When E! announced Kathy Griffin as Joan Rivers' successor on Fashion Police last month, loyal fans of the show — centered around the legendary comic and her irreverent take-no-prisoners wit — collectively lamented: How can she replace Joan?!
The truth: She can't.
But why not give her a chance?
After all, Kathy may be the closest to Joan in terms of fearlessness and having a genuine fascination with celebrity culture that can't be faked. Joan constantly refreshed and modernized her jokes to target of-the-minute celeb fixtures like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande.
As Chris Rock recently told New York Magazine: "Great person, underrated comedian. Who the hell's funnier than Joan Rivers? ... The compliment you give of a comedian is: Who wants to follow them onstage? Nobody wanted to follow Joan Rivers, ever. Even in her 80s, nobody wanted to follow her."
The similarities between the two ladies are endless. Like Joan, Kathy is a tough act to follow — that's why she plays to sold-out crowds as a solo headliner. Kathy is a voracious consumer of popular culture who tweaks her routine to reference the 24/7 entertainment news cycle. Kathy, similar to Joan, is a tireless workaholic with an admirably brazen willingness to say yes to well-paid gigs at which other stars might balk — and stay relevant in the process.
And most of all, like her predecessor, Kathy is under-appreciated partly because she doesn't pretend to be part of the A-List. She's a self-deprecating observer of human foible taking aim at the stars of the world while making no bones about wanting to be a star herself.
Like Joan, she asks: Can't a hard-working, truth-telling, unapologetically funny woman in this town get a little respect?
They do have one big difference — Joan had impeccable taste in fashion while Kathy, to be honest, lacks the fur-loving icon's old-school elegance — a quality that lent Joan's criticisms an air of credibility. But their similarities are enough that Fashion Police producer and Joan's daughter Melissa Rivers hand-picked Kathy to replace her beloved mother and best friend as host on the frequently raunchy red-carpet non-guilty pleasure. Melissa's stamp of approval means everything. She knew Joan like nobody else so she certainly knows the kind of person who Joan would want to carry her trail-blazing torch.
"Melissa gave me the blessing, which was a deal-breaker for me — or the deal-maker," Kathy told People Magazine. "That was what made me go, 'If Melissa says it's okay, then it's okay.'"
"(It's) so exciting to be joining Fashion Police," she said. "Of course, it's in the honor of my dear, dear friend Joan Rivers, and to take that chair means so much. I think I can hear her from heaven saying 'Don't hold back!'"
A new era of Fashion Police begins 9 p.m. eastern on January 12, with Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne both returning as well as new panelist — celeb stylist Brad Goreski.
Let's give Kathy a chance, shall we?