I’ll be the first to admit that I never fully enjoyed Joan Rivers’ specific brand of humour.
But I made myself re-read something I wrote about her a while ago, and it just seemed too mean-spirited and immature for my liking. I could delete it and pretend nothing ever happened, but that’s a bit messed up too. And wasn’t part of my complaining about women being mean? Women being mean about other women? I dunno, but I bet I thought I was being edgy or some shit.
-inspecting reflection in the back of a teaspoon-
Ewww. Hypocrisy. Gross.
Later, I found myself looking up if there was such a thing as a Joan Rivers documentary, and I was in luck. Roughly an hour and a half later, I felt kind of like an idiot.
So, all right, she was controversial, or offensive, or crass, or brutally honest, or whatever. I could come up with more ways to describe her, but I already feel I’ve been more than a little disrespectful of someone who’s no longer with us. The main thing I’ve come up against is that it doesn’t really matter what specific kind of ‘funny’ she was, what matters is that she did what she did in the way that she did it. Whether I like it or not. Whether anyone likes it or not. Duh… fuck. So, who needs to get over themselves again? Anyway…
Sure, nobody was prepared for a demure-looking young Jewish woman joking about making teabags for vampires out of used tampons or whatever it was, but that’s what had to happen so I can enjoy the things I enjoy, like depictions of Sarah Silverman as a child waving around dog shit on the end of a twig, or Margaret Cho musing upon why lesbians love watching sea mammals. Those two examples are not exactly what one would call “high wit”, but I think those two comedians are wonderfully dedicated to what they do, despite the misgivings of some others. Not only are they doing what Rivers did in terms of being passionate about her career, but they both have definitely made certain mention of how pioneering she was in terms of gender roles in entertainment.
So, now I know. What she did was important, and now she’s gone. And indeed it could be totally true that death would have been the only thing to rightly stop her. It is what’s happened here, according to someone who dearly misses her. I can’t casually dismiss that. Something won’t let me.
The next time I get some old-fashioned bullshit about how cracking jokes about some things isn’t ladylike or I get told I have no business even trying to be funny in the first place, I’m going to think about how I’m glad I’m hypocritical about one less thing and how I have to keep going until there’s nothing to beat myself up about. And I’ll tell them to “pull the stick outta there, darling”, if the mood’s right and especially if it’s not.