Towards the end of last year, I made a video mocking Arnold Kopelson and the horrible letter he penned for Kathy Griffin to give to Donald Trump.
As talented as I am, and as original as my concept was, I’m positive this warm reception had much more to do with my amazingly talented cast!
I’m particularly indebted to the talented and always insightful Felicia Michaels who took a look at my first script, which was a sketch in the style of daytime TV ads for talent agencies (eg. Barbizon) selling the ‘Arnold Kopelson Talent Agency’. She gave a mild grimace at my overly complicated presentation of Kopelson’s letter, and said “Dude, just explain what’s going on, and let us read the letter.” Point taken.
I have a bad habit of outsmarting myself. I mean, you should never treat your audience like morons, but what might be even worse is making your audience feel like morons. Needless to say, Miss Michaels prevented that faux pas as well as giving me some additional insights, and a wonderful performance. I need people like Felicia in my life to remind me how strange I am because, despite what Walt Whitman says, what I assume will probably not be assumed by almost anyone else. Hence why I listed her as Associate Producer. And those who know me know that I don’t hand out producer credits wholesale, like cheap bubble gum!
Here’s the opening spiel of my video (in case you’re at work, and don’t want to click on the video):
In May 2017 Kathy Griffin made, what some people considered, a bad joke. She then made, what many stand up comics and artists considered to be a bad decision: she apologized for the joke. Three Months later, after experiencing a reaction that far outweighed the crime of bad art, especially in the face of seeming hypocrisy, Kathy Griffin decided to come out of the ‘shame closet’ and take back her apology. Part of this shameless exercise included revealing an email that producer Arnold Kopelson had sent her with a letter that he had written for her to send to Donald Trump instructing her not to change a word, and cautioning that “If you don’t do exactly what I have written, your career is over.” Well, I hate to see an Oscar winning producer not getting a woman to do what he wants over fear of losing her career, so here is a bunch of women reading the letter Kathy Griffin was supposed to send to Trump. This one’s for you Mr. Kopelson!
What Now, Kathy?!
Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention, her comedic about-face has paid off… a lot! Her Laugh Your Head Off world tour is already making millions and selling out to crowds that consistently give standing ovations. You can argue, and you’d be right, that everyone loves a comeback, but a comeback that is nearly devoid of a television presence is almost unheard of.
This was especially surprising considering that the hate and animosity was coming from all sides. Not only did conservatives not forgive her, but many (most) comics were pissed at her for apologizing. The sentiment from pretty much every person I worked with on this video was that “she should have never apologized.” A female artist apologizing to a male authority figure for doing her art was a giant slap in the face to a lot of her fellow comics.
They all empathized with her plight; it’s tough to get too judgy about the actions of someone who is receiving countless death threats, but it still felt very wrong to see Kathy publicly grovel to a man who deserved a hell of a lot more than a joke. A clever joke, btw!
Look, I’ve never been a fan of ‘alt comics’. Maybe I was born an old curmudgeon, but I’ve always believed that if you are going to be a comedian on stage, you should probably tell actual jokes. Some of you know this is one of my ‘pet peeves’/crusades. And Kathy Griffin has never been a traditional joke teller. She usually retells unflattering stories about fellow celebrities/public figures. She does this in a comedic way, but there is rarely a set up and punch to the gossip.
She’s definitely not alone. There are thousands of alt comics, some of which are my absolute favorite comedic actors. As much as I loved Mr. Show and Arrested Development, for example, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit through 20 minutes of David Cross doing set up for a joke that barely has a punch line, which he practically throws away, and then backpedals to do more set up for the joke he already fucking finished!!–sorry, lets get back on track.
Kathy actually created a pretty clever play on the sexist words that Trump used to degrade Megyn Kelly. Trump was insinuating that Kelly was on her period; the most traditional of sexist ways to dismiss a woman. Kathy took that same demeaning string of words and applied it to an exaggerated and literal scenario for comedic effect. I know it’s not as funny once it’s explained, but there you go.
An ‘alt comic’ creates an actual joke, and she is practically crucified for it. Well, now the proverbial joke is how successful her come back is, and how horrible Trump’s America is doing. I guess the joke’s on… all of us? Shit.