Joan Rivers: When the Going Got Tough, She Just Worked Harder


It seems weird to say that “Joan Rivers is dead” because she has been around for as long as anybody can remember. She always acted like nothing could bring her down, even though nobody was as aware of their own mortality as she was.

Joan Rivers passed away earlier today. She was 81.

Like everybody else I know, I have always been aware of Joan Rivers. Sometimes, I despised her. Other times, I laughed at her. But right now, I feel like I should be worshipping her. I don’t know what Joan would think about that.

When she started out, she was a trailblazer for all female kind. She talked about things that nobody would dare talk about onstage back then. While some comedians might have the urge to go tame as they age, Joan never did that. Less than two months ago, Rivers got some heat for supporting Israel, and also for questioning Selena Gomez’s college education. She might have clarified her comments, but she never backed down from her beliefs.

In recent years, Rivers has become something of a comedy Buddha. If she is Buddha, than her manuscript was the excellent documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of WorkA Piece of Work followed Joan around for a full year. If you didn’t respect her before, than this film will make you love her. One moment that is perhaps most indicative of Joan is when she shows the camera her many books filled with calendars. She pulls out one completely empty calendar, and then remarks that the idea of this terrifies her. Her work ethic was admirable. She put her ego aside and took any gig that kept her working. I say this as somebody who is still trying to figure out what it means to have a job, and how to make creativity a part of your life. Even if you didn’t find Joan funny, it is impossible not to be inspired by her.

Joan Rivers made fun of everyone and everything. She struck me as the kind of person who typically got to know a person by poking fun of them. So rest easy, Joan. Maybe somebody will think of a good new joke about her in the next few days. Maybe it will be too soon, but that is exactly what she would have wanted.