“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Joan Rivers, 1933-2014
Today Joan Rivers joins the pages of comedy history and earns a spot next to the great comic legends such as Bob Hope, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and many more. Joan Rivers becomes the first female to join these comic legends and her legacy is not only her body of work which includes TV shows, books, CDs and standup specials. No, her biggest legacy was paving the way for other female comedians like Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman.
Joan Rivers was the Lenny Bruce for female comics and the trailblazer for feminist in comedy. The media often reports that Wall Street and locker rooms are the hardest places for women to be accepted into but I differ. There is no harder stage for females to compete on than the comedy stage. Male comedians are showered with praise such as, “great bits” and “this guy says stuff we all think but never say”. Female comedians are often dismissed with comments like “c*nts” and “Wow ain’t she a bitch?”.
Comedy is the ultimate art form of questioning and challenging society by thoughtful ideas that make us laugh. Joan easily could of been in some other form of entertainment and played it safe but she decided to join the the all-male sector of comedy. Society pressures makes women feel like they must dress a certain way, look a certain way, be a certain weight and most importantly don’t question or make fun of a world controlled by mostly white males. Joan rejected these ideas and the world of comedy is better off because of it.
Joan fought to prove that females can be comedians and all of us should have the equal chance to laugh and be offended by both sexes in the world of comedy. It is now up to a whole new generation of female comedians to replace Joan Rivers and keep misogyny out of comedy. Please be quick girls, her silence is deafening.