This month the Bravo Network features a comedy special starring Kathy Griffin. If you're not familar with Griffin, she is a sometimes actress who has appeared on "Seinfeld", played the part of Brooke Shields' best friend on "Suddenly Susan", and now appears on celebrity reality shows. Griffin's current stand-up act is just long stories about her experience with celebrities and she rips on them like Joan Rivers during her prime.
Why you might ask am I discussing Ms. Griffin? Well during her current special, she has a hilarious segment on Clay Aiken. If you are a newer reader at this site, in the past I have discussed Mr. Aiken and have been bombarded with comments by angry Claymates from the Claynation. My problem with Aiken, besides I think he's a minor talent at best is how he constantly talks and sings about romantic feelings for women, even though it would seem to be a big fat front. Now I know in our politically correct climate, we all have to have to put out our disclaimer so here is mine:
Scott Long is for gay marriage, gays in the military, and even gays getting the chance to be professional figure skaters.
Having said this, when someone puts on a facade like Aiken does towards women, this is when I feel I have the right to comment on it. In her routine, Griffin goes way farther than anything I've said in discussing him. She refers to how much she loves Clay, partially because he is the gayest man on the planet. Her nickname of Clay Aiken is "the Gaiken".
Now, I find it interesting that Kathy Griffin has a large gay fanbase, even though she uses language, which if just read in a transcript, would seem extemely homophobic. Are her gay fans self-hating? No. They know that she has no vendatta against the gay community and even more importantly, Kathy Griffin makes them laugh. I've been doing comedy for 13 years now and let me tell you there is a real tightrope that has to be maneuvered to escape the PC police. Having done numerous appearances on radio, I know the landmines are even larger, as there is a small group of listeners ready to jump at any thing that offends their sensitive ears.
This zero-tolerance world claimed another victim today, as 3 people were canned at San Francisco's KNBR radio station because of "inappropriate comedy sound bytes". This all stems from an incident where the station's talk show host, Larry Krueger offered up that the Giants have too many "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly." Yes, the words make me feel a little queasy, but I think the original punishment of a suspension was fair. Considering Krueger apologized, I think canning him was too harsh. Sure Giants' manager Felipe Alou had a right to be upset and to voice his opinions, but we have to be careful when one statement can wreck a person's career.
Through deregulation, there are few radio stations in the country which are not owned by large corporations. The same goes for our newspapers and television stations, which have severely limited the opportunity for edgy commentary. While I'm not a fan of the phrase "brain-dead Carribeans", knowing that a sentence like this can give a person a potential life-sentence is scary. Considering Krueger had done thousands of hours over the airwaves, a little more rope should have been given.
We can all be a little more sensitive, but I also think we could use just as big a dose of perspective in the way we deal with things. From the Kathy Griffin's comedy special, I learned that Clay Aiken has some perspective, as he didn't behave like a Diva and refuse to deal with Griffin, despite her past cutting material being focused on him. Because of this example, I'm off the bash Clay bandwagon, as I respect his thick-skin. Hopefully we can all learn from Clay. So Felipe, next time someone says something offensive, realize your power and have some perspective. Maybe even turn the other cheek. And just remember. WWJAD. (What would Jesus Alou do?)