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Friday, July 4, 2014

Joan Rivers' Diva Diary

Joan Rivers is as skilled a comic writer of one-liners as she is a stand-up comedian. Diary of a Mad Diva, the latest effort from her nibs (released July 1 from Penguin Press), may be hit-and-miss but when its outrageous humor is on-target, it's hilarious.

Isn't Joan's comedy a little bitchy you may ask, which would basically be like wondering if Michele Bachmann's political point-of-view isn't a little kooky. Joan is absolutely and fearlessly iconoclastic in her monologues and on the printed page. Nothing and no one is sacred to our Joanie. Not Jesus Christ, not Anne Frank, not nobody; not even Joan herself or her daughter, Melissa! She is an equal-opportunity offender and the embodiment of bad taste. Still, when she's on a roll, she's usually a laugh riot.

Joan pulled herself up from a career abyss and from personal misfortune. She's currently a true survivor and an industry. She still tours with her act, she has her cable show, her own line of women's clothing and, finally, she's a best-selling author. I'm not sure that Mad Diva tops her last book, I Hate Everybody (Starting with Myself) but it certainly tries. Maybe a tad too hard at times.

At 81, a comic since 1959 (who has influenced generations of stand-up women in the business), Rivers is virtually untouchable and has earned the right to say whatever she wants. She's as tough on herself as she is on other members of the rich and famous.

Her intro to the new book reads: "Some of the events may not be 100 percent... or even 5 per cent factually correct. Miss Rivers is, after all, 235 years old, and frequently mistakes her daughter, Melissa, for the actor Laurence Fishburne."

With her idea of blind items, entries like "Which five-foot-seven Scientologist was seen standing on a box trying on a muumuu in Forgotten Woman?" and "Which blonde British singer stopped rolling in the deep long enough to break into a Dunkin' Donuts in desperate need of a fix?", Rivers demonstrates throughout Diary of a Mad Diva why she is a national treasure and forever at the cutting edge. God Save the Diva! Now, go buy her book.

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