Joan Rivers is Still Alive.

by Harry on July 1, 2010

I’m sure I first heard Joan Rivers the same way I did Bob Newhart and Woody Allen, on Frank Muir Goes Into… but she never entered my consciousness really till I moved to LA in the mid-80s and started seeing her on daytime TV. I found her captivating — the only thing on TV worth watching a lot of the time. Rude, self-deprecating, very funny, and very clever. So when Swift and I wandered past a theater showing her new movie last night we decided, whimsically, to go in after dinner.

I’d recommend it to just about anybody over 21. It certainly deserves to be seen by a wider audience than the scattering of old Jewish women and two middle-aged Englishmen who saw it in our theater. At first, Rivers simply appears to be a grotesque — right from the opening shot, through the introduction to her diminished life, whining about her lack of success and how it sucks being old. But slowly, gradually, the film humanizes her, never refraining from showing the warts. It is also very funny (not least because she is very funny).

Googling her afterwards I found this delightful profile from which comes this plausible, but odd, story:

As we wait for it to start, she tells me a story about Prince Charles, with whom she has been friends for several years. (“Not inner circle,” she says. “Outer-inner circle.”) HRH sends her a Christmas gift every year, which, more than once, has been two very fancy teacups. “One year,” she says, “I took a picture under my Christmas tree with the teacups and wrote, ‘How could you send me two teacups when I’m alone?’ Another time I wrote, ‘I’m enjoying tea with my best friend!’ and I sent a picture of me in a cemetery. And he never acknowledges it! He never says to me when I see him”—doing his accent perfectly—“ ‘Ohhhh, funny funny funny!’ So this year I thought, I’m just going to write him a nice thank-you note. And the other day our mutual friend calls and says, ‘Just spoke to Charles! He said, “I can’t wait to see Joan’s note this year!” ’ ”



frankdawg 07.01.10 at 1:52 pm

I used to love her act but recently she has fallen into the old comics disease. Jerry Lewis has it bad too. “I am sooo important & sooo ground-breaking, nobody gives me credit for being a genius.”

It made me sick to hear her do that on “Fresh Air” while she tossed in a healthy dose of “everyone hates me after all I have done for them”.


Tim 07.01.10 at 2:57 pm

I felt just the opposite. Before her appearance on Fresh Air I didn’t have time for her, but listened to the interview and found her much more appealing than I would have thought. I’ll be renting it on Netflix when it’s available.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.01.10 at 2:59 pm

I think we all felt the same way when Yeats went on the Jack Benny show to read “Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?” Benny made the best of an awkward situation of course.


Theophylact 07.01.10 at 4:03 pm

And W.S. Merwin was just named US Poet Laureate (aet. 82).


BenSix 07.01.10 at 4:57 pm

…till I moved to LA in the mid-80s and started seeing her on daytime TV.

Was that Can We Talk? I’ve seen some clips of that with Peter Cook as her backup. It was like watching a cherished friend in a doomed relationship…

But I’ll try an’ catch the film!


bert 07.01.10 at 5:54 pm

She gave that sulking arse Darcus Howe both barrels on a radio show on BBC not so long ago.
The transcript is worth a read.


bert 07.01.10 at 5:57 pm

Wouldn’t you know, there’s audio:


Hidari 07.01.10 at 6:09 pm

‘Andrea shall we talk about plant photography? ‘

From now on that phrase will be my main way of distracting an audience’s attention from two people beating the crap out of each other.


laura 07.01.10 at 6:38 pm

That movie has been getting fabulous reviews.


kid bitzer 07.01.10 at 6:56 pm

wow–charles never replies to my christmas cards, either. suddenly i feel better.

(anyhow, joan, you’re never alone when you have your christmas tree. and that spare cup? just think of it as the tea-cup of elijah, and you’ll be fine.)


bob mcmanus 07.01.10 at 7:06 pm

Outrageously great plastic surgery. She looks terrific.


dilbert dogbert 07.01.10 at 11:52 pm

I guess she has improved since I saw her at the Hungry I in SF in the 60s. I wasn’t impressed then.


Irrelephant 07.02.10 at 12:49 am

Death jokes, I suspect, are funny throughout the universe. Except among the immortals, who– No, they find them funny as well.


Tim Worstall 07.02.10 at 8:08 am

“Joan Rivers: I’m so bored of race. I think people should inter-marry. Everybody should be part this, part that and part everything and race doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s about people… everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward.

Libby Purves: That’s a very American approach, a melting pot approach. ”

Libby dear: the intermarriage rate in the UK is hugely, vastly, higher than that in the US (certainly it is among Afro Caribbeans here as opposed to African Americans there). If anywhere is doing the melting pot approach to race it’s dear old London…..


Tom T. 07.02.10 at 1:52 pm

She became something of a joke herself with her celebrity award-show red-carpet greeting roles, which were cheesy. She’s redeemed a lot of her entertainment cred in recent years, though.


jim 07.02.10 at 2:12 pm

FWIW, my wife saw it last week and liked it, but there were few people in the audience. This week it’s down to sharing a screen in the house she saw it in. So if you want to see it, hurry.


Dave Weeden 07.03.10 at 8:39 am

I followed her on Twitter for a bit, and having read this, I regret to say that I got bored after a bit. So, I’ve started again. And it seems she appreciates this thread:

Traffic to CT is horrible! I think I might do a drive-by shooting of the old man in front of me who can’t see over the steering wheel.

I do know the common abbreviations for US states, that’s just fortuitous – before anyone gets pedantic on my ass.

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