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For Learning to Laugh Out Loud at All Life Has to Offer: "Joan Rivers at the St. George Theater"

What do you think about when you hear the name Joan Rivers? For me I instantly think of laughing so hard I have to hold my stomach for fear of bursting into pieces. I think of someone who is current and keeps up with pop culture and is on practically every channel. She just might be the hardest working woman in show biz and has been ever since she started out way back in 1965 on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. This octogenarian has no sign of slowing down and I for one have to say I am glad to hear it. This world needs some Joan Rivers jokes in it and there were times in her world where she needed it too.

When I think back to my earliest memories of Joan Rivers, it is a sad time that comes to mind first. I do not know how I learned of her exactly, I am sure from T.V. or the media, but I remember learning of her husband’s suicide. Actually I vividly remember watching the made for, “Tears and Laughter, The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story”, that both Joan and her daughter Melissa starred in about their life, of which this was a main part. At that time in 1994 made for T.V. movies were all the rage, ala The Amy Fisher Story with Drew Barrymore or Alyssa Milano. But it was unusual that those in the story were the ones acting it out. The Rivers’ loss was so fresh and new but together they were getting through. Even back then I could see the close bond they had. Now they are taking that bond one step further as they merge family with business on the WE Channel for their show “Joan Knows Best”. My favorite part of this show is seeing how close Joan is to her grandson, like when they have their special week long vacations just the two of them. It is really remarkably clear family comes first.

Joan Rivers was always ahead of her time. Back in 1965 the world wasn’t ready for her. No one was willing to accept that of all people, a woman so smart and witty was willing to say what everyone was thinking. And sometimes not even what you are thinking but now what you can’t even get out of your head. She has never been defeated. Life certainly hasn’t dealt her an easy hand, but if anyone could make lemonade out of lemons she sure did, and then went on to add her on twist of vodka on the side.

After many, many years of being blackballed from Hollywood from Mr. Carson and many others, for reason too numerous to list here, and her husband’s death, Mrs. Rivers simply picked up the pieces and went on. Of course it wasn’t simple and it has taken her a lifetime to get where she is, but she is there at her rightful place: ON TOP!!

I have learned a lot about Joan over the years through many different ways. One of the best was “Piece of Work” a documentary made five years ago as a camera crew followed her around for a year discussing her career and examining the life that is Joan Rivers.

Another great method is her books. I have not had the pleasure of reading any of her books yet but the one I want to start with is her latest “I Hate Everyone Starting With Myself”. Her brand of humor is always on the cusp of enlightening and pee your pants funny.

A small spin off of her “Joan Knows Best” series is a web series, “In Bed With Joan” that she films from her bedroom at Melissa’s house where famous guests Joan is interested in talking to enter from her closet after having waited in the laundry room/green room. They quite literally lie in her bed while she is dressed to the nine and chat for a bit about whatever comes out of Joan’s mouth. It is a riot.  It seems as though her fans, what she likes to call the “Joan Rangers” have unconditional love for anything she does.

As I mentioned in my previous blog “Springing Ahead to My Busy Season”, I found out about this show randomly and immediately booked into an already crowded weekend. I was so excited it didn’t matter. I had never thought I would get to see her perform. I know she still travels nonstop for her comedy tours and for her many other businesses but for these tickets to fall into my lap on a date, time, and place I could go felt like fate. And so it was. I was going to see a living legend in my lifetime. Check another item off my bucket list. Damn that is a good feeling.

Joan Rivers was performing at the St. George Theatre in Staten Island, New York. Not a borough I travel too much I admit. But when I looked it up online I saw how gorgeous it was and how many great events are held there. It looks even better in person and when I saw how big it was and that every single seat would be filled on that night I was had such a strong feeling of pride and privilege as I held onto my ticket tightly.

Prior to the show, my companions and me went to dinner a few doors down. The restaurant, “Enoteca Maria”, was rated very highly by Zagat and considering the strict time restraints and long lines to get into this tiny location it seemed to be the place to be.

When it was finally time for our reservation and after waiting patiently past that time we were escorted/pushed into a table past all the others at the back near the kitchen. It was a good place to be considering we were a party of five and we didn’t want to be constantly bumped into as the wait staff came past every time. Still I think with all the business they were doing they could afford to expand.

As for the food we ordered a few appetizers to share and they were all pretty tasty. We sampled some Margherita pizza, tomato and mozzarella salad, and something called an eggplant boat, which was eggplant with the inside scooped out combined with cheese and baked back in. As for an entrée I got the eggplant boat, as I had not tasted it earlier. For dessert I shared a gelato dish. Overall the food was okay but it was pricey (and they only take cash) and the menu varies daily depending on the season and priority of the chefs, who are grandmothers and other family members as this is a strictly family run restaurant from the cooks to servers.

But all and all it was fine. Glad to have gone and now I know better for next time. All I really cared about was that now we were off to the show!

It had been some time since I had been to a comedy show. The last one was a good one though, when Jerry Seinfeld performed at the Beacon Theater.

This was a big treat for me and I was counting down until the time the curtain would open. It would turn out the curtain was already open, but for dramatic affect my version sounds better.

Chris Monty opened for Joan Rivers the evening that I saw her. I am always leery of opening acts because you never know what you are going to get and they know you aren’t there to see them so it is awkward especially if they are going to be on for like an hour and in the first ten seconds its clear this is a bad idea. I was so delighted this was not the case. Chris was so on this night. He had all local related humor and with a crowd that was from anywhere in the five boroughs he hit the nail right on the head. Everyone was laughing so hard the time flew by. I would gladly see him again, even as an opening act.

When our leading lady came out she was just like she is on T.V.! I have seen pieces of her act on her weekly show and from her aforementioned documentary so some of it was familiar. But boy is there something about seeing her all glammed up and pacing the stage. Honestly I was tired watching her while I sat. She never lost a beat, or her breath lord knows how. She is such a good time and you need to lighten up around her and take a joke. That is the moral of the story. Life is too hard and short for people to get in a huff over racy humor, especially since you paid to see her and know what you are in for. I could see her once a week!

Here are a few of my favorite jokes from that evening:

·       The lesson we learned from Whitney Houston’s death was that when you do cocaine we should take a shower not a bath;

·       Dick Clark should have never been allowed to speak after he had that stroke, it took him until March to say Happy New Year;

·       Chaz Bono is ugly as a man, woman, or farm animal, what a waste of his mother’s $25,000;

·       When she went to visit Auschwitz, she said smells so good in here who is the oven? After she left the gift shop after thirty minutes half of her family on the tour bus had died.

If you aren’t following her on Twitter you need to be, this still makes me laugh:

·       Kris Jenner had a phone case that says “The Queen of F*cking Everything” (I kid you not)

·       Joan says, Kim has the same one only the word “Everything” is missing!

Joan has had an incredible relationship with QVC for many years and now sells a complete line of goods from fashion to accessories and now to nail polish! I was so happy about the latter because every time I see her on “Joan Knows Best” she has the most vibrant colors on that I have never seen before on anyone else. Naturally she is the creator behind them. I should have known. Now at least I will have them available to me. She has never taken a break from being an icon of any generation. We all look up and to her for one thing or another.

I love that Joan’s latest project is her new perfume called, what else but “Now and Forever”.  It is just so fitting. It perfectly captures her essence as for the smell I don’t know but she is a classy lady I am sure it is divine. 

As I mentioned not more that a blog or two agoI am such an admirer of fierce woman that take control of their lives and make their own dreams come true. Joan proves that this is true at any age and that we should never give up. The fact that she is hysterical and doesn’t take herself or anyone else too seriously doesn’t hurt either.

Joan will turned eighty today and to celebrate E! is letting her take over several popular shows all of next week, including: Fashion Police, The Soup, E! News and Chelsea Lately.   

This is just inkling of how far she has come. It is truly an American dream story but better yet because it is real. It gives me chills.

It is refreshing, hopeful, and triumph to know that hard work and talent really do pay off in the end, especially when you outlive everyone else. Maybe karma really does exist.

In the spirit of Joan, I too would like to say that for all those haters and naysayers I hope they choke on her success!

Happy 80th Joan, and to many, many, many more laughs!!

For All Things Joan:

For Chris Monty:

For Enoteca Maria:


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