Joan Rivers, Udderbelly's Pasture, Edinburgh
Tuesday 12 August 2008
The diva of the snarky comment, the queen bee of comedy, Joan Rivers is, you sense, a real trouper. After the first airing in Edinburgh of her third theatrical show, A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress, she grants an "audience" to a select, paying few. Genially, she invites us to ask her anything, tell her what we think of the show, and even touch her, as she poses for photos and joshes with a pushy camera crew. For Edinburgh (pronounced Edinbeeaaauuu, as if she's throwing up) she has inserted a few sly references to such Scottish icons as "Rabbie" Burns and Greyfriars Bobby, but the show leans towards Jewish-American life and humour.
At her age, she reminds us, "you're fighting every step of the way". She has repeatedly found her shows abruptly cancelled, coped with the suicide of her husband and a (now healed) rift with her daughter, Melissa, and carved out a new niche for herself in the cutthroat world of showbiz. It's all great material, though, which she shamelessly exploits, along with many allusions to plastic surgery.
It's funny and occasionally poignant. Sometimes she seems on the verge of tears, at other times she's brash, brushing off the encouraging applause. Funniest of all is when she's bitchy about other celebrities. "Victoria Beckham?" She puts on a squeaky voice: "Does this tampon make me look fat?" Rivers isn't running dry yet.
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