Joan Rivers: Yes, Let’s Talk

“Oh, grow up.” I guess I’ll have to now that the world just got a lot less funny and a lot less honest with the too soon, yes, too soon death of Joan Rivers. At 81, Joan Rivers had to be the hardest working woman in show business and still the funniest woman on the planet. How someone with so much vitality can no longer be with us seems unfathomable to me.


If you only know Joan from her ground-breaking, hilarious work on the Red Carpet or from winning “Celebrity Apprentice,” or possibly from her hysterical “Fashion Police,” you are missing out on so much. First and foremost Joan was a stand-up comic…an absolutely, positively, great stand-up comic. Watch her early appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” or “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and you’ll see how terrific she was. Joan’s initial work was all self-deprecating and boy, did she ever zing herself. While I laughed listening to her tell how she couldn’t get anyone to wait on her at the Bloomingdale’s makeup counter, that story later filled me with anxiety the first time I entered the NYC store. Remembering her routine, I was fearful that I, too, would not be able to get someone to wait on me.

Talk about reinventing oneself and growing—that was Joan. She was never, ever stale. She kept up with current events and changed as the times changed. Yes, she was raunchy and biting, but most of all she was still funny. She never took her success for granted because she knew from sad experience how easily it could disappear. For her, no gig was too small. Watch the wonderful documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. She loved to entertain, tell jokes and hear the applause and laughter. Her biggest fear was not getting that gig…of having an empty calendar…of losing a booking to Kathy Griffin or Sarah Silverman.

Those who read my blog know that I have dabbled in stand-up. It never would have even occurred to me to think about this without Joan Rivers. Every female comic owes a debt of gratitude to her for paving the way to make it possible to  earn a living telling jokes, and if the jokes are raunchy…who cares…as long as you are smartly funny. She was my idol…my hero. One of my biggest thrills was seeing her perform a few years ago at the Strathmore’s Music Center, outside DC. It was a packed house and she did not disappoint. She exceeded my expectations. Brilliantly uproarious, sharp and physical…at 77! It was an absolutely astounding, amazing performance.

At times like this, it’s customary to say, “Rest in peace.” If there is a heaven, I can’t believe Joan is resting. I’m sure she’s competing with Robin Williams for laughs as we speak.




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4 Responses to “Joan Rivers: Yes, Let’s Talk”

  1. missfit101 Says:

    Joan, what a lovely tribute! You perfectly expressed everything I’ve been feeling in my heart since hearing the sad news. Joan was my idol, too, and a soulmate though she never knew it. I’m so sad that I was never able to meet her, but her biting wit will live on and always be the first thing I think of when it comes to fashion.


  2. Gerard Clarke Says:

    Great appreciation Joan – the likes of her will never be seen again – a true original and absolutely brilliant. First Elaine Stritch and now Joan – two of my favorites gone…very sad but their legacies will live on…


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