How I Got The Tour Manager Job: Revealed

How Tom Vise met Kathy Griffin.

The first time I met Kathy my good friend "Tall John" had brought me to her. Tall John and I started working together at a restaurant called T.G.I. Friday's in San Francisco about 15 years ago. He ended his career there within a normal amount of time and I kept going. John had quickly worked his way up the ranks here in L.A. and made it as a writer. That's when he met Kathy -- through mutual friends -- and that's how I got to meet Kathy is through Tall John.


I believe it was during either a Halloween Party or a Birthday Party about four or five years ago. This was actually my first Hollywood party; it was Kathy's house and everybody was there including all kinds of celebrities. John had brought me over there, but I can hardly remember it because I had a little to drink that night.  That was the first time I met Kathy and though it was brief she seemed really nice. It seems strange but the first time I ever had a conversation with Kathy was just this last year and I feel like I got to know her pretty well.


So you might ask, what qualifies me to be Kathy's tour manager? Not much. It's kind of on-the-job training being a tour manager for Kathy. I was in bands for a while and the level of touring we did is nothing close to this, but at least I knew how to make due on the road. Kathy and I stay in much nicer hotels than the places that my band and I would stay so it's been a very easy transition because of that. Throw in all the other stuff I'm learning and actually it's been great.


I love maps so at least I kind of know exactly where I am in the country. It's my biggest strength as tour manager and that's sort of a basic thing for a tour manager to know. Yeah I can judge the times for where we're going to be and all that but my biggest weakness is remembering the exact times where we have to be! I know exactly where we should be on the map but not remembering the times exactly for where I should be is definitely my biggest weakness.

For Kathy, I can at least brighten the mood because on the road, sometimes with Kathy, it gets intense. It's one city after the other, after the other and, ya know, a hectic schedule... Everyday it's airports and planes and this and that but, because I was in a band before, I know that you must have a good sense of humor; and since Kathy already has that too, I think she needs somebody to, ya know, bounce things back and forth instead of being a taskmaster -- something I am probably not! So basically I kind of lighten the mood and make it enjoyable for her.

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Demolition Day

Executive Producer Danny Salles explains how he and his fellow producers reacted to Kathy's unplanned renovation.

Since the second episode aired, many of my friends have asked me, “Was that real when Kathy tore her house apart without having a plan? It’s just so hard to believe. Did you make it up for the show?” I know. It’s hard to imagine someone tearing out her floors and kitchen cabinets without having a rock solid plan – but that’s exactly what happened. 

One of my most vivid memories from producing the show was arriving at Kathy’s house the morning after she told us that she had decided to move on from working with designer, Kenny.  It was 9 a.m., and I was finishing up my coffee as I walked up Kathy’s long driveway. I started hearing noise coming from the house as I approached. The booming sound grew louder and louder. I entered the front door to find eight workers with sledgehammers and crowbars cracking the floors and counters. Dust was everywhere. The producer in me panicked – We’ve got to start shooting this now! And the homeowner inside me was screaming, "WTF!" There’s no plan. Needless to say I got cameras up and rolling in minutes. 

My next call was to Lisa, my fellow executive producer. My voice was faltering.  “Eh, Lisa….It seems that Kathy has started demolition.” “When will they get started?” she asked. “Oh, no.  It’s already started. The fireplace in the kitchen is gone.” “Are you…?” “Yes, we’re rolling cameras.” In reality TV, you’ve got to be ready to move on a dime, because, well, that’s the reality part.

I found Kathy in her bedroom happily planning out her day, blithely ignoring the boom, boom, boom of destruction in the kitchen. She was acting like nothing was happening. But she must have seen the shocked expression on my face because she added, “Oh yeah, that.” “Yes, that.” She started laughing. “I told you I move fast.” She explained that since she only had enough money to rent another house for a certain timeframe, she figured she would just get rid of what she wanted gone and plan it out as she went. In the meantime, her friend and decorating enthusiast, Lara Spencer (also known to many as the host of The Insider) would help her out with the creative ideas and with finding workers. Between Lara and Team Griffin, Kathy was confident it would go well. 

Having had work done to my own house, I was privately predicting disaster. Who's ever heard of a renovation going well under the best of circumstances? As a reality producer, I know that disasters often make for great episodes, so figured this could lead to some good comedy. You might think I had a moral dilemma. Nah. The comedy comes first. 

Leave it to Kathy to be the first person in history to have a successful remodel. Lara came though and Kathy’s crazy “improv-a-renovation” actually worked. Her house is gorgeous!  I may not have gotten the home disaster episode I dreamed of, but Kathy got gay man’s Palm Springs bachelor pad she dreamed of. And that’s what counts.

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