Kathy Griffin for her Source: Courtesy of Kathy Griffin

EDGE Interview: Kathy Griffin Levels Up for Her New 'My Life on the PTSD List' Tour

Timothy Rawles READ TIME: 7 MIN.

Kathy Griffin has been through the wringer, and she will confirm that if you ask her. Socially and professionally shunned by everyone from network execs to the U.S. government, her journey has been a rough one.

And as if life wasn't hard enough, she lost her beloved mother, got cancer, developed an addiction to painkillers, tried to end her own life, and went through a divorce over the last few years. Insert a needle scratch here because she's back in a new comedy tour where she lays everything out on the table, calling it "My Life on the PTSD List," a nod to her iconic Bravo reality series "My Life on the D List." That show lasted five seasons where she worked under Bravo figurehead Andy Cohen, a relationship that would turn sour after a while, then develop into a full-on feud.

It all started in 2017 when the comedian, in protest of the presidential election, held up a bloody uncanny valley head of Donald Trump in effigy. Her career up until that stunt was steady: stand-up specials, a reality show, and a gig as Anderson Cooper's co-host for CNN's "New Year's Eve Live" contradicted her self-proclaimed status as a D-list celebrity. As fast as the now infamous Trump picture went viral, her career took a nosedive, and there was no recovering.

"That was some bullshit," Griffin told EDGE. "It was horrible. It was really horrible. And, you know, if he's elected again, I'm putting that picture up again. So get ready everybody."

As you can probably tell, the 63-year-old star has had it. Forget briefly what the impact of her actions did to her career, the fallout sapped her spirit. She essentially became a recluse with her only interactions being with some of the very people trying to take her down.

"I actually think that's what started my pill addiction because I was just sitting around my house all day with death threats and the FBI was coming over like once a week to go the script and there's another threat on your life that's a credible threat," Griffin said.

Through it all, she seemed not to give up on her fans even though some were giving up on her. Eventually, the dust settled as much as it could when the hype generated around the photo faded and real life came into focus. Suddenly people were regaining their love for Griffin – maybe not forgiving her for the photo, but understanding why she did it.

If there is one thing Griffin is, it's honest. Her fans have never been out of the loop and she's not on a reality show anymore but she uses social media as a proxy.

During a complication resulting from her pneumonectomy, or lung removal, her left vocal cord became paralyzed which changed her timbre. Her signature whiskey voice isn't completely gone, it's just slightly higher. It's not a drastic change, but it's there, something she addresses in her new show and fans are very supportive.

Kathy Griffin performs onstage during FRIENDLY HOUSE LA Comedy Benefit, hosted by Rosie O'Donnell, at The Fonda Theatre on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Source: Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

"The audiences have been extra loving," she says. "Like I can't even. I don't mean to be an asshole, but I've got a standing ovation in every fucking show. Like I could practically burst into tears just thinking about it because it's like the audience shows up in an even more loving way than they ever have."

That's more than can be said for her celebrity friends. In one of her past bits, she joked about her friendship with Cher, but that connection has been lost.

"I haven't talked to Cher in a while," she says. "I haven't been to her house or anything or hung out with her since the Trump thing. It hurts. I'm not gonna lie. It hurts. And look, she's a legend and the times I had with her are very fond memories. So, you know, it's kind of like Anderson Cooper and like the people that ditched me during that period. I just had to let him go and go, 'I thought we were good friends, but I was wrong.' And so I've curated some new friends."

One of them being another mononymous singer, Sia. They gather at one of Griffin's dinner parties where devices aren't allowed at the table.

"People have real conversation like they look at each other and they speak to each other, and we laugh our asses off, and sometimes Sia comes, and I make her sing. I love it," she says.

Things have changed in stand-up since Griffin has been away. Some popular comics are using the notion of being "woke" as a punchline mostly toward the LGBTQ+ community, and especially toward trans folks. It's something Griffin despises. She admits to using questionable material in her past, and has changed with the times, but even those jokes feel tame in comparison to all the politically incorrect rhetoric passing as material these days. Griffin isn't a fan. Mention Dave Chappelle's name and her voice bristles with disappointment; mention Matt Rife and it turns to pure ire.

"Yeah, there's plenty of stuff you could do that's edgy as long as it's punching up, I don't care," Griffin says. "I really don't. But there's just no way –- there's no way anybody should be going for the trans community unless you're a trans comic and you're coming from your own experience, and that's the world we live in. Look, I'm no prude. God knows. But I wanna evolve as a comic."

"I admit there are jokes that I did in my special 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago that I wouldn't do now, I just wouldn't do that," she continues. "And it was a different time and blah, blah, blah. But I think that if I can say that, as someone who's made fun of all kinds of things that are considered, you know, off color now, I did that then, I wouldn't do that now. I'd like to say I, and above all, the audience has evolved and there's nothing wrong with getting it grown or shocking the audience, but there's so much to punch up for. You really don't need to punch down."

by Timothy Rawles

Read These Next