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Maggie Griffin Talks About Daughter Kathy, Her New Book, Betty White and More

by Christine Champagne, posted Jun 29th 2010 12:00PM
Maggie GriffinAfter Kathy Griffin shared her life story last year in the #1 'New York Times' Bestseller 'Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin,' publishers approached her mom Maggie Griffin and asked her if she'd be interested in writing a book.

Maggie Griffin, whom we've all come to know and love for her appearances on 'Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,' was reluctant. She recalled saying, "I'm not a writer. I'm not an author. What have I got to say?" But with her daughter's encouragement, Griffin put pen to paper, and the result is 'TIP IT! The World According to Maggie.'

Published by Hyperion, the book is partly a memoir -- the 90-year-old chronicles her Depression-era childhood right through her 50-plus-year marriage to her late husband Johnny -- and partly an advice tome, with Maggie dispensing her wit and wisdom on everything from how to flirt your way out of a traffic ticket to the benefits of wine from a box.

She writes about Kathy, too, of course, and Kathy gets her two-cents in, making comments throughout the book. TV Squad talked to Griffin about Betty White, the Kardashians and Kathy for Chrissakes!

I was surprised to learn just how obsessed you are with celebrities in this book. I loved reading about how you and your husband Johnny would hit the Hollywood hot spots in search of the stars. Now, I see where Kathy gets her celebrity obsession from.

Oh, yes. My husband and I were great movie fans, and we always loved the actors, and we talked to our kids about that, and they were always great fans, too. Now, today, I am so stunned sometimes by the people Kathy is meeting and working with and being comfortable with. It is very awesome to me because these were many of the people we used to watch on TV and in the movies ourselves years ago. She has a lot of respect for them. She really does. She kids everybody, but I love the fact that she is at home with them. When I meet them, I try to seem like I am very cool and casual. I'm not as cool and casual as I pretend to be.

You were so thrilled to meet Betty White on 'Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List' last season. Why do you think Betty is so popular with young people these days?

You know what I love about Betty? She is so real. Betty isn't putting on any act, and she's always been like that. I think her time has come. I know it's late, but she has always been big. Look at all the Emmys she's won and everything else. She is just delightful, and she's so up to date on stuff. The kids love her because they understand her. She's a little bit like your naughty grandma, and that's a lot of fun, and I really think that's why people of all ages are so taken with her.

Do you think Kathy will still be performing when she is 88 years old like Betty is now, or will she be retired by then?

Knowing Kathy with that ambition and that energy of hers, honestly, I think she's going to be like Joan Rivers. I really do. I think she's going to keep doing it as long as she can because she really loves it. She's a terrible workaholic. I'm always trying to get her to rest, but she really enjoys working, and she loves meeting people, and she loves making people laugh or sometimes not laugh, which is my problem with Kathy. The controversy. Oh God, I could kill her! [Maggie laughs.] But that's part of her schtick.

She is a comedian. It's her job to say crazy things.

I love her to pieces, and I don't want somebody to come up and say something negative about her to me, and not one person has ever said anything negative, honest to God, about Kathy to me. Sometimes I'll bring it up when I'm talking to them. I'll say, "Oh, I wish she didn't say this on New Year's Eve," and they'll say, "It's OK or it was funny," and I'll say, "No, it's not funny!" I love when people say, "I don't care, what she says makes me laugh, and she makes me happy." I feel real, real grateful and very good about that.

Tip It! By Maggie GriffinLet's talk about TV: I wasn't surprised to read in the book about how much you love to watch Bill O'Reilly's 'The O'Reilly Factor' and 'Judge Judy,' but I was surprised to learn how much you love 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians'.

When I first started to watch it, I was a little bit appalled. [Kim, Kourtney and Khloe] are really out there. They talk about everything, and they don't care. But I like the mother [Kris Jenner] real well. First of all, she' s gorgeous, and I do think they have a very close family even though they fight and all that. Family is the most important thing in the world, and I got interested in them because of that. Now, I'm not saying if I miss an episode, I'm going to slit my throat or anything like that. That's not going to happen, but I find them interesting to watch. I will shake my head at a lot of the stuff they do because they do really shocking stuff, but that's the way they are, and they seem to be happy, and they're okay, so that's fine.

As wild and crazy as they can be, I do love how close the three girls are and how much they love their mom.

That's it. I like that, too, because I came from a very large family, and I loved all my family. We would fight like families do, but we always stuck together, and we always had fun.

In the first chapter of the book, you write about your beloved dusters or muumuus as some people call them. Do you think they'll make a comeback among young Hollywood stars like Lindsay Lohan now that you've written about them?

No. I happen to love them because they're so comfortable. My thing is when I'm around the house, and I was like this even when I was younger, I like to be comfortable, and I will admit I don't look dressed up around the house. I'm not Donna Reed. But I love the way the girls today go around in the sweats or just the shirt and the slacks. It's very comfortable, and it looks nice, but I still stick to my old duster. I'm old fashioned.

I'm trying to picture the Kardashian sisters wearing dusters.

That's not going to happen. That's not going to happen with their mother, either. The mother is very gorgeous, and she's right up to date with everything. I think if I talked to her I'd really like her. I really do.

It sounds like you want to meet Kris Jenner. Maybe you two could get together for a glass of wine. Are you drinking wine right now as we speak?

No, I'm not. [Maggie laughs.] Please don't believe what you see on TV!

Kathy makes it sound like you're always tipping it.

I know! I used to worry people would think I was an alcoholic, but everybody who knows me, they know the real me, and the thing is I have to have a glass of wine in front of me no matter what time they're shooting ['Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List']. Now, that is their idea because sometimes they'll bring the glass, and I'll say, 'Hey guys, it's like 11:30 in the morning,' and they say, 'Maggie, you've got to have it even if you don't drink it.' But then if you notice, sometimes Kathy gets me very flustered, which she loves to do. Her goal is to shock me, and she always does. I never know what she's going to ask me, or what subject she's going to bring up. So I am kind of on edge, and if that wine is there, I do find myself automatically reaching over and having a sip of wine when she flusters me or she says something I kind of wish she hasn't said.

Kathy drives you to drink!

Yes! She's driven me to drink for sure. No, I do drink. My husband and I would always have a glass of wine at dinner, and if I go out for lunch, I'll have a glass of wine. Usually, at dinner, when I'm out, I'll never have more than one glass as a rule, and I will have a cocktail every once in awhile. But Kathy loves to push that.

She does exaggerate sometimes.

She sure does.

Maggie Griffin and Kathy GriffinOne of the great things about the book is Kathy's commentary throughout it. It is so funny. Did you go back and read her comments?

I read them, and some of them I crossed out or changed. Some of them that I changed, there was no truth to them. But some of her comments were hysterical. Did you read the chapter about the nun who was so mean to Kathy?

I did. I read the whole book! I couldn't believe Kathy didn't tell you that a nun was picking on her at school, and her friends were so mad about how unfair it was that they were wanted to do something about it. Why didn't Kathy tell you what was going on? Was she shy back then?

We always drummed into our kids that you don't ever sass a nun or a teacher. If you have any problems, you come to us, and Dad or I will handle it, so I think maybe...I don't know. She said she didn't think it was that bad. But I laughed so hard because I said in the book I wouldn't divulge the name of the nun, and Kathy wrote, "Well, my mother won't, but she was Sister Mary Elizabeth Oprah Winfrey." I laughed so loud at that. Some of her comments were so funny. She just amazes me all the time.

Did Kathy inherit her sense of humor from you?

I would say more from my husband. He was the funniest guy I ever knew. He was like Kathy. He never told jokes. It was just his version of things, and he wasn't the guy putting a lampshade on his head and all that crummy stuff. He could just look at things and get something satirical or funny out of them, and I think an awful lot of that is from him. I don't consider myself funny at all. I think I'm a rather boring person.

You are not boring, and you make a lot of funny observations.

I guess. I ruin every joke I try to tell because I forget the ending or I tell the ending first.

You also write about being a child of the Depression in the book, and you offer tips for saving money, so I thought you'd get a kick out of this: Years ago, I was at an NBC party, and I saw Kathy getting a doggie bag of food from the buffet. Does that make you proud?

I am proud of her. When she was on 'Suddenly Susan,' we always went to see her every week when she'd go for practice, and they used to cater the show, and they had great sandwiches and desserts, and they'd package it up like Johnny and I were starving. We weren't starving by any means, but, hey, I was happy.

So what do you hope people will take away from reading your book?

I hope people get it. Listen, it's not 'War and Peace.' I just hope they find it a nice read and kind of get to know Kathy and myself a little better. Not that I'm important in the scheme of things. I tried to keep the book the way I really am, and I hope that's what people like about it.

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I used to really like Kathy Griffin.
Until she turned into a foul mouthed embarassing slut.
I felt so sorry for Anderson Cooper on New Year's Eve I could have just died.
It was awful
If I was her mother, I'd wash her mouth out with soap.

July 01 2010 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe how lame some of the comments on this board are. You don't like Kathy because she is unfunny, fine. That is your opinion. I think she is hilarious. Some of you give hateful comments because you believe she is atheist and hates God. So what? It's like making fun of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus or pro wrestling....they're all fake! If Jesus was real, he would be the one vomiting at your hateful comments. "Waaaah! I hate Kathy Griffin because she makes fun of God! Waaaaah!"

July 01 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kathy Griffin, I am guilty of being drawn to her stand up comedy. Her on stage persona and off stage persona are probably two completely different entities. She is a hard worker. You can't be mad at her for working her arse off. I cannot believe I am commenting on Kathy. When she made that comment about Jesus, it was shocking and appalling. I sometimes feel guilty about watching her and I don't know why because she cracks me up. I guess I am drawn in because I can tell that she is struggling with some very personal issues and I honestly want the best for her. That, and she does what so many of us are afraid to do, open your mouth and say what you honestly think! WE ARE ALL GUILTY OF IT!!!What we need to realize about celebrities is they are people, just like every one else. The only difference is they are on the big or little screen and due to that factor alone, the general public elevates them to celebrity status. I know what it is like to work your butt off to get to where you want to be in life. I am an african american, female neurosurgeon with a JD as well. I went from literally having nothing to being able to have the privilege of helping others in need. I am in awe of any woman who has the guts to go after what she wants and deserves in life!

July 01 2010 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
james spensley

Kathy griffin is an atheist, so i am supposing all that her mother did not teach her as a child, she will answer for before God one day. I am repulsed by kathy grifin, and i must pray for her. so i likewise must pray for her mother who encourages the filth she spews forth. i will not watch or support any channel that puts her vile, disguting form of humor on air including cnn... a news orginazitation... all media today is just ponied up to the homosexual agenda...WAKE up people, Jesus is gonna be coming back one day soon, and he is going to JUDGE... get your houses in order before you hear the words " I never knew you" by then its too late. REPENT NOW!

July 01 2010 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Arlene: Get over yourself. This is a forum where people give their opinions, not one for you to come on and shame them for doing just that. If someone doesn't like Griffin or her mother it is their right to come here and say so. What is this crap about a mother loving her child that you spewed? Who said Maggie didn't love Kathy? No one! All a few said was that they didn't like Griffin and thought her vile. I have to agree, she is! I don't watch her and don't give a damn about her aged mother. I don't see that either of them has any talent. Like I said, Arlene, get over yourself.

July 01 2010 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Say Arlene, everyone is entitled to THEIR opnion! Shame on you for not understanding that, dear. You too can go blow! Big time!

July 01 2010 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You may not like Kathy but her Mother loves her and children can do no wrong in the eyes of a Mother and success and money make it lovable. Ashamed of mean people for saying awful things about people they don't really know............Shame on you.....

July 01 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Griffin is quite simply, an unfunny skag who will eventually - and mercifully - disappear off the radar screen. And, that can't come soon enough for me! This ordinary boring woman makes a living at the expense of others and when she "roasts" someone, she isn't the least bit funny. Her empty and tiresome patter about how she was backstage at some awards show, blah, blah, blah, and met Paula Abdul or some other celebrity, and blah, blah, blah, and they looked weird or whatever, blah, blah, blah, is just that. Empty and oh so very tiresome. Griffin has this one act, and that's it. Her mother is simply a total snore! Now, if Betty White has something to say, let me know. Otherwise, the unfunny skag Griffin and her mother can go blow.

July 01 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not a fan of Kathy or her mom. Would Hyperion Publishers have approached Maggie if Kathy were not her daughter? No! Who wants to read about this elder woman's ordinary life? Not me! A great many good books go unpublished because of tripe like this; tripe a publisher knows they can make a quick buck on. Look for it to be on the "Remainder Table" in about a year or less. I don't care about Griffin (she's a jerk who gets laughs at the expense of others, in my opinion), or her dreary, unfunny mother. We now think it's okay to laugh at the failings of others via so-called "comedians" such as the foul-mouthed Griffin and her equally foul-mouthed counterpart, the vile Sarah Silverman. These woman are not funny. They are sad and pathetic, and give women - and comedy in general - a bad name.

July 01 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't like her, never have. She's not funny at all. She thinks she's funny but someone should clue her in.

July 01 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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