Kathy Griffin is already making plans for her visit to Boston next weekend, when she will perform two shows at the Wilbur Theatre on March 12. The 55-year-old comedian, a native of Oak Park, Ill., who now calls Los Angeles home, said that Mexico is her favorite vacation destination, but she dreams of going to Richard Branson’s Necker Island. We caught up with Griffin, a frequent traveler (in large part due to her nearly nonstop touring schedule), when she was in Cozumel, Mexico, preparing to perform her stand-up comedy routine on a Carnival cruise ship, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation spot? Mexico. And I’m not just saying that to irritate Donald Trump. Don’t get me wrong, when I have my two shows at The Wilbur in Boston, I won’t be holding back on “The Donald” – or anyone else who deserves my attention. First of all, there is not going to be a wall. Get over it. I go to Mexico once or twice a year and have been since the ’90s. I have rented numerous homes there over the years and I’m getting more John Huston in my old age. That’s right, I am finding even more remote locations in Mexico to get away from it all. I typically get a group of friends together and we end up spending the entire week enjoying delicious food, delicious conversation, daily swims in the ocean, and a phone-free environment. I carefully choose a fun and smart group on these trips and I’m not above putting them to work. That’s right, I can’t tell you how often we have been sitting around the dinner table looking at the sunset in May and I randomly say, “Hey, let’s start coming up with some stuff for New Year’s Eve with Anderson Cooper on CNN.” Feliz Año Nuevo!
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Homemade and authentic. For example, if I am in Mexico, I just don’t want fettuccine Alfredo. Or a cheeseburger. My mouth is just watering thinking about authentic tortilla soup, chicken mole, finished off with a homemade tres leches pastel (three-milk cake). By the way, if I could have a sit down with the president of Mexico, I may want to pitch a four- or five-milk cake. That’s how good it is. Now this could spark some real controversy, but when I am in Boston — whether it be for work or vacation — I have to hit Pizzeria Regina as well as Mike’s Pastry. I know there are longstanding rivalries, so please don’t ask for a ticket refund if I didn’t choose your favorite pizzeria or whoopie pie destination of choice. For God’s sake, just love me for the ground-breaking, two-time Emmy-winning, Grammy-winning, legendary comedian that I am, dammit.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’d like to travel to number one on the bestseller list, as I am currently writing my second book, due out Dec. 27. I want to go to that Richard Branson-owned celebrity magnet in the Caribbean called Necker Island. I know it burned down once, but that doesn’t deter me — I think he rebuilt it in a week or something. I love tropical destinations, even though I am such a fair-skinned, freckly Irish girl. I would have to be slathered in sunblock, and I hear the cost is $100,000 a night or something. I would go if these two conditions could be met: (1) Branson would not charge me a penny, and for this I would happily be the complimentary house comedian, and (2) Branson would have to apply the sunblock to my partially naked body. I think that’s what I call a fair deal.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Another human. I did go to Turks and Caicos by myself years ago after I got divorced, just to see if I could do it. Well, I did. I highly suggest traveling with at least one other human being. My current human of choice is my boyfriend of five years. He comes with all the “can’t leave home” bells and whistles you can imagine. He has an excellent sense of direction, he is my tour manager (so I can vouch for his capabilities in at least 40 states and 10 countries), and, if I play my cards right . . .
Aisle or window? Window. I’m too famous to sit on the aisle for God’s sake! Don’t you know who I am? Which is typically what I start saying with an elevated tone as I start boarding any plane. The aisle seat next to me is always reserved for my 40-pound therapy dog, lovingly named “Krazy Kanye.” Let me tell you, even though my dog isn’t typically a “therapy dog,” no flight attendant is going to ask anything named Kanye to kindly give up their seat and exit the plane. I’m always thinking. I cannot stop being a genius.
Favorite childhood travel memory? I have two words for you: Saugatuck, Mich. Or, as my 95-year-old boxed-wine-loving mother, Maggie, calls it, “Good ol’ Saugy.” My mom and dad used to rent a little screened-in cabin up there once a year and we (four older siblings and I) would drive up and hang out, go fishing, run around with my cousins if they joined us, and have a very typical American middle-class family experience. Oh, am I leaving out the part where most of the adults were drunk the entire time? Well, if you’re gonna split hairs. . . . Look, what did I know? Saugatuck is a small artists’ community to this day, and it was a great place to share experiences with the family that I treasure to this day. I think we even watched the freaking moon landing together on a TV with rabbit ears. How can you not love all things associated with Saugatuck, Mich.? No disrespect to Grand Rapids, which was the “big city,” if you were in Saugatuck. Grand Rapids had a news channel and everything.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Eating inappropriate foods at inappropriate times. As I am in the middle of an 80-city tour, I never know what time zone I will be in, what hotel has 24-hour room service, or what local spot I have looked up on Yelp will be open. Most performers will tell you they don’t like to eat three hours prior to a show. When I am in Boston, I will be doing a double. That means I have to eat, sleep, and live kinda like an athlete. What makes the pleasure guilty is that I do something the surgeon general probably frowns upon — I love having a big, indulgent meal after my shows. I wish I could tell you I was one of these performers who finished off the evening with a 4-ounce kale drink and went right to sleep. Unfortunately, I work out every show day and eat consciously and conservatively prior to the performances, but after the standing ovation at the end of my show (and trust me, Boston, there will be two), I’m going to want a gooey tuna melt with fries or pizza or poutine and waffles from Saus.
Best travel tip? Take it all in. The best thing about this current 80-city tour is taking in all of the differences, similarities, nuances, and characteristics that make each city unique. It drives me crazy when people come to Los Angeles and don’t even stop in Los Angeles because they just want to go to Disneyland, and yet they think they have visited Los Angeles. You can do both, people. As a comic, I like to make each show different. The people who have been buying tickets to see me live year after year know this. I love to start every show with local material. I mean, if you just take time to get off your phone to look around, you never know what hilarious billboard, unique mom-and-pop shop you might see. . . . Keep your eyes open, don’t judge, and be ready to laugh. Oh, what a coincidence: It turns out my best travel tip and your instructions for being an audience member at a Kathy Griffin concert are exactly the same.