Comedian Kathy Griffin joins Bill Maher to discuss her time in exile and her return to the stage.
Published on Mar 10, 2018
And first up, she is a Grammy winner, and a two-time Emmy-winning comedian, and an actress who holds the Guinness record for most comedy specials by a woman. More importantly, she is a good American who loves her country and should be able to work in it, Kathy Griffin!
Maher: See, told ya!
Griffin: I was afraid, I was afraid. I was afraid.
Maher: There you go.
Griffin: Look at this. Let’s do this.
Maher: All right. How you doin– I love your new do!
Griffin: I did, I cut my hair very, very short.
Griffin: We’re all shaving our heads now, the pissed-off women, we’re angry, we’re shaving our heads. Just for fun. To scare you guys.
Griffin: Bill, first of all, I really wanna thank you for being one of the first and only people to publicly support me, and say what happened was bullshit.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS, APPLAUDS)
Maher: It was bullshit. Yeah.
Maher: Well, yeah, and–
Griffin: Public– ‘Cause I got texts from some celebrities that were like, “Um, don’t tell anybody I sent you this text, but I support you all the way, I love you.”
Griffin: Jerry Seinfeld.
Griffin: No, I’m kidding. I’m kid–
Maher: Oh, no!
Griffin: No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
Maher: Oh! (LAUGHS)
As if– By the way, as if we have each other’s numbers, me and Jerry Seinfeld. But go ahead.
Maher: Exactly, I happen to know they don’t.
Maher: Well, we’ve missed you. You know, I mean… It’s true.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS, APPLAUDS)
Oh, my goodness.
Maher: I– Uh– One thing nobody could ever take away from you, you are a hard worker.
Griffin: I love it, man, love it.
Maher: You… You got where you are through hard work. You, joke-by-joke…
Griffin: One dick joke at a time, baby!
Griffin: I never had a writer, I never had a studio, I never had a manager, just out grinding it out, and that’s what I love doing.
Maher: So, for you to have it all taken away–
Maher: It just really pissed me off more than anything, because, I mean, look, you took a picture– -you took a very bad selfie.
Maher: I blame the photographer, I’ve been on these photoshoots and they’re always trying to do something provocative,
Maher: so they said, “Hey, -why don’t you pose–“
Griffin: The wacky picture!
Maher: The wacky picture, and it turned out to be a little too wacky.
Griffin: It was quite wacky.
Maher: Okay, it was very wacky, and, uh, but, you know, if this wasn’t the United States of babies, you know, you woulda– The first thing you said was, “Look, I went too far, I get it,” it should’ve been over. Okay, there, she gets it. Fine. But of course, everybody has to go bat-shit nuts about everything, all the time.
Griffin: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Griffin: Actually, the selfie analogy is really good, because almost like, imagine if you took– You had the worst selfie in the world, you went to bed, and you woke up and you found out that the President tweeted about it, which then mobilized the alt-right, Fox News,
Griffin: everybody else, and then, -you know, they also thought it was illegal, which…
Maher: And also– BILL: Right, I mean–
Griffin: Distasteful, but not illegal. Covered by the first amendment.
Maher: No, I went through…
Griffin: While we still have one. While we still have one.
Maher: I mean, I went through something like this. Yours is worse because you were actually interrogated, you were detained–
Griffin: Two month federal investigation by two, um, departments from the DOJ, Department of Justice.
Maher: Right. I mean, after 9/11 I had this on my wall for a while, the Variety headline that says, you know, “White House keeps heat on ABC’s Maher.”
Griffin: I remember it very well.
Maher: Yeah, okay, so– And it was bad, Ari Fleischer was talking about me in the press conference every day. But you had it far worse because you literally had your livelihood taken away from you,
Maher: My show kept going, uh, our ratings never dropped…
Griffin: I even had my– Um, I was in the middle of a fifty-city tour, and I had like 25 dates up until the following February, ’cause this happened on May 30th, TMZ was reporting my show cancellations in real time which scared, I think, the theaters. So these theaters, which I don’t blame, because all of a sudden, you know, normally they do like, Stomp, or Mama Mia!, and all of a sudden, they’re getting robocalls from like, a bot farm in Macedonia going, “If I see that bitch on stage I’m gonna cut her in the cunt, chop her head off, and put her head up her cunt.”
Griffin: That was– No joke, that was the number one reason that the, um, folks who are angry, want to kill me. That’s the number one procedure they wanna do.
Maher: Moving on… (CHUCKLES)
Maher: Yeah, it was ugly, and…
Griffin: Yeah. Yeah.
Maher: and I mean, but… It really got outta hand, I think, when the official security apparatus of the United States of America, which you’d think would have something better to do, and I am sure knew better, than you were somehow a threat to the president…
Griffin: Well, they–
Maher: …interrogated you, I mean, flying is still a problem for you, is it not?
Griffin: Yeah, I… -I mean,
Maher: you were on the D-List, -now you’re on the no-fly list.
Griffin: The D-List is much better. D-List is much better.
Maher: Yeah, way better.
Griffin: Um, yeah, I’m on the Interpol list and so, when I couldn’t get work here after that…
Maher: The Interpol?
Maher: For international criminals?
Griffin: Yeah. So, I did an overseas tour, I did 15 countries and 23 cities and I was detained at every single airport, which is frightening, because they scan your passport, they see– And by the way, this is really scary when you’re at the Singapore airport, and you see the person go like this…
Griffin: And then there’s like, whispering, and then they put me in, like, a detention room, and you don’t know how long it’s gonna take, and I’m thinking, you know, “I got– ‘Scuse me, I have an eight o’ clock show I gotta make soccer moms -and gay guys laugh. Let’s go.”
(AUDIENCE CHEERS, APPLAUDS)
Griffin: But in all seriousness, there were times when they took my devices, they can do that, and you might think, you know, we all have our rights, but when you’re in that moment, you’re really at the mercy of one or two people in that room. So, it happened at LAX, it happened at London, Heathrow, um, and it’s scary every time ’cause you don’t quite know what it is.
Maher: So, if you had to do it all over again, I mean, I assume you wouldn’t take the picture, but… (CHUCKLES)
Griffin: I’d do Mike Pence. No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
Griffin: Ten months I waited to do that joke, ten months.
Maher: Okay, um, but would you do anything over? Uh, the way it was– The aftermath of it?
Griffin: Oh yeah, I mean, everything about the aftermath was, you know, it truly is a historic situation, so one of the things I like doing– About touring is, as you know, you’re on stage and you can really tell your story without censorship and stuff, so, the current show I’m doing actually does have, like, a couple serious moments in it because when I describe the interrogation, you could hear a pin drop, you know what I mean? Like I said, I’ve just done 23 cities in 15 countries, and the intensity of those moments, when my first amendment attorney said to me, you know, “If this doesn’t go well you’ll leave here in handcuffs.” And the DOJ called my attorneys every single day for two months, “Did she come in yet? Did she come in yet?” Every day they called and said we can do a– It’s called a No-Knock, which is what they did to Paul Manafort
Griffin: No knock, come in. You know, and I’d be like, “Fine, come on in, we can take my Backstreet Boys CDs,” you know. So, it was crazy, but that’s how crazy it was. So I was determined to not do, like, a perp walk, so it cost me a lot of money of course, but at least we were able to negotiate the interrogation happening in my attorney’s office. But, you know, just being told you could leave in cuffs.
Griffin: You know, it came straight from the DOJ and the White House.
Maher: So, uh…
Griffin: And that’s the– That’s the administration that we have now. So that’s what I am here to talk about, is, I really believe that it happened to me, and I really believe it could happen to you and other people, or people’s kids or relatives. It could happen, it’s gotten crazy.
Maher: Well, I– We’re not gonna…
(CHUCKLES) …hopefully take that picture. But I do believe what you’re saying in general is correct, everything that was unthinkable two years ago, is thinkable now: dictatorship, fascism. All those kinds of things, -uh, so, I don’t think…
Griffin: ICE deportations are going…
Maher: Nuclear war,
Maher: nothing is off the table.
Maher: Okay, so, do you think– I know some friendships were… -casualties in this.
Griffin: I’m down to three gay guys.
Griffin: And you. And you. But I hear you’re fluid, I hear you’re fluid.
Griffin: Which is very trendy. Very trendy, Bill, very hot, sells tickets.
(AUDIENCE LAUGHS, APPLAUDS)
Maher: Um, I’m just gonna play straight man today, I… So, uh…
Griffin: Oh, and I got canned from CNN which sucked because I was never a CNN employee, I only worked there one night a week, but they made like this sweeping statement, -and you know…
Maher: Well I was gonna say–
Griffin: Don Jr. was like– Of all people, like, Don Jr., that freakin’ cro-mag, like…
Griffin: …barely human, whatever his deal is.
Maher: Right. (CHUCKLES)
Griffin: He goes on, like, Good Morning America and says, “We don’t just wanna ruin Kathy Griffin’s career, we wanna decimate her.” And that was like, months after the photo, so…
Maher: But do you thi–
Griffin: I’m not decimated.
Maher: Right. No, you’re not. You look very strong.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS, APPLAUDS)
(BILL LAUGHS) I– I mean, we need comedians, I mean, I know that sounds like a pat on the back ’cause I’m one of them, but what we really do, -especially in this era,
Maher: and any era, to sometimes go over the line…
Maher: …so we know where the lines are.
Griffin: Of course.
Maher: And also to establish that we do live in a country with free speech, that was– As distasteful as it might have been to a lot of people, -it was free speech.
Maher: And free speech is still kind of important and I’d like to defend it.
Griffin: It’s important and also the alt-right has kind of co-opted it, like…
Griffin: …you know, a speech at Berkeley and somebody knocks over a garbage can, sets it on fire and if it’s an alt-right person they’ll say it’s free speech but they kinda co-opted that, but you know, you and I do the kind of comedy that pushes boundaries and to do that you have to move them, and then cross them, and push them again, and see what works. And I’m finding, like, I know you’re on the road as well, I’m finding that people are wanting that kind of comedy. -We’re in such an intense time,
Maher: Oh. So thirsty, yes.
Griffin: people don’t want dog and cat jokes.
Maher: No, they– I mean– -You know, so… -They definitely…
Griffin: They want the real deal.
Maher: And they want to be very mean to Donald Trump, and I can do that, I can do that.
Maher: You can do that, too, so…
Griffin: I’m definitely trying. I do have, by the way, I have a small, victorious announcement.
Maher: Okay. All right.
Griffin: Okay. So I’m dipping my toes into touring again, even though the Trumps, nobody wants me to work again, but I’m dipping my toes in and, um, I just booked today, I’m gonna do a show at Carnegie Hall in New York… And…
Maher: I’ve heard of it.
Griffin: And I’m also gonna go right to Trump’s back yard and do a show at the Kennedy Center.
Maher: All right. Kathy Griffin! Triumphant!