Kathy Griffin Bets on Broadway!
The award-winning comedian discusses her first-ever Broadway outing, Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony.
THEATERMANIA: Where would you put the Tony if you won it?
KATHY GRIFFIN: I'd have to put it with the girls -- I mean my Emmys. But when you read my bio in the program, it will probably lose me the Tony -- or at least cause some arguing on the committee -- because I just didn't take it very seriously.
TM: Why is doing Broadway important to you?
KG: (using her Janet McTeer voice) I'm an artist, who loves the theater. After all I was trained in Brecht. I love her; she's a really good singer. Seriously, I'm just anxious to see what Broadway audiences are like. I really don't know what to expect!
TM: What should audiences expect from you?
KG: I am going to be worse than I've ever been. You should be afraid! You should almost feel like Charlie Sheen's goddesses -- you wanted to be there, but now that you are, you're thinking "why was this a good idea?"
TM: I figured we'd get a Charlie Sheen joke. Just how topical is this show going to be?
KG: So topical. I'm the kind of person who wants to talk about things immediately after I hear about them. The first part of most of my jokes is just telling you what happened 10 minutes ago. I'm like a roving reporter. There will be every internet device imaginable in my dressing room. And I might even get Christian Bale in his old Newsies cap to run on stage to give me the news, shouting "Extra, Extra."
TM: A lot of your act also comes from your personal run-ins with celebrities. That should be easy to do in New York, right?
KG: it's true -- who knows who I'll run into before Friday, or between Friday and Monday, or Monday and next Sunday. That's the beauty of being on the D-list. I run into people, but I'm not always behind the velvet rope. I'm one of the common folk. And I promise you, celebrities will not be coming to my show. Uma Thurman will not get your seat; Oprah is not taking your seat, Ryan Seacrest is not buying your seat. That seat is for you!
TM: And one thing that's great is that audiences are "safe" in their seats -- because you don't really do audience interaction, do you?
KG: I am not sure when I got the notion into my head that an audience should be able to just relax when they come to a comedy show. When I trained with The Groundlings out in LA, we used to go into the audience every night, and I think I decided after that my shows should be a different experience. This is your time to truly mellow in dark anonymity -- and trust me, there will be plenty of people in the audience hiding in dark shame -- and to just listen and laugh. I think I also feel like I badger so many public figures that I don't have the heart to do it to regular people.
TM: A lot of your fellow comedians, like Robin Williams and Chris Rock and Dane Cook, are actually playing characters on Broadway this season. Is there a famous role in theater that you've been dying to play?
KG: A lot of people don't know this, but I was just Al Pacino's understudy in The Merchant of Venice. Now, I think I would like to be Secretary Number 2 in How to Succeed. Or I could be the hooker with a heart of gold in any play -- because that's what I am in real life -- or I could be the nosy neighbor. But only as the understudy. Actually I think I could understudy 10 shows at once!