"Can we talk?"
The late great Joan Alexandra Molinsky "Rivers" (June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014) was an American stand-up comedian and tv personality, who revolutionized the world of comedy as we know it, being recognized by many of her peers as a trailblazer for women in comedy.
She begin her career performing in strip clubs in between strip shows, as she was deemed too risky for television. Her big break came when Bill Cosby
recommended her as a last minute fill-in for The Tonight Show
with Johnny Carson. Her 10 minute routine killed, and she became a regular on the show and even the first "permanent guest-host" on the show.
Soon after this, Joan received a phone-call from FOX executives who wanted to give her her own late night show. "The Late Show with Joan Rivers" premiered in 1986, forever ruining her relationship with Carson, who felt Joan had betrayed him and never spoke to her again. The show didn't achieve the ratings the executives expected, and this, plus the antics of her husband, producer/manager Edgar Rosenberg, culminated in Joan being fired from the show in 1987.
Joan's career and life would suffer greatly from this, as she was banned from the Tonight Show (a ban which would last until 2014, when Jimmy Fallon
took over the show). Her husband Edgar would then take his life after both of them were fired by FOX, something Joan blamed on the humiliation he felt after being fired.
In 1989, Joan gave another shot at TV, this time in daytime, with "The Joan Rivers Show" which lasted until 1993 and even earned her a day-time Emmy. She would then be called by E! executives to cover the Golden Globes
awards with her daughter Melissa. Her dry-wit, interest in fashion and catch-phrase "Who're you wearing?" made red carpet covering a new form a journalism, and both it and red carpet fashion became industries which have lasted until this day.
In the following years, Joan would participate in a series of TV shows, such as Big Brother
, Celebrity Family Feud and Celebrity Apprentice
(In which she would win first place) She would also start her own show on QVC promoting her jewelry line and a reality TV show called "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" on WE TV.
In 2010, Joan returned to E! to host a fashion focused show by the name of "Fashion Police" in which she judges people by the clothes they wear at different award shows. The show would turn out to be a massive success and quickly went from a half an hour show to an hour, with several specials. She would also start a Youtube podcast called "In Bed with Joan" in which she would interview different celebrities in a bed from her house.
Sadly, Joan passed away in September 2014, after a throat surgery gone wrong would end with her on life support, which she was taken off of a few days later. Her funeral was reported to be filled with celebrities, a red carpet and laughter, as she had requested years before her death.
Joan's comedy style was brash, sometimes crude and highly satirical, which gained her many detractors during her 55 year long career. She was a highly polarizing figure, as her routines regularly included jokes about the Holocaust, 9/11, all ethnicities and many other controversial topics. Joan herself would never apologize for a joke, and she believed that life was too tough and laughter was needed to survive.
In spite of all the hardships and controversies in her life, Joan will always be remembered as one of the best female comedians in the world, a trailblazer and an Icon.
Some of her work includes:
- The Electric Company: She narrated The Adventures of Letterman.
- The Joan Rivers Show: A daytime talk show, for which she won a Daytime Emmy award.
- The Tonight Show: She was a frequent guest.
- The Late Show: The original host, before Arsenio Hall.
- The Hollywood Squares: She was the center square in the John Davidson version beginning in 1987 (the show's second season).
- Pee-Wee's Playhouse: She made a brief cameo in the Christmas Special on Pee-Wee's TV in the Hollywood Squares set.
- The Fashion Police: She co-hosted with her daughter Melissa Rivers. They also did various Emmy Award pre-shows, and even presented awards during the show on occasion.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: She made a cameo as Eileen, a department store saleslady whose attempt at making over co-worker Miss Piggy drives both of them to hysterics.
- Spaceballs: She was the voice of "Dot Matrix", the C-3PO parody character.
- Shrek 2: She basically voiced herself, giving commentary on the various fairy-tale characters attending the ball.
Tropes and trivia related to her career:
- Author Existence Failure: Her weekly podcast, reality and show at E! were running at the time of her death.
- The Beautiful Elite : A frequent target of her parodying and verbal comic attacks.
- Black Comedy: Her specialty, which usually got her in trouble, she had no qualms about making fun of Anne Frank or making Holocaust jokes.
- Blind Mistake: There was this one time when she got her Crest and Preparation H mixed up.
- Catch Phrase: She had MANY, such as "Who're you wearing?", "can we talk?", "Grow Up!" and "It is JUST!"
- Cluster F-Bomb: Not her original TV routines, but she became much much racy as the years went by.
- Crossesthe Line Twice: Read every other entry on this page.
- Double Standard: She called out the different expectations for women and men in the dating scene and calls out how Women in their 30s are already considered Old Maids and Christmas Cakes that need to get married right away to any guy on her first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
- Driven to Suicide : Rivers' husband, Edgar Rosenberg. She claimed it was due to their treatment by the Fox Network.
- The Fun in Funeral: Howard Stern allegedly said "Joan Rivers had a dry pussy" at her funeral, which after a minute of silence and a burst of laughter from Margaret Cho made everyone laugh.
- Frozen Face : Rivers had many plastic surgeries, and it was often the subject of her self-referential humor.
- Gallows Humor: She endured every hardship in life with laughter, making jokes about her looks and even her husband's suicide.
- Hidden Depths: While she was harsh in her comedy, she was known to be quite generous, she never let anyone pay a bill and worked directly with suicide prevention groups.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: "Why can't you be like your cousin Sheila?! Why can't you be like your cousin Sheila?!?" *Sheila had died at birth
- I Ate WHAT?: Her Filipino neighbors' turkey had a Frisbee in its mouth.
- Jewish Mother : To her daughter Melissa.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: The 4chan nude celeb photo hacks were occurring when Joan passed away; almost immediately after, a whole bunch of other celebs pics were leaked. Some joked that this was Joan's doing from beyond the grave.
- Reality Show : Several.
- Refuge in Audacity : There were no taboo topics. Joan always said the best way to get through difficult situations was to make people laugh. This earned her lots of criticism, and it only got worse after her death.
- Regardless, she had hundreds of outpourings of grief and tributes from others, particularly in the world of comedians.
- Self-Deprecation: She would often make fun of her looks, claiming her husband had killed himself after she took the bag off her head during sex once.