Last night I went to see Joan Rivers stand up at a supper club on 42nd street. She performed for an hour to about 120 diners… She donates the proceeds from these events to charity. So I was thinking, why is this awesome 79 year old woman standing up in front of a crowd of people, busting her ass for free? Well, because she has to. She loves it. It’s who she is. And then I thought this is why any of us do anything…. we paint, blog, make, design and create because we have to. Did you read the article a few weeks ago in The Times Magazine about Jerry Seinfeld? How he’s still performing to small crowds and large ones, nursing jokes for years until they are honed to perfection… Well WHY? Because when you get into something for the love of it, the end goal is not monetary success. The action is the end goal. It’s like the story about the fisherman with one boat. He works extra hard, saves his money and buys two boats, then three, then ten and eventually creates a fishing empire… only to retire to some tropical island and sit on a single engine boat to fish for his dinner.
For the love of the craft you often end up right back where you started.
So, how was Joan? She was awesome. I mean, she was one part loopy grandma who says whatever she wants, one part hard hitting zinger layer, one part truth saying yenta. It was very casual and conversational, and she did lose her train of thought a bit but it was part of the charm. What I love about Joan, is her un-compromising sense of humor about herself. I mean, she said- “How lucky would you all be if I dropped dead tonight? You would have a story for the rest of your life!” And what she loathes and ridicules in others is ALWAYS their ridiculous self importance, lack of self awareness and denial of privilege. At one point she was mocking one particular ethnic group as being ugly. Some people in the audience groaned, so she said: “Oh yea, you’re groaning, who here has ever looked at a picture of X group and said, wow I want to look like that.” One woman raised her hand. So Joan says: ” OH YEA, the woman with the blond hair and the tiny nose wants to be part of X group. There is always one WASP who doesn’t know how lucky she is.” Sure she claims to hate cripples, ugly people, children and various races, but if you listen to what she’s saying its: I hate when people don’t have pluck, I hate when people don’t have a sense of humor about themselves, and I hate when people pretend, posture and pose (see Lea Michelle). She’s the perfect foil for the artifice of Hollywood.
Anyway, she has had a fascinating life, and I really admire her. GO JOAN.
If at 79 I’m still writing this blog…. well, WHAT? I don’t even know what to think about that. I still cant believe I’ve been doing it for this long. But I get it.