In a Hollywood where sycophantic interviewers ask insipid scripted questions to don’t-touch-me-I’m-fabulous celebrities, Joan Rivers cuts through like a rusty 10-inch scalpel. Her brazen approach to the celebrity interview, and her blatant rudeness, have made her a favourite among viewers of American awards shows.
My allegiance is to my audience, the people who are out there, and not the celebrities, Rivers says firmly. I’m very ordinary and I always try to ask people the sort of things I want to know. That’s my saviour, because people out there say, -˜Oh yeah, that’s what I would like to know too.’
It’s her job to be so rude, she claims. I’m out there to burst bubbles and to be funny and to be outrageous and to push the envelope, she says.
Recent targets of her acerbic wit have included Cher (If you want to know what Cher looks like when she’s dead, just look at her now. Nothing moves. She should never lie down in public because they’ll bury her.) and Liza Minnelli’s new husband, David Guest.
On him: I’m not saying the man is not straight -“ but -“ he plucks his eyebrows, and he has a collection of Shirley Temple dolls. Now that screams flight attendant to me.
But Rivers saves her most savage ferocity for herself. Whether it’s her age, her lack of success with men or her cosmetic surgery, she lets rip without mercy.
I came from a very funny family; we were always sending ourselves up and being silly, she explains. Humour was my weapon from the very beginning, when I realised that I wasn’t going to be the town beauty.
And when was that?
When the doctor wanted to keep the afterbirth and not me.
Aaah yes. It’s that kind of disturbing wit that has endeared Rivers to a generation of fans -“ including many gay men. But the adoration, she explains, is mutual.
To this day, if I see six gay men in the audience I know I’m going to have a good time, she says. Of all my male friends, it’s the gay ones who are the funniest and the quickest.
Understandably, then, she says she’s excited to be performing in Sydney during Mardi Gras time. And, she notes, on Valentine’s Day.
I expect every gay man in the audience to send a red rose, she says.
Rivers has received rave reviews for her solo show, Broke And Alone (her press package bulges in all the right places with laudatory comments), but she is momentarily stumped when asked to recall the nicest thing that anybody has ever said about her in print.
It’s very braggy, she says. When I performed in Edin-burgh, somebody said, -˜I wish I had children so that I could tell them about the first time I saw Joan Rivers on stage.’ Now that’s nice.
And the second nicest thing, she adds, was when somebody said they thought it was Anna Nicole Smith up on stage, but it turned out to be Joan Rivers. That was a very rich, old guy.
Joan Rivers appears in Broke And Alone In Australia on 14 and 15 February, 8pm, at the State Theatre. Tickets are $85, concessions $79. Make reservations on 1300 136 166 or at www.ticketmaster7.com.