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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kathy Griffin- comedian, actress, now best-selling author

People either really like Kathy Griffin, or they really don't. I'm in the really-like-her camp. (Although I will admit she does cross the line at times with her comedy.) I started watching her "Life on the D-List" show on Bravo TV from day one, and was impressed with her work ethic. No one works harder than Kathy to get her name out there.

A stand-up comic who performs all across the country, she is best known for her costarring role in Brooke Shields 90s sitcom "Suddenly Susan", but my sons knew her from her hilarious guest turns as a standup comedian who causes trouble when she puts Jerry Seinfeld in her act on "Seinfeld".

Kathy has won two Emmys for her Bravo TV show and was nominated for a Grammy for her comedy CD, "For Your Consideration". Next she tackles the publishing world with Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, which debuted at number #1 on the NY Times Non-fiction bestseller list.

I saw Kathy at a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Tribeca on the day of the book's release. I had to get there at 9am to get a wristband to get back in for the 7pm signing. I returned to the store at 5pm and there were already well over 50 people in line with wristbands, and easily another 50 in a stand-by line. Over 300 people showed by 7pm.

The only other person I had to get a wristband for ten hours early was Liza Minnelli- I'd say Kathy is in A-list company now! She arrived on time to hoots and howls from the audience. She looked fabulous in a jeweled-toned dress, and regaled the audience with stories about doing "The Today Show" with Kathie Lee Gifford that morning.

There wasn't time for a reading or questions because there were so many people there and Kathy wanted to sign everyone's books, which disappointed me. I would have loved to hear her read from the book!

The book is very good- not your standard haha book written by a comedian to make a quick buck. Griffin has obviously given this endeavor much thought for a long time. There is a lot of funny in here, lots of celebrity dish, and some heartache as well.

Griffin is brutally honest about things her family probably wishes she weren't. She is the baby of a large Irish-Catholic family from a Chicago suburb. Her parents liked to drink, and Griffin herself is a tee totaler today probably because of that.

She writes candidly about her brother Kenny, a man with a drinking and drug problem. Kathy says that he was a pedophile, preying on young girls, and this revelation has caused hard feelings with her family who wished she hadn't written about it. Her point is that many families have difficulties like this, and maybe her honesty will help others deal with their family issues. That chapter is moving and honest, and at times, hard to read. It doesn't seem done for sensationalism, but simply as a part of her life that greatly affected her.

She has met many celebrities in her career, and she is honest about them as well. Steve Martin comes off a real-life jerk as they shared a talk show couch. A comedy stunt Kathy pulled interviewing celebrities on the red carpet at the Academy Awards angers Steven Spielberg, and Star Jones and Thomas Haden Church probably won't be happy to see their names in the book either.

On the other hand, it's nice to know that George Clooney is the sweetheart we all believe he is. He was kind to Kathy's parents when she did a small guest spot on ER-he even took a photo with them.

But the funniest celebrity jibe is taken at Oprah. Griffin consistently pokes fun at the all-powerful Oprah and it is a hilarious running joke in the book. The title of the book is even an Oprah-esque joke about Oprah's Book Club.

Griffin also writes openly about the difficulty of being a female comic in a man's world, the disappointment of her failed marriage and even shares horrible photos of her botched liposuction surgery.

Kathy Griffin has been around a long time in show business, and she is a testament that hard work and perseverance eventually pays off. The love she has for her parents shines through as well, as she credits them with her sense of humor, although her mother is often mortified by her daughter's actions and has been since Kathy used to go to the neighbor's house as a child to share with them family secrets.

Official Book Club Selection is a well written look at Griffin's life, filled with humor, honesty and the outrageousness we expect from one of the hardest working people in show business.

Rating 4.5 of 5 stars

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