Las Vegas Sun

December 13, 2018

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Watch out, Kathy’s coming!

Griffin might even surprise you and say something nice


Associated Press File

Kathy Griffin arrives for the 58th annual Primetime Emmys on Aug. 27, 2006, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Griffin won an Emmy in 2007.

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  • Kathy Griffin surveys the audience

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  • Kathy Griffin talks about the Osmonds


Who: Emmy-winning comedian Kathy Griffin

When: 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Mandalay Bay Theatre

Admission: $71; 632-7777,

No celebrity is safe from the fast-talking tattle-taling comedian Kathy Griffin.

Until now.

Now, in her most shocking interview ever, Griffin, who is known for her star-scorching shtick, says nice things about Las Vegas luminaries.

Well, some of them ...

Griffin is flying straight from Montreal for back-to-back shows at Mandalay Bay on Friday, but today the fast-talking redhead is at home in Los Angeles, talking on the phone in PJ bottoms, a tank top and slippers.

“I’m off camera, thank God,” says Chicago-born Griffin, 47, whose self-skewering Bravo TV reality show, “My Life on the D-List,” has finished taping its fifth season. “I always say to people, you’ve gotta come see me live, because that’s where the fur flies. Bravo is very good to me, even though I like to make fun of them for being a fake network. They don’t hold me back or anything, but there’s still some things I can’t even say on Bravo. So you gotta come to Mandalay, where I basically say things that are so heinous that I should just take an escalator to hell right after my show.”

And it’s true: Where Griffin goes, trouble follows. She’s not likely to run out of material in this lifetime, as the bulk of her act is breathlessly dishing about the never-ending numskullery and dimwitticisms of Hollywood’s red carpet clique.

On the show Griffin mocks the inanity of celebrity by embedding herself in it, staging photo opportunities by falling out of a taxicab on purpose, serial-dating ex-boybanders and staging charitable events for the publicity they will get her.

And then there’s her naked hunger for awards. “D-List” won an Emmy (for Best Non-competition Reality Program) last year, and on the show, Griffin jokingly lugs around the outsize golden trophy, plopping it on restaurant tabletops and taunting her competitors (including “dog whisperer” Cesar Milan) with it.

It wouldn’t be surprising at all if she officially changed her name to “Emmy-winning comedian Kathy Griffin.”

Taking her award-grubbing to new levels, she recently released a live concert CD — which she recorded solely for the purpose of trying to snag a Grammy nomination.

“The people who vote for the Grammys (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) recently invited me to join. So I can vote on myself!” Griffin crows. “You know when these candidates go into the booths and say, ‘I’m not saying ...’? Who are they kidding? Everybody votes for themselves. If I could, I would do it old-school Chicago style, where I could just rig the Emmys or the Grammys, and pay people a dollar a vote. I have no scruples.”

Unlike most interview subjects, Griffin doesn’t need any time to warm up. She’s pretty much plug-and-play. (Actually, when I get to my phone, I find two Sun reporters chatting with Griffin, trying to get on the waiting list to be hired as her celebrity assistants.)

So when it’s time to get down to the business at hand — tearing into a checklist of “V-list” (Vegas) names, she’s ready to rip. We start off with an easy one:

Donny & Marie — “I can’t wait,” Griffin gasps with almost-evil glee. “I will absolutely be there with bells on. Of course, I’m going to have to wear a wig and a mustache, because, um, you know ... I would say the chances of me making fun of their show are fairly high. And you know they’re gonna have some weird Mormon humor — I’m sure they have their version of naughty jokes. I love when people like Kathie Lee Gifford and people like that try to do naughty double entendre jokes, but under the guise of ‘I love Jesus.’ ”

Cirque du Soleil — “I’m gonna go on record, and I know I’m gonna make many enemies in your town, but I hate Cirque du Soleil. There, I said it. I don’t want to see any more French Canadian clowns rolling a beach ball across the stage. They were like a French Canadian mafia! They took over every casino: I’d go to Vegas, and I swear to God, I’d have all my friends saying, ‘Well do you want to see “Mystere?” or, ‘Do you want to go see “O” again?’ And I was like, for $275 bucks a pop, I don’t want to see either one of them. And I think people die!”

Criss Angel plus Cirque du Soleil — “Are you (bleeping) me? Put a gun to my head. I know he’s seen with starlets, and he’s got a weird New Jersey accent, and I guess he’s a magician? But to me that’s like a kids’ party clown. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that very few people who come to see me at Mandalay will be going to that show. Let’s see a show of hands.”

(Here’s where it gets weird.)

Barry Manilow — “I’m in for Manilow. I mean, I’m only human. And I’ll tell you right now, sight unseen, I will cry during ‘Mandy.’ ”

Bette Midler — “OK, not only did I go the opening week, but I got to meet her. Sarah Silverman went, too, and we were backstage and we had this conversation, like, what do we say? Should we gush, should we just shut up and talk? I have this weird thing where I’m afraid to meet my idols — I would be crushed if I had caught her on a bad day. So I was actually afraid to meet her, but she’s used to gay guys like me putting her on a pedestal. But she was just delightful, and boy, we had the nicest conversation, and we’ve exchanged a couple of e-mails, and I’m now going to host her Hulaween gala in New York for charity. And this is how much I love her. I have to put on a (bleeping) costume. I’m having someone from ‘Project Runway’ (design) it. I’m not (bleeping) around.”

Cher — Griffin literally gasps. “Rosie (O’Donnell) and I are going in August, and I get to meet Cher. They’re going to have to check the voltage in the casinos, because my head might explode.”

Unfortunately there’s not enough time to get to everyone on our lengthy list (which includes the club-crawling celebretoids from “The Hills,” the Pussycat Dolls, Carrot Top, UFC, Robin Leach ...)

With that out of the way, Griffin recalls her first stand-up gig in the early ’80s, right here in Las Vegas.

“I was hired to do this weird corporate gig at Bally’s,” she says. “I had done a commercial for Kenwood stereos — I guess I was the Kenwood girl. It was me, Davy Jones (I thought it was the guy from the Monkees, but it was a race car driver) and the group .38 Special. I wasn’t even a comedian at the time; I was really just a sketch actress. I had never done stand-up in my life, and I just went out there and talked about what it was like to do the commercial — I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And then I remember I stayed the whole weekend in my room by myself. I didn’t even look at a slot machine.

“Now Vegas is such a restaurant town, and that’s kind of all I care about. And then I discovered my favorite restaurant, which is Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris. Oh my God, I love it there. You can sit on the terrace and judge everybody. And you look across the street and there’s fountains. And frites!

Griffin confides another favorite Vegas haunt.

“Do you ever go to Capriotti’s, the sandwich place? OK, it’s on Sahara, it’s in a minimall, I guarantee all the drivers know, that’s how I found out about it (Editor’s note: Actually, it’s one of 21 in the valley). The best sub sandwiches in your life. They have this one called the Bobby? And what it is, it’s pulled turkey — not like deli-sliced turkey, but like real cooked turkey — mayonnaise, homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce on a bun. And it’s like six bucks. So every time I’m there, I’ll pull up in the hotel limo, and I’ll have what I call my gay sando party, and I’ll invite some of my gay friends and we’ll have a sandwich party in my room at 1 a.m. It’s the one day the gays will have carbs, but they plan for it!”

So now you know where Griffin is likely to be found while she’s in town. But approach her at your own risk.

“I actually don’t like to be approached,” she says. “I’m on so much, between the reality show and touring and doing interviews and stuff. So when I’m in Vegas, at a casino or whatever, honestly — I know this sounds mean — I hate to be approached. I can never be as jokey as they want, and nobody knows how to use their cameras. Nobody.”

Now, some 20 years after her stand-up initiation, Griffin has become a “Vegas person.” And the slots finally got to her.

“I have a nickel slot addiction,” she confesses. “Those are my peeps. I like to be nestled in between the Asian lady and the guy in the wheelchair with the tracheotomy, smoking with his oxygen tank, and the three of us are just happy as can be. I’m the best person to sit next to at the slot machines, because I am that person that the minute I sit down, you then win a jackpot. And I get more and more bitter. So I’m sitting there playing my nickel slots, and all I’m hearing is ‘Oh my God, I’ve never even done that before!’

“I’m trying to go to rehab, but I kinda want to just be with other nickel slot players, because I don’t think I should be in with people who have gambled away their houses.”

Griffin hears that the Flamingo used to have a Jackie Collins-themed slot machine.

“What?” she screams. “How do I get a slot machine? OK, Season 5 of ‘The D-List’: Kathy tries to get her own slot machine.”

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