Karen Koren: Goodbye Joan, an inspiration

Joan Rivers. Pic: Comp
Joan Rivers. Pic: Comp
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IT was sad to hear of the death of two very different and inspirational comedians recently, Robin Williams and, last week, Joan Rivers. Both these figures are an incredible loss to the comedy world.

Robin Williams made so many people laugh, it is tragic that he suffered from depression and that he took his own life. This is something that Joan too encountered in her life, as her husband also took his own life only a week after their separation after 22 years of marriage.

Joan weathered that storm and became more successful in her latter years than she ever had been before. Her reputation was for her incredible acerbic wit; she was cruel but very funny. Her career spanned 55 years and her ‘tell it like it is’ humour was both criticised as being truthful, gossipy, yet too personal.

She became a pioneer of contemporary stand-up comedy and she was her own worst critic, which is why she got away with criticising others.

She had so much plastic surgery that no one knew what she really looked like. She would joke, “I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery”.

Joan became a comedian in the 50s when there were few men doing stand-up, let alone women. She struggled for many years and it was dogged determination that women can learn from. I met her at the Festival in 2009 when she unexpectedly turned up at the Gilded Balloon after having performed a sell-out show at the Festival Theatre.

She was shy and quiet, very small and spent most of her time observing, nothing like the media persona she puts across. A very nice person, I think we will go on quoting her for many years to come.

Of the many things she said, I liked, “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself; after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” Or “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift, that’s why we call it the present”. Joan Rivers leaves a wonderful legacy and was truly inspirational to all women.