Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin brought her raunchy, off-the-cuff act to the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts Thursday night, landing frequent laughs from the diverse crowd in attendance.
Griffin, whose 2014 stand-up special “Calm Down Gurrl” won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album, gave a performance that aptly showcased her trademark blend of profanity, popular culture and celebrity anecdotes. Over 90 minutes of stand-up, she leaped from topic to topic with an electric energy that mostly helped her gain the audience’s approval but occasionally hurt the rhythm of her performance.
Early in the show, Griffin made her philosophy on the boundaries of comedy very clear.
“In comedy, anything should be on the table,” she said, in between vicious takedowns of each of the Republican presidential candidates that participated in Wednesday’s debate. Donald Trump was a particularly ripe target for her ire.
The town of Storrs and Griffin’s mother were also favored topics early in the evening.
Griffin took great pleasure in pointing out the peculiarities on Storrs’ Wikipedia page, noting that its small population could fit in “a New York apartment building.”
When poking fun at her mother, a particularly nasty crack led to a statement that was applicable throughout the night: “I know when I go too far, I just don’t care.”
As she moved into the celebrity gossip portion of the show, Griffin promised to tell the audience the backstage stories behind Eddie Murphy’s reception of the 18th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. However, the consistent withholding of these stories became a running joke of its own, as Griffin continuously went off-topic to launch into other rants.
“I hope you don’t think I knew what I was going to say tonight,” she did admit.
The longest sustained bit of the night was Griffin’s play-by-play commentary of the Luke Gatti mac-and-cheese incident, which she noted “put UConn on the map.” Griffin nailed it, making one witty observation after another about the minutiae of the famous viral video. Although, had you somehow not seen the video, the commentary would not have made a bit of sense.
Griffin is a long-time pro, and her skill showed Thursday, as she managed to consistently wring laughs out of everything she touched upon. Memorable bits about Cher and Tracy Morgan incorporated her Hollywood status in a relatable way, as she relayed these insider details with a no-holds barred mentality.
“I don’t care if these celebrities like me or not,” she said.
However, her hodgepodge energy occasionally worked against her. Many, many times she told the audience that she planned to get back to her Mark Twain Prize story, and many, many times she was quickly talking on a different subject. It’s an undeniably endearing aspect of her act, but it became tiring to follow at times.
But you don’t go to a Kathy Griffin show for a rehearsed routine. You go to hear one of the world’s funniest comedians throw opinions and stories around with a penchant for honesty and a complete lack of discretion.
“I love to judge,” she candidly confessed at one point. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.