From 2005 to 2010, comedian and actress Kathy Griffin gave TV viewers an inside look at Hollywood on her wildly popular reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. While fellow celebrities—including Kanye West, Rosie O’Donnell, and Bette Midler—made cameos on the two-time Emmy Award–winning program, it was the appearances by the star’s unintentionally hilarious parents, John and Maggie Griffin, that gave the show its personal charm. Although John passed away in 2009, Maggie remains Kathy’s chief comedic muse, often appearing at awards shows and events with her now A-list daughter. Fresh from the premiere of her new namesake talk show on Bravo, Kathy teamed up with mom to dish on all things food and fame.
Gourmet Live: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve shared together?
Maggie Griffin: There are so darn many. It’s not really a specific moment, but seeing Kathy come from the ground up and get off the D-list—although I never really thought she was a D-lister. Best of all, I enjoy the fact that she really loves what she’s doing.
Kathy Griffin: We have so many, because we are buddies and she’s still a confidante. Even at 51, I still turn to her for advice. One thing I’ve done ever since I got my first apartment is whenever I go out with friends or to an event, I stop by my mom’s apartment afterward. It’ll be 1 in the morning and I’ll be in a ball gown and I can’t resist going to do the postmortem with her. She keeps very late hours like I do, so I’ll knock on the door and she’ll have a glass of wine and we’ll talk and laugh until 3 in the morning.
MG: I love that, because I tell Kathy I’m living vicariously through her. It makes my life very exciting. I just love to hear what goes on.
KG: And my mom has the required old-people candy, which are peppermint patties and peanut butter cups. I don’t know if you at Gourmet Live have ever heard of such fine dining, but we can make a whole meal out of that candy.
GL: Maggie, what’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your daughter?
MG: Kathy and a few other celebrities were asked that same question in an interview not too long ago, and all of the other celebrities were saying wonderful things, and I was thinking, Oh gee, I wonder what Kathy’s going to say about me! And then Kathy said her mother taught her how to drink wine from a box. First of all, she doesn’t even drink. So that right there was a falsehood. But it would’ve been nice if she’d said, “My mom taught me how to sew, or how to be a wonderful person, or how to be smart…”
KG: We keep it real in the Griffin family. I also like that my mom has taught me how to still use words like falsehood.
GL: How do you usually celebrate Mother’s Day?
KG: My mother’s favorite thing to do is to eat a meal outside, because living in sunny Southern California after being raised in Chicago, you certainly come to appreciate the nice weather. To this day, my mother likes to, and I quote, “dine alfresco,” so even if it’s a chilly day in the low 50s and foggy, my mom will still make me sit outside. It doesn’t matter if the umbrellas are flying into the ocean. We’re dining alfresco if it’s the last thing she does.
GL: Who’s the better cook between the two of you?
KG: Wow. That’s a horse race. Mom makes Hamburger Helper and I cry when I don’t boil water properly. I was raised on Hamburger Helper and McDonald’s, and Mom, I’d like to hear you defy that.
MG: Now wait a minute, Kathy. There were other things besides McDonald’s. Every once in a while I’d go a little further than that.
KG: If you guys start a magazine called Gourmet Ordering, then I’d like to be on your cover. I order takeout like a pro.
GL: If either of you was to cook, what would you make?
KG: Mom, tell her how you take pride in your recipes, such as tuna on celery sticks, peanut butter on celery sticks, and then, of course, your favorite, ham and spinach rollups.
MG: What’s wrong with any of those?
GL: What would you say is your signature dish, Maggie?
MG: My husband always thought I made pretty good spaghetti for a non-Italian. I make it with meat sauce or meatballs.