Joan Rivers 1933-2014
The last word she spoke onscreen was ‘vagina’, in Fashion Police, having just torn apart Amber Rose and her ultra revealing Laura Dewitt chainmail dress.
“Amber looks so much like a chain link border fence that 5000 Guatemalan children tried to sneak across her vagina,” said the woman who sashayed across the world of entertainment for laugh-out-loud decades, leaving unfillable Manolo-Blahnik-designed comedy footsteps as she went – dainty in front with a dagger thrust following.
She was honest and she was fearless and a comic cannot be much better than that.
Child of Russian immigrants, she grew up in Brooklyn, got an English Literature degree, co-wrote and directed a Hollywood movie in the 70′s, wrote more than a dozen best sellers, won an Emmy and got nominated for a Grammy. Once comedy found her, she worked harder at the art and the craft of it than any of today’s Week Mockers have the brain or the heart to imagine. In a time when there REALLY were hardly any women in comedy, she tore a way in. The fact that more women were not brave or tough or talented enough to follow was not her fault.
She took comedy across lines no one had gone near. We have no one remotely like her now and we probably never will. Women don’t have to be as brave and strong and brilliant as Joan now because – they don’t have to be. Time and again when she reached the top she would be knocked down – by the television networks, by her husband’s suicide, by bankruptcy. She always got up again… back through crappy dinner theatre gigs, through tiny clubs, through QVC and reality TV. Back to where she belonged.
Usually hard lives make for hard people, but all I know of Joan Rivers is that she was a wonderful, generous person who helped so many new comics and performers, who was lovely to her fans, who gathered people up and made their lives lovely for the time they were with her. She was the ultimate professional but also a warm and genuine human being. The world is the less for her leaving it.
And for those who cling to their petty, twenty-first-century, First World outrage at comments about the Holocaust, the genocide in Gaza or, heaven forefend, Adele’s weight – get a fucking life. She was a comedian. She was Queen Bitch. She said the unsayable. Professionally, that is what she was for. And you loved it.
I wish I believed in god. I wish I believed in heaven. But I don’t. However, I know that, scientifically, energy cannot disappear. It can only become something else. So the next time you see lightning strike, or the Aurora Borealis, or read that Adele has come down with gastroenteritis … that’ll be Joan.