Kathy Griffin is back in America, and this time she’s creating her own comedy special.
“It’s a different kind of show than I’ve ever done,” she told Variety at Saturday’s LA Equality Awards in Downtown Los Angeles. “I’m still scary to all of the 60-year-old, white, male dinosaurs that are afraid to put me on TV…so I’m just going to get it in the can as they say.”
Griffin, who was being honored for her longstanding relationship with the LGBTQ community alongside gay club owner Jewel Thais-Williams and Netflix’s “Queer Eye” cast and crew, recently returned from a world tour of her “Laugh Your Head Off” comedy show, which she performed in 17 different countries outside of the United States. After garnering national outrage for posing with a fake decapitated Trump head on social media, the 57-year-old comedian said she believes she was purposefully silenced by the Trump administration, forcing her to tour the show internationally.
Now, after bringing the show back to the United States, Griffin is creating a new, three-hour comedy special about her experiences undergoing a federal investigation, which she hopes will pave the way for her return to television. Directed by Troy Miller of Dakota Pictures, the self-funded special will be filmed at the Oct. 29 stop of her “Laugh Your Head Off” tour at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center.
“I’m so proud of this material, and I’m so glad the audiences are responding so well,” Griffin said. “I’m going to basically keep it in a temperature controlled vault until people come to their senses, whether it’s HBO or whomever.”
However, as she accepted the Ally Leadership Award at the LA Equality Awards, Griffin’s main focus was highlighting the queer community and encouraging people to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Griffin recounted her experiences growing up and making friends with the one gay person in her class, setting off years of LGBTQ support. Griffin also pointed out the importance of organizations like Equality for queer people in America that are not in a position to come out, before turning to the current presidency as a warning for audience members to get out and vote.
“I really still feel like they kind of used me as the test case, and what I said then I still believe, which is if it can happen to me it can happen to you,” Griffin said.
Thais-Williams, who opened the black gay disco-club Catch One in 1973, was next to receive an award for her work within the LGBTQ community. As she accepted the Community Leadership Award, Thais-Williams said she created the club to provide a safe space for queer people of color. At the time, she said there were no other places to go, so clubs and parties were essential in establishing a safe space, which also helped her come to terms with her own sexuality.
“The Catch provided me a venue, a place and a space for me to come out too. Before I got there I had one foot in the closet, and the other one was on the threshold of the closet,” Thais-Williams said. “It’s a blessing to give and to be available, and I was gifted with the blessing when I opened the Catch One.”
Last up was “Queer Eye’s” Karamo Brown and series executive producer Michael Williams, who accepted the Equality Visibility Award on behalf of the the show’s entire cast and crew. During the rousing speech, Brown recounted the experiences of the Fab Five growing up as members of the LGBTQ community, experiences that didn’t necessarily feature the same confident gay men that appear on television now. He also encouraged audience members to recognize the power of their own voices with a ballroom chant of “my voice has power.”
“No longer should it be us vs them, it should be us working together for our families and for love and for unity,” Brown said. “The only way that can happen is when you remember that your voice has power.”
However, Brown said the LGTBQ community still has a ways to go in its representation of people of color.
“You know, I come to these awards, and I never see an Asian trans person,” Brown said. “I think that we have got to continue to make sure that we encourage the conversation and allow people to know that they matter, and that they should be visible at these events.”
In between speeches, drinks flowed freely as guests enjoyed dinner while making donations via phone texts. By the end of the night, LA Equality raised more than $140,000.