Can we talk? Joan Rivers comes to Metro

While some people are content to slow down the pace of life in their later years, Joan Rivers is the complete opposite.

After spending the past 50 plus years in show business, Rivers has certainly earned the right to kick back and relax if she chose to do so, but she doesn’t.

The internationally renowned comedian, TV personality and author is headed to Metro for her first Moncton performance tomorrow night, starting at 8:30 p.m.

Rivers was given one of her first big TV breaks by the one and only Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1968 before landing her own daytime television series a short three years later with That Show With Joan Rivers.

Of course television has been just one of the many facets of Rivers’ career. She is also a stand-up comedian, a best-selling author and columnist, a jewelry designer and a red-carpet hostess for celebrity award shows.

The recently released documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work allows viewers to live life through her eyes over the period of a year, warts and all. It is a documentary that alternates between uplifting, riotous moments of laughter to highlighting some of Rivers’s insecurities. The documentary was shown at the Sundance Film Festival this past year, where it earned the “Editing Award” for a documentary.

Given her success in so many different areas of show business, one has to wonder if she ever pauses to reflect upon all that she has accomplished:

“Never,” she replies firmly over the phone from New York City in her trademark raspy voice. “You never have the chance to stop for a second because the moment you take the time to look back on what you have achieved, you are going to lose the momentum you have gained and others are bound to pass you. It is like trying to roller-skate up a hill: there’s no point to it.”

Understanding that Rivers has logged miles beside some of the most legendary people in the business including the aforementioned Carson and Barbara Streisand, she has undoubtedly seen her share of people come and go in the business.

The days of creating life-long stars seem to be a thing of the past. Those actors, actresses and television personalities awarded instant fame for one reason or another tend to fade away just as quickly as they rose.

In Rivers’ opinion, many of these stars have little in the way of substance to help ensure their career longevity. The late night talk shows of the 21st century differ greatly from those that first hit the airwaves, and not for the better as far as she is concerned:

“I think that there are too many people trying to leave their mark these days. These stars and starlets go onto these talk shows and no one is allowed to have any fun anymore. Plus, there is always an alternate agenda for people being on these shows.

There is always a new movie or a new record to plug it seems. These talk shows aren’t bringing on people because they are interesting people. Quite often, they have nothing to talk about and I think that plays a big part in why ratings for talk shows are going down.”

Asked her opinion on the current late night programs and their hosts, she sums up her feelings rather succinctly:

“I don’t know and don’t care about late night these days. I haven’t cared about late night for quite some time.”

Rivers does profess a fondness for one late night host however, who she feels has a long career ahead of him: “I think that Jimmy Fallon is amazing. He is young, smart and charming and whether he knows it or not, he has got a lot of the qualities that the other late-night hosts do not have. He reminds me a lot of Johnny Carson in that respect; he is delighted just to have people come onto his show and say hi.”

When talk turns back to the numerous television commitments that the 77-years-young Rivers juggles, it is clear that the comedian wouldn’t know what to do with her spare time if she had any to enjoy. Keeping busy is of paramount importance to her.

“I work a little club in New York City when I am free to do so, plus have television shows like Fashion Police and How’d You Get So Rich that keep me busy. In addition to that, I tend to have one stand-up show per week similar to what I am doing at the Casino in Moncton.”

So with everything that she has on her plate, does she have any intent to hang up her microphone anytime soon?

“Oh God, no! I love working. Everything is so great,” she says, adding that she is looking forward to her inaugural trip to Metro Moncton.

“I spend quite a bit of time in Toronto, working with the Shopping Channel who help to sell some of my products. I’m always in Canada, so much so that my passport makes it look like I have a lover up there.”

“That, or that I am a drug dealer,” she laughs.

Article published in November 12, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript