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Screen Scene: The queen is dead, long live the queen | Tribute to Joan Rivers

“Fashion Police” was essential to our household and wellbeing. Celebrities trying really, really hard to look cool are a constant source of amusement. Critiquing the achievers and the foolish through the rarefied lens of a seasoned fashionista was doubly entertaining.

Joan Rivers knew her stuff. She understood fashion and she understood the rarified bubble that is celebrity. If she liked it she loved it but God help the poor unfortunate who confused clown school for fashion forward.

Yep, that was television worth watching.

It’s not been a good month for comedians. Robin Williams’ suicide was hard. The white-hot flame of Williams’ comic genius went dark because of unspeakable, unknowable despair. Deliberately ending one’s life is tragedy beyond words but it’s a tragedy mixed with a brush of rage: How dare Mork be so selfish? Why would he deprive the world of his light before his time? It’s been said that no one wants to die. No one really wants to kill him or herself, but the pain of life becomes too much and suicides simply want to escape that pain. So in the end we must forgive the ultimate self-sacrifice if we can, like Joan.

Joan Rivers forgave her husband Edgar Rosenberg. He committed suicide in 1987. Fox Network had fired Joan and Edgar had produced “The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.” It was too much. He took his own life.

But Joan Rivers didn’t want to die. She picked herself up, dusted herself off and went back to the club circuit to support herself and her young daughter, Melissa.

It seems Rivers probably wanted to live forever, evidenced by extraordinary facial work that would probably fund a small country and the obvious verve of a woman with things to do. Retirement seemed a laughable theory.

Fifty years ago she was one of America’s first female comics in an age where most women stayed home to raise children, bake, watch the gentle antics of Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett and leave the aggressive humor to men. Without Joan, comedians like Roseanne Barr and Sarah Silverman would have had a much tougher time of it.

For decades, we were privy to Joan’s self-deprecating confidences about herself and the celebrity world.

Can we talk?

“I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”

“The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.”

“Women should look good. Work on yourselves. Education? I spit on education. No man is ever going to put his hand up your dress looking for a library card.”

“I don’t exercise. If God wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.”

“You know you’re getting old when you buy a sexy sheer nightgown and don’t know anyone who can see through it.”

“Don’t tell your kids you had an easy birth or they won’t respect you. For years I used to wake up my daughter and say, ‘Melissa you ripped me to shreds. Now go back to sleep.’”

“People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.”

“Grandchildren can be so fu*king annoying. How many times can you go, ‘And the cow goes moo and the pig goes oink?’ It’s like talking to a supermodel.”

“At my funeral I want Meryl Streep crying in five different accents.”

Offended? Annoyed? Displeased? Riled up and put out? Then let me quote Joan:

“Oh, grow up!”

Rivers brooked little patience for the culturally sensitive or politically correct. Life is not for the feint of heart and Joan Rivers knew it. You have to laugh at life and at the ridiculous antics of humanity or you’ll die of despair.

Or worse yet, you’ll be a bore.

Making people laugh is an art. Fashion can be an art. Maintaining an appetite for life is an art too and in all the above, River’s was a New World Master. She will be missed and I’m betting I know what’s going to be the must have Halloween costume this year.

Rest in Peace Joan Rivers.

The queen is dead, long live the queen.

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Kurt Niece writes about visual arts for SDGLN. He is a freelance journalist from Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of "The Breath of Rapture" and an artist who sells his work on his website.