Sunday, February 3, 2013

Joan Rivers: The First Lady of Comedy and Queen of the Red Carpet

The Emmy's, The Globes, The Oscars...whatever the event, there is one skinny, rich bitch that always reigns supreme over the Red Carpet Award season.  In recognition of the upcoming Academy Awards, this month's SRB of the hour is the indomitable comedienne and television personality Joan Rivers.

Joan Rivers on the cover of her 1983 album "Excerpts from 'What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most?"

Whether you love her, hate her or just love to hate her, Rivers undeniably remains as a seminal pioneer for women in comedy.  Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky on June 8th, 1933 in Brooklyn, the stage name Joan Rivers was created under the advice of an agent as Rivers began to pursue her career as a performer.  Known for her brash, biting humor, Rivers' unrelenting endurance and iconic voice has led to a career spanning over five decades and still continues, surpassing the legacy of many of her male counterparts and peers.

Throughout the '50s and '60s, Rivers was esteemed by some of the most powerful figures in television from Jack Paar to Ed Sullivan to Johnny Carson, who went on to be her industry "father figure" and mentor.  After making her first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1965 (when Carson said to her on the air, "you're gonna be a star"), Rivers remained very close with Carson, eventually becoming his primary guest host on The Tonight Show into the early eighties.  To this day, she still remains as the only woman to sit behind the desk of The Tonight Show franchise. 

While her humor is known to be at the expense of other public figures and celebrities, Rivers always counters her comedic approach with her own sense of self-deprecation.  Her blunt, shameless and often shocking portrayal of the female identity in her standup routine opened many doors for female performers.  From appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show seven months pregnant to talking about the reality of sex, marriage, aging and cosmetic surgery, audiences never knew what to expect when Rivers took the stage.  She was the first woman to bring the feminine "gift of gab" to television before Oprah, Rosie or Ellen, hosting late night to daytime talk shows where she eventually coined the phrase, "Can we talk?". 

Amongst the rejection, judgement and tragedy endured, Rivers has proven to be on the the toughest motherf@#$# in the industry.  In 1986,  FOX offered Rivers The Late Show with Joan Rivers, putting her against The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson.  After she accepted, Carson was so offended by this move he never spoke to Rivers again, consequently ending their twenty-year friendship and initiating a blacklist against Rivers on NBC.  She did not appear on the network until 2009 as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice.  In 1987, right after FOX cancelled The Late Show with Joan Rivers, Edgar Rosenberg, Rivers' husband of over twenty years and the father of her only child, Melissa Rivers, committed suicide.  It was a series of events that only the toughest SRB could survive and conquer.  Rivers unflinchingly moved on with her career, releasing comedy albums, books and establishing her daytime persona with her Emmy-award winning talk show, The Joan Rivers Show.  She then went on to become the most iconic personality throughout the Hollywood Award season, becoming the E! Entertainment Network's host for the Pre-Award Red Carpet Show for the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards as well as the host for E!'s Fashion Police, taking ownership of the phrase, "Who are you wearing?"

What makes Joan Rivers a true heroine in our eyes is that the woman is fearless.  She can say anything, pushing the most taboo topics to the limit without regret or apology.  She is also unstoppable, carrying the classic show business work ethic of never falling behind if you want to stay in front.  There is no other way of saying it, but this woman WORKS HARD and never even thinks of stopping.  It's just not an option.  In a cameo of the FX series Louis, when Louis CK admits to Rivers that he quit a gig, Rivers exclaims, "What do you mean you quit?  Nobody quits.  Are you crazy?"   

We worship you, Ms. Rivers, and can't wait to see you out on the red carpet.

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