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Idol Chatter

“I’m sick to death of Jesus. I feel that Jesus and Paris Hilton are both overexposed.” Loud and obnoxious statements like that should offend my Midwestern evangelical sensibilities just enough to make me want to rant about Kathy Griffin, the pseudo-celebrity and stand-up comedienne who these days expresses her snarky “militant atheist” views on her reality series “My Life on the D List.” But I can’t quite bring myself to do that. Even if I am not a big fan of every word that comes out of her mouth, I thoroughly enjoy her show, which recently returned for a second season on Tuesday nights. I’ve decided to give her a new title to add to her “D list” standing–my favorite celebrity atheist. (And we here at Idol Chatter think everyone should have a favorite atheist.)

Griffin has carved her comedy club career by riffing on the foibles of A-list celebrities, but her reality series is more about poking fun at the flaws in her own nature. While all reality shows may be edited to death in post-production for maximum dramatic impact, I still can’t help but admire the way Griffin–who executive-produces her show–allows some of her most vulnerable and unattractive moments to play out on the camera. When Jay Leno makes a cheap joke about her looks when she appears on “The Tonight Show,” she lets the cameras follow her offstage ,where we see her burst into tears. When she makes a crude joke at movie star Renee Zelleweger’s expense only to have Zelleweger shower Griffin with dozens of roses in response, Griffin turns the entire episode into a mea culpa to Zelleweger for taking the moral low road in her act–again.

But it is her generosity and loyality that I find most endearing. Her unflagging work for charity was around long before her show came to TV–instead of wedding gifts she aseked her guests to donate to charity instead, for example. No stunt for charity is too crazy, as viewers find out when Griffin ebays a weekend at her house to a complete stranger just to raise some money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. And even though she is vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq, Griffin goes on a stand-up tour into some of the most dangerous parts of Iraq to entertain the troops–places where other celebrities have never performed. She is also unabashedly emotional when she talks about how much she loves her (now former) husband, Matt, and her desire for them to stay reconciled after they filed for divorce last year. (So far, so good.)

To be perfectly honest, part of me wants to be a just a little more like Kathy Griffin. I could stand to learn to be a little more transparent about my emotions, a little more outspoken in the face of injustice, and a little more honest when I screw up. In return for what I have gained from watching Griffin, maybe next season she’d let me help her do a little work on re-thinking that whole existence of God thing.

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