Everyone’s throwing around the term “like a boss” these days. Is your hair on point? You look like a boss. Your clothes match your shoes? You’re dressed like a boss. Order with confidence at a restaurant? You’re eating like a boss. Give your boss the finger behind his back? You’re acting, well, like a boss.
But let’s get real, folks. Are you turning up on CNN on New Year’s Eve and reducing a serious investigative reporter like Anderson Cooper to a giggling fool? Or demanding that NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker fetch you coffee while you’re on air? Or trying every week to bait Donald Trump into hate-Tweeting you? Or becoming the fifth female comedian to ever appear onstage solo at Carnegie Hall? If you’re not Kathy Griffin, folks, and you’re not pissing off everyone from Oprah to Sarah Palin, and you’re not fighting the good fight against sexist stereotypes with every single dirty joke, well, you are decidedly not a boss.
So it’s more than just a gimmick that Griffin has dubbed her latest tour “Like a Boss.” The 55-year-old Chicago native, who moved to Los Angeles straight out of high school in 1978, cut her teeth in the alternative stand-up circuit for nearly 20 years. She and Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo became known as comedian’s comedians with their “Hot Cup of Talk” stand-up night, and Griffin had memorable turns in Pulp Fiction,Seinfeld, and the video for Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady.” But she finally broke into the mainstream as Brooke Shields’ acerbic guest star on NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan.
After Y2K, Griffin evolved into a Hollywood fixture. Her self-eviscerating Bravo reality show My Life on the D-List redefined the limits of the genre — and introduced the world to Griffin’s box wine-loving Irish-American mom Maggie. By 2010, Kathy’s raunchy, celeb-skewering humor had gotten her banned from E!, The View, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Apollo Theater, and Hanna Montana.
But that attitude made Griffin a passionate public face of the LGBT community. When Perez Hilton of TMZ outed ‘N Sync’s Lance Bass in 2006, Griffin started a long-running feud with Hilton. And after she did several USO tours of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, she came home and organized several anti-Don’t Ask Don’t Tell rallies to support the military members she said were forced to remain closeted. At the 2010 Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner, she confronted US Representative Michelle Bachmann and asked her “if she was naturally a bigot or if that’s just the way she legislates.” And by her count, she’s performed on more gay cruises than any other straight comedian.
Refusing to hold back eventually paid off for Griffin, though. In 2008, she hosted Bravo’s first A-List Awards; in 2009, her first memoir debuted at #1 on The New York Times Bestseller List; and in 2014, she hosted the 41st annual Emmy Awards. She holds an actual Guinness World Record for most televised comedy specials, male or female, living or dead, and in 2014, she also became only the third woman to win a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
It’s hard to tell whether she fully owns it or not, but Griffin has also displayed quite a vindictive streak over the years. After divorcing her husband Matt Moline in 2006, she accused him on national TV of stealing $72,000 from her — the following year, she even started dating Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, supposedly just to piss Moline off: “What better way to get back at my ex, who was a tech, than to marry the biggest techno-nerd in the universe?”
But you can’t knock Griffin’s work ethic or passion for her profession. She pushes herself to perform at least 80 nights a year, and writes new material for each new city — like a boss. “My shows are unbridled [and] unfiltered, with nobody looking over my shoulder telling me what I can’t say,” she told Forbes Magazine last June. And she doesn’t hold back when confronted with questions about Hollywood sexism and ageism. “I love that people make jokes about my banging bikini bod,” she told Billboard last November, “but it’s true — I sort of feel like an athlete that has to keep up in a way that the dudes don’t. [Griffin claims to do 1,000 sit-ups a day.] When you look at the 54-year-old dude comics who are at my level, they don’t have bangin’ bikini bods! They all have back hair and are starring in movies… umm, Adam Sandler.”
But that’s why nearly everyone loves Kathy Griffin, who still calls herself a little Catholic girl gone bad — she actually tells it like it is. Unlike another infamous loudmouth, though, she actually backs it up, with both experience and real teeth: “Here’s how you think America isn’t great,” she told Raw Story last October. “If you haven’t lived anywhere else or visited anywhere else. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan. At this point, I’m more qualified to be president. He hasn’t even been to those places. So he should just zip it and get my coffee, bitch.”