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7 Questions with First Lady of Comedy Joan Rivers

photography by rickycphotography.com

Joan Rivers has been making people laugh for more than 40 years. She has performed stand-up in almost every comedy club in America. She became a star in the ’70s on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Soon after, she starred in her own show on Fox. In recent years, this comic icon has ruled the red carpet for E and TV Guide.

There is no stopping Joan Rivers. Her life story is being played out on the stage in The Joan Rivers Theater Project at San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Her performance is real and honest, and as you might imagine, it’s wickedly funny and, perhaps surprisingly, it’s also heartbreaking.
 
Joan Rivers

And that's not all. America's first lady of comedy is also doing what she does best: stand-up at The Plush Room in San Francisco through September 1.

Joan Rivers is a national treasure and for the next month, San Francisco, we have her all to ourselves.
 
Joan, I have seven frivolous questions for you.
Joan Rivers: I will have seven shallow answers. Ha ha.
 
1. Welcome to San Francisco. Why did you choose to bring The Joan Rivers Theatre Project here?
JR: I was told to try it out as far away from New York as possible. A good place to make mistakes, test the water. … I think [San Francisco] is fabulous. If I had two good friends here I would move here. If there were an earthquake, you'd die among chic people; in Southern California you die among silicon.
LM: And of course you have no relationship with silicon?
JR: No, I really don't. I’m so not into that (winking). I still can't work my Blackberry. … [San Francisco] is a great city to perform in because the audiences really are for you. They don't come in with that attitude of show me; they come in wanting to have a good time. All of the audience is gay, and they will pull any audience along. I have always had a love fest with my gay fans.

Joan Rivers

2. When did you first realize you were funny?

JR: My whole family is funny. It's all genetic. My father was a doctor, and he was funny. My sister was a lawyer and was funny. She would often win her cases because she made the jury laugh.
 
3. What is not funny? Is there comedy that is off limits?
JR: I don't know. If I love it, it's OK. If that makes sense. If you can make a joke about the worst thing and laugh about it, you can live with it.

4. In recent years, you’ve hijacked celebrities on the red carpet at award shows. Who makes the experience a joy and who makes it a chore?
JR: Any celebrity not willing to play along. Tommy Lee Jones who is so thrilled being Tommy Lee Jones. You want to say, the water will close over you and no one will give a f**k. He and Russell Crowe are big negatives. I see them, and I turn my back.

Anyone with a sense of humor makes it a joy. Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks, get over here. They are comics and have a different sensibility. Dustin Hoffman falls among them. They get it.

Joan Rivers

5. Who is the funniest comedian?
Sophocles. In one of his plays, he said "How is your mother-in-law?" The answer to the joke: "Immortal." And Lenny Bruce. No one has ever touched Lenny Bruce, and Borat now. I love him. I loved him before people knew he was funny.
 
6. Who will be at your last supper?
JR: Only funny people. Borat. Lenny Bruce. Robin Williams and Tom Hanks. We would all laugh until we choked. Ooh and my daughter Melissa would be there too.
 
7. What will be etched on your tombstone?
JR: Who cares. She had a laugh. And Melissa, go back and find the jewelry and sell it. Ha ha.
 
Thank you, Joan Rivers.
JR: Thank you very much. Much fun.

Miss Rivers took some time out for tea and nibbles in the penthouse at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel with yours truly for 7x7sf.com. See Joan in her brilliant autobiographical stage performance at the Magic Theatre through September 3. You will laugh, cry and even possibly wet your pants! Plus, witness her one-of-a-kind stand-up comedy at The Plush Room on various days until September 1.

Enjoy,
Liam
-)

P.S. I neglected to mention that Miss Rivers is the most adorable and indeed funniest person I have ever interviewed. A right royal treat indeed! Go see her perform. You will not be disappointed.

Joan Rivers