Joan Rivers “I succeeded by saying what everyone is thinking.”
1933 – 2014
Joan Rivers has been a good friend and mentor to me.
While at Boston University i did standup comedy on weekends and wrote comedy material for comedians on the local circuit. When Joan appeared at The Melody Tent on Cape Cod one summer she was at the height of her career. She had just become the permanent guest host for The Tonight Show. I snuck into her dressing room while she was on-stage and slipped five pages of comedy material under her fruit basket. Apparently she liked fruit because she found the material, and started buying jokes from me on a regular basis. Jokes that she would use in her Tonight Show monologues. Enough jokes to make me head to Los Angeles upon graduation from BU. In LA I became a writer at Dick Clark Productions. Dick was another great person, but not half as funny as Joan. From there I went on to become a writer for The Arsenio Hall Show, Rosie O’Donnell Show, etc ..I owe it all to Joan Rivers.
Like Joan I have had a few career resurgences …radio producer/personality, and currently owner of a radio guest booking service humbly called The Art Sears Company. I have stayed in touch with Joan throughout
I have arranged all of Joan’s radio tours in the last few years …to promote her various, books, specials, TV shows, etc. I last spoke with Joan on June 27th of this year. She was promoting her latest book, ‘Diary of a Mad Diva’. On the day that Joan was hospitalized I happened to be reading that book while waiting in a dermatologist office (of all places) and laughing out loud. Being an ex comedy writer, laughing out loud is something I rarely do. In the book she talks about Mother Teresa suffering from a foot-fetish and Pink being afraid to use her real name Vag*na. Typical Joan Rivers subtle humor.
Joan has always been extremely progressive and inventive. Age did not slow her down in the slightest. With Joan it was forever forward motion. She adapted to the times like no other person i have met. This last time i spoke with her she told me that recent polling showed that her prime audience were people in their twenties. She also told told me that she wanted her own Joan Rivers App and asked me if i could help her get it done. This was the same conversation where she told me that she had recently scuba-dived with sharks on a vacation with Melissa and her grandson. Irrepressible Joan.
June 27th would be the last time that i facilitated a radio tour for her. For the first time ever she seemed not well. For her first two interviews she could hardly speak due to congestion and a sore throat. i told her that we could reschedule. Most younger celebrities would have cancelled the remainder of the tour. Consummate pro that Joan was, she wanted to continue, and sounded great by the end of the two-hour plus radio tour. Always gracious, she only asked for an occasional minute-long-break to sip tea between radio interviews.
Can we talk about gracious ..and real moments? ..On a previous radio tour which included Melissa (each calling into a conference service from different locations) I had the chance to eavesdrop on the two chatting between radio interviews. They both discussed how much they liked and respected Giuliana Rancic and her work (Giuliana is cohost on Fashion Police). At another time Joan spoke about how much her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon meant to her. How nice Jimmy was to invite her onto the show, and how she cried all the way home after the appearance. Funny and caustic on stage ..Funny, gracious and “real” behind the scenes.
At the end of this last radio tour Joan said “Thank you Art. I love you!” A nice way to end a relationship that i will always cherish.