I don’t remember exactly when I first saw Joan Rivers. It was probably during the summer in the early ’70s, when I could stay up late and she appeared frequently on “The Tonight Show.”
The acerbic and controversial comedian, who was absolutely delightful during an interview I conducted with her just before she played Austin’s Paramount Theatre in May, passed away at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York Thursday afternoon. She was rushed there last week after suffering respiratory and cardiac arrest during surgery on her vocal cords at a private clinic.
In the May interview, we chatted about her long show business career that, if you begin with her role on the soap opera “Another World” in 1964, has spanned 50 years. We talked about her nonstop schedule, which finds her on the road performing comedy tours, flying from New York to Los Angeles weekly to tape her E! Network snark-fest, “Fashion Police,” and, while at home, working out new material in front of live audiences at the 100-seat West Bank Cafe.
You can read the interview on austin360.com. Meanwhile, here’s some additional material that did not make it into that story.
Rivers on the current state of late night talk TV: “I think it’s so overcrowded and they’re all good and it’s such a pity because everyone’s eating into everybody else. Jimmy Fallon, superb. Jimmy Kimmel, terrific. (David) Letterman, so smart; I’m sorry to see him go. Craig Ferguson — they’re all eating each other up. The only one I was glad to see go was (Jay) Leno, because I never found him funny or clever or particularly anything. He was a good one to fall asleep to — offended nobody.”
On Stephen Colbert, who had just been announced as Letterman’s CBS “Late Show” replacement: “I did his show where he plays the character. I wonder who he’s going to be (on “Late Night”)? That’s really a loose cannon there.”
On Louis C.K. (Rivers was hilarious playing herself in an episode of the comic’s FX series, “Louie”): “I think he’s brilliant and he’s certainly getting the recognition that he deserves, which is wonderful.”
On her longevity in show business: “I just am always interested in everything.”
On new ventures: “I’m just launching Drunken Celebrity Phone Calls, which I’m hysterically excited about. I take a glass of wine and I call celebrities.” (Rivers already has one Internet series, which can be found at inbedwithjoan.com).
On her commute to tape “Fashion Police”: “I lived in L.A. for 21 years and I just can’t go back there permanently. I stay at (my daughter) Melissa’s, so I see Melissa and (my grandson) Cooper, and it’s all terrific. I wish I could say I’m coming back to L.A., but I can’t. I’m a city person.”
On how people approach her: “Usually, 99.999999 percent are happy. Listen, I’m such an institution now; they’ve grown up with me. So, it’s like seeing an old family friend. It’s like, ‘Oh, Joan! What are you doing here in Phoenix?’ And that’s lovely. And now, of course, everyone takes a picture and nobody can get their phones right.”
On Austin: “I think it’s the greatest city in Texas. It’s modern, it’s smart and it’s bright.”