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Joan Rivers: Behind the Laughter

Joan Rivers: Behind the Laughter


As much as Joan Rivers was a comedic icon, she was also a complex and, at times, dark woman.

Joan Rivers will be remembered for her zinging humor, her barbed tongue, and her razor-sharp red carpet fashion commentary. She will also be remembered as a business woman with a tireless work ethic and survivor. In a 2001 interview with now Out Editor-in-Chief, Aaron Hicklin, Rivers, who was never afraid to poke fun at herself and her own personal tragedies, opened up about the highs and lows in her life.

On wanting a big family--including a gay son:

"I'd have liked a boy, a girl and a gay son. He would have stayed with me, gone shopping with me, and he would have said, 'Mum, tell me about Judy Garland.'"

And what it would mean for Melissa when she's gone:

"I get very scared that when I die shehas no one, because I come from a very small family and my husband's family was totally wiped out by the Nazis. There's no one left, all gone, and I keep saying that she must have a bigger family than we had. When I die she'll have no one to say, 'Do you remember Sparky the dog?' There will be no-one to share a common memory."

Life at the dinner table:

"Most comedians aren't very funny off-stage. I was once at a table with Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, and my husband said we looked as if we'd come from a funeral ... If I don't know people I don't open my mouth. And I just watch the hostess's face fall when they notice how quiet it's become at my end of the table."

On doing drugs:

"Oh, I've taken everything, including cocaine. It was just so stupid. Someone said to me your nose is running, and I said, that's enough. I work too hard to sit here and have my nose running."

On contemplating suicide:

"Cliches are wonderful because they're so true. And suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. When I look back now I think 'how stupid' but it was a very low moment, a lot of 'poor me' drama."

On laughing at herself as well as others:

"I get so mad with people who say you can't laugh at others. Anyone who makes an ass of themselves gets right on that bandwagon. Be as rude as you want, but only to people who can turn around and tell you to go to hell."

Who she loved interviewing:

"I got him when [Robert Mitchum] was a wreck, but he was a poet. Sharon Stone. Loved interviewing Sharon Stone. She's very smart and she gets it. Who else have I loved? Any comic. Give me a Steve Martin, give me a Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, anyone that's funny. I have the best times with them."

On when she made it:

"We did some kind of benefit [in the '70s], and it was Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and a few others, and we went out to dinner, and we could all pick up the bill. We'd known each other in the village when we were broke and it was so nice when the bill came and nobody panicked. We were all okay. We could all have desert. It was one of the best nights of my life."

Read the full interview at The Herald Scotland.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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