Can We Talk

She sure could.

“I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.”

“People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.”

“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”

And her friend Barbara Walters accused her of “Frankly, she did almost anything for a laugh” — but Joan would definitely disagree, for she said of herself “I will do Anything for a laugh.”

In Memoriam
Joan Rivers
[June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014]

Rivers first came to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show, a pioneering late-night program with interviews and comedy, hosted by Johnny Carson, whom she acknowledges as her mentor. The show established her particular comic style, poking fun at celebrities, but also at herself, often joking about her extensive plastic surgery. When she launched a rival program, The Late Show, he never spoke to her again. She went on to host a successful daytime slot, The Joan Rivers Show, which won her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Her satirical style of humor, however, by focusing on the personal lives of celebrities and public figures, was sometimes criticized. She also authored 12 best-selling memoir and humor books, as well as provided comic material for stage and television.

Prior to her death at 81, Joan Rivers made no secret of the fact that she disliked being called a pioneer. “I’m still in the trenches,” the legendary comic once told a reporter. “I’m still breaking ground.”

Promoters are men and women of action. When a Promoter is present, things begin to happen: the lights come on, the music plays, the games begin. Clever and full of fun, Promoters live with a theatrical flourish which makes even the most routine events seem exciting. Not that they waste much time on routine events. In work and in play, Promoters demand new activities and new challenges. Bold and daring at heart, and ever-optimistic that things will go their way, Promoters will take tremendous risks to get what they want, and seem exhilarated by walking close to the edge of disaster. [Please Understand Me II]

Joan Rivers, Promoter Artisan, was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York in 1933, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants Beatrice (née Grushman; January 6, 1906 – October 1975) and Meyer C. Molinsky (December 7, 1900 – January 1985). Her older sister Barbara died on June 3, 2013, aged 82. She was raised in Brooklyn, and her family later moved to Larchmont, in Westchester County, New York. She attended Connecticut College between 1950 and 1952 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and anthropology. Before entering show business, Rivers worked at various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center, a writer/proofreader at an advertising agency and a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores. During this period, agent Tony Rivers advised her to change her name, so she chose Joan Rivers as her stage name.

“No one loved life, laughter, and a good time more than Joan. We would have dinner and laugh and gossip and I always left the table smiling. She was a brassy, often outrageous, and hilarious performer who made millions laugh”  — Barbara Walters

In 1994, Rivers—who was influenced by the “dirty comedy” of Lenny Bruce—co-wrote and starred in a play about Bruce’s mother Sally Marr, who was also a stand-up comic and influenced her son’s development as a comic. After 27 previews, “Sally Marr…and Her Escorts,” a play “suggested by the life of Sally Marr” ran on Broadway for 50 performances in May and June 1994. Rivers was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Play and a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing Sally Marr.

During Joan’s 55-year career as a comedian, her tough-talking style of satirical humor was both praised and criticized as being truthful, yet too personal, too gossipy, and very often abrasive. Nonetheless, with her ability to “tell it like it is,” she became a pioneer of contemporary stand-up comedy. Commenting about her style, she told biographer Gerald Nachman, “Maybe I started it. We’re a very gossipy culture. All we want to know now is private lives.”

However, her style of humor, which often relied on making jokes about her own life and satirizing the lives of celebrities and public figures, was sometimes criticized as insensitive. Her jokes about Elizabeth Taylor and Adele’s weight, for instance, were often commented on, although Rivers would never apologize for her humor. Rivers, who was Jewish, was also criticized for making jokes about the Holocaust and later explained, “This is the way I remind people about the Holocaust. I do it through humor”, adding, “my husband lost his entire family in the Holocaust.” Her joke about the victims of the Ariel Castro kidnappings similarly came under criticism, but she again refused to apologize, stating, “I know what those girls went through. It was a little stupid joke.”

Rivers accepted such criticism as part of her using social satire as a form of humor: “I’ve learned to have absolutely no regrets about any jokes I’ve ever done … You can tune me out, you can click me off, it’s OK. I am not going to bow to political correctness. But you do have to learn, if you want to be a satirist, you can’t be part of the party.

Other examples of Promoter Artisans include:  Presidents Lyndon JohnsonFranklin D Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, John Hammond Jr.Helen Gurley Brown, Marie Colvin, Lech Walesa, Pan Shiyi, Hugo Chavez, Charlie Sheen, Boris Yeltsin, John Corzine, Lady Gaga, Sonny Bono.

One thought on “Can We Talk

  1. Jodi Horner September 12, 2014 / 4:48 pm

    Whew! I totally thought Promoter but wondered what you’d say.

    Like

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