The great thing about comedian Kathy Griffin was that she was always like having a really funny friend who knew some things about Hollywood. Going to see her stand up act where she talked about her run-ins on Hollywood Squares and other D-List shows was hysterical — like you were just in her living room and she was telling only you. Then a funny thing happened and she started My Life on the D List, her Emmy-winning reality show about being on the outs in Hollywood. Suddenly she was catapulted to the B(ish)-list and her stories started to get a little bit farther removed from reality and she lost some of that scrappy-friend feel for a Hollywood shine.
Her new weekly Bravo talk show Kathy, which debuted last night, has some of that scrappy feel, but not necessarily in the same way. Kathy comes out in a gorgeous red dress her stylist picked out for her, looking thin with her hair and makeup done to perfection. This is not the pudgy broad who we saw with no makeup and badly permed hair hating to get on a treadmill in the first season of D List. She said before the show aired that she has no format in mind and is just winging it. It makes sense she starts with a little monologue, which was like a bit of her live act, but pegged to events of the day. Luckily for whoever is tasked with the bleep button at Bravo, she tapes it a couple days in advance.
After the monolog she has three visitors come out. She claims they are "civilians," but we know that's not true. One is Michelle Collins, a writer and comedian who is one of the most naturally funny people I've ever met in my life (hey, gurl, how you been?!). She's a blast to hang out with, and that comes across as she and Kathy chat about everything from the recent secret service scandal to Real Housewives farting in their Spanx. The other two are Meredith Morris, who is Kathy's assistant Tiffany's roommate, and Greg Howell, another comedian. Meredith had a hilarious story to share about seeing Wilson Phillips perform at Loehmans (yes, the department store) and this is where everything was at its best. Meredith was funny without even knowing it, Kathy was riffing with her, Michelle and Greg got into the fun, and it was just like her old stand up act. Just a bunch of girlfriends having a gab.
After the couch chat there was a silly film about Kathy interviewing her new staff (more forced bit than actual comedy) and a chat with them on stage followed by a short farewell interview with Kathy's mother Maggie, who Kathy insists on turning into a star even when she's not shining her brightest.
Yes, there were some genuine laughs during the hour and Kathy is at her funniest when she's not trying to hard. That's why the show needs a little bit more of an idea what it's going for. Once she has her segments down pat, she can relax into being herself and bitching with her guests on the couch. Kathy is always at her best when she's looking a little frazzled and seems like she's going to take out of tube of cookie dough to eat while she's talking about Toddlers and Tiaras. That's always my favorite Kathy, and I hope Kathy brings her out.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan