Review: Kathy Griffin at the Sony Centre

It’s a beautiful Sunday night and I’m walking into the Sony Centre to see Kathy Griffin brought to Toronto by Live Nation .  I am surrounded by two demographics – aging suburban women in heels and conservatively dressed gay men.  I fall into one of these demographics.  I’ll let you decide which one.

All the people in Kathy’s life make the supporting characters of her narrative of “Life on the D-List” – the Emmy winning show that is in its 6th and final season.  It is doubtful that anyone in this crowd wasn’t already a fan of Griffin and this show but, just as a recap, a screen comes down with a nice “best of” reel as well as other moments from Griffin’s life.

And that’s why we are here – to hear about her life.  Griffin’s act consists mainly of outing celebrity behaviour and we feel like we are privy to her gossip and her smack talk.

She runs onto the stage with a black t-shirt that says “Gurrrl Down” and flats – dancing around and yelling “Toronto How the F#$@ are ya?”.  She addresses gays and gals separately – something she does for the rest of the act.

Her set is delivered completely in a stream of consciousness and I found this to be both compelling and annoying.  I loved that it wasn’t a series of set bits with a clear cut beginning and end.  You could tell there were bits that were getting a little more airtime on tour but ultimately it was all very recent moments from her life – she drops both the Emmys and the Toronto International Film Festival – promising to out the celebrity assholes.  We cheer.

She also talks about hanging out with Cher last week, getting told off by Cameron Diaz on the Graham Norton Show, and what Anderson Cooper has dished about Nancy Grace.  Apparently Cher was trying to figure out how to make a pizza “happen”.

Here’s the thing though – for all of the references, she only sometimes fully delivers.  Her promise to dish on Madonna ended up being the rumor that Madonna had asked volunteers not to look at her at last week’s film fest.  Either there was more and she left it out or it was a big drop with a small payoff.

Her style is all about interrupting herself with tangents “Wait – I need to talk about ____” so sadly, we never got to hear about some of them. She had a great story about her mom apparently, which got interrupted by the Lohans, which we never got to hear either because it got interrupted by her thoughts on Tim Hortons.  These bits became stream of conscious casualties.

It was a tight hour and a half – someone yelled out “Nancy Grace” and she went with it and ended the show with that, including a great impression.  A testament to the amount of improv that creates her act.  But what I was hoping – and in talking to other patrons after the show I found out I wasn’t alone – was that she would pick up all the dropped pieces for an encore.  Maybe her assistant could write down the missed bits and give it to her.   It isn’t hard.  I did.

Anyway – I have to say I loved her best when she was being opinionated without a punch line.  Kate Winslet at the Emmys?  Surprisingly C#$%y.  Jon Hamm from Mad Men?  An asshole, he is playing himself.  Ashton Kutcher?  She calls bullshit on him.  He’s just not funny.  And my favourite?  Nancy Grace stopping Anderson Cooper in an elevator to show him her father’s underwear.  That she was wearing.

Of course it isn’t the outing that is so enjoyable but the way she does it.  She dishes, she unravels an onion and you just drool waiting to get to the core.  You are so wrapped up that you don’t realize that you missed some parts. And a lot of it you knew already but it was up to her to find the funny frame – like Justin Bieber “banging that little Mexican girl”.  This is what great comedians do.

Of course, this show is only one small part of her caustic dynasty.  To fully get it, you have to have watched the show, and to appreciate it more you have to keep watching.  And I will.


Kathy Griffin presented by Live Nation played at the Sony Centre on September 25th, 2011.