Face to face with Joan Rivers

We should name Joan Rivers the official spokeswoman for FOF. Now, before you start to make faces and tell me I’m nuts, go to see  the documentary about her, “A Piece of Work.”  If you don’t walk out wanting to be Joan’s new best friend, I’d be dumbfounded. Simone, my 28-year-old daughter, texted me after we saw the movie, “I’m obsessed with Joan Rivers. I wish she was my grandma.”

I blogged about Joan a few weeks ago, after I read an article about her in New York Magazine, but I’m loving her even more now. At 75, she’s got the stamina, the energy and the drive of women half her age. She’ll tell her manager to book her in Minneapolis in the dead of winter if that’s what it takes to work. She’s a loyal friend, profoundly dedicated mother and a great boss.

One of the most revealing scenes in the movie takes place while she’s performing in mid America. When she tells a joke about Helen Keller, a man in the audience starts berating her. “I have a deaf son,” he shouts. Instead of being contrite, she shouts back at him, “This is what comedy is about, you —. It’s about making fun of everyone and everything…” She doesn’t let up. Her diatribe lasts at least three minutes. She’s determined to give her side.

Following the show, a reporter asks for her reaction to the man’s heckling, and she says, “I understand he’s hurt. He has a deaf child. Maybe this was a catharsis for him.”

You could tell that Joan Rivers felt bad for the man, just as she felt bad for a longtime manager she was forced to fire because he no longer pulled his weight. “He was the last person in my life who I could reminisce with about the old days,” she said, tears in her eyes.

I’ll reminisce with you, Joan. And I’ll never make fun of your excessive plastic surgery again. Your face has nothing to do with your heart, brains and soul. I think you’re beautiful.

2 Responses to “Face to face with Joan Rivers”

  1. Heather Chapple says:

    You don’t always have to agree but you have to admire! Can’t wait to see the film.

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  2. Toby Wollin says:

    Do you remember the scene in “Scent of a Woman” where the boy discovers that Al Pacino’s character is going to try to kill himself? He’s blind; he’s pissed off at life and himself. He feels useless – as I recall he uses the phrase, “I can’t chew the leather any more”. Joan Rivers is not a stupid or silly person – obsessed, perhaps. But not stupid – she’s a graduate of Barnard College. At this point in her life, she knows what her choices ARE: work, even if you turn yourself into a cartoon of yourself, or become an elderly person, with all of that entails — to ‘stop being able to chew the leather’ – to lose your place at the fireside. To be disposable.
    As long as she chews the scenery and people pay her to do it, then she gets a place at the fireside – it’s as simple as that. She’s going to wrestle life to the ground every day until she can’t any more. There are a lot of people who despise her, are uncomfortable with her, can’t even look at her. But they can’t take away from her the fact that she is determined to keep her place at the fireside of life.

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