The world could not afford to have lost two talented, funny people like we just did in recent weeks. Fanatical religious factions, power hungry world leaders and a seemingly uncontrollable breakout of Ebola just seem to have made the world a much sadder and frightening place.
Just a few weeks ago we lost the genius of Robin Williams and now Joan Rivers, leaving us in a much darker place with less to smile about. Like Williams, Joan Rivers was brilliantly fast with the comeback. She was an equal opportunity offender who targeted herself just as much as she did the rest of the world. Insensitive at times? Shocking? Offensive? Rivers would reply, “Oh, grow up!”
A pioneer in the world of stand up. She made it acceptable for women not to do just kind soft cookie humor. She once called Nancy Reagan’s hair bulletproof saying “if they ever combed it, they’d find Jimmy Hoffa.”
No one was sacred enough to be off limits to her acidic humor. World leaders, movie stars, the famous and the infamous were all targets. Her catch phrase, “Can we talk…” was an opening volley for a barrage of caustic wit that would sometimes leave you with your mouth hanging open.
She was 81 years old but you would find it hard to believe watching her perform. I saw her live at Ruth Eckerd Hall about two or three years ago and she roamed the stage like a cobra pacing back and forth. Some folks walked out, others laughed hysterically.
The truth about Joan Rivers is she said what we all think but do not have the guts to say. Fat jokes, ugly jokes, plastic surgery jokes, jokes about people wearing ugly clothes and jokes about herself. Desperate to get a man, she once received an obscene phone call and told the caller to “hold on a minute, let me get a cigarette.” Was she cruel? If the truth can be cruel, then maybe she was sometimes cruel. But like many of the best stand-up artists, what she really did was kept us honest and down to earth.
Rivers was the author of more than five books including her latest Diary of a Diva which she was currently traveling around the country promoting. A must see is the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
Click on the link below for a nice tribute to Rivers from The New York Times.