“I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.” ~Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers was a controversial comedian, to be sure. People either liked her or hated her. There appeard to be no middle ground. One of the things I’ve admired about her career is that she didn’t care what people thought of her professionally. She stuck to her shtick and blazed forward.
Certainly, she would harshly critique others, especially those who walked the red carpet, and there were many people who found that offensive. I would ask you to be honest and think about all of the times you have put a person down for having what we consider too much plastic surgery? It happens.
Rivers was never politically correct, and no one was immune to her comments, many of which were said tongue in cheek. She once said about Tom Cruise, “He’s been in the closet so long, I’m going to take him to Goodwill.” Funny. Did he take offense? Not that I can find anywhere.
The one celebrity who completely wrote her off was Johnny Carson. She first appeared on the Tonight Show in 1965. She hadn’t been a comedian for all that long and it was such a rarity for a female comedian to be on television, let alone the biggest of them all. Quite an accomplishment!
She and Carson had a most unfortunate conflict when Rivers accepted an offer to star in her own show. As the permanent Tonight Show guest host, Carson never forgave her and the two never talked again. In a recent TV show, she visited his grave and much to her surprise, had a very emotional experience, telling her fans that she really missed him. It was genuine.
Her show was canceled after the first year, which was devastating to her. Shortly afterward, her husband committed suicide. To top that all off, no one in showbiz wanted anything to do with her. She thought her career was finished and she lost her best friend to suicide and she decided to follow in his footsteps.
Rivers said she was sitting on her couch, gun in hand, when her dog jumped on her lap and she thought, “If I kill myself, who will look after him?” She had a moment of clarity which saved her life.
Now what? Her career had tanked and there was no going back, so she decided to reinvent herself. That’s when she started to become a shock comic. She filled a niche that definitely had a huge audience. She also wrote very popular books and started her “Fashion Police” show. She also starred in her reality series as well.
Was she vulgar? Yes. Was she crass? Yes. Was she funny? Millions thought so. Was she a brilliant business woman? Without question and she proved it by winning on “Celebrity Apprentice”.
Joan Rivers was a pioneer in our business, breaking through enormous barriers and paved the way for so many female comedians. There are still many male comedians who think that a woman cannot be as funny as a man. I hear it all of the time. Then my wife takes the stage and kills those comments immediately. Heather Mabbott is very funny.
One of my closest friends, Keith Stubbs, opened for her in March of 2013 and found her to be loving, caring and a wonderful person. She certainly didn’t have to be. Click here to see his interview following her death yesterday. It is a great segment describing who she was off stage.
I think my brother, Jim, put it in perspective. He was not a fan, but he was sad to see her go. I think he gets it.
Joan Rivers was 81 years old and was working as hard as ever on her career, with no intention of ever retiring. I’m happy she left us while still living her dream.
Farewell, Joan. You are already missed. Tonight, Heather and I will take the stage and get some laughs in your honor.
See you tomorrow.
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