In the wake of the news that Joan Rivers passed away this afternoon, I’m sure many people are currently posting links to their favorite moments from her career or sharing stories of their close encounters with the comedienne. I’m opting to offer the latter, because it’s a moment that my wife will never forget, either, even though she wasn’t actually there when the encounter took place.
When Joan appeared at the 2009 Television Critics Association press tour in the summer of 2009, she was there to promote a short-lived TV Land endeavor called How’d You Get So Rich? – or, as she was prone to call it during the panel for the show, How’d You Get So Fucking Rich? – and as you can tell from the F-bomb, she was in fine foul-mouthed form. I sat down with her a few minutes after the conclusion of the panel, more than a little intimidated by the thought of interviewing a full-fledged comedy legend, but she got a laugh out of me almost immediately when I said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” and she replied, “And it’s a pleasure to,” hesitated for a beat, and then finished, “Well, we’ll see.”
The chat itself – which you can read in its entirety here, should you be of a mind to do so – wasn’t exactly a hard-hitting affair, but it was certainly pleasant enough, and we did manage to tackle a fair amount of ground in a short amount of time, briefly discussing Z Rock, Rabbit Test, and the PBS special Make ‘Em Laugh, to which she’d contributed, and when I praised her repeated dropping of F-bombs in the earlier panel, she said, “Oh, that’s very sweet. But, you know, fuck is in the vernacular now. It was good enough for Shakespeare. When Jane Fonda can say ‘cunt,’ it’s over. It’s done.” But it was our brief discussion of her time on The Celebrity Apprentice that brings us to my favorite moment of the entire encounter.
In discussing The Celebrity Apprentice, I told Joan that my wife was cheering her on all the way, so much so that, when I was working in my office while she was watching the show, she suddenly yelled, “You’ve got to come watch! Joan’s got to win! If she doesn’t win, I’m going to need some help!” At this, I actually earned a laugh from Joan Rivers – or, more specifically, my wife did, but I’m still taking half-credit for my delivery – and then we moved on to discussing more specifics about her time on the show.
After we wrapped up our chat and I thanked her, I’d just started to get up to leave when Joan suddenly asked, “You said you had a wife. Where is your wife?”
I said, “My wife will actually be arriving any minute. In fact, I should be getting a phone call from her any time now, saying that she’s at the airport.”
“Great,” replied Joan. “Are you going upstairs to your room or staying down here?”
“I’m staying down here for the next panel, whatever it may be.”
“Oh,” said Joan, slightly forlorn. She gestured to a rose in a vase that was sitting on a nearby table. “I was going to send that to your wife.”
“Well, I won’t refuse that,” I decided immediately.
“Want to run it up to your room?” she asked. “Run that right up to your room. Trust me, you’ll get lucky tonight.”
Thanks, Joan. For everything.