Joan Rivers said what she thought. Agree or disagree with her, it was unvarnished. She was biting, often harsh, but she held nothing back.
That set her apart, increasingly so as the Politically Correct Age developed. Her directness was funny because it was so unusual, so daring. “Can We Talk?” was the signal to hold on to your hat.
She was a woman pioneer. Late night talk was exclusively male when she first appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson nearly 50 years ago. Carson loved her and gave her a chance to fill in for him often. When she became his competitor, hosting her own show opposite Carson, he never spoke to her again. In fact, the Tonight Show ban extended through Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Her appearance on Jimmy Fallon ended a nearly half-century absence there.
Her life wasn’t all laughs. Her husband, Edgar, committed suicide after 22 years of marriage. Her career had plenty of hits and misses. But she didn’t exclude herself from her own barbs, joking frequently about her own plastic surgery. She was the Commissioner of the Fashion Police and the red carpet will never be the same without her.
Joan Rivers reminded us no one is perfect and that laughing at our imperfections is a lot better than cultivating them.
The writer has been involved in media for more than 30 years and has been an adjunct media professor for the past eleven.