Yesterday, Hollywood threw Joan Rivers the memorial service she said she wanted. It was full of celebrities and celebration of her life and humor. I never got to see her perform in person, nor did I ever get to meet her. Yes, I am selfish enough to feel badly that I never will.
Jimmy Kimmel said that she was not just a role model for female comedians but for all comedians. I think that is true but comedy is very much male dominated. A DC area comedian Valerie Paschall has a joke about that. She says that the women comics had a drinking game; we would drink every time a comic told a dick joke but we’d be drunk before the first comedian’s five minute set was over so we stopped. (Trust me, she does a funnier job with it on stage).
Rivers acknowledged the difficulties women face in comedy. She didn’t say it was harder, per se, but different. Her presence on the scene — and her last stand-up performance was the night before she had that fateful throat procedure — paved the way for a number of women to join her. Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey… the list goes on and on. Comediennes who destroy the myth that “women just aren’t funny.”
I started doing stand-up about four years ago in Washington, DC. I had always wanted to try it and wasn’t sure how so I took a class at the DC Improv. Comedian Chris Coccia taught “Five Minutes to Funny.” I have been performing ever since and LOVE IT.
Thank you, Joan. We will miss you but luckily, you have us more than 50 years of footage to keep you alive for generations. You will continue to inspire all of us to reach beyond what we think we can do. You may be gone but will never be forgotten.