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Kathy Griffin - Comedy. Feminism. And the First Amendment [Explicit] | Upfront Summit 2019

Kathy Griffin
Publicist at BWR
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Upfront Summit 2019
January 31, 2019, Malibu, USA
Upfront Summit 2019
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Kathy Griffin - Comedy. Feminism. And the First Amendment [Explicit] | Upfront Summit 2019
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About speaker

Kathy Griffin
Publicist at BWR

Kathleen Mary Griffin is an American comedian and actress. She has starred in several comedy specials for cable TV and has released several comedy albums. In 2007 and 2008, Griffin won Primetime Emmy Awards for her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. She has also appeared on TV and on film numerous times, mainly in supporting roles.Born in Oak Park, Illinois, she moved to Los Angeles in 1978, where she studied drama at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and became a member of the improvisational comedy troupe The Groundlings. In the 1990s, Griffin began performing as a stand-up comedian and also appeared as a guest star on several television shows. She achieved wider recognition after her role as a supporting character in the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan (1996–2000).Her Bravo reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (2005–2010) became a ratings hit for the network and earned her two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Reality Program. Griffin has released six comedy albums, all of which received Grammy Award nominations. Her first album, For Your Consideration (2008), made her the first female comedian to debut at the top of the Billboard Top Comedy Albums chart. In 2009, she released her autobiography, Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin.

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About the talk

Topic: Business

Comedian Kathy Griffin discusses her journey in the two years since her controversial photo, the media, threats to the First Amendment, and her experiences as a businesswoman and woman in comedy. [NSFW: strong language]

00:03 First amendment

01:00 What happened to Kathy Griffin

05:43 What happened when the picture went live

08:09 The intimidation campaign

11:50 Violating the first amendment

15:50 FBI visit

21:00 Going on tour and changing the business model

25:03 Letter from a board member of CBS

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I'm here to talk to you about the comedy feminism in the First Amendment cuz I got fucked by this Administration and I'm going to walk you through it. First of all, I'm going to read you the first amendment. And by the way, I have it on a t-shirt, which I sell a Kathy Griffin. Com. Of my own fucking money, like nobody had received money. I was like, you're so money. See if you can make t-shirts. All right, so I'm going to reserve the First Amendment verbatim. Most people don't quite understand it and I'm going to tell you my little story and I'm going to Warren and hope that it doesn't

happen to you. All right. So here we got the First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. That's right. It's still around. While it's still around. I give it a week. I got the First Amendment a week. All right. So look what happened to me on May 30th 2017 change my life a revocable a so don't act like you don't know the crazy red-haired lady

from the photo, right? So yes, by the way, I am now. Paltrow sell t-shirts. I fucking tell teachers in Cairo motherfukers. Yes. I will people don't get this shit. I sell mugs that say Fuck Trump. Sorry about the straw. I'm going to fucking destroy it and it's ruining environment. Fuck me. And you don't have to trade market and it's not a violation of the First Amendment. Okay. So anyway, what happened to me was I took a photo that many of you may know of and I just took it at my house with this photographer who won't give me the fucking copyright. By the way. It is name is Tyler

Shields. The fuck him. Alright, but he's starting to make a lot of money on the phone. So don't that day. I'm going to talk about ageism in sex isn't all that shit. So I'm 58 years old. Look at this body. Are you kidding me? Yes objectify me if you have to. All right, so fucking joke. All right. So so anyway, I took a picture and as many of you know, it went Global very quickly and stuff. But what I didn't know at the time was that there was already like an apparatus in place to take me down. So I've learned a lot in the last year-and-a-half and the reason I'm on a

new mission is because I really do believe it could happen to me if it happened to you. So I'll tell you what happened. I was taking photos because I've been can buy Bravo where I work for 10 years and prior to that. I work for NBC universo. Oh, by the way, I know Trump he's a fucking psycho like believe everything you read and he's so stupid. He's like Britney Spears stupid. He has a silly stupid aside. I can't talk about that knocked out all night. I've got a big bag of fans here. I'm kidding. I'm hoping that's not the case. He's mentally unstable. All right, anyway, so I

knew him and the idea that he would Target me was ironic because I took a photo of a Halloween mask with just ketchup on it and I was taking wacky photos that day because you know, I'm I would say that over my career and I about small business owner and it's the business the Kathy Griffin. My money doesn't make money and I don't make money unless I boots-on-the-ground telling my dick jokes town to town or having a television show and I've had three shows with my title and that with my name of the title. And now I'm currently blacklisted by all of Television. So

that's a real thing. So one of the reasons is because people are still scared of me and they think I'm risking it all this other ship. So when that picture went live on the interweb on a piece of shit blog called TMZ them. All right. So yeah, you heard me Guilty pleasure, whatever so get this shit. I'm going to tell you a bunch of stuff. You're supposed to know. So Harvey Levin who's add a man. Is this big? Maggot? Like he's not just a Republican and he's like a hardcore Trump. And so what happened was I don't know what happened, but I'm pretty sure

Don Jr. Just called him and said to hit piece I Kathy Griffin. So I took the photo and then the photographer send it to TMZ of all places and I was Vindicated months later cuz Harvey Levin did an interview with The Daily Beast and he said that he talks to President Trump multiple times a week and considers himself to be Donald Trump's personal publicist. Taking them suckers. Think about that. Did you want President Obama calling Perez Hilton for policy advice? That's crazy. So that's where we are. So they started the intimidation campaign. And the reason I wanted to talk to you guys today

is because what happened to me whether you like me or my photo or my comedy or any of it, it truly was historic and unprecedented in the worst kind of way. So I met with many a scene First Amendment attorneys. I've done all the research I can and never in the history of this great country has a sitting United States president use the full power of the Oval Office the first family the right-wing media all of it and the Department of Justice to try to take down an American citizen which lets a female comedian and their job wasn't just to take me down professionally

done Junior actually went on GMA and texted to Stephanopoulos a we don't just want to decimate Kathy Griffin's career. We want to decimate her life. So they It's where we are and a lot of people think I had it coming or whatever, but I wanted to walk you through sort of the seriousness of it because it just went farther with me than anyone else who allegedly made threats against the president. So what happened was the picture went live and went on TMC at way. I brought you some of the titles you're going to shed. Hold on. You're so the picture goes live. And by the way, I was so naive

like I just took a picture of my house and people are saying like where was your team? And your people I got my. One man band. It was like a bro with couple helpers. We should wacky pictures before that. They never saw the light of day. And yeah, I wanted to take a photo that would shame the Donald he wants to be called the Donald. Imagine what he's meeting with Kim Jong-un what you think's Kim jong-un's to say call me that one. He's a fucking psycho. All right. Anyway, so when you have a coming directly from the Oval Office TMZ's title was Kathy Griffin beheads President Trump.

Now I'm going to be funny if I can see your faces cuz it's in La people in La think seat TMZ is a newspaper. So I'm just an industry where there's a lot of people there. Like if you heard the news Kathy Griffin's turned Isis and she's letting people now. I have not joined Isis. I worked at the gift shop for like a week and Hellboy all right. Should I just think I'm getting $150,000 for this piece? All right. Breitbart News Kathy Griffin beheading Hollywood feminist a list cashews in on global suffering of people of color

culturally appropriating the Islamic State beheading. All right, I remember Andrew Breitbart may you not rest in peace, but that guy so that was like a psycho website that now like the fucking president reads and thinks it's real soap dish it gets perpetuated. Now in a way that I just wouldn't have 10 years ago. Then it showed up on real news. Like I found many local broadcast like ABC local write the letter people. Most people most Americans don't even have basic cable right without this fucking room normal Americans weren't flying to Mars. Just have a television anyway,

so it would show up as a local news. I think about it like not you guys but like you're older relatives and shit that they watch their Channel 7 News every night and they take it as the news. So now it's that Kathy Griffin has joined Isis and that's very plausible. They are recruiting a lot of 50 year old female comedians. Yeah, and they have about as many comedy clubs as the one on Mars where I'm going to go right after that real lunch anyway, so then the intimidation campaign started and when you think it's crazy that is the president of the United

States would tweet at a comedian for you know, taking a photo that I grieved him. I mean that was it by the way it was inspired by number was famously said two piece of shit Megyn Kelly there is blood coming out of her eyes blood coming out of her wherever and you know, Nazi leaning side. I still felt like them during the mass would be sort of like a spin on that. Like, let's see how you like When there's blood coming out of his wherever all right, that's as deep as I went to get this shit later on Hillary Clinton puts in her audiobook. She goes I couldn't believe the fuss. They made over

Kathy Griffin's photo. Obviously. She was doing a send up a Perseus and Medusa. Ron I don't know who that is, but if you guys ever hear me say that on a talk show just back me up cuz I can sound like super smart if I go on PBS or nothing that was Charlie Rose me to meet 3. All right, so I know, I know everyone is coming down the pike. Give me a call. I have a list. All right, so all right. So anyway, I just wanted to tell you like the one of the reasons that I've sort of been Vindicated

and the things I learned it took a long time to learn like even though I knew Harvey Levin was talking to President Trump. It sounded so crazy that when I would say to people they would say okay that you're crazy. And so it was good to get that interview like at like an idiot but it was good. So also there was the intimidation Campaign which in my industry actually had an effect and TMZ was reporting as a symbol of a 50 City Tour and about 25 cities in and TMZ Willow Street. Reporting my tour cancellations in real time. So obviously they knew almost before I knew

which was weird. So I every single paying gig that I had for the rest of my life went away is 12 hours and as many of you know, CNN decided to Make Me Brave used Kathy Griffin joins, Isis and we'll be doing New Year's Eve anymore. Yeah, cuz you know me, I'm actually the CFO of Isis. I really have risen through the ranks doing the jungle gym in the bar is over Draka. I really put my time in. All right, so because I'm not an Isis. Okay, you're like my mother look at me right now. My mother called me that day and she goes right. I was watching Sean Hannity. Did you join El Cantina? Thanks

Mom. Anyway, so another thing is all these like his pieces started coming out against me, but in the kind of media the people in my industry read right, so what's great is I don't know if you're following up with all the rest of stuff. But David pecker the CEO of a media. He fucking slept he slipped and he's talking to my mother. So, you know, they're going to find emails were the Donald it's like reaching out to David pecker personally going to do some with Kathy Griffin. He says she has lupus I'm going to get him. So if you guys don't know this am I there no most you for the

Inquirer the globe. So it's easier to write them off like a pictures of The Enquirer, but they did this make acquisition later and they ended up like these are the ones that would sort of effect like the people that might hire me like a showrunner approves or some like that. They also like there's a piece about me and US Weekly that said I have Lupus so that can make me unemployable as well as uninsurable In Touch magazine Life & Style okay to inquire so I know these are like, silly. Ratings for foofy crowd like this but people believe that shit and people that come to see me on tour. Maybe

they believe that shit right soap to lose everything in 12 hours and not have violated. The first amendment is what I want to talk to you about because what happened what what happened was a lot of people thought that I'd violated the First Amendment. So let me tell you how I did and how he did it because people would go online and there was a bot farms in all that shit and they couldn't delineate between the First Amendment rights and yelling and yelling fire in a theater, which is wrong. So what I did was I held up in defense of photo and that did not violate the first amendment in

anyway, I mean there are photos similar on the cover of Der Spiegel or all that other stuff. So I hope you guys know I did not violate the first amendment in any way now if you yell fire in a theater the reason it is against the First Amendment against the law is that you are doing a call to action for people to do something immediately where people will NFL Inevitably be physically hurts. So what I did even though it was the right one. Just trying to say I was inciting violence and to this day every Trump rally. There's like a manipulated photo of me and Kathy Griffin equals Isis

equals CNN. First of all, I worked at CNN one fucking 90-year. Okay, that was at my job I tore. But anyway, so yelling fire in a theater calls for Action. Now if I had gone to the White House with 20 people and I had machetes and I had a key to the White House and I said, all right everybody in 5 minutes for going to go in and chop off the president's head. Even that's actually cover. Don't tell you why because I'm a professional comedian. So it's actually covered under the umbrella now questioning me I would say that would be fine. I also not suggesting that anyone go anywhere with a

machete even even Mars. All right, so that there's a difference. So are you guys getting it? I didn't yell fire in a theater. I didn't break the law. So a big part of the media intimidation campaign was convincing regular mirror. I thought I had broken the law lock her up. Right? So what happened though was for me to be able to for me to lose my business and not have one single paid day of work in front of me for the rest of my life, which is where I am now. Think about that think about if you didn't have one single day of paid work ahead of you for the rest of your life because the

president tweeted against you and then the first lady Melanie that fucking piece of shit member I really don't care do you so then the very next day and this is the part that a lot of people don't know. I also want to let you know. I'm the only person who was targeted in this way. So there was some dudes who allegedly made threats to the president like Johnny Depp got like drunk somewhere and a dumpster whatever and he allegedly made a mile away Johnny. All right, so he allegedly made a threat and nothing happened in 4 days later. He's taking if I can pick

her up picture with his Make-a-Wish kid because he's got the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise like protecting him, right and the singer Morrissey allegedly made a threat and nothing happened to him Snoop Dogg allegedly made a threat and Snoop right? So I was the only one I don't think anyone think Snoop Dogg is going to really kill any President. Right? So the very next day. I got a call from one of my many attorneys. They all love me. All the kids are going to college because of his mcgathy. All right. So what am I turn is called and said I got a call from the doj

and two federal agencies are opening an open-ended investigation against you so just take that in a lot of people think I just got like a call or I should have got a little media Smackdown know it's still going on. The FBI actually came to my house as recently as October 29th. And what I've learned by the way is now that I am just consumed with death threats physical and otherwise is I'm not against the government after all the shit. I actually love the FBI. So it's all that can currently I was being investigated by the US attorney's office and the Secret Service and I was

also being protected by the FBI and by the way, If they call your lawyer, it's like a little threat if they get ahold of you personally, like we need to talk to Miss Griffin. It's kind of serious. So on the 29th, they fucking came over unannounced two of them and I was in my PJs and they have no sense of humor. But every time the FBI comes over to tell me about a new threat. I don't like this. So I'm in The Cutting Edge in my PJs and they read me the thing called a duty to warn. It's a letter they have to read you and your under what's

called a credible threat. So I said all right boys. What is it this time? And they had already called me previously to let me know that I was on the Maga bomber list that guy Cesar sayok by the way driver on Miami in that van for 2 years. Nobody for Miami pulled that shit over. All right anyway, so they said you are you aware of the Maga bomber and I go yeah, you guys just called me tell me what's on the list and they said well, we're here today because he shared the list would like minded people and I said, okay how many like-minded people and they said when we can tell you it's an active

investigation. So I said was it a specific threat. Like I've I've had some threats were they going to come to your Orlando showing shooting in the continent at your head off that's their deaths are assassination of choice and I freaked out or numb what's happening. This is like being on Mars, right? So then keep in mind that I'm under a to Federal investigations and at this point, I'm just shaking. So this is the day after the photo. So I'm going back to the the day it happened. So I been got a real first

amendment Attorney At first I had Lisa Bloom and she was horrible. I'm just saying I'm exercising My First Amendment right right. Now she saw all right, so I got a real one and I got the guy that won the landmark Supreme Court case Jerry Falwell vs. Hustler magazine, like the real guy in the people vs. Larry. What is trouble you want that fucking guy? You want someone who won a Supreme Court case for a poor guy? All right, so Anyway, he had to negotiate with the US attorney's office because I seen him when he first told me that I was under investigation. It was open-ended.

I said, I don't even know if this means I've never been arrested what happens and he said all open-ended beans open-ended they can do you know, they can keep it up as long as you want. I said, what are they investing before and he said they're considering charging you with wait for it conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States. Which holds a lifetime sentence? And the reason the US attorney's office was on Deck was if the Secret Service found anything the US attorney's office would be ready to prosecute.

So I'm here to say I don't want that to ever happen to you. Okay, you may not like that fucking picture. That's fine. But if you or if you have a 13 year old kid and they put that picture up online. You shouldn't have to spend $500,000 in legal bills and you shouldn't be under a federal investigation which is historic. Even the great Lenny Bruce. It was local PD. Even the great Jane Fonda local PD. I'm the first and that's why I want to tell you about it because it's real I was put on the no-fly list for 2 months. Like a terrorist I travel for a

living. And going into the interrogation under oath took two months to negotiate and a lot of money and I'll tell you why. Do you know if they wanted the doj would call my first amendment attorney every single day for 2 months. Is she coming in? You should come in today. You should come in. Did you get her to come in? 2 months so obviously it was covered under the First Amendment because obviously it was imminent threat right? And I said to my attorney what what do they mean come in? And he said let there just

fuck you with you and I said, well, I know that but what exactly do they mean by coming in have I broken the law and he said no and I said have I violated the First Amendment anyway, and he said no and I said well then what do they want besides they're scaring me jealous and I'm getting death threats beyond anything you could ever imagine and he said they want video of you going to the precinct in Downtown LA in a jumpsuit with cops. a purple lock No, I'm what you call a prudent woman. I don't like to say cheap and I never thought I would say this inexpensive attorney.

But I said Alan I don't care how much it cost. I don't care if I have to lose my fucking house never in a million years and I going to let another woman a gay person a person of color see me do a fucking perp walk because I pissed off as president and didn't do anything wrong. I fought tooth-and-nail. They should have had two and you shouldn't have to a purple lock the fuck is that All right. I want to make you laugh too. Cuz I feel like the best way to communicate is by like making you laugh. So I was able to go on tour. Cuz one

thing even the president can't stop people from doing thank God is buying tickets. So this process turn me and taught me a lot like all of my regular Representatives got too scared all the old white boys club it, why do dinosaurs the ones who won't hire me now? I just want you to know in my career. I've made over 75 million dollars for these guys, but he's Corporation. Yeah, I kept a lot of it too. So women keep your money demand to be paid with the guys are paid. But yeah, I got like a little shity job offer now and again like oh poor Kathy Griffin. She's on the way

down. I'm doing the speech at Oxford next week motherfukers. I'm not on the way down. I have a new career. I have built and change my business model in a different way and like Paltrow was talking about I started to mailing list a text Alyssa. I know that sounds probably arcade to you guys, but that's what sold out my tour. I still. Carnegie Hall in less than 12 hours. and then and then don't feel like I didn't know what to do with me. So then I had the Live Nation boys call me up and you know, they were mad at me because I said I think I

can play bigger venues. So I started what's called for wallowing in promoting my own shows. So I actually played Radio City Music Hall the night before Carnegie just as a fuck you which no comedian has ever done. I also have two Emmys. I have a Grammy for best comedy album. I'm one of only three women in the history of the Grammys to win for best comedy album. I have had Irene the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most televised stand-up comedy specials of any comedian living or dead male or female and yet and yet I just did a special that I funded

myself that nobody will touch so I thought when this stuff happens to you get ready to start rethinking the way you live your life. So I hired a marketing firm from DC Cambridge analytica. Perhaps you've heard of it. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. And that's how I found like I had to find my new start a new fan base, right? So I started running shows myself and I made three times more money when I promoted the shows myself then working with a promoter. I know how to either how to hire the ushers at concession the electricians and so for South by

Southwest. The lead okay, so I couldn't tell a special right but I knew I was onto something cuz I did end up doing 25 countries and I played the Sydney Opera house and I'm selling really well, but still no being television will even talk to me or take a meeting ready that shit. So I remembered when I was young you would go see comedy in theaters. So I thought what if I could take the special and make it a concert tour film and it's premiering at South by Southwest next month. I'm a film Odo. And yes, my little merch store. You can

laugh at it. Sometimes I make $1,000 in a day sometimes 19000 but I sell mugs that say Fuck Trump and Robert De Niro bought one and that's all I care about and and so I'm always thinking of new ways to do business. I would really like to do paid speaking engagements cuz I wanted to tell younger people disenfranchised people anyway my story and why it shouldn't happen to them when I was off the no fly list. I was put on the Interpol list. So every country I played I was detained. I want to tell you something. There's a lot of myths going around that they can't take your device to your

sim card. They can they did it to me and they can they can do it at LAX. So I was detained, you know in Singapore at a show that night at 8 and I'm in the detention room. Just I don't know what the fuck is on my passport to the day. I filed three fully has which I think they're slow walking but they can do that. They can put something on your passport. I don't know what the fuck mine says. The guy says clean. All right. So anyway, another thing that she want to tell you. I mean, this is what I'll leave you with and hopefully it'll make you laugh and blow your mind. But the real one of the

reasons that this whole situation and peas my ability even in the future to like I said just even make a living in television, which is how I became the Kathy Griffin businesses and this letter came to me a couple days after the photo and it was from one of the board members of CBS. Which is better run by your favorite person Les moonves. Fuck him. All right, really good Les moonves apologist. Fuk fuk you Leslie Spencer piece of shit. All right, anyway, so this is for a board member from CVS. So if you think

Blacklist are real, here's the proof this board member was obviously a really big drum fan, but I just got to redo the letter and I hope you laugh. All right Kathy. It's obvious that somehow you have to get to Trump himself who has been known to be compassionate. Love you guys. However, it's not over till it's over chance left if you send the following letter and then and in caps not an email to the president caps don't change the word of it. And then he writes go to Google for how to address the president and where to send it. Yeah, this is a board member CVS. Okay.

All right, you will exclusively release the letter to Fox broadcasting Fox News. You will not send it to the other networks. I think this letter will get you over the mess. This is a letter that he wrote for me and I'm sure you would all support me and want me to send it right away, dear. Mr. President remedies are his words, please I beg you not to stop reading. What he reads? You're not the bad guy. Okay, trust me. He's not reading. I have done a terrible thing know I did it. All right, I did something offencive. All right,

I was attempting to appeal to my audience not thinking of the effect on you and your family. Okay, if I can access Hollywood tape, please not thinking how misguided I was what I did was beyond oblivious to humanity you guys. Okay. I didn't mean to her Humanity with a picture. I am now being lectured by friends was the part of you. I don't have any friends who supported him. I'm going to be honest if I can cut him off how warped and misguided I was my stupidity is overwhelming. That's what I'm going to say. The president wears dumbass. I don't think so. But you know state capitals, right? All

right. Anyway, I do not deserve what I'm asking. If you I am begging you to open your heart and forgive me. I have done a terrible thing and I've lost my career and my life. I'm alive fucking white knuckling it. But I'mma live my career is over and I lost the respect of my audience. I spent my entire life to get wherever it wasn't stand-up always Alyssa forever toys in the gravity motherfuker. That's right. I am your forgiveness is to allow me to live my life. I like the pun with my head held high. I would have been like an emoji like a wing

but then I would have been probably rusted. All right, knowing that I'm a good person and forever repenting for the hurt. I have caused. Thank you, sir for hearing. Methley. The reason I say that is because he typed m e h for instead of my plea and I can't read it to you without saying thank you for hearing metzli that he right for me. Respectfully Kathy Griffin and this board member CVS finishes by writing Cathy. I have spent the last hour and a half to posing this letter. Please don't call me to discuss it just do it. If you don't

do exactly what I have written your career is over conversely. I think this letter will get the world to forgive you even if he doesn't respond. Know your rights read up on them. When you travel outside the country contact people who can help you to get in trouble. You can get in trouble for saying the littlest thing. The first amendment is under attack truly and the way to change it, but I'm so glad chairmanship is after me is by-elections. Not just the presidential not every four years every year. There's election know the down-ballot know the superintendent. Those are

people that may affect your life even more than the highest offices. So, that's how we make real change. Thank you.

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