Monday, September 8, 2014


I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 28 years old, practically wedged under the seat in front of me in the auditorium, my head between my legs, my hands covering my blazing hot face, my legs squeezed tightly together to contain my bladder. I glanced up at my poor husband, who could only respond with a look that said, "Help!" "Do you douche? Do you DOUCHE?? DO. YOU. DOUCHE??!!!" bellowed the small but imposing lady striding across the stage, pointing to random women in the front row, causing them to convulse and bury their own faces. I might have died that day...if one could actually die from laughter. I was at a Joan Rivers performance.

"I was dating a football player. He was so dumb. The man could not count to 21 unless he was naked." Joan Rivers

Ms. Rivers passed away on September 4, 2014.  Her death has brought about some interesting reactions on the internet. People feel three ways about her. A. They loved her and make no apologies for it. B. They mourn the loss of a whip-smart comedian who forged the path for women in the business, but can't, in good conscience, speak well of someone whose humor was so mean-spirited. C. They have no patience for her. Her comedy was vicious, and her comments about Gaza proved her soul to be vicious as well.  Well, all I can say is Oh grow up! I loved her bawdy, brassy, gossipy, self.
  • "My breasts are so low, now I can have a mammogram and a pedicure at the same time." Joan Rivers
Joan entered the male-dominated world of comedy when women were relegated to the self-deprecating humor of Totie Fields and Phyllis Diller. And fat jokes. Oh, the fat jokes. Men told them about their wives, and women told them about  themselves and their mothers in law. Phyllis Diller: "My mother in law is so fat they shove her through the Holland Tunnel once a month to clean it." Totie Fields, talking about taking a gondola ride in Venice, Italy. "I caused the first tidal wave in Italian history." Joan did that too. She made fun of her lack of sex appeal, her flat chest, her unmarried status. But, she did it with a twist. With us barely noticing, she moved from "I'm so flat-chested. On my honeymoon, I stood in front of Edgar without any clothes, and he asked me if I needed help with the buttons" to "But, let's face it. Men love big bosoms! They aren't interested in brains. They don't reach up a woman's skirt looking for a library card!" Boom! With that subtle slight of hand, the joke was on men, and we women were in on it.
  • "A man can sleep around, no questions asked. But if a woman makes 19 or 20 mistakes, she's a tramp." Joan Rivers
Of course, Joan was rebuked at every turn. When she told jokes about Liz Taylor's weight, she was "cruel." When John Belushi, on Saturday Night Live, donned a wig and dress and portrayed Liz gorging on fried chicken so quickly she choked on a bone, he was "hilarious." Joan told Oprah she needed to lose weight in 1985, and the world was scandalized. Debra Wilson, of  MadTV, once donned a fat suit to portray Oprah, and the audience roared. When Joel McHale or David Letterman made fat jokes about Governor Chris Christie, it was all in good fun.  When Joan called Adele fat, it was a hate crime.

So funny! 

Oh, the humanity!
I'm not defending insult comedy in general or fat jokes specifically. In fact, we have, fortunately, progressed to the more introspective, social comedy of the Louis CK's and Sarah Silvermans. (Wait...what???)
Also? Sarah Silverman? You are banned from this blog for life. Signed: The Invisible DIVA.
  • "A man will cut your arm off and throw it in a river, but he'll leave you as a human being intact. He won't fuck with who you are. Women are non-violent, but they willshit inside of your heart." Louis CK
"People who call themselves are not a diva. I'm pretty sure you are a cunt." Sarah Silverman 
"Sarah Silverman! Language, please!"
Speaking of banned, Joan, who was the only reason to watch The Tonight Show in the 1980's, did something awful to beloved host Johnny Carson. She accepted an offer for her own late-night gig at the fledgling Fox network. So cruel was this attempt at career advancement, so evil was her desire to make it to the top like the big boys, that Johnny never spoke to her again. He banned her from Tonight Show appearances, a legacy carried on by both Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien for over two decades. (FINALLY, Jimmy Fallon broke the covenant and had Joan on not just once, but twice in the short time since he's taken over as host.) When Joan refused to allow Fox to fire her husband as producer of her new show, they fired them both. Shortly after, Edgar committed suicide, leaving Joan a widow with a young daughter. Johnny never called to offer his condolences despite the fact that he had been friends with Joan and Edgar for years. His blackballing of the comic held such sway that she was unable to find work. Now, THAT, my friends, is what I call  mean.

"Booooo! And your jokes during the 80's sucked, Johnny!"
In recent years, Joan had become more famous for her gig on Fashion Police than for her decades of stand-up work. Of course, her jokes there were at the expense of  celebrities. That means we were not supposed to laugh because it's not nice to make fun of people. (Allegedly.)  Instead, we were to take to Twitter to mock Joan's plastic surgery. Of course, she beat us to it, as she always did.

"I've had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware." Joan Rivers

Unfortunately, Joan's recent troubles involved comments she made to the vulture paparazzi of TMZ with regards to the conflict in Gaza. "They started it, they deserve to die."  When told how many Palestinians had died, she replied, "Tell that to the people of Hiroshima."  She called Hamas terrorists, elected by people with low IQs. "They were told to get out. If you don't get out, you deserve to die!" Nothing funny there. But, I'm not quite sure exactly what TMZ expected an 81-year-old, out-spoken, passionate supporter of Israel to say as they chased her around with their video cameras, poking at her with questions designed to inflame. Then again, I guess they knew exactly what she'd say. And she did. Naturally, people must react how they will.. 

"We are against what you said! Um...what did you say, again?"
So, as we say goodbye to one of the greatest comic minds of our time, I'll leave you with a song about another great dame. This is the song that Hugh Jackman performed at Joan's memorial service this past weekend. Enjoy.And do not forget to douche!

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