I’m going to come clean right at the outset here: I don’t love Kathy Griffin. I’m sure this is a bit surprising because I love cussing and making fun of celebrities and she does both of those things prodigiously. She’s also a favorite among gay guys and I’m usually a big fan of things gay guys like, like show tunes, and HGTV and Tori Spelling. But Kathy Griffin has never really appealed to me. She just seems kind of, I don’t know, shrill to me. And she takes the “I’m a girl with a potty mouth” thing a little too far. I feel the same way about Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman. Yet I love Jeneane Garafolo, Margaret Cho and Wanda Sykes so I can’t really explain it. (And if you haven’t seen Wanda Sykes’ HBO special Imma Be Me where she talks about not being able to get her baby daughter to stop crying so she makes herself a martini, run, don’t walk, to YouTube to find that bit because you will pee a little laughing.)
But one of my readers suggested I read Kathy Griffin’s book Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin and it seemed like a good idea. I really want to like her and I hoped her book would be exactly as hilarious as I’ve always wanted to find her.
It wasn’t really. A least not to me. But, to be fair, some of the subject matter is decidedly not funny, like the chapter on her profoundly troubled older brother, whom she contends was a pedophile. Also the chapter on her divorce from her husband who stole a LOT of money from her. On the other hand there are a few parts that are side-splitting. There’s a chapter about doing stand-up at a college in Florida on a double bill with Andy Dick and OH MY GOD there is nothing right about what happens. That chapter made the book for me. Andy Dick is a completely deranged human being and I can’t begin to do justice to the story so go read the book just to read this story. Seriously. I mean it. Also, if you can wade through the entire chapter of emails between Kathy and Steve Wonziak, one of the founders of Apple, please tell me how it ends because it was such a density of weird that I skipped most of it. It was well into WTF territory and I lost patience.
But, the most interesting part of the book, at least for me, was the part about Kathy’s career before Suddenly Susan and her D-list show. Full disclosure: I have never seen My Life on the D-list. I watched Suddenly Susan a lot though because it had Judd Nelson and hello! He was John Bender in The Breakfast Club and I LOVED him and would have tried to save him if he’d been real and went to my high school. Though in retrospect, I would have been better off with someone more like Lloyd Dobbler and really? Diane Cort was annoying. What did he see in her, anyway? Wait, what I was talking about? Kathy Griffin. Right. OK, so her early career. She moved to LA, took a lot of classes at major acting schools and eventually worked her way up into the main company of the Groundlings, which is no mean feat. But she never made the leap to Saturday Night Live, which was apparently the dream of all Groundlings (Lisa Kudrow was another famous Groundling who never made it to SNL but she made the brilliant a career move of going blonde and getting her nose and boobs done and became a sit-com legend.) Instead, Kathy started doing stand-up. And was bombing at it in the regular run of stand-up clubs. She didn’t really break through in comedy until she took one step to the left and found a way to do her thing, her way, for an audience that was into it, rather than beating her head against the brick wall of the Improv for audiences who wanted to see the guy comedians of the time. Kathy and some other off-beat, mostly female comedians like Jeneane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Laura Keitlinger and others, started working different venues, putting together showcases of their own design and now they’re famous, and amazing, and the kind of funny that I only dream of being on my best day.
The stories about having to forge her own path to get to where she wanted to be as a performer, rather than being able to rely on the well-trodden comedy paths already laid out before her, struck an interesting chord for me. I feel like I’m reaching a transition point now with my writing. I love this. I love it a lot and I’m pretty good at it. I keep thinking there should be a way to use this skill and the joy it brings me to bring in some extra money for my family, to turn my hobby into a part-time profession that supplements my day job. But it would be naive to think the trail blazed by Jen Lancaster who took hilarious blogging into a career writing hilarious memoirs is the path that’s going to work for me. First of all, Jen Lancaster has already done that better than I could and second of all, why would I want to copy someone else when I could do my own thing?
Finding my own thing is the harder part. I’m not sure what my niche is. But I don’t think Kathy Griffin knew what her niche was when she started out in Hollywood either and she made it work through working her ass off and making her own opportunities. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make some opportunities. How will that turn out? I don’t know. Maybe lame? Or maybe hilarious and awesome.
However it turns out, you can be pretty sure I’ll blog about it so stay tuned. There may be some epic failures filling this space. Or maybe I’ll make it big and you’ll be able to say you knew me when I was just a blogger with a dream.