We gave it a C
Whether she’s pounding the table on The Celebrity Apprentice, taking a pounding on Comedy Central’s Roast, or presiding over a dog-pound mutt of a new TV Land series called How’d You Get So Rich?, Joan Rivers has the baying bark of a Jewish German shepherd. At age 76, Rivers has impressively fierce tenacity. She refuses to lie down into a sighing retirement, choosing instead to nip and tear at the very pop culture she helped to vulgarize.
In How’d You Get So Rich?, Rivers crisscrosses the country to visit self-made multimillionaires. They range from an Illinois pauper who became wealthy peddling novelty-item bad teeth, to a Cuban immigrant?turned?Florida lawyer who shows off his vast house and many boats. The sheer amount of traveling must exhaust Rivers, to say nothing of having to come up with jokes like ”I have a novelty: me having sex without the guy turning gay.” This lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-obscure banality from Survivor producer Mark Burnett is a dud, but Rivers is, as always, a blasting life force.
Consider: In the 1960s, she was one of the few female stand-up comics to achieve critical and commercial success on the level of Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, and Lenny Bruce. In 1978, she joined the rare club of women to write, direct, and star in her own movie, Rabbit Test. In the ’80s, she was given a nighttime talk show on Fox at a time when women were supposed to be late-night losers (and Fox guaranteed that status by firing her seven months into its run). In the ’90s, she clawed her way back to prominence by cohosting the E! network’s red-carpet Oscar show.
Part insult comic, part ferocious feminist, Rivers is all about attacking pretension, hypocrisy, and star entitlement. Let’s face it, without Rivers’ trailblazing, we probably wouldn?t have a Sarah Silverman, a Kathy Griffin, or a Chelsea Handler. She rarely comes off as mean or bitter because she aims her harpoons high, at the big white whales of celebrity, and she rarely complains about slights directed against her. Rivers withstood more than just slights during her Comedy Central roast. Jokes reportedly included Greg Giraldo saying ”You used to look your age, but now you don’t even look like your species”: Ouch.
Rivers long ago established her trademark phrase — ”Can we talk?” — which she used initially to make nightclub crowds feel they were in on an intimate chat. Nowadays, those words have become her battle cry against political correctness. Joan wants to make sure we can all talk…about anything we want, as frankly as she wants. How’d You Get So Rich?: C Joan Rivers herself: A