Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Comedy Hero: Joan Rivers

I wrote this for The List magazine (Issue 669) 21st October 2010

My Comedy Hero: Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers is like the Rolling Stones: You might not like what she’s turned into but her early work will blow your mind.

She was the first female comic I really connected with. I was never into that gentle whimsical Joyce Grenfell crap, Joan Rivers made me laugh LOUD and HARD.

“A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp.”

There were no female Stand-Ups before Joan Rivers: she was the original, the rest were comedy actresses. Think about it: this little Jewish girl entered into a totally male dominated business with no roadmap. She was a trailblazer.

“I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.”

I’ve read her autobiography* countless times. Her career went up, her career went down, but she never gave in, she kept on working. Again, take a minute to think about that: Joan River’s is 77 and she’s still writing jokes, still working. My Grandparents are also in their 70‘s - they spend most days just trying to find their glasses.

“I blame my mother for my poor sex life. All she told me was 'the man goes on top and the woman underneath.' For three years my husband and I slept in bunk beds.”

Rivers should be spoken about in the same way as Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce. If Rivers was a man she’d be MUCH MORE RESPECTED - she’d wouldn’t be any funnier - but she’d be more respected. That speaks volumes about Gender in Western Society.

“It's so long since I've had sex I've forgotten who gets tied up first.”

And finally, if you want to do the joke about her looking like something from “World of Leather” - don’t bother. She beat you to it:

“I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I'd look like without plastic surgery.”

*Joan Rivers autobiography 'Enter Talking'

1 comment:

Lyle said...

I thoroughly agree! I love Joan Rivers; she has always called a spade a facking spade.

This essay reminded me of a little piece on Phyllis Diller that I read recently in The New Yorker magazine. Diller's not Rivers, but they're broads cut from similar cloth. I adore them both! Here is a link to the Diller piece: