Joan Rivers may be as old as my grandma (and, like my grandma, is apparently a Republican!) but unlike Grandmother Bmad, she hates just about everyone and calls people “cunt” in public. Refreshing!
I went to see her show at the Laurie Beechman Theater on Wednesday for an act that was was decidedly ungrandmotherly. She had a bunch of jokes scribbled indecipherably on cue cards at her feet but seemed to ignore them in favor of riffing extemperaneously on topics ranging from the World Trade Center families (“I’d sacrifice a family member for $5 million! Next Thanksgiving just look around the table!”), Anne Frank (“She’s a good friend. I met her when I flew Lufthansa and she fell out of the overhead compartment!”) and poors. (“I hate poor people! Any poor people in the audience get the f*ck out!”) Oh, also she said she hates Haitians, which I had to give her credit for cause who the f*ck says that?
One might argue that Anne Frank jokes are a little zzzs in the year 2010, but when it comes to someone like Joan Rivers isn’t that kind of the point? This is one of the few working comedians who actually remembers Hitler, so I give her a pass to make jokes about him. And I LOLed at them!
Joan’s had a big year: she was the winner of Celebrity Apprentice last year, she’s made a triumphant return to E!’s Fashion Police— which will air again this Sunday for the SAG awards– and she and daughter/sidekick Melissa have a new reality show called Mother Knows Best, coming in March on the WE network.
She was nice enough to talk to me a few weeks ago on the topics of women in comedy, Jay Leno, the Oscars, and whatever else. Click on for the interview!
BMAD: Hiiiiiii! Thanks for talking
Joan Rivers: Hi! Great to talk to you, and I’m also eating a sandwich at the same time, so you’ll hear a lot of munching.
BMAD: So I watched you on Celebrity Apprentice last year, and I thought you pretty much saved the show…
JR: Tell that to NBC!
BMAD: They didn’t think so? I thought they were thrilled with you! Don’t they love it when people spazz out?
JR: Nobody said a word.
BMAD: Do you have any advice for the new apprentices? I hear Cyndi Lauper’s doing it…
JR: Don’t trust anybody. Don’t trust anybody. Everybody wants to win, so you gotta remain.
BMAD: Do people really care if they win? Cause when it’s just for charity it kinda seems like some people just show up to be on TV.
JR: Oh, no, everybody wants to win. Come on. Once you get into it, you wanna win. Because you know the whole world is watching you.
BMAD: When I was up in the ’80s, you were probably the only female comedian I would have been able to name. Now there are a bunch more, but it still seems like they don’t always get the same respect that unfunnier men do. I’m sure you saw the Christopher Hitchens article in Vanity Fair a few years ago called Why Women Aren’t Funny…
JR: Oh, that was so stupid. Obviously Christopher Hitchens never saw me naked. That would have changed his whole opinion. Look at Rosie O’Donnell. Wait, that’s not fair– she is a man! Oh, but absolutely women are funny.
BMAD: I have lady comedian friends who are always saying that people won’t accept a sexy woman who’s also funny. Do you think it’s possible to be sexy and funny at the same time?
JR: Don’t be sexy! You know, a sexy man is not funny either. When you’re onstage, you have to be almost asexual. You want them to listen to you and not to think about anything else. And sexy is not funny. Nobody gives oral sex with a lampshade on their head. It just doesn’t go together.
You know, if it’s funny, it’s funny. If it’s funny, it’s gonna be funny, and I don’t wanna hear, “Oh, they’re not laughing cause I’m a woman.” If it’s funny, they’ll laugh. Christopher Hitchens is a smart guy though. He got paid by Vanity Fair.
BMAD: Can you say anything about the death of Jean Carroll a few days ago?
JR: She was wonderful. She paved the way for a lot of stand-up lady comedians. And she talked about homey things. I remember she talked about opening a closet and her son’s sneakers were in there, and she just, you know, blew her sinuses or something. She had a great career and she gave it up after she married the head of an agency and that was that. I’ll never retire though, because I’m always hoping to be funny, and laughing. And what could be nicer than laughing with people?
BMAD: Who do you think is the funniest person working right now?
JR: Lady Gaga’s hairdresser. Now there’s There’s a smart cookie! That Lady Gaga– there’s a smart little cookie! She doesn’t miss a trick.
BMAD: Marry, Fuck, Kill: Conan, Jay, Dave.
[Note: This interview was conducted the day before the news that Jay Leno might be returning to 11:30]
JR: I’d marry Conan just to see if the carpet matches the drapes. Cause I have a feeling that hair ain’t his. I would kill Jay, because I would like him to meet all the people he’s bored to death that are already in heaven. Oh, is that the most boring show you’ve ever seen? It’s beyond boring.
BMAD: He’s laughing all the way to the bank, though.
JR: Oh, I don’t think so. I think your ego is so hurt. Cause it’s such a shock at this age to find out you’re not funny.
BMAD: Do you think he’s had that moment of introspection?
JR: You have to when the numbers plummet. You have to. At one point you have to say, “What happened?” And what happened was, what they’ll watch at 11:30 cause they’re half-dead anyway, and they’re asleep, uh, you know, the show has a little blurb at the beginning that says “Do not watch the show before operating heavy machinery.”
BMAD: I’ve always been a Dave fan.
JR: I would definitely sleep with David Letterman, because Dave I adore. And he’d definitely sleep with me because he’ll bang anything.
BMAD: What are your New Year resolutions?
JR: Never again pay fifteen dollars for a movie that features Kate Hudson singing.
BMAD: You don’t think Nine’s gonna win the Oscar?
JR: Are you out of your mind!?
BMAD: What’s your Oscar prediction, then?
JR: Oh God. Meryl Streep. There’s no question. She’s so brilliant. Did you see her in Precious? She plays a 20-year-old fat black girl? This woman can do anything. I came out of Precious and I said, “Meryl Streep head and shoulders above everybody else.”
Actually Up in the Air. Did you see that? It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. It’s even worth paying money for.
(Joan Rivers is now performing at the Laurie Beechman Theater to benefit God’s Love We Deliver and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Fashion Police airs Sunday on E!)