Joan Rivers, 1933 – 2014
Joan Rivers was a woman who I very much admired. I first remember seeing her on Here’s Lucy as a kid (I loved Lucy). Joanie and Lucy were on Jury Duty. Although I’m not a fan of self-deprecating humour (Rivers’ barbs were directed at herself as much as they were at celebrities and other bigwigs), there was something about her confidence that made her stand out to me. As a person who performs and writes comedy pieces, I was in awe of her work ethic — she wrote new material every day and was still making the talk show rounds and performing stand up the week before her unexpected death.
Rivers was also influential in the world of fashion. In her later years she was almost as famous for being a red carpet commentator as she was for being a stand up. Her observations on fashion were meant to deflate the pompousness of gushing Hollywood media coverage, but they were so entertaining that they made style-spotting an even bigger pop cultural phenomenon. And of course, she built a $1 billion empire with her high-end costume jewellery collection, which she launched in 1990. Like Rivers herself, her designs were big and bold and definitely made a statement.
To honour her profound influence on my world, I’ve been hitting Toronto International Film Festival events wearing a pair of her signature earrings. They make me a little less star struck when I’m rubbing shoulders with Hollywood.