For over 40 years, Joan Rivers has been known in the comedy world for her brash jokes, distinct New York voice, cosmetic surgeries and red carpet commentary. The Brooklyn-born Joan Molinsky has appeared on TV, stage, radio and film. She’s sold her own jewelry line on QVC, won “Celebrity Apprentice” and written 10 books, including a murder mystery. But she’s never been the focus of a documentary… that is, until now.
“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” was filmed in New York as Rivers turned 75, and focuses on her life and career. If the following three clips are proof of what the whole documentary is like, audiences are in for an interesting treat!
In the “Two Shows” clip, Rivers explains that she tries out new material at small comedy clubs in NYC, and that night, she has to go to two shows. A fan named William stops to ask Rivers for her autograph, and he tells her, “You don’t get the recognition you deserve!” River responds: “Damn right, William!” A few seconds later after walking into the building, she says to the camera, “See … I have a fan!”
She also talks about the kind of comedienne she is. “I just talk about anything and everything that annoys me… I’m furious about everything. Good things don’t always happen to good people. And I’m very angry about it. If I didn’t have the anger, I wouldn’t be a comedienne.”
Rivers prepares for her favorite holiday in the “Thanksgiving” clip. As we watch some men carry a 17-ft. table up seven flights of stairs and then set it up for the meal, Rivers talks about her feast. Her daughter Melissa and grandson will be there, along with some friends and the couple from downstairs.
Rivers gets sad thinking about those closest to her, saying she has fewer friends in New York now. “If something wonderful happens, there may be three people I’ll call. Fifteen years ago, it would have been six people I call.” Rivers rolls her eyes and says, “So many people are dying.” She then comments that her guests “better eat fast” at Thanksgiving dinner.
In the final clip “Obama’s Wife,” Rivers runs a pretty offensive joke by some of her employees. She said she thinks Michelle Obama is so sheik, comparing her to Jackie O. and giving Obama the nickname “Blackie O.” Too tasteless, she asks? She gets a resounding “yes” back from her employees.
She then shows us rows and rows of little filing cabinets, almost like card catalogs at a library (do libraries have them anymore?). She has over 30 years worth of jokes on notecards in there. She opens one cabinet labeled “Cooking — Tony Danza.” God, would I love to browse through that!
This film gives an inside look at a woman who’s been slinging barbs for a long time — a look moviegoers should be excited to see.
Check out this fine “piece of work” premiering in New York City on June 11.
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Follow Amanda Koehler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AEKoehler.
She’s a classic.
I saw this at the Seattle Film Festival. I loved reading your trailer review because you captured some of Rivers’s great jokes. Wouldn’t you like her for a best friend?
Bev — I totally would! 🙂 I’m glad you saw the documentary and enjoyed it!