Kathy Griffin ranks among the most polarizing comedians of our time. Her rants on celebrity culture have earned her two Emmys and a Grammy nomination, but her loose lips have gotten her banned from several stops on the talk show circuit. Though I wince at a few of her remarks, her show Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List consistently gives me cause to chuckle. Her candid and respectful approach to race, however, has scored her some solid points in my book.
In a recent episode, we watched Kathy prep for her first (and potentially last) performance at the Apollo Theatre by consulting notable black figures/entertainers like TI, Katt Williams, and Rev. Al Sharpton. She challenged TI’s swagger and grabbed auto advice from Katt, but the episode’s most refreshing gift was how it subtly reinforced the notion that “Black Culture” is not synonymous with “Hip-Hop Culture”!
Of course hip-hop is a rich part of black history, but more than a few networks and ad agencies appear to think that the most effective way to reach a black audience is to display breakdancers flipping with cheeseburgers in their hands or a rapper beatboxing a jingle about car insurance.
Since Kathy couldn’t channel any of these sterotypical tropes, she was forced to rely on her own brand of pop-lampooning and self-deprecating humor. And, go figure, it worked!
At least until she spurted out a profane joke about Octomom – apparently her language was a bit too fiery for the Amateur Night crowd.
By the time she realized her slip of tongue, the house band had already begun to play her off, and when she slid backstage, the Apollo stage manager laid into her pretty hard for inappropriate choice of language; her apology didn’t seem to pacify him at all.
As uneasy as it was to watch Kathy bomb, however, I’m stoked that she was comfortable enough with her imperfections to let that that footage air!
Perhaps Kathy’s vulnerability is the perfect neutralizer for her vulgarity.