“Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index” by Kathy Griffin

Anyone slightly familiar with Kathy Griffin’s stand-up act knows that the vast majority of what she talks about concerns the world of tabloids and celebrity, and that she relishes every opportunity to tell a story of her meetings and misadventures with other famous people. I remember watching her special “Allegedly” about twelve years ago and finding it very funny. She talked about not being very much liked by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, she shared private details about Brooke Shields’ wedding, but also made herself the butt of the joke such as when she had a disastrous meeting with Kelsey Grammer. No celeb is safe when meeting Ms. Griffin, and nothing is ever off the record.

Griffin’s first book, Official Book Club Selection, was refreshing and much more introspective than I anticipated. That is not to say that it wasn’t funny or irreverent, Griffin can’t be earnest for too long, but it had very serious moments, including reflections on the death of her brother and father, as well as her very painful and public divorce. In short, the book offered a look into Kathy Griffin the person and not just the comedienne intent on shocking, offending, and spilling tea and shade wherever she roamed.

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That Kathy Griffin is nowhere to be seen in the stand-up’s second book. There are still a couple of sweet moments, but they are rare. Instead Griffin’s sole purpose is to collect a bunch of stories that reflect, as the title explains, times she’s run into or interacted with the rich and famous, and how she either tried to mess with them or what she really thought of the encounter. Interspersed here and there are a few genuine moments in which she discusses friendships with these people, but the vast majority of the tales are brief or chance encounters and nothing more.

Arranged as an index in alphabetical order, each entry is an anecdote never going on for more than five pages, where we find out what happened between said celebrity and the writer. Sometimes the person being written about gets the joke and all is cool, other times the famous person is either scared or avoids her, sometimes they are downright rude and must be called out (apparently Griffin is no fan of Ashton Kutcher, Anna Kendrick, or Jon Hamm). The best moments, though, are when she actually shares a deeper connection to the person she is writing about. Sure, it’s funny to hear her blab on about the likes of Christina Aguilera or Sean Penn, but it’s when she talks about Cher, Joan Rivers, Jane Fonda, Anderson Cooper, and especially Jackie Collins that the book finds its heart. I could have used more emotion and less snark. Especially because several interactions amount to nothing more than a brief and very superficial impression that doesn’t even merit the ink on the page.

Fans of Griffin will enjoy the book, which reads extremely quickly, and most of the material is new, so it doesn’t repeat the content of her (many) stand up specials. But if you’re anything like me you’ll be left wanting a little more, because I’d much rather laugh with Griffin than laugh at those she is making fun of.

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