When you go see a comedian live -- be it at a club or a theater -- you expect immediacy. You want to feel like the routines are being created in the moment, and that you are somehow part of how it all shapes together. It's partly your laughter (or lack thereof) that fuels the comic on stage, making you more participant than spectator. But when you listen to a comedy album or watch a stand-up special on DVD, you expect a different experience. The act is no longer being formed in front of you; it's already created and recorded forever. It's there for you to return to time and again. It is, in its own way, timeless.
That's the problem with the direction that Kathy Griffin's career has taken. Her act is too timely to be timeless, and her plentiful stand-up specials and albums (sometimes two a year) wind up dated almost by the time they're even released. Such is the case with Griffin's new special, She'll Cut a Bitch, which premiered on Bravo in 2009 and arrives now on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory. It's filled with pop culture gossip and red carpet stories about people and events that have already been forgotten. In her live show, Griffin is as current as they get. In her albums and specials, her routines become thin and forgettable. She'll Cut a Bitch isn't going to age well, or even at all.
None of this is to say that Griffin isn't funny. She's quick on her feet and has become very good at what she does -- tell behind-the-scenes stories about Hollywood to an audience that eats up every catty detail. She's clearly found her niche in comedy and is more than willing to exploit it for everything it's worth, and it's made her one of the most successful comedians currently performing. But, in the process, she's sold her soul a little. In her first HBO stand-up special from 1998, Hot Cup of Talk, she came across as a hyperactive, genuinely enthusiastic fan of everyone from Jerry Seinfeld and Mariah Carey, and she was relatable because she spoke about them from an affectionate distance. Now, though, she's become a complete insider; it's why her fans love her (she's got greater access to other celebrities and isn't shy about dishing about them on stage), but it's hard to get too excited over her stories about spending the day with Cher or sitting with Tracy Morgan at an awards show (the fact that this bit gets laughs has more to do with what Morgan says than anything Griffin has to offer). It doesn't help that her stories aren't shaped in any real way; while they feel fresh and off-the-cuff, they aren't told for maximum comedic impact. It's just Griffin rambling until the stories eventually end rather than pay off.
The fact that Griffin's shows are so heavy on current pop culture and consist basically of stories is likely what allows for her to be so prolific; one doesn't get the impression that a great deal of preparation or workshopping went into She'll Cut a Bitch. While that's an impressive skill (to go out and an hour, for lack of a better phrase, off the top of your head), it's not really what I want from a comedy album or a special. I like to listen to albums over and over again, meaning I want the material contained on them to be timeless. Kathy Griffin seems to now be in the business of creating comedy that's disposable. It may be fun for a night, but it's forgotten the next day. She'll Cut a Bitch is like that.
- Release Date: January 12, 2010
- Running Time: 44 minutes
- 1.33:1 Full Frame
- Dolby 2.0 Stereo (English)
- Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Bonus Features
- Deleted Bits
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