Research shows that charisma is the perfect combination of credibility, passion, and vulnerability. In other words, if you want people to listen and respect you, you’ve got to give them the power to hurt you — Clayton Fletcher (Cody 2014).

Comedian Kathy Griffin exemplifies and exploits the power of vulnerability in her stand up comedy show. She walks onto the stage calm, cool and collected. By the time she exits the stage, her audience has seen her black underwear, her misbehaved dogs, and her inner colors, both light and dark.

So what sets Kathy apart from the droves of stand up comedians? More so than others, Kathy is comfortable with her imperfections — unlike most of us. She sets herself up for embarrassment and failure in front of thousands of people, which allows her audience to connect with her. She demonstrates that she is just like the rest of us; she has cellulite on her legs, her dogs poop everywhere, and she even openly talks about the trials and tribulations of her recent and painful divorce. Kathy mocks herself and her failings. Research shows that self-deprecating humor can be very attractive, according to Gil Greengross in “Dissing Oneself: The Sexual Attractiveness of Self-Deprecating Humour”, appearing in Evolutionary Psychology. Being vulnerable is a powerful way to open oneself up to others and allow them to be empathetic and supportive — which can turn an average comedy show into a very funny expose.

Kathy’s vulnerability derives from a type of inner strength and confidence that she gained through her life experiences. As a young girl, Kathy describes herself as “ugly, I was freckly, I had short, wiry orange hair, and when I walked down the street, boys in my class would bark.” (Griffin 2009). Being a “ginger” was not a plus for Kathy. She also was rebellious and disliked being told what to do and how to behave. During high school, she continuously argued with her parents about her dream of becoming an actress and their conflicting desire that she attend college. During this time, Kathy developed a binge eating disorder which caused her serious self-esteem issues including body image questions. She was the classic latchkey kid. As the youngest of five children, when the rest of her siblings left for college and work, she had no one watching over her. As noted in her book Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, when talking about her binge eating disorder, “I know I was “filling the void” as a psychologist might term it” (Griffin 2009).

Kathy’s older brother, Kenny, who Kathy worshiped as a child, contributed to Kathy’s confusion about relationships. Kenny had severe substance abuse issues and would often crawl into her bed and whisper inappropriate things regarding her body and how she was “the prettiest girl he had ever seen”. It gave her the creeps and frightened her. Kathy also saw Kenny beat his wife. Kathy suspected and later learned from Kenny’s ex-partners that Kenny was a pedophile who had been intimate with several children. In Kathy’s autobiography Official Book Club Selection, Kathy shares how she was, “afraid of him until the moment he died” (Griffin 2009), because of his aggressive and sexually deviant behavior. Kathy’s troubled past and her survival of those experiences allow Kathy to be vulnerable and to use that vulnerability to capture the attention and empathy of her audiences.

Some of Kathy’s comedic gig is based on making fun of celebrities and exposing their vulnerabilities. As a young teenager, Kathy watched several comedians, including Mary Tyler Moore. Moore was one of her first inspirations. “It was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, though, that gave me the first inkling of what place I could have in the entertainment world. Everything out of her mouth was hysterical, yet she was vulnerable and human. I remember my family fell in love with her, too. That’s who I wanted to be. She had all the jokes.” (Griffin 2009.) Griffin began her stand up comedy career in the early 1980's performing in small settings in Los Angeles. She gradually became better known and landed spots in a few TV shows and films during the 1990's. In 1998, Griffin starred in her own HBO one hour special called, Kathy Griffin: A Hot Cup Of Talk where she talked about the celebrity “A List” and “B List”. One of Kathy’s show themes was her relatively low placement on the celebrity “D List”, endearing the audience with her vulnerable approach. The affection shown by her audiences is not surprising given that research demonstrates that self-deprecating humor can be an especially reliable indicator of general intelligence, verbal creativity, and moral virtues such as humility. (Hill 2008)

So why did Kathy title this stand-up comedy “Strong Black Woman”? Timing and context are key. Kathy first presented “Strong Black Woman” in May 2006 in Los Angeles’ 2,000-seat Orpheum Theatre, just a few months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Thanks to 24/7 media coverage, the entire world watched thousands of black women stranded with their children on rooftops throughout New Orleans — without food or water for days. As Kathy says, “the coverage of Hurricane Katrina turned me black. That’s right I’m black now.” I believe Kathy named the show “Strong Black Women” out of respect for the black women who showed amazing resilience and courage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They were the unsung heroes of this natural disaster and did not seek any praise or acknowledgement. Kathy’s jokes sometimes make fun of the most vulnerable in our society, but this time she sought to identify with the most vulnerable and recognize them with the title of her show.

Recently Kathy was hired to work for the Channel E! and the television show Fashion Police. After just seven episodes, she decided it was not her style of comedy. She told the public, “I do not want to use my comedy to contribute to a culture of unattainable perfectionism and intolerance toward difference,” the statement read. “I want to help women, gay kids, people of color and anyone who feels underrepresented to have a voice and a LAUGH!” (Seemayer 2015). So, yes, perhaps through her struggles as a young person with sibling sexual harassment and low self-image, Kathy became protective of the most vulnerable. By revealing her own vulnerabilities, Kathy is able to make fun of other vulnerable people and groups, as is reflected in her comedy show “Strong Black Woman”.

Hello! WOW! Look at the people [crowd standing ovation]

Hello Hello! [Shakes her head in awe]

This is such a beautiful theater to be talking such shit about people. [Grime smile], oh well! All right, lets just get right to the red carpet shall we? [Crowd applauses]

Ya. All right so I got fired from the red carpet. Fired, Fired fired. No on certain terms [crowd boos]. YES I was fired [raises voice] they fired Mrs. Kathy!

And so the deal is that I got fired [hand gesture showing not sure why?]

And I’m owning it. Ok so when I got fired, I did what any idealist would do, I immediately called the New York post and gave them a little exclusive [crowd chuckles] and how did it get out? I don’t know I called uh page 6? And um well I have their number in my cell phone. All right, and I’m owning it because I think that everybody knows when you get fired.

All right so Star Jones also got fired but of course she’s not admitting it. [Crowd laughs] and she’s such an asshole, you guys [crowd cheers]. Oh my god, [Kathy shaking head] we all know it. But What I love is I love that she got fired and she’s acting like she chose to leave the red carpet cause of her book tour and all that shit but she just drives me crazy because she’s so cranky all the time and I don’t know why… like she’s got the easiest job in show business right? Cause you know she’s on the view she’s like chairman and CEO of the fucking lucky club [crowd laughs] and so anyway they each hire a star to do the number one position on the red carpet and then they call me in for a meeting and they said okay. We want you to be in the number 2 position and we want you to be like take a bit out of Hollywood and be funny and outrageous and sarcastic… So I was like [raises hands] uhh done all right. And umm you know so I did it. And I really had a lot of fun.

And ummm [hands on hips] there was an incident…[crowd laughs] all right hear me out hear me out. Okay so I thought it would be funny to try to ask just really silly questions and stuff like that cause I thought well… I don’t really wanna do what Joan Rivers does cause that’s her thing she really puts the whole red carpet thing on the map… I mean nobody really knew those designers before she started talking about them and stuff. So I thought well that’s Jones things what if I did something silly like you know like on the British chat shows when they ask really dumb questions? So like I asked Clive Owen if he has any weed? [Crowd applauds] that’s funny right? I asked Kanye West what his favorite dish at the Olive Garden was. Like dumb questions right? Okay so then I thought it would be fun to come up with like a running joke that I could do with everybody right?

I love it when celebrities’ sort of show their true stupid dumb ass colors like you’ll just see celebrities at all the entertainment shows and the camera and one of my favorite things is when they give messages of hope. So you’ll see some like dumb ass movie premier just look in the camera and entertainment tonight and your access Hollywood or something and they’ll be like “I want to give a message of hope to the troops. Good luck to all of you out there in the Republic of Chad.”Like they don’t even know where the war is. [Crowd laughs] Right? They can’t find a rack on a map like none of that shit right?

So one of my favorite examples of celebrities giving messages of hope is when Ben Affleck went to rehab. Cause I thought that was no first of all Ben Affleck went to total fakey celebrity rehab because no because he had like a bad bender in Vegas and then went to rehab. And he went to this place Promises in Malibu, which is total fake bullshit celebrity rehab. Oh ya! [Crowd Laughs] oh ya, It’s really fancy its like the Four Seasons and every room has a private plunge pool and shit and all the celebrities go there who don’t really want to get better. Like Andy Dick goes there [Crowd Laughs] and ya know. [Holds her hands up] Robert Johnny Jr. goes there. Mary Kate [eyes open widely] [crowd laughs] they’re not so serious about really rehabilitating. So anyways he goes there and all these celebrities were giving him messages of hope on all the shows and one after the other they would look at him in the camera and they would be so earnest and they would say: Ben you are so Brave. Thank you Ben for your bravery. This is the bravest thing I have ever seen. Ben you’re the bravest person I’ve ever known. Good for you Ben! And I’m like okay wait a minute we’ve lost over two thousand of our own in Iraq but Ben Affleck going to Rehab is [sarcastic voice] the bravest thing you’ve ever heard of! [Crowd Laughs] Brave! Brave! Brave! Brave!

Okay so I thought it would be funny to [chuckles to herself] to make up a rumor about a celebrity going to rehab…. [Smiles to herself] and to have other celebrities give that person bogus messages of hope. [Crowd laughs] All right so I thought okay who’s the least likely person to ever go to rehab? Right so I thought well I cant so oh so have you heard Lindsay Lohan went to rehab? [Crowd laughs] cause you know… tick tock… and um [crowd applauds] no I know Lindsay has lost a lot of weight recently and it’s because of diet and Pilates uhh and crack um you know not really with the diet and Pilates but anyway so I thought well I can’t say Lindsay Lohan went to rehab because that’s too likely right? So then I thought well I cant say um oh Nicole Richie went to rehab because I’m sure she’s already got a room booked over at promises with a nice marble barfatormian waiting for her [crowd laughs] so I was like alright who’s the least likely person? What’s the name of that little kid missing their tooth from I Am Sam? DAKOTA FANNING. [Crowd laughs] come on! That shit is funny!

Dakota Fanning in rehab? Right with the no tooth and the big blue eyes and the blonde hair right? Walking into Promises. Stop me before I kill myself! Like come on… that shit is funny! So…. So anyway by the way I want you to know I did a rehearsal so no one from E channel stopped anything or me. So we were live on the Red Carpet and one celebrity after another is coming up to me and I would say [change in voice, more formal] um, I don’t know if you have heard but, little Dakota Fanning was admitted to rehab this morning for drug and alcohol abuse. Do you have a message of hope? And one celebrity after another knew I was kidding. It was really really funny and Shawn Hayes from Will and Grace was the best, he goes like this “good luck Dakota, you don’t want to go south, South Dakota!” [Crowd chuckles] It was funny right? Come on… I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I was so proud of myself.

Um until the next day when the lawyers started calling [crowd laughs]. I get a call and one of my attorneys was like well the E channel is very upset with you and they got a call from DreamWorks, the studio that did war of the worlds, and their furious with you and they think that this rumor is going to affect their opening box office ticket sales and whatever yes and at DreamWorks they want you to know you on a list! That’s right you’re on a list! And I’m like ya the shit list, I live there. [Crowd laughs] Big deal I’m on a list! And Steven Spielberg is personally furious with you. Stephen Spielberg personally furious with me, I LOVE that! Like what?? I won’t be able to star anymore in any Steven Spielberg movies? [Crowd laughs] What will I do with my days [sarcastic voice] Suck my dick! Alright [crowd applauds and laughs] all right so, they’re all coming at me right? And the E channel says, Okay we really need you to issue an apology. And I said okay here’s my apology: You have to be a fucking idiot to not know I was kidding. And they go well… we can’t print that and I go well that’s it! [Raises hand gesture] [Smiles with smirk] That’s all I got! No I’m not apologizing for a joke that’s ridiculous!

But what I love is that Steven Steinberg is taking even one second to worry about my ridiculous Fanning joke, as if he doesn’t have bigger fish to fry with his star Tom Cruz freaking the fuck out on Oprah and the Today Show and everywhere else! [Crowd applauses] And by the way, how much fun is the Tom Cruz meltdown? [Crowd cheers] It’s so delightful, Okay here’s my favorite thing about it, what I think is so funny about the Tom Cruz meltdown besides the fact that he’s against drug use of any kind, any prescriptions or anti depressants and stuff and yet he looks like a junky right? like he’s got the big circles and he’s all shiny and greasy and shit.

So, but one of my favorite things about the Tom Cruz meltdown is that he is so crazy the gays don’t want him anymore. [Crowd applauds] They don’t want him. They don’t want him. A coo coo! [hand sign to crazy] I love how the gays just don’t even want him anymore. They don’t care, it’s all about Jill and Hall. They all want Jill and Hall, yes yes. They all want Jill and Hall cause of the bareback mountain. And I also love how the gay guys only want hot guys to be gay, right? They want Jill and Hall, they want Ledger, they want call and feral. Here’s what you’ll never hear from the gays, “oh girl don’t be naïve, don’t tell me you don’t know about miss Jean Hackman oooo” [crowd chuckles]

Alright so, I’m calling this special “Strong Black Woman” because number one, it makes no sense [crowd laughs] but, but also I want to tell you what turned me into a strong black woman. Let me tell you something, the coverage of Hurricane Katrina turned me black. That’s right I’m black now. Now, I’m not, I’m not as black as Kevin Federline. [Crowd laughs] don’t get me wrong. Don’t’ get me wrong. [Crowd cheers] That’s a black man.

Okay I’m watching the Katrina coverage round the clock on CNN with the yummy Anderson Cooper… meow. Everybody wants him the gays want him, the women want him. Here’s what I love, I love that Anderson Cooper covered Katrina in Prada. [Crowd laughs] right? He’s like I’m up to my knees in human feces in Prada. All right, okay so anyway Katrina happens and the weekend after Katrina I actually had tickets to go see Kelly Clarkson in Vegas with the gays. I love her. I lovvee her.

Okay so Matt and I were suppose to go, Oh by the way I don’t know if you guys heard but Matt and I are getting divorced. {crowd says awwwww] It sucks you guys, but hold on, hold on hear me out. I know, I know it’s horrible but right now we are totally reconciled so keep your fingers crossed [crowd cheers wooo] [Kathy holding her fingers crossed] Wish me luck! Cause I love him. I love him.

Lets just talk about Oprah for one second. Cause that just reminded me. How great is it that Oprah is putting the pounds back on? I love it! I love it! No here’s why.. Cause she was so fucking superior when she took it off right. Right she had it all figured out, I get it people!!! I got it!!! [Crowd laughs] remember? And then for no reason JOHNN TRAVOLTA!!! And he wasn’t even on the show that day, but and she got really tiny for a week there. Remember she was wearing like the Marc Jacobs little dresses and stuff. You’re actually nervous that I’m making fun of Oprah. Cause you know my joke is that I love her but she think she’s Jesus. And when she gets a paper cut she’s like oh stigmata? Nooo Oprah its not stigmata. Yes… no it’s a paper cut… yes but I… no Oprah. Get off the cross and do your show. Gayle! [Crowd cheers]

All right so now I cant help it… I love that she put the weight back on. Cause that’s what I love about Oprah, she is my neighbor, my sister, my cousin, my friend. I love that she struggles with weight, we all do right? But what I feel like is so funny is of course she doesn’t want to own up that she is gaining it back, but she’s totally back to like the high turtle neck dresses and the long sleeves. Long dresses with the little pointy boots sticking out. I can’t help it every pound she gains back, is like a hug from Jesus. [Crowd laughs, does hugging gesture.]

So anyway, So yeah I had to tell, I had to tell um my mom and dad that Matt and I are getting a divorce cause I just, they read it in People Magazine cause I just, I was just acting like it wasn’t happening. But anyway, um, they were like uh we read in People Magazine. Like oh yeah, that’s right I’m getting a divorce! Um yeah, so I had to tell them and you know it’s so comforting to know that at a time like this a girl can count on family. Okay this is my mom right, “ huhhh oh Crist” [does mom’s voice]. “Oh Crist hanging off the crotch, you’re never gonna find another man Kathleen” [surprised faced/applauded face] I go MOM! And then she goes “ not at this stage in the game”, so but you can’t blame her that was the bottom line. That was some wine talking. Oh yes, my parents love a box of wine. “Your father likes the box cause it has a spigot” oohh. [Crowd laughs] All right so, I know. Oh yeah and then she tells me I’m not getting any younger and I’m like okay I know.

So then my aunt Susan comes over one night cause she’s gonna [does quotation marks with hands] comfort me as well. Right? So she brings over a bottle of wine, and as the wine is going down, my life sucks more. Right? So she’s like, “ Oh Kath this year is gonna suck for you” I go Sue its not gonna suck, I’m gonna get through this! And she’s like “ okay the clock is ticking” and I go ya ya I know I’m not getting any younger. And then she says, “ well your vagina starts to sag” [crowd laughs] [Kathy has shocked face] I said WHAT?! I go my Vagina is gonna SAG?? And then she goes, “oh yeah a few more years it’s gonna be between your knees” You guys I have been checking my vagina every four hours. I have a tape measure. If it falls out I pick it right back off the street. [Crowd laughs] And you know I’m not afraid of plastic surgery, I’ll get that shit rejuvenated so fast. [Crowd laughs] I’m gonna have the fuck body of a nine year old. I’m gonna be so hot I’m gonna fuck myself. Yeah.

Okay, so anyway, the weekend after Katrina, um Matt and I had tickets to go see Kelly Clarkson with the gays, that’s weird that I’m getting divorced, every straight guys dream. All right, so, No I did think he liked some of the share show. And the Bed midler show. Fuck. Okay so anyway I came up with this idea because Matt couldn’t go to Vegas with me to see Kelly anymore. And I came up with this idea and I know it might sound a little pompous but hear me out, I thought what if I auctioned off like a evening with myself to go see Kelly in Vegas, go to the concert, go backstage afterwards meet her, get a picture with her, which I didn’t technically clear with Kelly, I was like oh she’ll do it. And, and then go to dinner with the gays right? Alright so, I put it on EBay and honestly I thought if I get like 500 bucks for this I’ll be happy, It ended up going for 6,900$ so that’s good right? Yeah I’m a getter!

All right so, the money went right to the red cross, no like middle man, just right to the red cross. Okay so anyway I’m all excited and the guy who won the auction is this guy named Mike who lives in D.C and the night before I was doing a one nighter in Savannah. So one of the gays calls me in a gay panic and he says, you know how they are, and he says, “your not gonna believe this Kelly has bronchitis she cancelled” I know! I know exactly, so I’m thinking okay what are we gonna do so I called the auction winner and I said what do you want to do? And he was so sweet and he said look, I’m just looking forward to hanging out, don’t even worry about the concert. I said Mike give me 24 hours I’m gonna get you something great, I promise.

So then the gays and I whipped ourselves up into a gay storm and then I started, and I’m in Savannah and I started getting calls, so one of the gays calls and says, I have one word “manalow” And you know which is great, which is great don’t get me wrong but I was like I get it, I get it. It’s not quite Kelly, but I see where you are going. This guy was gonna go and see Kelly Clarkson who’s so hot right now, get a picture with her that he would have for the rest of his life. I go I feel like I gotta delivery somebody like that, like at that level somebody really amazing like that. I had to eat fucking collslaw Oh yes! SALENDEO! Marijuanshhhleo. Who is gambling away her millions right now. Alright so, so anyway, like I don’t even really know her like I’ve met her a couple of times, but believe me she’s not in my cell phone or anything.

And so I made a bunch of calls and I found out that Mark Stainless from Entertainment Tonight was going to Vegas at that moment to interview Selene Ronny and he was gonna interview them watching the telethon because Selene had like freaked out at Larry King, right? So I call Mark Stainless and I say Mark this Kathy Griffin I know this a really weird message but do you think there is anyway you can get me two tickets to Celine tomorrow and a meet and greet with her? And I went on about the auction and 6900 bucks and Red Cross, oh and then I go “ It’s for the children cause that’s my new thing” [crowd laughs] No matter what it’s for the children. It’s all about the children. All right so, anyway he gets off the plane and he goes. Okay what’s the game plan? And I said well first of all distance your self from me as much as possible. No because, I don’t know maybe Celine has heard some of the things I’ve said about her on television. You know just funny jokes really. Um-just things like when she wears her white leather jumpsuit she gets a yeast infection. [Crowd laughs] just… funny. Or maybe she’s heard me say in jest that her husband René Angélil has been raping her since she was 13. [Crowd laughs] [Kathy does laughing gesture] Ohhhhh… just… dinner conversation.really… observational humor. All right so, you know, so he’s like well what should I say? And I say just say its Kathy lee Gifford and so um and I’m doing a new Christian album whatever! Ok so, should I say that the auction wasn’t originally for her and not Kelly? And I said no I go first of all honesty is the best policy; secondly you could just catch me by going on eBay and seeing it right? Just say that you know uh, that Kelly was only in town for one night and that’s why I choose that show and besides I’ve already seen Selene show twice. And let me just say this. If you have not seen the Selene Dion Vegas show, tomorrow, get a plane ticket, go to Vegas, and let me tell you it is the biggest freak show you will ever see. Ever. You know its cirque del Celine. Oh ya! It’s half Cirque de Soleil half Celine Dion. For no reason. No reason at all. And let me just say this, and I know that she’s the only one that stands alone, I’m the only person who feels this way, I can’t stand Cirque de solei. I’m sorry I cant stand it, here’s why. I don’t want to see a French-Canadian clown slowly roll a beach ball across the stage for five minutes while saying aye aye aye… what is that? Is that French? Is that a joke? AYEEAYEE what the fuck? What is that? Shut up with your big shoes…. I don’t know what that means. And alright, I guess the contortionist are cool right, very impressive, their doing stuff we can’t do, but for me once you see the gay guy bend over and fuck himself, I’m done. I’m done. Alright so it’s half cirque de solei half Celine Dion for no reason and I heard her on Oprah say that she just went to Cirque De Soleil one night and then [in accent] in turned to Renee and I say Renee someday I am to make a show like that. A show that is magic half music. AND SHE DID! And I’m thinking Renee sometimes you have to say no. [crowd laughs] so no because it makes no sense, like she’ll be standing there singing Titanic and it’s beautiful and wonderful and for no reason a giant Styrofoam piano floats by over her head with a French Canadian clown playing in on a harness like this [shows action done, creepy face, playing piano] [crowd laughs] For no reason! And she doesn’t look up and he doesn’t look down, it makes no sense. Oh and then she does this thing, and like I said I’ve seen this show several times. Every single time she walks out at the beginning of the show and it’s this huge theater is Caesars right like 3000 seats or something and it’s sold out every night. Every time she walks out she acts like she’s shocked anyone showed up. Every night. It’s like this [action of singer being shocked she has so many fans] just like that. Every time. [Crowd laughs] Every time as if every single day at about 3oclock she’s like, you know Renee, maybe tonight is the night they do not come. OH! All right, here’s the other thing I love, I promise I have other topics I just got excited. Okay so, the other thing I love the banter in a big tour, like if you saw the Streisand tour, she did not change one syllable, no matter what happened, like sets could be falling down, she never changed a thing. City to city never changed. Okay so Celine says this one thing, and I’ve seen it every time and it just gets me, I don’t know if you’ll think this is funny it just gets me every time. She comes out and she goes like this [impersonating Celine] is it okay if I come sit with you for a moment? And everyone goes ape shit, including me, and I’m like AH YES COME SIT WITH ME! Ah I love you blah blah blah. Okay so cause I love her, so she goes and sits down at the front of the stage and she goes like this [impersonating voice] this next song is for all the parents in the audience and also the children. [Crowd laughs] That’s just everybody right? [Crowd applauds]

All right so anyway, sure enough I’m in savannah and in the middle of the night I get a call from a woman at the Celine Dion show and she says yes you can have two tickets for tomorrow night and Celine will meet you and the auction winner for a picture. I am over the moon, the next day I fly to Vegas, have lunch with the gays. I say that’s it I scored two tickets, I’m in, and all the boys are there. And then my gay Steve gives me the gay sigh. Hmmm, I go what? And he goes I love her. I go I know you love her, your gay she’s Celine Dion. And then he goes well can I have a ticket too? And I go oh I am so not pushing it.

And then I said, but they did say I could have her sign something? Okay so Steve’s boyfriend Kyle goes to the Shop de Celine. Oh yes there’s a whole Selene store at Caesars. An entire store of just Celine Crap. Right so it’s like the CD’s, and the calendars, and the posters. Celine t-shirts, Celine trucker cap, everything Celine! So they come back to my hotel room with this heaping shopping bag of crap for her to sign right. So I’m like Steve and he’s like huhh and I’m like don’t give me the sigh, FINE I’ll do it.

All right so then, Mike and I go to Caesars and we go backstage and it’s time for the meet and greet. And let me just say this, I’ve been in many many beautiful theaters, some are like this one, some are shit holes, I have NEVER seen anything as fancy as backstage as the Celine Dion theater. The waiting room, right where the part where you wait for her is like cover of Architectural Digest. It was so fancy I started to sweat. Okay so then, I decided I really wanted to have everything in order for when she arrived. I take everything out of the shopping bag, one thing after another and I line it all up on the table next to her couch. So were waiting for her to come in, the show starts at 830, she comes in at 827.

Yeah she’s not wasting time on me right. So I’m really nervous and I just go like this “Celine!” She puts her hand out and she goes like this, “hello how are you?” kinda cold right? So I just panic and I throw my arms around her like were old friends. And then I start talking really fast cause I’m wreck and I go um this is Mike and he’s the auction winner and um you know it goes for the Red Cross and 6900$ Celine and it’s for the children and I go also it’s important and I go well you probably know the whole back story. And then she says [in accent] “oh no. one of your stories. I don’t know if I want to hear one of your stories” [crowd laughs] I know okay so at that moment in turned into my mother and just acted like it didn’t happen and I just kept talking like everything was great and she was absolutely lovely. So she sits down and signs this big beautiful program for Mike and she gives it to him.

And then I look over and see all the crap from Steve and Kyle. On and on and on. So I’m thinking okay this is way too much. So I hand her a CD and while she’s signing it I just shove everything behind my back into the shopping bag. And she catches me and she turns around and goes “you have more you want me to sign?” And I go “Oh its just Steve, you know the gays it’s really a lot” OH and I didn’t tell you this, Kyle put post –its on everything of what he wanted her to write. [Crowd laughs] Oh ya! Cause it wasn’t enough that she would just write Selene. Oh no every item had like, Dear Kyle, I love you cause you loved me- Selene Dion. Dear Kyle, Our hearts will go on- Celine Dion. So I know, so I just go oh its really too much, and then she says that is okay, that is what I’m here for. So I hand her one thing after another and one of the post-its said um, cause Kyle’s a teacher, keep on teaching, it said something like Dear Kyle, Keep on teaching. And then she goes is he a music teacher? And I said uhh huh [nods head] he’s a history teacher. So I have to tell you she sat there and signed every single I had, she was so lovely and so sweet and so so sweet.

Okay so she signs everything and then she goes “okay now we take the picture?” so then we stand up and she stands there and she is gorgeous right. She’s like 6 feet tall, she’s got the long extensions, red corset dress right. So now were posing for the picture. So I’m over here [points to right] she’s in the middle, and Mike the auction winner is over here. And now there’s 3 cameras. There is Mikes instamatic, which is fine, her professional camera, and then Steve’s camera that he threw in the shopping bag because he had to have his own picture. So were posing right, and were smiling and were posing and over here and over here.

You guys I don’t have an explanation for what happened next. I can just say that I’m a big dork and I was nervous and I don’t know why. I realized about half way through the posing, I was petting her hair. [Petting motion with hands] [Crowd laughs] like this! Like a crazy person! Like that! Petting her hair!! Petting her hair!! Okay so I’m standing there petting her hair and finally I go I’m petting your hair? And then my hand to god without missing a beat, she goes “ woof woof then I will bark like dog for you woof woof!” [Crowd laughs] she barked!! Woof woof! Woof! Woof! Woof! She barked.

I got one more story, you got it in ya? Okay all right, so part of being a strong black woman is I have to see what things I can do on my own, right? So I had a one-nighter in Palm Springs and I thought you know what I’m gonna go by myself and I can make this a fun weekend because you know I’m used to Matt coming with me and I gotta see if I can do this by myself. I’ll survive right? So I’m gonna do it myself, I’m gonna go to Palm Springs, I’m gonna get a suite in my favorite hotel, the Parker right, and you know what I’m even gonna book it for the next night so I can have like a ladies relaxing weekend right have a night where I put on a bathrobe and order room service, the whole thing.

All right so, I load up the car, and then I decided to bring the dogs. I’m eve gonna bring the dogs cause they take dogs there. I thought you know what I can do this, so I load up the car with all the dog stuff, and by me I mean Matt loaded up the car. And uh so I got the dog crates, the dog beds, and the dog bowls and all this stuff. So now I drive to Palm Springs on a Friday and let me tell you one thing that drives me crazy is when people lie about the length of a commute. Right like people are like “ Oh I can get from L.A to Palm Springs in 17 minutes door to door” NO, no you can’t! That’s a lie.

So I have a show that Friday night, it’s Friday afternoon, I’m in traffic for four hours right, bumper to bumper on the 10 so I have two dogs, Pompom and Chance and here’s their personalities. Okay so Chance is like a really good dog. Alright he’s a real watch dog, he’s faithful, he’d rip your throat out if you came near me, he’s just a really good dog alright. Pompom is like my thirteen-year-old bratty daughter. Pompom’s inter monologue is “ When I’m 18, I’m soo out of here” um and she’s just the rebel and it’s just always been that way but their in love. So I’m driving and I’m going to Palm Springs and it’s taking forever, the windows are down, I’m on the 10, and then at one point I turn around and I see Pompom jumping out of the car onto the freeway. Right? I know. So I’m like lala POMPOM!! And I’m grabbing her tail and she’s like fuck you [throws up middle finger] [crowd laughs] and I’m like POMPOM COME BACK HERE and she’s like fuck you [middle finger] POMPOM! I pull her back into the car and the whole time, Chance was like “ I’m in so much trouble” NO your not chance!! POMPOM! So then she curls up right on the back seat and was like “Is that all you got bitch?” and I’m like [looks nervous] and I’m pushing all the windows. Okay that was such a red flag, if I had known then, I would have just turned right around.

Okay so finally get to Palm Springs, get to the hotel, driving up, I’ve been on the road for hours and then the manage of the hotel comes down to greet me. Which is sweet right? But I’m still like all shaken. So I open the doors, I let the dogs out, first thing they do is take a giant crap on the driveway. Both of them and they’re all proud of themselves, they’re like this [does action of dog pooping and the smiling after] So then I finally get settled in and I really have this beautiful sweet. And so it’s got a living room, and a separate bedroom and a big outdoor, concrete patio right so I can leave the dogs out there. So it’s time to get ready for the show, throw the dogs out on the patio, go to the show and then afterwards I go to the Cheese factory with the gays. Come on, deep fried Mac and Cheese, come on.

All right so, the whole time I’m thinking I really should get back to the hotel, I’m really really worried about the dogs. Cause my biggest fear is that one of them will take a crap on the carpet, right? And so I go back and the dogs are completely fine, right and there in the patio, but they haven’t like peed or done their business or anything right so then I open the front door and they both take off. They just go like bats out of hell. And the way that this hotel is it is a big square with a courtyard and a restaurant in the middle.

So they’re just gone and I just see Chance’s blonde tail disappear in the bushes and then Pompom finds these people eating Taco Bell and just goes and eats all their food. I know, so the whole time I’m like get back here right now! You’re embarrassing mommy! Come back right now! And they’re just having the time of their lives right. They’re like chasing bunny rabbits and romping and jumping through the sprinklers. Never coming back to me right. So they finally finally come back and I’m like get in there [angry voice] all right so, now it’s time to go to bed.

So I get in bed and Pompom just curls up goes to sleep but Chance being a watchdog is walking around the bed like this [does whimper dog would make] So I’m thinking okay, maybe it’s a new environment, maybe it’s cause Matt isn’t here, So I’m like Chance go to sleep. [Impersonates whimpers again] SO then I’m thinking oh god what if he has to go to the bathroom. Right my biggest fear. So I was like everybody up, so I open the front door, and there’s this grassy area right there. Okay go potty, go potty, and BOOM they’re gone. They’re gone they’re running around doing everything but peeing and pooping although how do I know cause then they’re just missing for like 20 minutes.

So they finally come back and I’m like get in there [angry voice]. So Pompom goes right to sleep and then Chance is doing it again [does whimpers] I said that’s it Chance, you go to sleep right now! So then I thought well maybe he’s Closter phobic so I open the door between the living room and the bedroom. So now he’s got the whole freaking place to wander around and whine. So finally we all go to sleep. A few hours later, I wake up to the smell. [Crowd laughs]

You guys he didn’t just crap in the room, it was like diarrhea spraying, puddles the size of a lock ness monster footprints. ALL OVER. And this is a Jonathon Adler designed sweet. He’s pooped on the fur throw rug its gone through the fur, through the Berber carpet to the floor. All over. Right okay so I immediately call housekeeping and I’m like there’s been an accidente! [Crowd laughs] and uh so they don’t, housekeeping doesn’t show up for an hour and it reeks. So then I’m thinking oh my god I’m gonna get kicked out of the hotel, they’re gonna charge me 20,000 dollars to redo the room, maybe I can clean it myself. So I go in the bathroom and I get every towel, every shampoo, every soap and I just get on my hands and knees and just start scrubbing. Right, I got crap underneath my fingernails, nothing is better, right, and nothing is better. So then finally, the housekeeping guy shows up and he’s like this “oooooohhh noooooo” “los perros es no bueno” and I go no no un poquito caca un poquito. So basically he says he doesn’t even have anything that can clean it right. So I’m saying please please try to fix this, try to figure it out. And he’s like okay I’ll be right back. Okay so now I’m thinking okay take the dogs out every two seconds. You don’t want them to crap on the floor anymore.

So I’m all sweaty, I got the t-shirt, I got the sweatpants, I decide to take them out, I got them on the leashes this time, and I’m like you better go poop right now, you better go poop right now if your gonna spray diarrhea do it in the god damn grass. And so I take the dogs back to the suite, you guys I don’t know what they did, it was cleaner then when I found it. It was like a miracle, I don’t know what they did!

Okay so then next day Sunday, time to check out. So I get up about noon, fuck the alarm. So um I get up at noon and uh first thing I think is take the dogs out right, so here’s the thing I just sleep in a t-shirt. I know that’s pretty sexy um yeah and it’s always like some old t-shirt from like some morning zoo radio show I did. You know wake up with eggy and poopy or whatever and so its got like holes in it and stuff, alright so I’m thinking take the dogs out, take the dogs out. So I open the front door and once again there’s this little area right there. No. They take off, run as fast as they can, only this time it’s at the height of Sunday brunch. Right so the place is packed and I’m like at the door like this and I’m like come back doggies! Come on! Chancy Pompom! Come on! And then I hear the door click behind me. So I’m standing in the courtyard, yelling for my dogs, which are not even there, with no pants on. It’s like this I’ll show you [pulls down her pants, in just underwear] chancy! Pompom! [Crowd laughs] Here Doggy! Chancy! Pompom! [Crowd cheers] Come on doggy!

I know I, I still got it boys. [Crowd applauds loudly] I’m not afraid of a little cellulite, okay; you know what these thighs say they say I take a bite out of life! [Crowd laughs] So yeah I’m like this yelling for the dogs and of course they’re not coming and then, take a good hard look go ahead, I know it’s disturbing, it’s disturbing. Anyway I stand there like this and then who comes along to save the day, see if you can hear the choir of angels, a couple of tool-belt wearing, golf loving, din ashore weekend lesbians, [crowd laughs] send from heaven cause let me tell you something the lesbians know their dogs alright don’t fuck with the lesbians at the dog park. They run that dog park right, oh ya, a lesbian can cock your tub and train your dog in 20 minutes, like angels.

Okay so of course my dogs appear out of the blue, gravitate towards the lesbians and are like and then they’re like “you need some help?” And so I said ya um first of all I know I’m not wearing pants and secondly would you mind terribly watching the dogs, I’m locked out of my room, I have to get a key. “Sure no problem these dogs seem really cool” [deep voice] okay so now, I have to walk the gauntlet through the courtyard, through the restaurant, to the front desk. So it’s like this, okay I’ll be right back [walks around stage with no pants] [crowd laughs] I get to the front desk, I’m third in line [shows action of trying to get desk person’s attention] oh ya the guy at the front desk is like telling people his favorite tai restaurant in Palm Springs, this one taxi driver he knows that’s adorable. Right, finally it’s my turn and I’m like I um need um a key I’m not wearing pants and then he says oh our computers are down. I said I’m not wearing pants and the lesbians are waiting [crowd laughs] So finally he gives me like a master key and I have to walk the gauntlet, I go all the way back but now it’s been 15 minutes and I’m more crazed.

So finally on the way back I’m like this [does action of holding up key walking with no pants to room] [crowd cheers] open the door, [pulls up pants] ya your not gonna get that from Carrie Todd[crowd laughs] alright so then like everything was fine, I finally got home okay, but I’m just saying it’s not suppose to be like that, when you call your damn dogs they’re suppose to come. When you call your dogs it’s supposed to be like this: Chance, Pompom, [dogs come in] thank you good night! [crowd stands and cheers]

Conclusion

“Yeah, we are cool motherfuckers. We are rockstars — when it comes to what we do. But we are fuck-ups, but we know it. We know all of our flaws. We now all of our dimples and zits. We use it, and use that to make you understand us more. It makes people like you more. When you are on stage talking about how fucked up you are and people relate to it, I don’t know if there is anything more powerful. That’s how people get sober off drugs, just being completely honest. That’s what kind of power lies in stand-up comedy” — Robert Kelly (Pilot 2015). This is what stand-up comedians live for. To understand and relate to people and try to better this world through laughing, crying and any other emotional connection that can be felt.

Kathy Griffin epitomizes the effective use of vulnerability in her stand-up comedy routine. We, the audience, relate to her daily trials, mishaps, and even failures, because at some point during our lives, we have had very similar experiences and feelings. We feel a powerful connection with Griffin and a strong sense of empathy for her, which has at least two effects. First, it creates a bond or trust that enhances Griffin’s credibility. Second, it gives Griffin permission or a “license” to poke fun at other vulnerable people without having to be politically correct. Griffin’s use of her personal vulnerabilities as part of her comedy shows enhances her ability to do what she loves to do most — make people laugh.

Works Cited:

1. Anderson, Kare. “15 Ways to Accomplish More With the Right Kind of Humor.” Forbes. August 13, 2012. Accessed March 28, 2015.

2. Cody, Steve. “The Missing Piece of Your Business Culture: Stand-Up Comedy.” Inc. September 10, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2015.

3. Drexler, Dr. Peggy. “What’s So Funny About Being Gay?” The Huffington Post. June 19, 2012. Accessed March 22, 2015.

4. Greengoss, Gil. “Dissing Oneself versus Dissing Rivals: Effects of Status, Personality, and Sex on the Short-Term and Long-Term Attractiveness of Self-Deprecating and Other-Deprecating Humor.” Evolutionary Psychology 6, no. 3 (2008): 393–408. Accessed March 25, 2015. http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP06393408.pdf.

5. Griffin, Kathy. Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin. New York: Ballantine Books, 2009.

6. Grimm, Nick. “Funniest Comedians at Greater Risk of Premature Death, Study Finds.” MSN News. May 5, 2014. Accessed March 22, 2015.

7. “Kathy Griffin Explains Quitting ‘Fashion Police’: I Shouldn’t Have Taken the Gig.” Entertainment Tonight. March 16, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2015.

8. Hill, Amelia. “Laughter: The Secret of Love.” The Guardian. July 26, 2008 (citing Greengoss, Gil) Accessed March 27, 2015.

9. Pilot, Jessica. “Robert Kelly On Power, Vulnerability and Comedy.” Pastemagazine.com. January 9, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2015.

10. Seemayer, Zach. "Kathy Griffin Leaves 'Fashion Police' After 7 Episodes." Entertainment Tonight. March 12, 2015. Accessed March 27, 2015.

11. Sternberg, Adam. “Dorothy Snarker.” NYMag.com. August 8, 2005. Accessed March 22, 2015.

12. Stewart, Dodai. “Why Does Everyone Love Self-Deprecating Humor?” Jezebel. July 29, 2008. Accessed March 26, 2015.

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