Joan Rivers passed away today at 81, (in Hollywood years 52) from complications from throat surgery. Like Phyllis Diller, she was one of the first women who did standup and in the parlance of the trade, killed it just about every time she went out. Vegas, Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show, films, television and of course, on stage armed with nothing more than a microphone, a glass of water and a spotlight. She did consummate old-skool standup. Setup, punchline, setup, punchline, rinse, repeat, topper, kill, bow, get off the stage.
Originally from Brooklyn, Joan Alexandra Rosenberg (nee Molinsky) had a BA in English Lit and Anthropology of all things. She took Rivers as her stage name on the advice of her then-agent Tony Rivers. I suspect it was revenge that made her switch from Molinsky to Rivers.
We can joke about her having so many facelifts she has to put pantyliners in the center of her bra, or, when she’s naked, from behind she looks like a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or that her stuff on QVC/The Shopping Channel was so cheap, you’d see a necklace run under the fridge when you turned the lights on. She didn’t care and if you could give back as good as you got, then game on.
Or, we could just lament her passing with a pause.
She made people laugh. Not a bad epitaph for a comedian.