What do comedienne Kathy Griffin and Premier Dalton McGuinty have in common, besides their Irish roots? Within the space of 24 hours, I saw them both in person; so follow along with me.
I attended a sold out performance Sunday night by Griffin at the Sony Centre in Toronto. Over 2,000 people -- amongst them at least eight straight men -- laughed along with Kathy's keen observations and ability to draw back the curtain of Hollywood celebrities.
"Let's just say that Jon Hamm isn't acting when he plays Don Draper." I don't care what Christopher Hitchens says, women are funny. At least to other women, and isn't that what's important? And powerful? We survive childbirth -- we need something. As one of the most successful stand-up comedians (female or otherwise), Griffin continually boldly goes where few women do, and I admire that.
But despite her bold exterior, I felt for her when she related a story about applying to speak at Maria Shriver's annual Women's Conference, and was told not only did they not want her to speak, but that the event was sold out, so she shouldn't even bother attending. I signed books at this conference two years ago, and, amongst others, I saw Mario Lopez, Dr. Oz, and Arnold Schwarzenegger speak. I saw Kate Gosselin garner a huge line up of women waiting to speak to her. These people have an appropriate message to send to women and Kathy Griffin does not? Hmm. Granted, it may have had something to do with her past remarks that she and her friends had voted for Schwarzenegger as a joke, but surely now that would be an advantageous selling point to getting into that particular conference. (Except that she still hates Oprah.)
Griffin opened with telling the audience that she had played Windsor the night before, which got a predictable lame amount of applause from the crowd. "Oh, you're from Toronto so you can't applaud for Windsor? Because you're too fancy?" Exactly. She "gets" us.
Which brings me to Dalton. Speaking of fancy, less than 12 hours after I left that venue I was at another show of sorts at the prestigious Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto. Along with 500 other "Canadian Women in Leadership" I was invited to a luncheon hosted by the Ontario Liberal Party, featuring Premier Dalton McGuinty, hot in his bid for "four more years," as the table of women chanted behind me. Given the audience (and his polls), Dalton focused on women -- from thanking his wife for being the ultimate hockey mom to his three sons, to remarking that his Mom is his hero. (She had 10 children, so I support that). What I did find interesting about his speech is that he didn't a) mention his daughter and b) ended his speech by talking about how proud his brother was to have finally had a son... after having two daughters.
Full disclosure: I am not endorsing any political party, but I like Dalton McGuinty; I've met him on a couple of occasions and even on this one, when I stood up to chat and I immediately pushed my chair directly over and into him, he responded with "I knew you were opinionated Kathy, but wow, a chair?" He got a few extra points with me for being able to kid an uncoordinated kidder.
Despite the lunch ending with an awkward moment where a Liberal staffer wanted to interview our table on "why women like Dalton McGuinty so much," the Ontario Liberal party does have 42 of its 107 candidates checking of "f" instead of "m" in any poll. Seeing his female GTA candidates lined up on the stage was a powerful moment for many women in the crowd. And in case you think Dalton didn't bring any funny to his speech, he did: "Coming from a family of 12, I can honestly say I never slept alone until I was married."
While Kathy entered the stage running, jumping and doing her best swearing, and Dalton walked in slowly, shaking hands and swearing to do his best, they both displayed their advocacy for women, in their own unique way. Maybe we can get Dalton to champion a Women's Conference in Canada... and invite Kathy Griffin to be our first keynote speaker. Maria Shriver need not apply.