Whether humorist Kathy Griffin is your cup of comedic tea or not, the vindictive overreaction of the U.S. government to that perhaps ill-advised picture she posted in May 2017 is pretty chilling to anyone invested in the concept of free speech. The longtime standup and reality show staple told The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert on Friday about how both the Secret Service and the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office conducted a two month federal investigation of the former red carpet gadfly for “conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States.” In addition, Griffin told Colbert in their extended interview, she was put on the no-fly list for those two months, received death threats from Trump supporters, lost her CNN New Year’s Eve gig (and the support of co-host Anderson Cooper, who, Griffin says, called her “disgusting”), and was put on notice with Interpol, so that she was detained at every airport she visited during her subsequent worldwide tour. (The “Laugh Your Head Off” tour.) “The walls caved in on me,” said Griffin, telling Colbert that, in the U.S. at least, her career hasn’t recovered, while she’s lost “75 percent” of her friends “that never came back.”
Well, Griffin came back anyway, as she told Colbert about how she recently sold out both Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music hall for her newest standup show. Which is great, although Griffin explained that her Trump-heavy special filmed in the aftermath of her ordeal (her 23rd, if anyone’s counting) hasn’t been picked up by any TV or streaming service, as yet. The comedian told Colbert that her quote about being “broken” by her experience lasted “about two days,” and reiterated the defiant stance she’s since taken concerning the person she calls “the accidental president.” Noting that she’s become active in supporting other women like Samantha Bee and Michelle Wolfe who’ve had their own experiences being harrassed directly by said president for being all mean to him and stuff, Griffin also revealed that she’s become “more of a self-made woman than [she’s] ever been,” and announced that she has recently purchased back the rights to all her work and made her comedy specials and show My Life On The D-List available on iTunes (as of Friday night).
Griffin also noted that male celebrities who were accused of making threats against Donald Trump (Snoop Dogg, Johnny Depp), were never subjected to the same investigatory scrutiny. Regarding her ongoing publicity tour detailing her experience, Griffin told Colbert, “I don’t want anything like this to happen to any of you.” As to Colbert’s question of whether she’d do the same thing again (with the bloody dummy head and all), Griffin demurred, although she asserted her action was “covered by the First Amendment, even if you didn’t like the picture.” At the conclusion of their long interview, Colbert admiringly called Griffin “indefatigable,” which, regardless of how much you like Griffin’s comedy, sounds pretty accurate.