Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Piece of Work -- Joan Rivers

Love low-key Saturdays. A couple hours shipping eBay items to buyers. A hour for laundry. Slowly reading the newspaper (rather than scanning the paper's website). AND ... time to catch a flick.

Today's pick was "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," the new documentary that arrived last month. Though it's doubtful this film will be up for an Oscar, it is well-made, interesting and best of all, seriously funny. The New York Times review of the film made me curious -- glad the film finally showed up in Atlanta.

I was never much of a Rivers fan. Most recollections of her work are from drivel red carpet shows for big Hollywood events. Had no idea she apparently won on "Celebrity Apprentice" (new drivel) last year. The documentary shed some good light on Rivers, outlining her rise and fall and constant ups and downs since the 1960s.

It was impressive, too, to see her floor to ceiling (and I suspect custom-built) index card file cabinet drawers crammed, card catalog-style, with thousands and thousands of hand-written or typed note cards, each with its own joke and punchline. Paraphrasing here ...
" ... When you get old, your body droops. Your boobs droop. Even your vagina droops. I woke up the other day and looked down to see I was wearing bunny slippers with gray fur."

" ... I often address my staff as, 'Hey, Staff," because I can't remember their names. The other day I said, "Hey, staff. I'm lonely. Who's gonna f*ck me tonight?"
And in describing her Manhattan high rise home, decked out much like a Donald Trump condo or Liberace set (top to bottom historic French opulence), she said,


"This is what Mary Antoinette's condo would have looked like if she were rich."

The film follows Rivers through a year of her career -- and her 75th year on earth -- including the launch of a new stage play in the U.K., her Trump show appearance, chats with her daughter and about her absent agent (the audience learns his fate), and 'a day in the life' shots with her personal assistant trying to keep her schedule full morning, noon and night.

In addition to the card file/joke archive, I was impressed with Rivers' charity work (including annual Thanksgiving Day traditions for those in need), and appalled to learn what happened to her late husband (I had no idea). After seeing some of the downs Rivers endured, it was a relief to see some successes, too, including how Rivers manhandled a heckler at a casino stand up gig in Wisconsin.

Not in the film, there's at least one Joan Rivers Olympic joke online. Here's hoping Rivers will take her show on the road again for some club or theatre gigs -- she would likely bring down the house!

Photo via IMDB

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