I always loved Joan Rivers and her edgy sense of humor. Of course, she could be over the top at times, but at the end of the day Joan Rivers did so much for us all. In her documentary A Piece of Work, she opened her life to us in a way that we rarely see celebrities do. At a low point in their career (and through the documentary she gets back on her feet.) These days we often marvel at youth and how the have one success, but with Joan, in her early 80's had experienced so many setbacks in her career, yet still managed to come back as fresh and irreverent as ever.
There are so many things we can all learn from Joan Rivers, both in life and in work. The world is certainly a better place that she had lived here.
Embrace the uncomfortable.
One of Joan's trademarks was that she was brutally honest. Not in the way that's, “Look at me, I'm SO HONEST!” But in the way she told her jokes. Her early days, talking about how her mother lowered her expectations of finding a husband as she approached 30. She joked about her plastic surgery, a topic people still get uneasy about admitting. She also talked about death, rejection, the Holocaust… no topic was off limits to her.
I'm in nobody's circle, I've always been an outsider. ~ Joan Rivers
It's ok to make fun of yourself.
Joan made fun of everyone, but most of all, she made fun of herself. Her age, how she was bad in bed,
It's so long since I've had sex I've forgotten who ties up who. ~Joan Rivers
Write every day. Create every day.
In her documentary, she shared her card catalog of jokes. It was no small archive. She wrote every day.
When I turn down work, I feel guilty, I feel terrible; I don't know where the next job is going to come from. ~Joan Rivers
Ignore the critics.
As much as people loved her, a lot of people did not like her style of comedy, but it didn't stop her from doing what she loved.
What are people going to do? Fire me? I've been fired before. Not book me? I've been out of work before. I don't care. ~Joan Rivers
Things don't always go as planned, but it doesn't mean the dream is over.
In 1986, Joan Rivers got her own TV show. Her long time friend, and mentor, Johnny Carson was furious and didn't speak to her ever again. Her show got cancelled after a month, then her husband committed suicide. That would destroy most people, but Joan overcame that, and hit her prime towards the end of her life.
I've learned from my dealings with Johnny Carson that no matter what kind of friendship you think you have with people you're working with, when the chips are down, it's all about business. ~Joan Rivers
Never stop doing what you love.
Joan Rivers loved life. She loved her work. She did stand up shows when she didn't have to, heck, she did a stand up show just the night before she went into surgery. She wanted to work until the end of her life, and indeed she did.
The thing is, I'm happiest when I'm on stage. ~Joan Rivers
[Image credit: Charles William Bush]