Saturday, September 6, 2014

On Comedy, Life, Joan Rivers, and other things we don't talk about.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Joan River’s style of comedy. She was intentionally crass, unapologetically provocative, and sometimes down right dirty. But here’s the thing: that was the point. And no matter what else she was, she was damn funny.
A lot of people have been trying to claim that she wasn’t funny, that she was just hurtful and shameless and would do anything for attention. And sometimes all those things were true, but they shouldn’t be wielded like a weapon against her memory. 
Joan was a master of comedy. And comedy is tough- anyone who tries to tell you differently is trying to get you on stage for an open mic night. If the recent suicide of Robin Williams (God rest his soul) isn’t evidence enough to prove the point, comedy is born out of pain. And Joan’s life was full of pain. Being ostracized by her good friend Johnny Carson, the suicide of her husband after their late night show was canceled, are all painful enough events that if she’d thrown in the towel right then, nobody would have blamed her. 
But she didn’t. 
To paraphrase a now famous clip of her tearing apart a heckler at one of her stand-up shows, “Do you know what comedy is? Comedy is about making people deal with things!”
She didn’t say comedy was supposed to be fun, or carefree, painless. No. It’s about making people deal with things. 
Comedy was how Joan Rivers dealt with her pain. She was a firm believer in the mantra that when life got tough, you had two options: laugh, or cry. Joan chose to laugh. Personally, I think it’s the tougher of the two options. I also think it’s the one that you absolutely cannot live without. 
I did say that I wasn’t a fan of Joan River’s particular brand of comedy. But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t funny. She was damn funny. Because she had to be.

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