When comedian and actress Kathy Griffin posted a photo on social media of her holding President Donald Trump’s decapitated head last year, she had no idea the immense impact it would have on her future.
“May 30, 2017, was the day that changed my life forever,” she says. “People said I’d come unhinged — first of all, I’ve never been hinged. … That picture will be with me till the day I die. I had two choices: Run and hide or go, ‘Oh, fuck it,’ and, as usual, I chose to fuck it.”
When Griffin’s controversial photo ended up on TMZ, she found out later “they literally coordinated this attack against me.”
“This was the first time in our nation that a U.S. president has used the power of Oval Office to decimate an American citizen,” she says, adding that decimation provided much of the material in her stand-up show, billed the Laugh Your Head Off Tour. “There’s a lot to the story people don’t know, and I go over everything in the show, including federal interrogation under oath.”
She says she was even put on the no-fly list for two months.
“I was detained at every single airport in 15 countries,” she says. An astounding number of Americans think I have turned into an ISIS warrior. I wouldn’t cut it for one week.”
More than a year after the photo came out, Griffin says, she still gets many death threats.
“The Trump-ers, when they send death threats, they aren’t into grammar,” Griffin says with a laugh. “ The No. 1 thing is you gotta laugh because it’s gotten so over the top. I couldn’t read them initially, but after awhile I said to my boyfriend, ‘Are there any that are so horrible, they’re funny?’ And there were.”
After the Trump photo, Griffin — who has two Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award and a Guinness World Record under her belt — had to redo her entire business model.
“My own agent said, ‘We don’t know what to do with you,’ so it was back to my roots and back to writing,” she explains. “I found out who my fans really are because I lost half of them. Losing women hurts, but I don’t want those Trump bitches back. … I’m hoping to get the resisters, LGBT and people of color.”
When Griffin started the tour, she couldn’t get work in the U.S., so took the show across the pond to 23 cities in 15 countries.
“It was great to go overseas where the rest of the world is looking at us going, ‘What the fuck are you guys doing?” she said. “I now have this show, which has turned into a comedy perfect storm. Not a word you can hear from other comedians.”
Griffin has known Trump since he was on the ’90s TV series “Suddenly Susan,” so it’s fun for her to bring old stories to new light.
“I go way back with this psycho,” she says. “I never told Trump stories on stage because nobody cared, but now it’s great I have all these stories I’ve had up my sleeve. I tell stories about when I met him in the ’90s.”
Despite a tumultuous year-and-a-half, Griffin has risen from the ashes of her previous career with a new gusto for life and comedy.
“Although I’m very improvisational and keep it loose, it’s important to tell the story of what happened,” she says, adding her text and mailing lists have helped sell out shows. To join Griffin’s text list, text KATHY to 345345, or click here to join her email list.
Griffin will perform at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. Click here for tickets.