Jen Rosenstein

Kathy Griffin Talks Dogs, Cats, Cows, & ‘Life on the PTSD-List’

Gone are the days of Debbie Downer. In 2024 more than ever, we are grateful to have Candid Kathy. Scratch that – we have Candid, Un-Cancelled Kathy.

When speaking with Kathy Griffin, one must know that they are in the presence of power. Kathy Griffin is powerful. Fall down seven times, stand up eight? Not Kathy. She’s proof that you can be knocked down as many times as the ever-changing world allows, but still be able to stand your ground, take the stage, and hold your own (even with one-and-a-half lungs and a pseudo-hit out from a certain ex-president). The comedian, personality, advocate, and friend to most is back on the road doing stand-up and going on tangents live for fans and friends for the first time in six years.

“Come with an open heart and an open mind,” she says of the tour rolling into town later this week. “I want your people to know I’m not holding back. So I was on the no flight list? That’s not gonna stop me. I’m still gonna fly.” Cancelled? Knocked down? Not Kathy. She’s bold, brazen, and a golden example of strength, no-nonsense truths, girl power, and candid societal reflection.

From us to you – an early ‘welcome back’ to touring and to New Jersey!

I can’t wait to be back at the Count Basie.

We cannot wait! New Jersey and New York are forever infatuated with your fearlessness. I’m glad you’re as excited as we are.

You have no idea! The Count Basie was actually the first theatre that had to cancel my show, because I was in the middle of a tour when the [Donald] Trump no-fly thing happened and he came after me. The Count Basie was putting on Kathy Griffin probably for the fifth or sixth time; I’ve played there many times and then they started getting calls from people saying, “If she goes on stage, I’m gonna cut her in the cunt and I’m gonna throw shit her at her!” First of all, these Trumpers love the C-word. Second of all, the poor Count Basie is used to, like, Stomp and Blue Man Group. They didn’t sign on for this! I was in the middle of a 50-city tour and 25 of ’em got canceled because of Trump and these calls, and then I found out the calls were robocalls!


I mean, it’s madness! It’s such a nice theater, too – very nice, well kept, great area.

You’re right! Did you ever find out who these fake, scam-caller people were?

They didn’t even live there! That’s what I learned. And you know what? All it takes like a few crazies on Facebook. I will tell you, though, believe it or not, I don’t even mention Trump in this new show. It’s not like I’m afraid of him, because what else can he do to me? I just feel like I’ve been there, done that. I made a movie about it called Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story. It’s kind of a concert movie, kind of a documentary. It’s free on Amazon, because (of course) nobody would distribute it since I’m a member of Isis [Laughs].

Aside from that, something has happened just in the last six months and it’s like… I can feel it. It was sort of like I was canceled until out of the blue I got a call from a manager in July. “I think you got a raw deal. I think you should be working. You’ve got all the accomplishments, blah, blah, blah.” He gets me an agent in like a day. Two weeks later, the agent has booked 40 cities, including the Count Basie! I say this with trepidation, but I might be back.

I think so! I, for one, am happy about it. Coincidentally or not, all of this happening now has you on the road during an election year… pretty iconic, Kathy, for better or for worse.

Honey, I just feel like bringing it on! I’ve got some Nazis that are threatening to march in front of my Huntington show in Suffolk County. Do you think my gays and ladies give a shit about like seven Nazis? No. On the other hand, Nazis? Nazis in New York? The United States of America? Ok, I’m not gonna go there – we’re talking about comedy. I have Britney Spears stories! I’m just saying, though, what has happened to our country and when are we gonna get it together?

I just was in Canada doing shows and all they wanna do is stop me on the street when they hear my pronunciation of the word ‘sorry.’ I’ll be out and about and they’ll say, “Whatcha guys doing? You had your chance to get rid of this guy!” Even though I don’t bring him up in the new show, I still can’t walk down the street, especially in a foreign country, without people stopping me and asking me what we’re doing. Oh, wait, let me segue into this: I have a good story about Sia in my new show. Do you know who she is?

Big voice? With the wigs? Yes, I do.

With the wigs! She’s amazing – I love her and she’s one of my besties. We went to Mexico together on vacation and everything went wrong. I just want you to know, I’m still sprinkling in the good ‘ol celebrity stories. I went to Paris Hilton’s Christmas party. It was like a time warp! Paris looks the same. Lance Bass was there. I was there with Rosie O’Donnell. It was like The Rosie O’Donnell Show was still on. It was hilarious.

I talk about my PTSD a lot. That’s why I called the show my life on the PTS-D List, because, get this: little dick-joke-telling comedian Kathy Griffin has been diagnosed with PTSD! I have been diagnosed with PTSD. I can’t believe that. That’s why I do all my walking. I do all these things to keep my noggin in an order because of my PTSD. I do pilates and I go on a two-hour walk per day. Can you imagine, two hours?

I love that, though! It’s healthy! Do you listen to anything on your walk or do you just walk?

Yes! I listen to Sia and Rihanna and P!NK and Taylor Swift and Britney and Kesha – all the powerful women.

I’m gonna take that as advice and start doing those two hour walks with girl power pop music.

It is a motivator, that’s for sure! [Dog barking] Sorry, my psycho dogs are behind me. I think I’m gonna bring them to Red Bank. They comfort me.

I love dogs and I support that decision! Dogs are everything.

If I can name drop, I learned that trick from Stevie Nicks, although Stevie just has tiny ones. Every time I go see Stevie Nicks, we have a little appointment after the show. She does all of her things like meet and greets to say hello to her music legend fans, then we go and we sit down in the corner of a room and just gossip. She has her little dogs with her every single time. I was like, “You know what? I’m bringing a dog on the road with me.” I will be bringing at least one of the dogs to Red Bank so that when I go back to the hotel, I can cuddle with the doggie. I do like little things like that.

Oh, and when I’m at the Count Basie, the people there are so nice. Sometimes they’ll bring me some food before the show! As you know, the Italian food there is off the charts. It could be a meatball sandwich. It could be lasagna. I’ve had at least half the audience members offer to cook me dinner, which doesn’t happen in every city!

That’s a surefire sign that you are will not be cancelled here, because if we are offering to cook you food, you’re family. You are ‘in’ for life.

I think that that is a tangible sign of un-cancelling! Now, I have to talk about this, because I talk about it in the show or whatever: Did you know that I had lung cancer and I have only half a lung on my left side?

I did, and yet here you are with your little dogs and your walks and your stories and your little pop star mic slaying the stage.

I’m so excited about that new microphone! It does make me feel like a pop star! I’m going to see Madonna on Thursday – who I’ve never met and I’m a little scared to meet her. I’m going with Sia and Rosie O’Donnell, so we might go backstage. I thought that’ll be my opener for Madonna, like “Madonna, we finally meet because have the same mic. We are both on the road now.” I try to make myself like I’m in her category [Laughs].

You both have your little headset mics. You are obviously twins.

[Laughs] Who are we kidding? I can still bow down to Madonna, and if I get to meet her, I might faint. I mean, I’m just a gay guy on the inside. I still wanna meet Madonna! Oh, I could tell you something – I just did an interview with the college paper at Rutgers [University]. It was with a young straight guy named Joel. He was so sweet, but he didn’t know anything about me. I’m like an old lady to him! So I go, “Joel, we have to talk about Britney,” and then he goes, “I’m not following that.” Can you imagine? How do we live in a world where there’s one person roaming the earth who is not following the Britney journey? I can’t accept that! No, not on my watch.

Whoa – Britney Spears is like one of our royals!

We raised her. We created her. We probably screwed her up – let’s just take ownership of that. We made her put on a cheerleader outfit when she was like 11 or so and all that crap. So, yes, I’m invested in her. We talk about Britney in the show, and I talk about all the crazy things I do for my PTSD. I’m gonna do this thing later at 10 o’clock – I have a Kundalini yoga session. I still don’t know what Kundalini even means, but I do it. I do all this crap. Does it work? I don’t know, but I was so freaking sick after my surgery. This is gross, but I was vomiting for like 10 months after my cancer surgery, even though I was cancer free. They say that was the PTSD kicking in, and, well, that’ll debilitate you! Now, if you are gonna come over today, this is what you would see: I’m on all fours, I’m arching my back and I’m doing this up and down. I meow, and Debra, I’m not proud of that. Then I’m supposed to tip my head up to the moon, and guess what?

You ‘moo’ to the sky. Yes, the cat-cow yoga position.

Oh my God, wait a minute. Have you heard of this?

I have heard of this! [Laughs]

This is a thing? Wait, I thought they were trying to humiliate me out of my PTSD.

Oh my goodness, no! This is a real thing. I’ve done it in yoga! It has to do with connecting your mind to your gut. I don’t understand how that works, but if it works, great. If I look stupid, oh well!

Exactly! Wait a minute, that’s why I do it! My gut stinks. I am working on connecting the mind to the gut, because my gut is my current enemy and I’m trying to make friends.

Helping yourself is not embarrassing, even if you are impersonating a cat and a cow!

Here’s the thing: none of this is hurting. I have an acupuncture guy and he’s so sweet, but acupuncture’s supposed to be like zen, right? He talks to me about my GI and stuff, but the funny thing is he is an anti-Trumper, which you would think would not come up during acupuncture. No – the whole time he is putting needles in me, he’s getting more amped up about how much he hates Trump. He knows I’m sympathetic, but then I roll over on my needles because I’m trying to ask him to shut up. I don’t find it as relaxing as you’d think, but I do it once a week anyway, because It doesn’t hurt.

I don’t think the needles would hurt, but I think that the conversation could for some. It’s a fine line.

That’s true! I get a little amped up, too. Then we have to move on to cupping, which can’t possibly have any therapeutic remedies, yet I do it.

What is that? Cupping might be a new term for me.

It’s where they literally suck the life out of you. They put a freaking cup on your back, then it’s got this click thing that’s like something out of medieval torture, and they click it and it sucks your skin into the little cup. They leave it on for like 20 minutes. Gwyneth Paltrow did it a few years ago and there’s all these pictures of her with circles on her back. The next thing you know, I’m doing it!

I went to one of my oncology visits and as they go put the apron on with the back open, this woman’s like, “Ms. Griffin, are you ok?” And I was like, “I’m being abused by cups!” Luckily she laughed, but I do try all this. Don’t even start with the EMDR therapy, because I do that whole shebang, too.

I’m still caught up on cups being put suctioned to your skin!

It has something to do with drying the blood out. It gives you a black and blue mark.

It sounds like it would be bruising!

It is! It is bruising! Look, with the Eastern medicines, it’s a mystery. There are no papers about it in the Lancet. I still go to the freakin’ normal doctors all the time, even though I’m cancer free, which is good. My left vocal cord is permanently paralyzed. How about that for a comedian? [Laughs] I get the surgery where they take out half my lung so they can get the cancer out, but I got injured during the surgery and now my voice is pitched up a little bit.

Oh, get this. I go on Bill Maher’s podcast – don’t ask why, he’s changed. Anyway, I’m talking to Bill about how my voice is a little different now. He goes, “I think cancer has made you more likable.”


Exactly! “Oh?” I’m sitting there on camera like, “Ok, Kathy, breathe.” I just filed for divorce 72 days ago and my heart is broken, too, so thank God I have a show coming up at Count Basie. That keeps me going – you have no idea. You see what happened when I didn’t have touring? My life fell apart. Now that I have touring, it’s a second chance in life, baby. I love it.

Your fans are excited to come see your show. I see all the comments online and from people I’m talking to, and people probably also come up to you and say how we need you now more than ever. It’s special to know that, in a way, you need us now more than ever, too. Wonderful, mutual appreciation.

It’s a relationship, seriously. I had my new manager say something, which I took as such a compliment. He said, “I’ve never seen a comic have such a relationship with their audience.” I can literally be in the middle of a show, and because I’m really tangential, forget what I’m saying. I can then say, “What was I saying before this?” Some nice person in row three won’t heckle me, they’ll just yell out the answer! That’s crazy! It’s crazy that they follow my crazy mind, which is highly improvisational.

I wanna warn your readers – I will be making fun of you guys to your faces [Laughs]. I’ll do all my research and development on Jersey and Red Bank. Everybody should just be careful, because I’ve done things like read the sex offender list live on stage – the sex offender names and addresses from the town. That almost got me kicked out of a college in Florida where I thought the kids would think it was hilarious. They’re like, “Boo! Boo!” And it was that school where they do that tomahawk shit. Have you seen that?

Yeah, Florida is something else, and funny wouldn’t even cut it.

It’s not funny! It’s like another country!

What do we do when the state and everyone there is underwater?

I mean, it’s happening. We can deny it, but it’s freaking happening. 

Speaking of the water, out in LA you had the crazy flooding not too long ago. How are you?

They called it The Atmospheric River, because nobody wants to admit climate change even out here. Instead of saying floods, we call it an atmospheric river as if that’s gonna fool us. Here’s the kicker: like a week later after the floods I was walking down the stairs to the beach. I do that walk everyday. I’m walking that day and we have a freaking earthquake. I’m in the middle of the stairs where in front of me there’s a cliff where some rocks are falling – ’cause of earthquake – and I feel the rails moving. I look behind me and there’s the ocean. I’m like, “Of course this is where I’d be when there’s an earthquake!” The epicenter is Malibu, California, and I’m in the middle. Too far up to go back down, too far down to go up. I was like, “What a metaphor. I’m gonna wait it out and keep walking up those stairs,” [Laughs]. That’s my life.