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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Kathy Griffin: She'll Cut A Bitch
Kathy Griffin: She'll Cut A Bitch
Shout Factory // Unrated // January 12, 2010
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Rohit Rao | posted January 23, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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THE SHOW:

It's unfortunate but it's safe to say that we live in the age of the celebrity. More media coverage is devoted to the latest celebrity affairs / adoptions / pre-nups / post-nups than most valid news stories ever receive. By extension, gossip and rumors have more of an effect on public opinion than cold, hard facts. In short, the time is right for a comedienne like Kathy Griffin who is determined to conquer the system from within. She conveys her winking, knowing satire with a perky personality while immersing herself in the murky depths of celebrity culture.

This release captures Griffin's performance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon on March 4th, 2009. As the show starts, Griffin walks out on the stage to the adulation of a sold-out crowd. She is amongst fans and you can see it in her relaxed, jovial demeanor. She wastes no time in reminding the crowd of her 2 Emmy wins which proves to be the perfect lead-in for the 43 minutes of celebrity dirt that are about to follow. I hate to label Griffin's act as being 'gossipy' because it is so much more. She speaks from the viewpoint of an insider who is practically an outsider because she just isn't considered famous enough, as documented in her show My Life on the D-List (which was also the source of her 2 Emmys). She uses this viewpoint to position herself somewhere between the unwashed masses and the truly famous folks like Cher. I mention Cher only because she is the star of one of the longest segments of Griffin's act. Griffin articulates her budding friendship with Cher with childlike wonder borne of some serious hero worship. At the same time she undercuts any boost to her image by doing an impression of Cher that sounds like a cross between Matlock and a cockatiel. It's funny, strange and altogether endearing.

Another major target of Griffin's comedic focus happens to be her own mother. As she puts it, her mother, Maggie, moved out of Griffin's house because she found her too annoying. This gives Griffin ample ammunition as she lets loose on her mother's annoying habits. These include Maggie's love for boxed wine (which must be 'tipped'), her admiration for Judge Judy (who will 'cut a bitch') and her secret addiction to Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Although this segment was funny in its own way, it didn't seem to belong with the rest of the show. It almost seemed like Griffin was catering to the crowd who watched her TV show and wanted updates on Maggie. This is probably why I was a bit relieved to see her sharpen her focus on celebrity foibles in the last third of the show. She swiftly moves from run-ins with James Gandolfini and snarky producers to hanging out with Tracy Morgan at the Emmys. This bit is hilarious for the simple reason that she channels Morgan's skewed sense of humor perfectly, mining comedy from the myth of Oprah in the process. Incidentally, Oprah would also 'cut a bitch'.

Ultimately what worked for me the most was Griffin's conversational style. With scattershot celebrity-based humor, it would be too easy to turn the show into a series of quick underwritten punchlines. Instead Griffin chooses to organically grow her stories replete with tangents and quirky observations. Even though she pokes fun at the celebrities in her stories, she often does so at the expense of her own ego. For every bit of celebrity folly, she reveals two idiosyncrasies of her own. This allows her to celebrate the shallowness of the industry while simultaneously deflating it with her exaggerated devotion at the shrine of ephemeral fame. She tempers her self-obsession with enough awareness and in the process avoids the pitfalls of becoming annoyingly neurotic.

My only real complaints with this release are related to its length and editing. The main show is only 43 minutes long and since large chunks are devoted to Cher and Griffin's mother, it feels even shorter. Griffin's strongest asset, her conversational style, turns out to be the show's biggest weakness since it feels like the truncated length restricts her from covering too much ground. On top of this, portions of the show seem poorly edited. Bits end abruptly and other bits start up with little continuity. It doesn't hurt the entire show but it is a bit jarring. It's also worth noting that the show is presented in all of its uncensored glory.

THE DVD:

Video:
The fullscreen video is presented with a very clear and sharp picture. The incredibly blue stage consistently pops off the screen and although there are a few long shots of the stage and audience, the camera mostly stays focused on close-ups on Griffin. For some reason, the camera work during early segments of the show is shaky and unsteady. It didn't take away from my enjoyment of the show but it was quite noticeable.

Audio:
The audio was presented in a 2.0 Stereo mix which was more than adequate. Griffin's words came through with great clarity and were never drowned out by the excited audience.

Extras:
The only extras come in the form of 4 Deleted Scenes from the main act that total 12 minutes. They are as funny as anything that was featured in the main act and seem to have been edited out to keep the show an appropriate length for broadcast on cable TV. This may also explain why the show felt so choppy in places. Re-integrating them into the main act for this release would have made sense, bringing the whole piece up to a more respectable length of 55 minutes.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Kathy Griffin has set a real challenge for herself. She wants to expose the follies of celebrity culture even as she immerses herself in its murky depths. Fortunately she has a sense of self awareness that allows her to be enough of an outsider that any audience can identify with. It helps that she is also incredibly funny. The short length and choppy editing are a bit disappointing but this release still comes Recommended

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