Kathy Griffin has pissed off a lot of people in Hollywood for outing their addictions, marital screw-ups, crazy family members and public failures. And in her new book Official Book Club Selection: A memoir according to Kathy Griffin, she does more of the same – but the joke is usually on her. The always vivacious and opportunity-seeking Kathy has proven that she isn’t afraid of turning the tables on the major missteps and struggles she had clawing her way up the D-list.
Book Club is written in the same hair salon conversational storytelling language that Kathy is known for in her stand-up. The title, alone, marks the attitude Kathy has trademarked – an idea that if I label it like an Oprah Book Selection then people will buy it and Oprah will have to recognize it: $$$.
Each, shocking and bluntly titled, chapter exposes more of the comedienne’s trials – from the difficulty of growing up as an awkward, gawky girl in rural Chicago (They Barked, They Laughed) and failing miserably as a stand-up comic (To Live and Bomb in LA) to cosmetic surgery mishaps (Nip/Fucked) and a pathological husband who stole a chunk of her wallet on the way out (My Marriage Ends). Kathy prepares for full disclosure and manages to poke fun at a celebrity or two in the process. Sorry Brooke Shields and Helen Hunt – what were you expecting?
Like any performer, the quintessential talk show question is, “When did you know you wanted to be in show business?” And Kathy isn’t shy about her ravenous thirst for attention at all costs. She spent most of her early years telling neighborhood parents about the questionable discipline in her household and how she would host late-night talk shows in her living room.
But it was The Mary Tyler Moore Show that truly inspired Kathy to think about a life in the world of entertainment as a viable future.
“I’ll never forget that awesome apartment with the big M on the wall, and how beautiful Mary was. But when Rhoda burst through the door in her Gypsy hairscarf, billowy caftan, and hilariously abrasive delivery, I was like, ‘Who is that? Oh my God!’ That’s when I fell in love with wanting to be a sidekick.”
A sidekick. That would set the bar, questionably low – but attainable, for the ginger gal who would go on to become one of t.v.’s memorable sitcom comic reliefs.
Despite breaking through and becoming a name in show business, Kathy has become a regular inside-outsider. She may have an IMDB page, but her ratings are never stealer. She gets invited to the Emmy’s, but she usually has to show up for the daytime show with the less renowned awards. She is always one velvet rope away from the “real party.” But that’s what keeps her sharp and honest to her fans.
Kathy is unapologetic about her disdain for actresses who are comfortably seated behind the elite velvet rope, equipped with ass-kissers and bottle service. She doesn’t hesitate that her stomach turns at the sound of actresses re-telling their hardknock sob-stories to Oprah. That means you Jewel. And you Hilary Swank.
“Cry me a fucking river, Hilary. You star in a Karate Kid movie at nineteen, and win two Oscars by thirty. Go fuck yourself.”
She calls these performance gods out on the carpet and reminds them that they can’t weep poverty and hard times with gusto in Ferragamo and Dior.
While her tell-all book is surprisingly light on drug addictions, unplanned pregnancy or rehabilitation centers –especially for a mainstream comedienne, her story is truly inspiring and humorous. Hopefully she is taking notes for the follow-up which could undoubtedly be titled, The Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Memoir: According to Dr. Kathy Griffin. Hint, hint.