Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #70: Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir by Kathy Griffin

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“Of course, I’ve told Jesus to suck it, too, which earned me a certain measure of notoriety, because you have to make fun of any religion that would let you have sixteen kids and say it’s God’s will.”

I thought I’d take a break after 2,000 pages of medieval architecture, and read some junk food. At least, that’s what I thought Kathy Griffin’s memoir would be when I stole it from my sister’s bookshelf. In many ways it is — lots of celebrity gossip and name dropping — but Griffin’s total honesty about the darker parts of her life (both pre- and post-fame) made this memoir much more surprising and interesting than I expected.
I will confess to knowing nothing about Kathy Griffin beyond her two appearances on Seinfeld and Bravo commercials for D-Listed. I had no idea about her public and painful divorce (after she caught him stealing from her), her sketchy relationship with an older brother (whom her family still refuses to acknowledge as a pedophile despite multiple busts) or the recent death of her father. But now I feel like I know her much better, and can say this for sure: that woman has worked her ass off to get where she is today.
Griffin’s memoir is extremely funny at times, and poignant at others. She does throw quite a bit of Hollywood gossip in there for those who enjoy it. What I liked most is how much she obviously loves her family, and the way she constantly describes the strength of her parents’ marriage and their support for her as she has done her best to piss off quite a few celebrities on her way to the D-List.

Lollygagger’s CBR5 Review #17: Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

I’ve had to stop running for awhile, so I finished up this audio book while cleaning my apartment last weekend (ah, the miracle of those noise-canceling ear buds).

I’m a fan of Kathy Griffin. I think she has a different way of making people laugh, is shameless in a way that doesn’t make me cringe as much as, say, your average episode of “The Office,” and (despite some of her jokes) seems like a genuinely nice and caring person. I picked this audio book because I figured hearing her tell these stories would probably be more entertaining than reading them.

I was right.

She is such a natural storyteller that I didn’t really ever feel like she was READING to me. I’m wondering how much was faithful to the written book and how much was changed for the audio version; she’d stutter, get lost mid-thought and switch gears (in a non-annoying way) and just generally sounded like someone I know sharing a story, not an author or comedian reading from their memoir. That was nice.

If you aren’t familiar with her work, Kathy Griffin started out as a comedian and actress, doing bit parts (including a memorable appearance on Seinfeld) until she was cast as the sidekick in ‘Suddenly Susan’, the Brooke Shield sitcom. Griffin is very up front about her understanding of her skills – she’s not a traditional comedian (she doesn’t excel at 10-minute stand-up spots relying on the set-up and punch line), and she was never going to be the ingénue in a blockbuster film. What she can do is be a funny sidekick, and tell some killer stories. If you’ve ever seen her live (I did, back in NYC), hopefully you know that she’s this high-energy person who can spend 20 minutes telling a story that is funny the whole way through but doesn’t rely necessarily on one big HA moment. I like that kind of comedy, but I realize it isn’t for everyone.

This memoir is really a memoir, not just a collection of some essays that tell her story. It really differs from other comedian memoirs (like “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”) in that it has some pretty dark moments. It’s a bit like “Bedwetter” in that aspect. For example, Griffin talks about one of her brothers, who she suspected of being a child molester.

You read that right. A child molester. And she deals with that in like the second chapter, so you know that this isn’t just going to be about some hard-scrabble times at The Comedy Store.

But there are those stories, too. Griffin’s exploration of how she found her place in the comedy world by setting up comedy nights with her friends that focused on storytelling and not repeating material is really interesting, as is her struggle with parlaying her success on “Suddenly Susan” into her own series (“My Life on the D List”). She talks about being repeatedly banned from talk shows, the Dakota Fanning awards show ‘incident’, and the suicide of a colleague. It’s not all laugh-out-loud funny but it’s all really interesting.

She also talks about her marriage, and what lead to it ending. It’s a fascinating section of the book that really had me riveted and annoyed when I had to turn it off because I’d gotten to work.

This is a good book. I probably won’t listen to it again, but if it’s possible to lend audio books then I’ll definitely be offering it up to friends.