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Exclusive: Kathy Griffin dishes on Trump and the trolls that plagued her year.

She has another tour in the works. America, you've been warned.

Exclusive: Kathy Griffin dishes on Trump and the trolls that plagued her year.
Original photo of Kathy Griffin by Tyler Shields. Graphics added by Tatiana Cardenas/Upworthy.

In less than 20 seconds, Kathy Griffin has already hijacked our phone interview.

The comedian accuses me of cat-fishing her, lightheartedly mocks my Twitter bio, and slams President Donald Trump for being a "fucking lunatic."

"Now, are you in Chicago?" she says, abruptly changing gears again.

I explain that while, yes, I live in Chicago, Upworthy — which is part of GOOD Media — is technically based in Los Angeles.

There's a brief pause.

"Randy, this sounds like a gay scam," she quips to someone in the room with her. (At this point, I can't keep a straight face.) "My boyfriend, Randy, used to work for the L.A. Times. He's on to your bullshit, Robbie."

Griffin — who's spending the morning promoting her new "Laugh Your Head Off" comedy tour (pun very much intended) — sounds unfazed by the 10-month-old crisis that nearly destroyed her career, landed her at the center of a Secret Service investigation, and flagged her name on the Interpol list (a system devised to track criminals internationally).

After all of it, she's still the same quick, foul-mouthed, angry but big-hearted Griffin — except more eager than ever to hit the standup stage once again.











Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.


Some didn't think Griffin could possibly work in the U.S. after her Trump photo debacle, the comedian tells me.

And maybe they would have been right — if we were living in a different era with another president in the Oval Office.

But in 2018, millions of Americans, repulsed by Trump's behavior in Washington, appear hungry for a comeback from the comedian. In 2018, Griffin — filling seats in some of America's most iconic venues — appears to be hotter than ever.

"They didn't think I could sell Carnegie [Hall] — then it sold in a day," she notes of her new tour, just as surprised as anyone. "I didn't know if anybody would buy a ticket."

Can you blame her for wondering? Even some of the most ardent Griffin fans were turned off by her gruesome stunt last spring.

On May 30, 2017, TMZ shared the graphic, now infamous image taken by photographer Tyler Shields of an expressionless Griffin holding a mask of the president dripping in fake blood, the wisps of his orange hair matted and red. Even in a deeply divided America, the depiction quickly unified the right and left with a singular take: The image was vile.

That's when the "wall of shit" ran over her, Griffin says. "That's really what it was," she emphasizes. "A wall of shit fell on me May 30. And then the wall got bigger and heavier and filled with more shit."

Chelsea Clinton tweeted it's "never funny to joke about killing a president." Anderson Cooper — a dear friend of Griffin's who'd play the giggly straight man reacting to her absurdity during their popular New Year's Eve specials on CNN — said he was "appalled." Their friendship — and Griffin's contract with the cable news network — ended in the days that followed.

First Lady Melania Trump publicly questioned Griffin's "mental health." The president (and his adult sons) took shots at the comedian, claiming his youngest child, Barron, was "having a hard time" with the image.

"I've been told for a year, 'it's over, go away, you're a bad American, you're a member of ISIS' — all this crazy shit," Griffin says, still irked by the uproar.

She apologized the same day the photo went public — but it was too late.

A slew of venues hurriedly canceled her upcoming performances, costing her over $1 million in income, she told New York magazine. Bobby Edwards, the CEO of Squatty Potty, said he was "shocked and disappointed" to see the image before swiftly dropping Griffin from an endorsement deal with his company.

The photo fallout, however, bled into much more serious matters: The Department of Justice spent months parsing through Griffin's personal life to see if she was a real threat to the president.

"I was detained at every single airport, which is frightening," Griffin told Bill Maher in early March. "There were times when they took my devices. They can do that. You might think we all have our rights, but when you're in that moment, you're really at the mercy of one or two people in that room."

The comedian — once a card-carrying member of the D-list — was blacklisted. And she's still feeling the heat. "I've had every kind of death threat you can imagine, to this day."

Her fan mail — or hate mail — backs her up.

Just hours after our chat, the comedian shared a letter from a livid Trump supporter on her Instagram page: "You have your cranium wedged so far up your rectum that you can no longer receive oxygen and have become brain dead," it read.

“Sincerely”

A post shared by Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) on

Being a woman "absolutely" played a big role in the relentless criticism that's hounded her for nearly a year, she says.

I'm the one who brought up her gender for playing a part, and she's quick to thank me. "I also think it's because of my age. They know I don't have a network backing me up or a studio or a movie franchise. So in a way, I was an easy target." But "the woman thing is first and foremost."

Other male entertainers, she notes, have said or done similarly shocking things since Trump took office. But "[Trump's] too much of a pussy to go after Snoop Dogg, or Johnny Depp, or Morrissey."

The rapper's "Make America Crip Again" album cover depicted Trump's corpse wearing a toe tag. Morrissey claimed he would kill Trump "for the safety of humanity," and actor Johnny Depp also publicly pondered the idea of assassination. A recent (and very NSFW) music video by Marilyn Manson reveals a decapitated man in a suit who looks an awful lot like the president.

None of those artists have received a fraction of the blowback Griffin's endured, she says.

"I've known this guy off and on for 20 years [and] ultimately, he's a bully," Griffin says of the president — a bully who especially delights in targeting women.

Many who've closely followed the president's career say he has a vindictive personality. But Trump — who remains engulfed in over a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct — seems to be especially vicious to the women who've fallen into his crosshairs.

Often, he resorts to gendered attacks to belittle them.

"She doesn't have the looks," he said of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. "She doesn't have the stamina."

"If you take a look at her, she's a slob," he once jabbed at Rosie O'Donnell before mocking her "fat, ugly face."

"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," he taunted then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly. "Blood coming out of her wherever."

Griffin — with her hair now trimmed especially short and dyed fiery red (she buzzed it off in solidarity with her sister, who died of cancer last September) — won't be intimidated.

She's thrived off combative comedy for decades, and dismisses any notion that "the idiot [she'd] run into" at various TV events commands any sort of newfound respect since the 2016 election. "I really know this fool," she teases, promising me her new tour is filled with fresh Trump anecdotes.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Is she divisive? Of course. But love her or hate her, Griffin's ferocious spirit is an admirable one.

Her crude humor and celebrity takedowns have gotten her banned from various talk shows and red carpets throughout the years. She told Jesus to "suck it," at the 2007 Emmys after winning an award for her reality series, "My Life on the D-List."

"This award is my God now!" she bellowed into the mic on stage, sending shockwaves through American living rooms.

The 57-year-old doesn't play nice. Throughout our call, I laugh at her belligerent yet charming assertions — never quite sure if she was laughing at or with me. (I think it was the latter?) But she believes women need to stand up for themselves and be true to who they are, and that now — more than ever — is a particularly bad time to simmer down just to keep the peace.

"It's shirts and skins, my friend, you've got to pick a team," she tells me emphatically. "You're either on the side of this administration or you're working against it, but you can't be on the sidelines this time. Not with this nut job."

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

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Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.