Thursday, June 24, 2010

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Joan Rivers a Fearless Survivor

Say what you will about Joan Rivers, she is one remarkable, brave and brutally honest woman.
I am not a Rivers basher. I got to see the human side of her 25 years ago, when by a fluke I ended up spending a day with her in a limo ride to Miami and back to speak to a group of students.
“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” goes great lengths to humanize a comedian who has become a caricature of herself.
This documentary by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg was filmed over the course of a year, as Rivers was turning 75 (she turned 76 June 8).
Interspersed with contemporary footage are vintage clips from early in her career, before Rivers embarked on all the plastic surgery that would turn her into a smooth-faced, puffy-lipped freak.
Rivers apologizes for nothing; not the face-lifts, the Botox, the filthy mouth, her extravagant lifestyle or her neediness. Joan Rivers is a performance junkie of the first order. Without her bully pulpit of concerts and comedy clubs she would die, quite literally, like her husband Edgar Rosenberg, who committed suicide in 1987- three months after the Fox late night talk show produced by Rosenberg and starring Rivers was cancelled.
It has been said that great comedy comes of pain, and Rivers certainly has had her share of pain. One of her most painful losses was the abandonment of her one-time champion, Johnny Carson, when she launched her own talk show in a competing time slot.
Pity not Joan Rivers. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have such brazen female comics as Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman.
“She is the master of sticking in there,” acknowledges Kathy Griffin. No one survives funnier than Joan Rivers.

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