Some Light Hollywood Trash-Talking

Book review: Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins, by Kathy Griffin

I love Kathy Griffin’s standup. Sometimes if I’m feeling down, clips of her energetic, overexcited, judgmental storytelling work as a quick fix cheerer-upper. I haven’t read her other book, Official Book Club Selection, which I think got positive reviews, but I started reading this one when I couldn’t focus on anything serious (thank you, massive stress over apartment/moving) but still needed something to occupy time on public transportation.

It was disappointing. It makes me sad to say that, because I already know I like her, and watching her tell stories is so much fun. Maybe I wasn’t quite the right audience for it because despite my affinity for her, I don’t care much about celebrities or celebrity gossip. I do love when she tells behind-the-scenes celebrity stories in her act though, with her trademark snark and no-holds-barred approach. So I thought it would still be entertaining.

It had its moments, but not many. It was quick and distracting at least, which was what I needed when I was so stressed that I’d read a few pages of another book and instead of processing a single word my mind was churning with a million other anxiety-ridden thoughts. So I can definitely recommend it for occasions like that, if you encounter one in your life.

There are a few gems, like when she references her New Year’s Eve Times Square hosting gig with the beloved Anderson Cooper:

“Once a year, purely for your amusement, I’m pretty much the Hannibal Lecter to his Clarice Starling. You know, in a good way. They did love each other.”

Or when she finds herself on the set of Law & Order: SVU years after her perceived “feud” with rapper/actor Ice-T, a clash born years before when she talked trash on a radio show about his past as a pimp. She deals with the awkwardness only she feels by confronting him directly about it. It’s in my nature to break the perceived tension with ‘Remember when I pissed you off? Well, let me remind you if you don’t.'”

She’s at her best with that kind of practiced, self-deprecating humor, the same that comes across so confidently in her standup act.

But the majority of the stories were just boring, which is a shame. Or maybe the best stories have already been told, and it’s hard to top them. I actually think she’s well-known enough now and has worked on enough high-profile projects that she might have lost the ability to move unnoticed among the elites. She mentions this herself; many celebrities (like Alec Baldwin) preemptively strike now, buttering her up or immediately being on their best behavior when she’s around.

Even her Donald Trump story fell flat. It’s far from glowing, sure, but it’s not nearly as revealingly hideous as I wanted it to be. That might have been the most disappointing aspect of the book. I flew to his chapter first (the chapters are divided by individual celebrity), hoping she’d have some outrageously heinous story to tell, but not at all. He’s a clueless, self-absorbed oaf, sure, but she didn’t have anything worse than that to spill.

Occasionally there are hopeful moments, and I wouldn’t expect any less from her because she’s shown in her act and on her former TV show My Life on the D-List that she’s actually quite an empathetic, thoughtful person, despite her acid tongue and judgey shtick. It’s nice when she praises someone you wouldn’t expect, or points out someone who’s grown in positive ways (Christina Aguilera).

Read it if you’re desperately in need of distraction; otherwise, skip it and watch her tell her stories instead.

Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index
by Kathy Griffin
published November 22, 2016 by Flatiron Books (Macmillan)

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