June 20th, 2010
Last night I saw a "A Piece of Work", a documentary on the life and career of Joan Rivers. Regardless of one's interpretation and experience of this brash, loud and surgical disaster of a comedienne, it can't be refuted that she's an icon fighting to keep her career alive in a business driven by youth and beauty. Very few people can make a 9/11 joke land. She did...and going "there" is the crème de la crème of taboo in the comedy world. Closely followed by jokes about rape and premises that start with, "You have a Priest and a Rabbi..."
The film reminds the naysayers(and the sayers) that this 76 year old workhorse is a smart businesswoman, a survivor of heartbreaking tragedy(her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, committed suicide in 1994) and humanely vulnerable(as an 8th layer of foundation was being applied) Rivers admits "No man ever told me I was beautiful.") That doesn't make you feel heavyhearted? Do you hate puppies too? I thought so.
I'm cognizant that people are committed to disliking her...but I'm a softy and find her to be a remarkable talent.
The film makes it clear that Rivers got paid to be the recipient of the ego deflating, outlandish and mean spirited remarks from her colleagues in last year's Comedy Central roast. Indeed, she has made a career out of stripping the honor of her celebrity peers, but my PMS steered my emotions to that place that makes me feel sad in the heart area .
I bypassed that mask of a face and saw a hint of pain in her eyes as she endured the following:
Kathy Griffin: When Joan was born, the doctors took a look at her and said, "Holy shit, we're gonna make a fortune on this one!" Then they got on the Mayflower and set sail for America.
Brad Garrett: Joan's face has been on more red carpets than an Irish lesbian!
Whitney Cummings: Joan, I loved you in The Wrestler. Man, look at Joan; I always wanted to know what Ivana Trump would like if she was dating Chris Brown.
Right when I wanted to put an abrupt end to the brutal madness, the universe was in order again as Joan's rebuttal reminded the comic attackers( 1/3rd her age) that she is the legend that inspired their brash style of comedy that gave them careers. Oh what a tangled web we weave. She tells Tom Arnold, "You were in Betty Ford more times than Gerald was."
I know it's seen as a great honor to be roasted, but I'd rather stick with my original plan...telling myself negative things about myself.
So Joan, I will salute you... until you decide to attack me personally. I'm too insecure to even attend one of these Comedy Central events. This was decided at Jerry Stiller's roast when comedian Jeff Ross surveys the audience and announces, "I wouldn't fuck Sandra Bernhardt with Bea Arthur's dick."
I'm a sensitive flower.