Joan Rivers: You Ask The Questions

Joan Rivers, is there anything you won't joke about? And how rich are you?
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The Independent Online

Joan Rivers was born to Russian immigrants in Brooklyn in the 1930s. A booking on The Johnny Carson Show led to guest hosting slots, and in the Eighties she hosted the Tonight show. Rivers has her own jewellery range, and is to host a new chat-show on Five.

Joan Rivers was born to Russian immigrants in Brooklyn in the 1930s. A booking on The Johnny Carson Show led to guest hosting slots, and in the Eighties she hosted the Tonight show. Rivers has her own jewellery range, and is to host a new chat-show on Five.

Why are you coming here to do a chat show? And will your style be Parkinson or Paxman?

I think I'll be more Pacman than Paxman! I'll be eating the guests up. The show is far wilder than anything I could get away with in America - we're going to discuss all kinds of sexual problems.

What are the pitfalls of dating in your seventies?

It's just disgusting. Everybody is old, everybody's body looks horrible, all you discuss is aches and pains. A fun date is picking out the right Zimmer frame. I don't like older people and I don't like younger people, so I'm really screwed. When you have to decide whether to spend your money on a vibrator or a pacemaker, life becomes very difficult.

Why are American comedies funnier than British comedies?

This is such a backward question! Go from Ab Fab to the one I love the best, Fawlty Towers, to The Office... Oh no, no, no. British comedies are wonderful. They have been totally influential in America. There was a huge snobbery thing: "Have you seen The Office?" It won an Emmy. I love that show.

How fabulously rich are you?

I have been up, I have been down, but I am not rich. I send relatives to college. Good old Aunt Joan, or Cousin Joan. I also spend a lot of money, I have a wonderful life. I'm the Elton John of the Jews.

You spent a decade performing at clubs in Greenwich Village. Do you look back on this period of your life with nostalgia?

I never look back, never, never. But I'm still working in Greenwich Village. It's fabulous. A lot of young people go there, so it keeps you in tune with what's going on and what everyone's laughing at.

Why didn't you stand for Pope?

I did. I just need a better publicist. I don't think I would have done a very good job because I don't like the hats.

Define Jewish humour...,

You know Laura Bush's humour? Well, it isn't like that. I don't know. I always say: "Show me a Jewish person without a sense of humour and I'll show you an Episcopalian."

You're head commentator on the red carpet at the Oscars. What's the worst fashion faux pas you've seen there?

That would be Björk dressed as a chicken. But it made her an international star, it was very smart. Hilary Swank's dress this year was gorgeous, but it didn't photograph well. See, everyone should get their stylists to take pictures to see how they look on camera.

Costume jewellery has made you rich. Do you wear it?

God, yes. There's a lot more costume jewellery on Hollywood ladies than you think. I have a lot of secret celebrity customers. I'll go to an awards show, and I'll see someone wearing a piece that I know is mine, but nobody discusses it.

You were a guest at the recent royal wedding. Are you a committed royalist?

Totally. The only thing in America we call royal is Jello and Crown Cola. I think we're missing out. I think we made a dreadful mistake in 1776.

Who is the funniest person you know?

It's nobody from Germany...

How many face-lifts have you had - and how many more do you think you will have?

In words changed a little from the movie Field of Dreams: "If they lift it, I will come." I don't do face-lifts, I do little tweaks. I think everybody should keep tweaking. Look at any actress over 60 who doesn't have jowls. They say they've done nothing, but they're lying. I go to my surgeon once every two years, like you service your car or you repaint your house. We're in a business where it counts, and don't tell me that it doesn't.

How many years have you been on a diet?

Oh, for ever! I started my first diet the day Hannibal crossed his first Alp.

How did you find the guts to run away from home as a young woman?

I was totally driven. Also, they hated me: it was easy! They used to sing "Unhappy Birthday To You"! From the time I opened my eyes I knew what I wanted to do. And my parents absolutely didn't want this. I literally ran away. It was a very difficult time. I worked as an office temp. Then I got into an improv group called Second City. Then I found I could write, so I'd do one-liners for comedians. It was seven years before my break on The Johnny Carson Show. The next day my manager called and said: "You don't have to temp any more." It was a great call.

The second series of The Joan Rivers Position begins on 31 May on Five