Jo Caulfield on why Joan Rivers is her comedy hero

  • The List
  • 27 October 2010
Jo Caulfield on why Joan Rivers is her comedy hero

Joan Rivers is like The Rolling Stones: you may not like what she’s turned into but her early work will blow your mind. She was the first female comic I really connected with. She made me laugh LOUD and HARD: ‘A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes 19 or 20 mistakes she’s a tramp.’

There were no female stand-ups before Joan Rivers: she was the original, the rest were comedy actresses. She was a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry: ‘I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.’

I’ve read her autobiography countless times. Her career went up, it went down, but she never gave in, she kept on working. Again, take a minute to think about that: Joan Rivers is 77 and she’s still writing jokes, still working. My grandparents are also in their 70s: they spend most days trying to find their glasses. ‘I blame my mother for my poor sex life. All she told me was, “the man goes on top and the woman underneath”. For three years my husband and I slept in bunk beds.’

Rivers should be spoken about in the same way as Richard Pryor or Robert Klein. If she was a man, she’d wouldn’t be any funnier, but she’d be more respected. That speaks volumes about gender in our society. ‘It’s so long since I’ve had sex I’ve forgotten who ties up whom.’

And finally, if you want to make a joke about her leathery complexion, don’t bother. She beat you to it: ‘I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.’

The Stand, Glasgow, Thu 21–Sat 23 Oct

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