Weekend Woman: Joan Rivers

Image from Fanshare.com

Image from Fanshare.com

What sad news that Joan Rivers has died. We never got around to adding her to our weekend women list while she was alive, so we’ll just have to do it now. To be honest, Joan seemed so indestructible in life that I was quite surprised to hear she was no longer with us. You can imagine she is wise-cracking her way around where ever it is she’s now gone, still looking amazing -despite the cling-film face.

She was an amazing icon for all women, strong, brilliant at her day job and a pioneer for breaking into male dominated areas such as stand up comedy. But according to Time magazine, she didn’t like being called a pioneer, “It upsets me to say I’m a pioneer because I’m so current now, you know? I don’t like when the ladies come up and say, ‘Oh, you broke barriers for women.’ And I say, ‘I’m still breaking barriers.’”   The after-life, should it exist, must be rocking at the moment, what with Joan and Robin Williams. It’s all a little quieter and less funny here on Earth without both of them. Sad times.


  • Osnat says:

    I just finished watching the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: a piece of work. I highly recommend it as an excellent piece, a kind of a fitting memorial that is as revealing, outrageous and self depcrating as her stand up act was. It shows you the fickle nature of fame and showbiz and the struggles she faced as a female comedian who was the first to develop her special brand of comedy too risqué for most people in those early days. In some ways she never lost that edge and ability to shock. It also reveals Joan in all her fabuleness, fragility and warmth all the things that were hard to detect behind the plastic mask of a face she chose to wear. Her apartment in New York is mind blowing in its kitschy bad tast but fabulous at the same time..One really hopes that her funeral on Sunday will be the spectacle she wanted.

  • Olivia says:

    Um, yes, but what about her recent comment about Palestinians? Not so much power to shock as appalling and unforgivable bigotry…

  • Osnat says:

    Terrible as that comment was and unforgivable it’s not a reason to knock of her whole career which many people have been doing especially in the UK. She said many shocking things throughout her career and she thrived on controversy and died with it but is still a one of a kind.

  • Kate R says:

    I too deplored the recent comment about the Palestinians in Gaza and while some may say that should not prejudice one about her career in general, surely she should have had the sense to not voice such opinions as that is exactly what happens. Having seen the documentary mentioned above, unfortunately I came away with the sad conclusion that the female hating bitchiness and the constant nastiness of looking at other women and being mean about them was not the basis for a nice life or career. She was certainly not a role model for women who are proud of their achievements in comedy (and the arts) and don’t see the need to negate same by deploring their appearance and changing it so often and radically.

  • amanda says:

    I read a great comment in the papers this weekend – can’t remember which one- which tried to put the Palestine comment into perspective by saying Joan was a bitch and derogatory about absolutely everyone and everything, including herself. It was a fair point, although I appreciate it’s a very tricky comment to forgive, and I agree with Osnat, her career was long and needs seeing in perspective. A

  • Jane says:

    I wanted to love Joan, but her bitchiness about other women, love of surgery and Palestine comments disappointed me and made me feel she wasn’t a sister! But when it wasn’t directed at other women she was hilarious – check out the video she made with her daughter before her op – very poignant!!



  • Osnat says:

    Her brand of comedy was total honesty about herself and others sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t but like her 2012 book titled ‘ I hate everyone…stating with me’ she spared no one not least herself. For that I find her inspiring!

  • Olivia says:

    Osnat, there is a world of difference between a wise-cracking sideswipe at someone’s frock choice and saying that murdered innocent people (many of them children) deserved to die. Yes, shocking comments were her cri de coeur but her Palestinian rant cannot be viewed as part of her comedic output. For me, the revelation of such bigotry alters the way I feel about someone forever.

    Jane and Amanda, I love your blog. It’s wise, funny, accurate and it’s the first thing I read in the morning. I do question this week’s choice of weekend woman, however.


  • amanda says:

    Olivia, you make your point with great eloquence and you are right, dead children are never, ever funny.

    I felt a bit the same about Frankie Boyle when he made fun of kids with Downs Syndrome, regular readers may remember my nephew has this disability and our whole family was disappointed with his inability to see how his cruel comments hurt so much. Comedy is a dangerous business, it can reveal a lot about the teller as well as those who laugh at the jokes.

    I stand by my choice though Olivia, Joan may not have finished well, or been someone we would have wanted as a friend -God forbid what she’d say about us!- but she strove relentlessly to get women recognised for being smart and funny, where previously they were expected to be Doris Day-ditsy. Not everyone who makes a difference is 100% nice. Ax

  • Osnat says:

    Olivia, I know the difference between someone joking about a frock and someone saying that murdered children deserve to die. But I really believe that she was cornered by an opportunistic journalist and didn’t actually mean it. She never apologized for any of her ” offensive jokes”” but she did put a clarification about this in her Facebook page.
    “I am both saddened and disappointed that my statement about the tragedy of civilian casualties was totally taken out of context,” the post said. “What I said and stand behind is, war is hell and unfortunately civilians are victims of political conflicts. We, The United States, certainly know this as 69 years later we still feel the guilt of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The media, as usual, has decided to only quote the most out of context and inflammatory non sequitur rather than giving an accurate account of what my intentions were behind the statement. Along with every other sane person in this world, I am praying for peace. It is stupid and wrong and I am tired of bearing the brunt of attacks by people who want to sell newspapers or gain ratings by creating a scandal about me that is non-existent.”
    Whereas you believe its genuine or not and I believe it is because she was a person not in the business of being dishonest or making false statements, I agree with Amanda that she was a pioneering woman and comedian deserving to be recognized exactly for that and not for one unfortunate unacceptable comment that she said a few weeks before she died.

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