Comedy legend, icon and rabble rouser Joan Rivers stays on the top of her game – and refuses to slow down.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Joan Rivers saves all the daily planners she’s used over the years. She refers to a full schedule as “happiness” and despises days when the only thing on tap is a 4:30pm gig in the Bronx. Even at 78 years old, Rivers embraces jam-packed days that include two comedy shows, plugging merchandise on the Home Shopping Channel, rehearsing for a new play and having multiple meetings with her agent to set up more work. After a career that has delved into everything from stand-up comedy and television to theater and film, Rivers has only one fear in life, and it’s not getting booed off stage. It’s opening her current daily planner to a sea of empty white pages.
In the 2010 acclaimed documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the chronic workaholic reveals that her phobia of unemployment is directly related to her sense of worth.
“It would mean nobody wants me,” she says. “And I’ve been totally forgotten. In this business, you are mud. I’m in my 70s and still get rejected.”
But Rivers doesn’t really have to worry about being forgotten anytime soon and her schedule’s far from empty. Her Friday show at the Sunset Center has been sold out for more than a month (there’s also a waiting list of more than 100). February includes shows peppering the country, appearances on QVC and hosting Fashion Police on E! for both the Grammys and Academy Awards.
Though Rivers now has had her hands in just about every facet of show business, she’s flourished as a standup comedian for more than 50 years. At 28, Rivers was already ruffling feathers during a conservative time in history. She famously would end her shows with the line: “This business is all about casting couches so I want you to know my name is Joan Rivers and I put out.”
She even joked about abortions though her manager advised against it.
“Stuff like [abortion] is exactly what we should have been talking about at the time,” Rivers says.
Rivers questioned why women were expected to stay home, cook and pop out an occasional baby.
“Why should a wife cook? So her husband can say ‘My wife makes a delicious cake’ to some hooker?”
Later she adds: “No man has ever put his hand up a woman’s dress looking for a library card.”
As women’s roles have changed since the more repressed ’50s and ’60s, Rivers hasn’t changed her ability to shock even the most progressive audiences.
“My vagina farts are so loud,” she says, “my gynecologist has to wear earplugs.”
Another zinger: “I hate old people, ugly babies and fat people… but I love anal sex cause you can do other things like check emails on your blackberry.”
Rivers says she’s never going to retire and she probably wouldn’t mind if her last words were said on stage.
“I don’t ever want to spend my days sitting in the sun or learning how to garden,” she says. “I’m in this business ’cause I have no choice.”
JOAN RIVERS performs at 8pm Friday, Feb. 10, at Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel. Sold out. 620-2048.