“I’ve gone up, I’ve gone down. I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been broke. But you do it — and you do it because we love it more than anything else. You want a real job, honey? There are a million things you can do, but what we do is not a job. What we do is a calling; we make people happy.”
Joan Rivers never took herself very seriously, as evidenced by the fact that seemed to have a never-ending reservoir of jokes about her own advanced age and propensity for plastic surgery. But the trailblazing entertainer — who died Thursday after going into cardiac arrest during a throat procedure late last month — was always serious about her comedy. The above quote is from a 2011 episode of Louie, and it helps explain why the tireless comic never stopped working up until her death at age 81. For Rivers, comedy was never a job; it was simply what she was meant to do.
Rivers’ most recent high-profile gig was as the host/star of E’s Fashion Police, which debuted in 2010. (This is the part where I pretend I only watched the show because of my girlfriend, but it was actually an ideal vehicle for Rivers’ brand of humor.) Rather than starring alongside celebrities, Rivers was best known for standing on stage — or on a red carpet — and lobbing caustic barbs at them. That being said, Rivers made several memorable screen appearances — and an absorbing, revelatory documentary — during her monumental career. Click below for a quick survey of her work on the UpcomingDiscs archives.
The Swimmer (1968) (Rivers’ big-screen debut)
Spaceballs: The Animated Series (2008-09)
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)