Kathy Griffin’s ‘My Life on the HRC-List’ Episode Panned

The Washington Post's Hank Stuever gives a big thumbs down to Kathy Griffin's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" episode, which airs tonight.

Choi_griffin Griffin's trip to D.C. for a Human Rights Campaign rally on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was well-publicized earlier this year after it was crashed by GetEQUAL activists and Lt. Dan Choi, who left Griffin and HRC President Joe Solmonese in the dust by continuing down the road to make the real headlines at the White House with activism that felt more visceral and effective — chaining himself to the White House fence and getting arrested.

Writes Stuever:

Tuesday's episode is worth watching more as an exercise in the meta-rituals of the typical Washington celebrity-advocate visit, and how such photo ops fail to accomplish much. While Griffin's trip feels "behind the scenes," it is in fact just another manufactured scene.

She revels in playing the faux-naif, unaware of the basic branches of government. Thus, King and Bash come by Griffin's room at the Mayflower Hotel, to school her on the concept of a majority whip. (S&M jokes ensue, and fizzle.)

She leads a noontime rally on Freedom Plaza. She is bossed around by staffers at the Human Rights Campaign, who are seen here doing what they do best, which is attempting to micromanage the gay rights movement. "The HRC has been fighting for gay rights since I was calling gay bingo at Hamburger Mary's," Griffin quips, on her way to accept an ally award at one of the group's many fundraising banquets.

Griffin also apparently makes the mistake of engaging Barney Frank:

At HRC's Rhode Island Avenue NW headquarters, Griffin is run through talking points on the DADT debate. Every time she tries to crack a joke, her Washington handlers pretend to glower at her. Accompanied by HRC head Joe Solmonese to Frank's office, Griffin tells the congressman that "I need [DADT] to be repealed by Thursday, because I'm leaving Friday" and if it's not, "that's a bitter pill to swallow."

"My guess, Kathy, is it's not the only pill you've swallowed this week," the Massachusetts congressman replies. The air in the room goes staler than normal.

Though I'm a big Kathy Griffin fan, I fear she was using HRC here (at the same time HRC was using her) and nobody gained from it.

(via americablog)


  1. Mike C. says

    Ooooh, Barney got a good burn in!!!!

    Kathy is annoying. She talks about gay men like they are pets or her little minions, and most of us are insecure and dumb enough to laugh and jump when see says jump like her little monkeys

  2. Dave says

    I’m so tired of all of these horrible women (Kathy, Bethenny Frankel, etc.) constantly talking about “my gays” or “the gays.” We’re not all your idiotic fans, just looking for the next laugh and/or circuit party. Stop using us to push your vapid products.

  3. Dan says

    I love Kathy and think she’s very smart and funny, but I must agree. Her show feels far more ‘produced’ than it used to and a lot of her antics to get publicity no longer seem rooted in a funny or interesting concept. Performing in Iraq – amazing. Faking being an idiot to seem like a fish out of water in DC? Lame.

    It used to be Kathy was a talented comic whose schtick was fame whoring. But it seems her publicity seeking behavior has become more important than being witty, engaging, subversive and clever.

  4. ty says

    Of course the Washington Post is going to pan the show. That rag is nothing but yellow journalism!

  5. says

    Aren’t you all tired yet of Kathy Griffin exploiting our community for her own personal monetary gain? Stop feeding the beast and she’ll just go away. I am definitely NOT “her gay”. She is a self-serving loudmouth who has done nothing for our community.

  6. deegeezee says

    Gaylib, that’s lame. exploitation requires coercion, or at the very least a lack of options. no one’s forcing you to watch her show, so chillax.

    personally, i *want* companies, entertainers, and politicos to pander to my demographic — that’s how to get things i actually want!

  7. caroler says

    as for Dan Choi — chaining himself to the WH “felt effective?” something either is or is not effective.

    i would argue that chaining oneself to the wrong branch of gov’t while giving repubs ammunition to say that gay service-members actually *do* undermine discipline and cohesion doesn’t “feel effective” to me, at all.

    plus, there are a lot of higher ranked people out there with more impressive resumes who are speaking up (without flouting military regulations or laws) who were outed by 3rd parties and kicked out of the service. Choi came out on MSNBC.

  8. says

    I don’t think you know what exploitation means deegee. It is using a person or group for ones own advantage without regard to what it does to them. It is using people as a means to an end which does not benefit them. Kathy uses our oppressed status as fodder for her television show. The community receives nothing in return. she gets paid. That’s exploitation. Just because some brain dead gays love her doesn’t mean she’s using them too.

  9. ravewulf says

    I’m a Kathy fan too, but the past few seasons seem to be less-funny than she used to be. Her stand up is still good, but the show hasn’t been the same since Jessica left.

  10. TANK says

    The biggest problem that one ought have with kathy griffin is that she’s unfunny and highly obnoxious. Anyone amused by her act is similarly unfunny. That is, those that get a chuckle from her were born without a sense of humor and are incapable of cultivating one. They no longer invite her to entertain terminally ill children for a reason…and it’s not because they were having a good time…because committing suicide with an IV is not easy or fun.

    And of course this was a photo-op for HRC and kathy…I’m glad it came crashing down around their ears–it’s real people’s lives being affected here…not the HRC elites and a comedian that couldn’t get laughs from a recording.

  11. Gridlock says

    Oh CAROLER, the whole “Obama can’t do anything, he’s really helpless” defence..

    try harder.

  12. johnny says

    Kathy is Kathy, always was and always will be. Anyone who signs her on to a cause or for an appearance should know going in that it may be unpredictable and sometimes a mess but it will get air time and P.R.

    As far as exploitation, I think there may be something a bit more subtle going on. Sure, she treats us as novelties but what straight woman hasn’t? It may just be that she’s pointing that out (through self-effacing humor) and how silly it is to treat us or any other group as “different” when at the end of the day, we’re all the same.

    And yes, her shtick is getting a little tired.

  13. Fahd says

    Kathy has been funny in the past. I think she’s peaking at two Emmeys. Frank is good at the retort, for sure, and as worn out as he is its remarkable how sharp his mind still is.

    Is that expression “jumped the shark” still in use?

  14. db says

    I haven’t seen the episode yet but this seems pretty typical of what Kathy does on the show. It could be hilarious.

  15. Mark says

    I think she is entertaining at times but isn’t necessarily funny in a comedic sense. An adult running around and speaking her mind like a child who doesn’t know any better can be amusing but ulimtately it just becomes a tired gimmick.

    Trashing celebrities in bitchy ways panders to the bitchy gay men out there who usually enjoy that kind of nasty back and forth in their personal lives. If you find that entertaining and funny, that’s cool.

    However, if you are interested in real comedy, there are definitely better comedians out there.

  16. AnonII says

    Kathy’s a hoot. Unfunny? I think many gays appreciate that she’s been a supporter of gay rights for a long time. Not everyone is going to support gay rights the way the nasty commenters here want them to. Maybe you queens should just be thankful that one of the most popular comedians today supports equal rights for gays, then go on your bitter way. She’s a comedian for God’s sake. If you don’t like her, then don’t watch her. But why insult other gay people who find her funny? Most of her fans aren’t really looking to angry, judgmental queens for approval.

  17. Derek Washington says

    I love how this turned out on all sides. It was movement theater at it’s best!

  18. justiceontherocks says

    Kathy is a publicity whore (it’s her job) and the HRC is a manipulative group of whiners trying to save their jobs on the way to a cocktail party. Small wonder this event won’t go down in the history books.

    I wonder if the HRC would actually accomplish something if any of them got laid once in a while.

  19. Mark says

    If not liking Kathy Griffin makes a gay man an “angry, jealous queen”–what does it make a straight person who doesn’t like, for example, Andrew Dice Clay–or thinks he’s unfunny?

  20. deegeezee says

    Gaylib, she doesn’t *have* to do episodes on gay issues, nor did she have to ask her wedding guests to donate to AMFAR in lieu of giving gifts.

    i suppose you feel “exploited” by Towleroad’s advertisers, as well?

  21. caroler says

    GRIDLOCK, just because Obama’s not acting quickly doesn’t make Choi a great spokesperson.

  22. Robert says

    Take it somewhere else, Caroler, this is about Kathy Griffin!

    Yes, she is a shameless promotion hog. But she absolutely believes in this cause. I don’t know what the hell has happened to you jaded queens to question the celebrities which draw attention to our cause, but if you think you have a right to bitch about how they do it, we’re never going to get ANYWHERE in this country.

  23. kansastock says

    This was basically a tool using a tool. Never pretty. If she actually had any balls, she would have marched to the WH and chained up as well. I’m sure she’s kicked her ass around the block for not turning a skit into a statement.

    We’ll see if she saves it in editing tonight.

  24. daws says

    I can’t wait to see the episode. So far this season has had me doubled over. Kathy is hilarious and I’m glad she’s so vocal about equality.

  25. joe says

    Dan Choi is a self-serving ass. I think his overall goal is admirable, of course, but he’s a jerk. he was guest speaker at a major gay-oriented health center’s annual fundraiser here in Boston and all he talked about was himself. Epic FAIL with the crowd.

  26. AD says

    Now that I’ve actually seen the episode, I have to disagree with the article. Love her comedy or hate it, she has an audience. And that audience votes. We need more people like her, I say. The biggest part of bringing about change is changing the way the public feels about the issue. Kathy is helping to do that.

  27. Beahbeah says

    Wow, so a celebrity backs us publicly at every corner, praises us to the heavens every chance she gets, protests on our behalf… and all we can do is b*tch? Some queens will never be satisfied. I understand not liking her comedy/shtick. She can be abrasive, she can be annoying, she can be self-serving, but she is obviously very passionate about her gay fans and the prejudices we face. More power to her and too bad more celebrities aren’t like her.

    As for the episode, it was hilarious and the WP is full of sh*t. Especially regarding Lt. “Look at me!” Choi. How about this Einstein, you want to prove you can be just as a good a soldier and follow the rules as well as any straight serviceman? THEN DON’T CHAIN YOURSELF IN UNIFORM TO THE F*CKING WHITEHOUSE FENCE! It’s against military regulation to protest in uniform and it can also lead to disciplinary action. As if getting kicked out of the military for DADT wasn’t bad enough, now you have to get kicked out for being an idiot.

  28. TANK says

    Wow…backing kathy griffin OVER dan choi (because it’s that petty). You people suck…in everything! You watch the show! Nuff said.

  29. Beahbeah says

    Jesus, I’m not backing Griffin over Lt. Choi. But he made a huge lapse in judgment and a mockery of the uniform. Pick your battles and fight them wisely and don’t get discharged (and yes, he can be discharged) for doing something stupid. He knew exactly what he was doing wearing that uniform and it was a “look at me!” moment. Essentially spitting in the face of the military, nice way to get people on your side.

  30. Tank says

    I’m sorry. I’m a bit cranky today. I got my tampon stuck in sideways today – LOL.

  31. says

    Mheh, not everyone is an activist. Kathy Griffin’s a comedian who’s supported of our rights and has an audience that is larger than just the gays, even if that’s who she likes to pretend its limited to in total. Kathy Griffin is never going to be a lgbt civil rights leader… that’s what we have people like Lt. Choi for.

  32. Mattia says

    You commenters are pretty damn sad. How many of you even watched the episode? I just finished, and throughout Kathy is incredibly supportive of our cause as gay men. I can’t believe how much you’re tearing her apart. I just hope she never bothers reading this.

  33. Damien says

    I have to agree that all the comments tearing Kathy apart are so exaggerated and uncalled for. Whether you find her comedy funny or not, she is just a comedian and an ally as shown through the years of her constant public support of gay causes and people. The lady was just trying to make a TV show and help organize a rally (of which she didn’t have to do). As far as Choi, what he did was extremely unexpected and controversial, and Kathy must have been advised by the HRC to not join them. Who can blame her? Tonight more people are thinking about DADT than yesterday because of her, and I think that is great.

  34. qjersey says

    Well I watched and it was the Kathy I have grown to love. My take away impression: Everyone in DC has a huge stick up their ass including the HRC. Everyone was so damn uptight, super serious and self important.

  35. Chris B. says

    I volunteered and worked in the Lesbian/Gay/AIDS community for over 25 years. I never sat thru an entire episode of Kathy G before. I did last night. I cringed. I laughed a little. LMAO a coupla times. Was impressed that she knows the DADT issue and eloquently articulated the case against it. The program provided a very accurate inside view of the Washington machine and how uptight and self-important it is. Her meeting with the entire HRC staff was warming. HRC staff-lobbyists need a great big shot of loosen-up. (Such sour pusses.) If you like Kathy Griffin, or not, she has brought an important LGBT issue to television audiences. I thank her for that.

  36. Ron says

    I thought the whole point of the episode was to get the word out about repealing DADT, and getting people to write their local officials, and to generate buzz about the movement. I think it succeeded in that respect. Did anyone think anything was going to be “done” immediately? Love her or hate her, Kathy does generate publicity for causes and get people talking. Look at all the comments on here alone!

  37. alan says

    I thought the episode was right on target. I think she probably reached a lot of people who aren’t political, who don’t take the time to get into the issues, and if she can do that for 10 people, GREAT! I don’t feel exploited by anyone because I have the right NOT to watch their show or attend their concerts or watch their movies,like for example Mel Gibson. He ranted against the gays who made him a sex symbol in the 80’s and now every other group. I made the choice years ago to stop watching his movies and listening to anything he had to say because I thought he was a tool. If you don’t like Kathy Griffin, don’t watch her. If you don’t like being referred to as “one of my gays” then don’t watch her or Betheny (who I find annoying and don’t watch)and then you aren’t one of “their gays”. Oh and the whole “chaining myself to the White House” seems to have really paid off huh? Case dismissed, just like it never happened. Wonder if the handcuffs feel exploited?

  38. adamblast says

    If this is a popularity contest, I’ll give Dan a 6, Kathy a 4, and Alexander Skarsgard a 10.

  39. Marcus says

    I was surprised at how genuine and emotional got in parts of this episode. There were some honestly moving moments. Kathy really does care about this issue and for our community and I’m not going to judge her.

  40. TANK says

    “Oh and the whole “chaining myself to the White House” seems to have really paid off huh? Case dismissed, just like it never happened. Wonder if the handcuffs feel exploited?”

    Classy, alan. Douche.

    Kathy’s made millions off of the pink dollar, so some well earned criticism is in order. For perspective, kate winslet’s character in the reader’s funnier.

    There will always be a conflict of interest in her support, as this is ultimately a business proposition–and in thise case, something she did for her show. I don’t doubt her sincerity, because frankly I couldn’t give a fuck as to whether she means it or not. But this will always come down to money first and foremost, and everything else incidental.

  41. awr says

    I used to feel like a lot of people on this board – “Who is this lady and why does she think gay people love her?” That was until I started actually watching her. She really does care about us – look at last season’s Prop 8 episode. As the WP points out, her visit to Washington may not have been all that effective, but wait – weren’t they supposed to be reviewing the episode and not the visit? Stuever conveniently leaves out her talk with active LGBT servicepeople. You can’t deny that’s powerful television that could change minds, or that her interest in their stories was sincere. Who else is devoting that much time of their own reality show to an important cause like that? You can care about something and still make Liza Minnelli jokes about it.