Entertainment behind the scenes
Joan Rivers at Tribeca — brash, annoying or brave comedian?
Should we respect Joan Rivers for forging the way for female comedians, or cry at her need for attention?
One of the most surprising and buzzed about documentaries at the Tribeca Film Festival this week has been a bittersweet portrait of Joan Rivers, beginning with the aging comedian and actress telling jokes at a club, telling stories about her daughter refusing to do a Playboy photoshoot and looking around at the small audience before quipping that after 40 years in showbiz, “This is my career, I mean, how depressing is this!”
Rivers, is perhaps best known for reality TV, plastic surgery and snarky fashion comments on the red carpet. “Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work” shows extreme close-ups of make-up being applied to Rivers’ bare face that, she says, gives her “the willies.” On her 75th birthday, she laments “it’s a youth society and nobody wants you,” and her manager tells stories of her chronic workaholic ways and desperate fear of being completely without a gig.
But the film also shows vintage footage of Rivers’ groundbreaking comedy about topics like abortion, her years of working with Johnny Carson, and praise from modern female comedians like Kathy Griffin calling her a true inspiration. In the video above, the film’s director Ricki Stern, who previously has turned her attention to topics such as the genocide in Darfur, talks about Rivers’ pioneering career and her ability to survive Hollywood. Stern also takes a stab at a controversial topic at this year’s festival — what filmmakers think of watching movies online, which has been a key effort by Tribeca.