Inspired by a recent press screening of the new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work, I took the plunge and checked out the 76-year-old entertainment legend's stand up act on Tuesday, and it was a night I won't soon forget.
Lets just say that Rivers' brand of live comedy isn't the squeaky clean stuff that made her a household name as guest host of The Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson era. No ma'am. In a club setting like the Laurie Beechman Theatre in N.Y.C. where she'll be performing through May 12, Rivers is free to be as crass, dirty, and politically incorrect as she wants to be. And as a result, her audiences are treated to a non-stop tantrum of angry, mean-spirited observations targeted at people Rivers claims to hate, which when all is said and done, includes everyone on the planet. As the butts of her vituperative barbs, children, the elderly, fat people, skinny people, famous people, poor people, people from the Midwest, the disabled, Gabourey Sidibe, Tom Cruise, and even victims of Hurricane Katrina and the devastating earthquake in Haiti all get massive verbal beatdowns. As does her audience if her over-the-top cruelty fails to get a laugh.
Ultimately, I was left more shell shocked than entertained by Rivers' comedy. But I had to admit that her style is no more creepy than the one employed by most male stand ups working today, so there must be a market for it. Certainly, doing this kind of act is rare for a female comic, especially one in her 70s (are there any other female stand ups still working clubs in their 70s besides Rivers?). So if nothing else, she's certainly transgressive.
Think you've got a thick enough skin to endure one of her live performances? Then click here for tix and info.
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.