Can we talk? The funniest person I know is Joan Rivers. She’s fearless.
Joan blazed a trail for female comedians. When she was coming up through the clubs in the 60s, she was, aside from Moms Mabley, the only female headlining comic in the country. She’s a role model for funny women—hell, all women—because she never allowed the obvious sexism in her profession keep her from attaining water-cooler status as a comedian.
I’ll never forget seeing her perform live for the first time. From the minute she came out in a sparkly top and high heels and started talking, I laughed continuously. Her mind was so quick I couldn’t keep up with what I was laughing at.
Joan can find humor in anything. She pokes fun at her own plastic surgery and has even mocked her own daughter Melissa for not posing nude in Playboy. (“What was she thinking? Did I not raise her right? What kind of mother am I?”) Who didn’t watch Joan making fun of her good pal Liz Taylor with that classic joke, “Liz Taylor is so fat she stands in front of her own microwave and screams ‘Hurry up!’” and think, “Did she just say that?” She did. And a lot more.
—Kathy Griffin, “Joan Rivers: The Funniest Person I Know,” from Reader’s Digest September 2009
The way comics show love and admiration for each other is by insulting them on The Comedy Central Roast. But the key to a roast working is that the roastee has to enjoy it or else it feels mean. That’s what happened when we roasted Joan Rivers. Greg Giraldo went up first and ripped into her, but he got no reaction from her. The next comic went up, same thing. Everyone was laughing except for Joan. The comics were getting nervous. We were whispering, “Her feelings are hurt. Look at her, she’s not smiling!” I was panicking. Here she is my hero and I was convinced she would never speak to me again.
But Joan Rivers—the butt of all these nasty jokes—saved the day. Sensing the unease among the comics, she stood up halfway through the show and assured us, “I’m having fun. This is funny!” It turns out she was a victim of her Botox. She had to subtitle her own face so that people would know that she was enjoying herself.
—Whitney Cummings, “Joan of Arch,” from Reader’s Digest September 2011