Kathy Griffin. A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin. New York: Ballantine Books, 2009.
Griffin’s mother was the youngest of 16 siblings. Her father was the youngest of five siblings. Griffin’s mother used amphetamines while pregnant with her.
At 19, Griffin wanted to learn about acing. She walked backstage at the Groundlings and asked for advice. Phil Hartman answered her questions. It would take Griffin several years of paying dues before she then joined Groundlings.
Griffin attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Sally Kirkland was one of her teachers. Kirkland would tell of famous actors she had sex with. Then these same actors would appear as guest speakers.
Griffin joined Groundlings with Laraine Newman, Paul Reubens, Cassandra Peterson, and Edie McClurg.
Griffin worked as a stand-up comic. Janeane Garafalo advised her not to care about the audience as a performer should concentrate on what feels is funny. Griffin found that advice “liberating”.
Griffin appeared on some episodes of the “Ned & Stacy” TV series. She observed that series star Thomas Haden Church on “Ned & Stacy” was a demanding comedic actor. He was driven, funnier than the writers, and upset that his co-star Debra Messing who was a great comedic actor, wasn’t a comedian. He was very temperamental about the scripts and performances.
Griffin was cast in the part of Vicki in a series “Suddenly Susan”. Maggie Wheeler had the role in the pilot. Griffin is convinced she was hired for the part because they desperately needed someone quickly. She was called in to audition the Friday before filming began in three days. She got the part. Her salary was $15,000 per episode.
Co-star Brooke Shields, married to tennis star Andre Agassi, told her there are divisions among the wealthy, stating “I have money. Andre has real money.”
Co-star David Strickland, who battled drug addiction, committed suicide during the third season. The death fractured the cast. Griffin didn’t like a co-star’s flippant attitude. Brooke Shields gave an interview about the death that some took issue towards. Griffin thought the farewell episode for David Strickland was filmed too soon afterwards and was “tacky”.
Griffin got liposuction. It almost damaged her kidneys and could have killed her.
“Suddenly Susan” was cancelled after four seasons. Griffin claims she spent the next year sleeping until it was afternoon from depression over no longer having work. MTV gave her a show that last six episodes.
Jeff Gaspin, head of NBC’s cable division, offered Griffin a $200,000 per episode reality show. Griffin was considering what to do with the show. While she was attending the “American Idol” finale, got was not invited to the VIP reception. She asked Camryn Manheim to sneak her in, but Manheim declined. It was then that Griffin realized she was in a A list world but her life was D list. That was the idea for her reality show, “Kathy Griffin My Life on the D List”. Griffin further noted she was on the D list when her agent wouldn’t go with her to pitch meetings. The show was sold to Bravo.
A critical time in Griffin’s life came when it was discovered someone had stolen $200,000 from her bank account. Only when she announced that the bank was looking at tapes to see who did it did her husband confess. She then learned her husband life about how much he worked. He entered Debtors Anonymous as well as Overeaters Anonymous. They divorced.