America Supports You: ‘D-Lister’ Shows Audience Laughter is Best Medicine
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2008 As summer ends, so goes the summer TV season, which means many favorite shows will go into hibernation for the winter.
Comedian Kathy Griffin, star of "My Life on the D List," talks with Army Cpl. Joseph McCauley on April 3, 2008. McCauley is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering from a traumatic brain injury he suffered March 23 while serving in Iraq. Griffin visited troops and their families in both the Fisher Houses and the hospital before performing a show for the troops in the evening. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Comedian Kathy Griffin, Bravo network’s somewhat saucier answer to Lucille Ball, has ensured the fourth season finale of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List,” affects its audience when it airs tomorrow night.
Don’t expect the funny lady to reel it in just because she’s visiting with servicemembers recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.
“I know our show isn’t exactly ‘Frontline,’ but we definitely tried to weed as much comedy into the situation as possible, because these men and women let me know very quickly that when you’re dealing with these kinds of injuries, you just gotta laugh,” Griffin said. “What I’m proud of with [this] show is that it shows how people use humor to cope with a traumatic situation.”
Griffin found laughs razzing a corporal about his questionable tattoo while touring the Fisher House Foundation’s two housing facilities where outpatients and their families stay while receiving treatment at Walter Reed. She found laughs while talking with troops during a visit to the hospital. Even George the therapy dog provided amusement when Griffin stopped by the hospital’s physical therapy room.
In fact, Griffin and Walter Reed’s residents and employees didn’t stop laughing from the moment she arrived until she walked off the stage after performing a stand-up routine in the evening.
The “little show,” as she described it, was well attended until Griffin started her more-than-PG routine and some members of the audience opted to call it a night.
“To me, that’s the sign of a good show,” Griffin said. “You always need a couple of [ticked-off] chaplains combined with some laughing soldiers and a couple ER nurses.”
Supporting servicemembers has long been a cause near and dear to Griffin, whose father, a World War II soldier, died last year. It wasn’t that military legacy, however, that led her to first performance for deployed troops.
“What really got me involved was when a friend of mine, Kerri Turner from the television series “JAG,” talked me into my first [United Service Organizations] trip to Afghanistan in 2002,” Griffin said. “She told me that the trip would change my life, and she was right. It did.”
Last year’s season of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” included her visit to Iraq to entertain troops. Her positive experience and the overwhelmingly positive response from the audience was a catalyst to feature the military again this season, she said.
“My goal this year with the Walter Reed episode is to have these men and women seen for the heroes they are and their families for the human beings they are,” Griffin said. “This experience shows us what happens to these brave men and women when they come home and deal with the injuries they have sustained while at war. I saw the bravery from the moment I walked into Fisher House to the rehab facility to the little show I put on that night.”
Griffin said she’s open to featuring the military in another episode, but isn’t sure that will happen.
“At this point, I have basically put the Army through hell. I believe they call my crew ‘the insurgency,’ but I won’t stop,” she said. “I visit with returning soldiers before each show I do on the road. I am so happy to be involved with performing for the armed forces [and] meeting them; whatever I can do.”
The season finale of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” which was filmed at Walter Reed in April, will premiere tomorrow on the Bravo network. Check local listings for times.
The Fisher House Foundation and USO are supporters of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.