In Praise of Officer Joan Rivers
There’s been a lot of chatter about awards season already. You can enjoy the Oscarologists on Gold Derby. You can read dry loot-related stuff at Variety. But the best chatter on the SAGs and the Golden Globes has definitely been …
There’s been a lot of chatter about awards season already. You can enjoy the Oscarologists on Gold Derby. You can read dry loot-related stuff at Variety. But the best chatter on the SAGs and the Golden Globes has definitely been on Joan Rivers’ Fashion Police. If you have all the stupid channels you will find it in outer Narnia on something called E!. (In an aside, I honestly don’t believe, darling, that I have ever before watched a channel with an exclamation point in its name.) Am I wrong? Am I just a an appalling bitch? Or is this not the funniest think on TV.
You couldn’t call the concept sophisticated. The mighty Joan Rivers and a gang of acolytes look at footage of celebrities wandering up the red carpet and then make savage remarks about their clothing. The people who are not Joan are Kelly Osbourne (about whom no more need be said) Giuliana Rancic (bland stick insect) and George Kotsiopoulos (unlikely to marry unless they change the law). Those supporting players aren’t bad. But the show is all about the former Joan Molinsky. I was lucky enough to meet Rivers about six years ago. When I returned all anybody wanted to know was: what the heck does she look like? Well, you couldn’t say she looked normal. But (like Miskey Rourke, oddly) the plastic surgery is much less scary when you are up close to it.
Never mind that. She was an absolute hoot. The gags are good, but what appeals (and appalls) is the extraordinary delivery. River told me that she owed everything to Lenny Bruce. Fifty years ago, gigging in Greenwich Village, she saw that comic and felt her life changed. “Woody Allen would go on about Mort Stahl,” she told me. “Fuck off! He was just doing gags. Bruce was transcendent.” Funnily enough, you can’t really see that much of Bruce in Joan’s routine. What makes it special is that sudden increase in volume: an acknowledgement that she is about to fake extreme outrage.
Oh yeah, Fashion Police. She is just terrific on the show. Lenny Bruce, a genuine radical, may not have been happy to learn that his acolyte ended up making a living by sniping at Anne Hathaway’s underwear. There are worse things. If you take pride in your work then any task is worthwhile. And she does.