On Thursday, the world lost a comedic legend. Joan Rivers, with her in-your-face, straight-to-the-point comedy, helped pave the way for so many women - from Sarah Silverman to Chelsea Handler - to pursue careers in comedy. In a tribute to Rivers, as a star-studded funeral for her takes place, here is a video-list of moments that flaunt the various sides to her comedic brilliance.
- Comedian Joan Rivers Dies, 81
- Cry Me a Rivers of Laughter
- Joan Rivers' Mortifyingly Jewish Humor
- Nothing Taboo for Joan Rivers
- Stars Pay Tribute to Joan Rivers
Jewish girl from Brooklyn
A 1966 video clip (above) from "The Sammy Davis Jr. Show" hosted by Johnny Carson features Rivers, looking a little unsure of herself, yet brandishing her trademark spiciness. In this clip, Rivers draws on her private life and Jewish identity, dropping yiddishisms ("Bubbe!") and feminist quips ("if God wanted women to bake, he would have given them aluminum hands") - something she ended up doing often.
Since her passing, Rivers’ guest appearance on the Ed Sullivan show has been getting tons of press - and for good reason. This "single girl rant" is just as relevant today as it was in 1967, when she made it. It's a prime example of how timeless Rivers' jokes are.
In 1986, Rivers hosted Lucille Ball on "The Tonight Show,” and, in a seemingly rare moment, we see Rivers behaving almost deferentially, while still being playful. In my opinion, it's Rivers at her best - very sharp, yet very kind (a less common feature of her harsh humor).
Red carpet rat
Rivers revolutionized the red carpet, inventing the question, “Who are you wearing,” which effectively turned actors into billboards for fashion designers to promote their wares. She was never short of innovation, and wouldn’t let anyone outdo her audacity. In one instance, Rivers topped Isaac Mizrahi's red carpet questions, “Are you wearing underwear?” and “Are those your real breasts?” by touching television host Lisa Rinna's butt and boob, then showing placards to indicate whether the star was wearing underwear or not - and whether her breasts were real or fake.
No Israeli newspaper could resist documenting Joan River's epic rant against Hamas in the recent military operation in Gaza, during an interview on Israel’s Channel 10. She took the conflict personally, telling Selena Gomez and Rihanna, who posted tweets that were sympathetic to the Palestinians in Gaza, to "leave me alone." In her unabashed support for Israel, Rivers was sharp, acerbic and deeply offensive.
Glossy black humor
To end on a somewhat eerie note, on "The Graham Norton Show," Rivers spoke of how old she was and how all her friends were dead. In-between laughing about her morbid jokes on obituaries, you have to ponder whether she had any idea of how her death would be remembered by all. She jokes that people always say, "She's in a better place," and quips in response, "No, she's not. She had a house in the Hamptons!"
So, Joan Rivers, I won't insult you by eulogizing you that way. I know you’re not in a better place now; you had a lot of fans that cared about you deeply, and now you're being buried (hopefully wearing a Valentino gown, as was your wish).
You will be sorely missed.
Yael Miller lives in Washington, D.C.