A world without Joan Rivers. Who can imagine? I grew up with her, as I’m sure you did. She was responsible for so much. She made us laugh. She was a true pioneer. She spoke out for what she believed in. She celebrated life and helped us get through hard times, using her as our example.
Tonight while reading tributes from her Hollywood colleagues, I stumbled across “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” on Netflix. a documentary made in 2010 that saluted her life and career.Her career spanned 4 decades and she paved the way for female comediennes, but she had to fight to get there. She didn’t have the easiest path and this film follows that path.
It begins at a low point in Rivers’ career with a blank calendar and by the end, it was full. She’s been invited to participate in an all-star George Carlin tribute, landed the “Fashion Police” gig and won “The Celebrity Apprentice.” She never really reclaimed her late night status as Jonny Carson’s special guest host but she achieved so much. She became a regular on great TV shows like “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Hollywood Squares,” “Saturday Night Live”, she directed a film and was nominated for a Grammy for her 1983 comedy album. She wrote a New York Times best selling book Diary of a Mad Diva, she had a jewelry line on QVC, a WE TV reality show “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, had a web series and she even earned a Tony nomination for Sally Marr…and Her Escorts.
Joan Rivers lived her life on her terms, doing what she loved, and she loved being in the spotlight even after enduring tragedies of her own, which the documentary touches on. She was someone I admired from a very young age for these reasons. I remember watching her on “The Tonight Show” as she spoke about being a single mother (we watched her morn the death of her husband, which was a big shock back then), life in Hollywood and being Jewish. She was irreverent, frank and daring, a woman who spoke her mind. She would share one self-deprecating joke after another, finding comedy and connection at her own expense, giving voice to things about women’s lives that had never been said. She was the queen of resiliency and was so fearless. It was her work that brought her back. She really loved what she did and was so full of life.
Watching “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” tonight was exactly what the doctor ordered. I’m sad. I’m mad. It was a life cut too short, although at age 81, she fortunately did live a long, meaningful life.
Disclosure: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team and am required to write monthly posts but all opinions are my own.