DAVID GREENE, host:
The subject of our next segment comes under the heading: only in America. Only in the celebrity-obsessed U.S. of A. could a woman get her own television show dedicated to, well, sort of being a celebrity. That woman is comedian Kathy Griffin, and the show is called "My Life on the D-List." Griffin built her comedy career making fun of celebrities, and now she's rubbing elbows with some of them. Recently Griffin stopped by our studios to chat about her neverending pursuit of that elusive A-List and how in this season of her show that pursuit takes her poolside with Paris Hilton.
Ms. KATHY GRIFFIN (Comedian): I thought it was going to be funny, you know, me and my ridiculous…
GREENE: Paris, hanging out?
Ms. GRIFFIN: …body next to Paris, six feet tall, skinny model. And then it turns out that she got served Griffin-style and that I had a much, much hotter bikini bod than she does.
GREENE: And people noticed that.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Everyone. It's - look, we can act like there's other stories happening globally, something about a health care plan, blah, blah, blah. Really most people are talking about my bikini bod.
GREENE: Can I ask you about this D-List thing?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah.
GREENE: I mean it's just a stick, right?
Ms. GRIFFIN: No.
GREENE: I mean you - we had to get you a Diet Coke, you came here with a car service, I mean it's…
Ms. GRIFFIN: Okay, excuse me. You're complaining about getting me a Diet Coke and driving me here?
GREENE: No, no, no, no.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Okay. Do you think Mariah Carey is going to sit here, sweetheart? No. Mariah Carey would be sitting here with her entourage.
GREENE: We are NPR. I mean I guess we're natural for a D-List celebrity to come visit us.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah, this is pretty D-List, let's face it. You should be giving me a mani-pedi right now. No, I think it's fun for me to be in your world, which by the way is what the D-List is, honestly. It's every week I'm in an A-Lister's world. Not at the moment, of course, I could not be farther.
GREENE: Why do you think NPR is a D-List world?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Let me tell you something. NPR listeners, I know who you are, I know you guys read books, which I find tedious. You guys might want to try a book called Us Weekly. Okay? It's a really good book. It has a lot of pictures.
GREENE: I'll pick one up. Can I play some tape of you?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah.
GREENE: Because I want to hear you targeting celebrities and getting very angry and crass, because that's how you've built your career.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Funny and adorable.
GREENE: Yeah, so let's play a few of these clips.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Okay.
(Soundbite of recording)
Mr. GRIFFIN: I can't stand that (beep) Ryan Seacrest and here's why.
No, I know Lindsey has lost a lot of weight recently and it's because of diet and Pilates, and crack.
How great is it that Oprah has totally put the pounds back on? I love it.
GREENE: Why are they such good targets for you?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Because they're the gift that keeps on giving. I mean these celebrities are out of control, they think they're above the law, they're being filmed all the time anyway, and…
GREENE: Aren't you, when you go after them, really mocking us, kind of average Americans who watch this stuff?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yes.
GREENE: I mean aren't you like for actually getting a kick out of it?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Oh no, I'm not the solution. I'm part of the problem. I am happy to admit that I am feeding into it. And let me tell you something, that South Carolina Governor Sanford, you know, I mean - like I said…
GREENE: Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
Ms. GRIFFIN: It's a fantastic gift, and I would like to thank him. I'm going to send him a muffin basket later or have my assistant do it. I mean it's such just a great circus that we all see. We all know what's going on.
GREENE: Can I ask you about the whole circus, because haven't we reached a point…
Ms. GRIFFIN: And if you mean the Britney Spears tour, I'm happy to segue into that.
GREENE: We'll move to that in just a second.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Okay.
GREENE: You made me forget what I was going to say. I really…
Ms. GRIFFIN: "My Life on the D-List" is on Bravo.
GREENE: Yeah, yes, "Your Life…"
Ms. GRIFFIN: Mondays at 10:00.
GREENE: Your life - enough filler.
Ms. GRIFFIN: All right.
GREENE: The world that we're in right now, can't anyone be a celebrity with like, you know, a great sexy YouTube video or something?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Absolutely, and look, that's the story of my life. When I was on an NBC show, "Suddenly Susan" with Brooke Shields, you know, overnight the landscape changed and then all the sudden "Survivor" became appointment television and then it was "Osbournes" and "Newlyweds." I had no desire to fight it. I'm gonna join it.
GREENE: And you said you're part of the problem
Ms. GRIFFIN: I am part of the problem, not the solution.
GREENE: What is the problem? I mean is this just a sad state in society right now?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah, it's the dumbing down of America.
GREENE: And you enjoy contributing to that?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yes, but I also - that's - yes.
GREENE: Okay, so I know you don't mind talking about your reality show. You're meeting these new stars now in each episode as you quote-unquote "train" for the A-List.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah. By the way, you have to be impressed with the guest list this year, because it's literally everyone from Paris Hilton, who I know you and your highfalutin friends don't give a (beep) about…
GREENE: We did our research. We're very impressed.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Alright, first of all we do a big Prop 8 episode. So we talked to Melissa Etheridge and we go to rallies. It's great. Then we do another episode about the role of race in standup comedy. Is comedy color blind? So I go do…
GREENE: Is it?
Ms. GRIFFIN: I think it is.
GREENE: This is an interesting question.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah.
GREENE: Because there was a time when comics were sort of holding back on going after President Obama the first few months.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah.
GREENE: And race was sort of a question. I mean, was that tough?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yes, it is. Well, I don't really actually go for Obama. He's just not that funny. I mean when you had Bush, I mean, Bush is like - he's like a celebrity in that he is the gift that keeps on giving. I mean did you see the shots of him jumping out of the plane?
GREENE: That was Bush's father.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Oh, I thought that was W jumped out.
GREENE: No, no, no, no, no. That was Bush's father, who was also president if -and he jumped with Robin Meade.
Ms. GRIFFIN: "Morning Express" with Robin Meade?
GREENE: You got it.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Jumped out of plane with H?
GREENE: When I heard about this, I thought they were actually going to be together jumping …
Ms. GRIFFIN: Why didn't you get that gig? Who knew Robin Meade had the in?
GREENE: We'll start that…
Ms. GRIFFIN: It's that express, woo-woo. Now, do you have a cute name for this show?
GREENE: This is MORNING EDITION.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Okay. Yawn. Yeah, you've got to retool this whole thing.
GREENE: We should spice it up a little bit?
Ms. GRIFFIN: It's, look - you've got "Morning Express," "State of the Union."
Ms. GRIFFIN: "The O'Reilly Factor."
GREENE: Give us three ideas for the show and we'll consider it.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Okay. First of all, it's got to be "Greene Scene," "Greene Time"…
GREENE: I'm just filling as host.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Who's the real host?
GREENE: Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne are the two hosts.
Ms. GRIFFIN: I didn't even have the real host today? I got the new guy filling in? Oh, this is so typical.
GREENE: That's going to be cut out of the interview.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Oh, Kathy, you're not on the D-List anymore.
GREENE: We can start recording now because that was all just kind of getting ready to start this.
Ms. GRIFFIN: I can't believe the real guy is not here today, or girl, or whatever.
GREENE: Bear with me for just a few more minutes. I'm sorry you were stuck with me.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Well, you've got to rename the show. It's too boring.
GREENE: I had some more clips to play you, but I've just lost them now.
Ms. GRIFFIN: For "My Life on the D-List," Mondays on Bravo at 10:00?
GREENE: Yeah. Let's say you make it off the D-List at some point.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah.
GREENE: I mean, in theory that's what this show is about right now. Let's say you're on the C-List. What happens to sort of your schtick and what made you famous?
Ms. GRIFFIN: Well, my stick I think will always go on because I have had moments where I really felt like I was having a borderline A-List moment. And there's always at that moment something to smack me down. When I was at the Emmy's last year, where I won, I was sitting back stage with my Emmy and I was in a great little group. It was me, Sarah Silverman, Jenna Fischer from "The Office." And then there was a girl named Julianne Hough, who's on "Dancing With the Stars," but she's not even one of the stars, she's one of the dancers, and she went up to Sarah Silverman, who I've known forever, and she said, oh, you're so great and gushed and gushed. And I was standing there smiling.
And then she literally turned to me and said, I don't know who you are, but nice to meet you, and walked away. And those moments continue to happen. So I know that I will never be on the A-List. I also don't have a desire to be on the A-List. I feel more people can relate to the D-List than the A-List.
GREENE: Well, if you truly are a D-List celebrity, then I think you belong in an interview at NPR.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Yeah, I think so too.
GREENE: And we really appreciate that.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Thank you. It's really, really bland here. Thank you very much for having me.
GREENE: We'll try to dress it up for next time. Kathy Griffin, thank you very much for being here.
Ms. GRIFFIN: That's it?
GREENE: Say thank you.
Ms. GRIFFIN: Oh, sorry. Thank you, David Greene.
GREENE: There you go, much better.
Whatever list she's on, that's comedian Kathy Griffin. She is currently touring the country with her stand-up routine.
And this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
(Soundbite of music)
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