This article is from our friends at Trunkworthy

Simple oversight? Technicality? Revenge for all those years of red-carpet commentary? Whatever the reason the Academy had for leaving Joan out of their In Memoriam tribute, we’ll take the excuse to revisit our tribute to her with this Trunkworthy clip from Louis C.K.’s show Louie.

Because there would have been no joke in a routine outpatient procedure gone wrong until Joan Rivers sat up in her hospital bed, found the nearest piece of stray paper, and jotted it down herself, we kept this image in our mind and hoped the indefatigable 81-year-old comedian would emerge from this latest challenge with a slew of new gags she could’ve added to her overflowing card catalog of hilarity. Sadly, she passed away today in her hometown of New York City.

To really understand where Rivers came from—and to watch her pull jokes from that very catalog—we recommend the great 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. “I don’t want to live carefully,” Rivers says in the doc about her lifestyle as she sits in her lavish living room. But she could be commenting about so much in her life. In the early ’60s, a nice Barnard graduate from Westchester wasn’t supposed to do blue humor onstage, but Joan ignored the advice of her manager (“You’re going into places you shouldn’t go,” he told her, to which she answered, “You are so wrong”), and flung doors open for the next generation of female comedians. (For this, she has a line too: “Go fuck yourself—I’m still opening doors.”)

In this Trunkworthy clip from Louis C.K.’s FX show Louie, Rivers mentors the demoralized Louie, who has found himself booked in the small lounge of a casino while the legend Rivers performs in the much larger room. Here she is absolutely playing herself: her work ethic, which has prevailed through the highs and lows of her decades-long career, and the understanding—and for Louie, confirmation—that what they do is not a job, but a calling. Where the scene goes next is brilliant and unexpected, as Louie, let’s say, is overcome, but the humor (including her line, “Nobody likes necrophiliacs”) is absolutely in line with Rivers’ comedic genius, and how she used comedy to deal with encroaching mortality.


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Maurice Molyneaux