Joan Rivers Ė A Piece of Work (10/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 84 minutes.
Not for children.
Oh you need timin' a tick a tick a tick a
Good timin' a tock a tock a tock a tock a
Timin' is the thing it's true
Jimmy Jones, 1960
Back in the Ď70s, I read a script for a pilot
for a new TV show. I didnít think much of it. But when I saw the show, I
rolled in the aisles laughing. It was The Bob Newhart Show and it was a
big hit for seven years. The difference between reading the cold script
and viewing the lines spoken was the timing of the actors. Timing is
what makes a comic funny, and itís something thatís inborn, like being
able to just sit down and play the piano. I could recite the lines and
people would yawn. But when they are spoken by someone with good timing
like Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette, they are hilarious.
Joan Rivers is one hell of a woman. Sheís funny.
She writes all her own jokes, but itís not so much what she says that is
funny, itís her timing. Itís hard for me to listen to Joan Rivers
without smiling and laughing, even when what sheís saying isnít that
funny in and of itself.
This is the story of Joan Rivers today. It was
filmed over a 14 month period, beginning on her 75th birthday
and finishing in the summer of 2009. It is frank. She tells it like it
is and nakedly reveals her inner feelings about her life. It contains
archival clips of her appearances as a young woman with people like
Johnny Carson and Jack Paar. But it also contains clips of her
contemporary appearances on the road, some of which had me laughing
There is one terrific scene in which she
confronts a heckler onstage during her show. Without a break in her
monologue she takes him on and demolishes him. The quickness of her mind
What really came through for me is her
indefatigable energy. This woman of 75 never stops. This probably wonít
get a wide release, but if you donít get to see it, you will be poorer
April 2, 2010