Official Book Club Selection
I’ve had to stop running for awhile, so I finished up this audio book while cleaning my apartment last weekend (ah, the miracle of those noise-canceling ear buds).
I’m a fan of Kathy Griffin. I think she has a different way of making people laugh, is shameless in a way that doesn’t make me cringe as much as, say, your average episode of “The Office,” and (despite some of her jokes) seems like a genuinely nice and caring person. I picked this audio book because I figured hearing her tell these stories would probably be more entertaining than reading them.
I was right.
She is such a natural storyteller that I didn’t really ever feel like she was READING to me. I’m wondering how much was faithful to the written book and how much was changed for the audio version; she’d stutter, get lost mid-thought and switch gears (in a non-annoying way) and just generally sounded like someone I know sharing a story, not an author or comedian reading from their memoir. That was nice.
If you aren’t familiar with her work, Kathy Griffin started out as a comedian and actress, doing bit parts (including a memorable appearance on Seinfeld) until she was cast as the sidekick in ‘Suddenly Susan’, the Brooke Shield sitcom. Griffin is very up front about her understanding of her skills – she’s not a traditional comedian (she doesn’t excel at 10-minute stand-up spots relying on the set-up and punch line), and she was never going to be the ingénue in a blockbuster film. What she can do is be a funny sidekick, and tell some killer stories. If you’ve ever seen her live (I did, back in NYC), hopefully you know that she’s this high-energy person who can spend 20 minutes telling a story that is funny the whole way through but doesn’t rely necessarily on one big HA moment. I like that kind of comedy, but I realize it isn’t for everyone.
This memoir is really a memoir, not just a collection of some essays that tell her story. It really differs from other comedian memoirs (like “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”) in that it has some pretty dark moments. It’s a bit like “Bedwetter” in that aspect. For example, Griffin talks about one of her brothers, who she suspected of being a child molester.
You read that right. A child molester. And she deals with that in like the second chapter, so you know that this isn’t just going to be about some hard-scrabble times at The Comedy Store.
But there are those stories, too. Griffin’s exploration of how she found her place in the comedy world by setting up comedy nights with her friends that focused on storytelling and not repeating material is really interesting, as is her struggle with parlaying her success on “Suddenly Susan” into her own series (“My Life on the D List”). She talks about being repeatedly banned from talk shows, the Dakota Fanning awards show ‘incident’, and the suicide of a colleague. It’s not all laugh-out-loud funny but it’s all really interesting.
She also talks about her marriage, and what lead to it ending. It’s a fascinating section of the book that really had me riveted and annoyed when I had to turn it off because I’d gotten to work.
This is a good book. I probably won’t listen to it again, but if it’s possible to lend audio books then I’ll definitely be offering it up to friends.