Monday, October 18, 2010

Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work (2010)

I have to admit that I have never really thought ANYTHING about Joan Rivers. She always seemed to be really old school, some aging diva playing Vegas and what not. My Dad was a big Johnny Carson fan, and at one point he bought a box set of the "Best Of" of Carson (on VHS!) and I remember seeing old clips of her on there. I probably would have passed on this documentary altogether if it wasn't for my favorite podcast, Doug Loves Movies. On one episode of the show his guests and him mention how they had just seen this documentary during the Summer and how surprisingly good it was. So, it has been on my radar. (By the way, if you like comedy and you like movies, check out Doug Loves Movies its awesome. Perhaps not for everyone, I guess, but it is great) At any rate, that has to be my reaction. It was surprisingly good, and surprisingly interesting. Basically, they follow Joan Rivers around for a year, and manage to also get some tidbits on her back story. There is some juicy stuff there: Carson being so mad at her in the 80's for getting her own show, Bill Cosby helping her get her break on Carson....It's a pretty amazing portrait of a woman who, depending on who you ask, is in the middle, on the downside, or on another upside of her career. Judging by whats shown here, she is a workaholic (again, she's 75 and she seems to put most 25 year olds to shame in terms of her energy. So on the one hand, its nuts how busy she attempts to keep herself. Whats also nuts is her actual current comedy: its so raw and raunchy, and really funny. Which was surprising. It was also nice to hear about how her success early on, her subject matter, helped pave the way for female comedians of the day. Although she hates to hear about what an "icon" she is. Thats amazing too, even after all this success (you should see her ridiculous NYC Penthouse. It would make Liberace pass out) She still worries about all this, her act, her money, and she seems oddly so vulnerable still. Its really an eye-opening portrait of someone I probably wouldn't have given much thought to previously.


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