Kathy Griffin gushed about how great a time the unpredictable comic recently had at a Don Rickles' roast, while hanging with Joan Rivers. The vision of Griffin holding court with arguably the greatest insult comic, Rickles, and the bawdy Rivers makes complete sense. The quick-witted Griffin stands out in the never-ending politically correct era since she always speaks from the hip. Griffin will spare nobody's feelings. "When you come see me (Saturday) at Ruth Eckerd Hall, leave the children and the Bible at home," Griffin said during a call from Los Angeles. "I can't wait to get back to the house of Scientology, which is why I love Clearwater. "Let's talk Scientology. I hear that when Kirstie Alley swears too much, they make her clean toilets .?.?. I love Florida. It really is the craziest state in the union."
Griffin, 52, is a generation or so removed from Rickles and Rivers but she has more in common with the amusing relics than her safe and sanitized peers. "I'm telling tales out of school," Griffin said. "I'm tearing back the curtain like a messed up 'Wizard of Oz.' I'll tell you the fun Hollywood stories since I go to all of the Hollywood award shows. It kills the people from the Grammys that I'm at their shows, but my albums are always nominated so I'm there. This year I sat behind (vocalist) Frank Ocean, who was in a physical altercation with (vocalist) Chris Brown, who was five rows away with his arm rapped around (then-girlfriend) Rihanna. I'll take you there with me. I'm on the inside but I kicked down the door. The problem is that someone is always trying to put the doors back on its hinges." Griffin is provocative, outrageous and funny. "None of this would work if I wasn't making people laugh," Griffin said. "I believe I'm like a humorous journalist. I'm the one letting you know what our favorite actress, Lindsay Lohan, is doing right up to the moment before I go on stage." Part of what makes Griffin so electric as a performer is that she truly doesn't care what anyone thinks. She enjoys ruffling the masses' feathers. Who can forget her off-the-charts Emmy Award acceptance speech seven-years ago? The lapsed Catholic infuriated Catholic League President Bill Donahue, who dubbed her speech "vulgar, in your-face brand of hate speech." Was Griffin, who uttered anti-Christian sentiments, hoping to set off a firestorm? "Absolutely," she admitted. "Once in a blue moon something like this can happen, and I took full advantage of it." Donahue is one of many peeved at Griffin, who can't begin to count her detractors. "There are so many people who have problems with me, and that's just fine," Griffin said. "Bill O'Reilly calls me a pinhead, which I'll accept as a badge of honor. (Actress) Patricia Heaton finds me upsetting. One time she sent me a long email berating my liberal ideals. I had no idea that she was such a nut until I received that email." And then there are the physical confrontations. The late Whitney Houston waved a finger in Griffin's face after she was fodder for material. "Whitney was the most upset anyone has been at me," Griffin said. "She came after me when I was backstage at the Billboard Awards show, which I hosted years ago. She was so mad, but people have a right to be mad at me. The Kardashians have a right to be mad at me. "But if I see something that I can have fun with I'm not going to censor myself. My celebrity friends know that. But it works both ways. If I'm at dinner with Joan Rivers and I say or do something and she wants to use it during one of her shows, go ahead. We should be all about being open and honest." A stand-up special is what Griffin will focus on after her tour ends. "It'll be my 17th special, and that breaks the record for comedy specials held by the late great George Carlin," Griffin said. "He's another guy, who never held back. I'm continuing that tradition." KATHY GRIFFIN