a call from the Department of Justice, and the next minute, I would be getting small Kardashians.
The whole family's pregnant now.
I hope you looked at my Instagram because I'm very proud of my assistant who put up a very nice photo-shopped photo of three pregnant women — their names of Khloe, Kylie and Kathy Griffin. I don't know if you know this, but my boyfriend is 18 years younger, so I'm not announcing my pregnancy in this interview, but I will say that I've not had my period for at least 12 years. I might be pregnant! I think you should break this scoop!
Did you really lose your virginity when you were 20? I'm referring to that picture you posted of yourself at 20 with that hilarious caption.
18. You know what, I have an excellent personality. I was a whore in my 30s. I f*cked one guy from NSYNC, I f*cked Quentin Tarantino —
You f*cked one guy from NSYNC? Who?
I've talked about it before, you need to do your research and development! I have a checkered past, and I'm hoping Singaporeans can handle my level of honesty. Im going to be very honest, I might say inappropriate things but not on purpose.
Has anyone told you what you shouldn't say on stage to a Singapore audience?
I've been warned about Singapore more than any other place I'm going this entire tour. I've been told not to make fun of your government. You have to admit, it was really funny when President Cheeto Orangutan accidentally thought that your Prime Minister was the President of Indonesia. Our President is so stupid, he couldn't even do a Google search — which I did, PM Lee, there you go, I looked it up — and mixes up the Prime Minister of Singapore with the President of Indonesia. Are you telling me that if I get on stage I will get in trouble for making fun of that?
I think that's fine, because you're making fun of Donald Trump more than you are about Singapore.
If you could recommend one dish I can't leave Singapore without trying?
How do you spell it?
It's nasi lemak. You can't say "nazi", that's something else altogether (laughs).
Oh my god, I said nazi! See, so much could happen! See, that's how I'm going get in trouble! So if I get on stage and mispronounce that dish, am I going to go to jail?
Here's the thing, I'm going to need your personal cell number, because you're going to be my call from jail. Also, I'm not even kidding, I'm looking at a picture right now of nasi lemak... oh this is good, what kind of meat is it?
Oh, no sh*t. Is it spicy or not?
It's quite spicy, but you can ask for less spice if you want.
Okay, now lets get back to my show. As an audience member, would you want more spice from Kathy or less spice?
More spice, always.
You know you're saying that but then you're going to have to bail me out of jail! And you haven't given me your cell phone number yet so I can tell you're like, 'oh god can't she get some other reporter to do this'.
You can ask Kim Kardashian for some money...
Let me talk to you about Taylor Swift. Are you a fan?
No, I hate Taylor Swift.
I think one of the reasons I'm getting along better with Kim Kardashian is that they hate Taylor Swift more than they hate me. It's easier to be friends with me.
— Kathy Griffin's representative steps in, informing that our time's running out —
Would you ever be president?
I think I'll obviously win in a landslide. As you can tell, I'm so popular in the United States — having been on the f*cking no fly list for two months, like I'm in ISIS — that I should remove myself from consideration. Lets just go with that answer (laughs).
Lastly, Kathy, what's the most naughty thing you're going to get up to in Singapore?
My act. When I'm on stage, something takes over my body and the ability to censor myself doesn't do very well.
Kathy Griffin's 'Laugh Your Head Off' Tour is happening on 3 November at The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre. Book tickets.