(June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014)
"I will only praise someone who can't take anything away from me."
When I was twelve years old, Geffen Records released Joan Rivers' What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? I listened to it non-stop. I could quote it almost in its entirety. It was one of my many secret pleasures, as a child with deaf parents. I could shout, "she's a tramp!" without so much as a "tut-tut." To this day, it still sits in a red plastic milk crate, along with all my other vinyl records that I refuse to part with.
She was a mouthpiece back then, and I wonder if it wasn't for the blossoming gayling that I was, would I have loved her so much? I don't know. I do know that as the years passed, she positioned herself very clearly as an ally to the LGBT community. I just read that she was a Republican! Is that possible? I suppose anything is possible.
I think as she got older, she got a lot more irreverent. Nobody was safe from her criticisms. I watched her in an interview about Fashion Police, and she said something like, "If I say so and so doesn't look good, I'm talking about the dress, not about her as a person." While that's true, she has taken many celebrities to task and sliced them to ribbons with their weight, their marriages, their fame (as inexplicable as it might be --- yeah, I'm looking at you Kim Kardashian) and even their miscarriages.
The ups and downs of her career are well-documented and there's no need for me to go into that now, but If there's anyone who could sing Sondheim's "I'm Still Here," made famous by Carol Burnett, Shirley Maclaine and of course, the late Elaine Stritch, and mean it, it's Joan.
At the end of the day, she was what she started out as; a housewife with an opinion. She was Every Mom. Scratch that...she was Every Jewish Mom, and there's just no escaping the harsh reality of an old Jewish woman with something to say.
Besides, you were thinking it, too.
I gonna miss the old bitch! The way I see it, she's up there outside the pearly gates with her microphone asking everyone about to enter, "Who are you wearing!?"
Rest in Peace, Joan...and thank you for the laughter.