Kathy Griffin lost her voice. In the metaphorical sense, this occured after a picture of Griffin holding a bloody replica of President Donald Trump’s severed head surfaced on TMZ last May. Her American tour was canceled, she was put on the No-Fly List, and crisis experts told her to “go away for five years.”
However, just a little over a year since the world’s most controversial headshot, Griffin is back to touring in the states (with a stop at the Chicago Theatre on June 28) with her new tour called “Laugh Your Head Off” — a very cheeky reference to the infamous incident. This time, the interpretation of “lost her voice” is literal.
KATHY GRIFFIN When: 8 p.m. Thursday Where: Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State Tickets: $45 – $125 Info: ticketmaster.com
Apologetically hoarse after playing four packed shows in four days, the Oak Park-River Forest High grad explains her raspy voice is a result of continuously going long in her shows. From recounting her experience being personally attacked by the Oval Office to keeping up with the unrelenting current news cycle, Griffin said it’s not uncommon for her shows to creep past the three-hour mark.
Griffin’s past material mainly has focused on the lives of celebrities, so having such a politically charged show is new territory for her. While she still peppers her act with some of her classic, lighter humor, Griffin said after her experience with President Donald Trump, she felt it was important she didn’t avoid political commentary and “stay in her lane” as a showbiz-focused comedian.
“It’s kind of liberating that people are realizing that [politics] is all our lane,” she said. “We’ve got a reality star president.” In regards to her personal experience, “It’s the first time in history that a sitting United States president has metaphorically put his thumb on the shoulder of an American citizen.”
While Griffin’s career still thrives — a Tuesday show at New York’s Carnegie Hall sold out in less than 24 hours — her road hasn’t exactly been smooth since the picture. Even though she’s off the No-Fly List, she’s still recovering from the way so many people, including her longtime friend Anderson Cooper, turned on her.
Griffin said many say she got “Dixie Chicked,” comparing her plight to the backlash the Dixie Chicks received after speaking out against President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.
“I always try to gently correct them and go, ‘No no no, the Dixie Chicks were shrouded in support by the artistic community and the music industry and put on the cover of Time and Entertainment Weekly and called ‘sheroes,” ‘ ” she said. “I got Dixie D—ed. I had everyone turn on me. Friends, enemies, veterans, people I knew personally.”
Even after the show cancellations and the death threats and the two federal investigations, Griffin still has every intention of taking on Washington. On June 17, Griffin started a Twitter firestorm by cussing out the first lady — misspelling her name as “Melanie,” as the president did — for not doing enough to end the policy of separating children from their parents at the border. A few days later, she posted a photo with Trump accuser Stormy Daniels — both women extending their middle fingers.
Nobody in the Trump administration is safe. Griffin said one of her highlights from the past year was getting the opportunity to heckle political bigwigs at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
“I would wait outside the men’s room for Cabinet members and just give them s— one after another,” she said. “I told (Commerce Secretary) Wilbur Ross that I could tip him like a cow if I wanted to, and then I blew at him.”
When asked if she would still post the photo if she had the chance to go back and do it all over again, Griffin said she had no regrets. While she acknowledged the aftermath hasn’t been pleasant, she felt that going through the experience has allowed her to serve as an advocate for other comics and artists who face the wrath of Trump, like Samantha Bee.
Describing herself as a “comedy fugitive,” Griffin said she was “on a mission” to make a comeback from the backlash to set a triumphant example to marginalized communities who face the kind of treatment she received every day.
“Someday, I want them to look at the little examples I’ve tried to set and go, ‘Well, if that old bird took a licking and kept on ticking then we shall soldier on,’ ” she said.