Cracked Up

Joan Rivers: a woman of chutzpadik and chilarity. We either love her, or hate her. She’s either the talk of the town, or fades into red carpet oblivion . . . only to be resurrected again. This time, with even more plastic surgery. (Is it okay to make fun of a woman who has paved the way for practically every female comedian from the 1960s on? And to poke fun at something so superficial? Something that undoubtedly has bolstered her long career? I mean, come on, name me one successful woman comedian who sports grey hair, is over 50, and hasn’t had work done to either her face or her body.) We make fun of the things that make funny women palatable. How many male comedians are old, bent, or balding? It’s easy to make fun of and (for some) hate the strong, brassy, woman who openly tries. And who openly addresses the effort.

Recently, Joan Rivers promoted her published book I Hate Everyone . . . Starting With Me on  NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. I had the experience of reading the book first and then listening to the interview. For me, there was a surprising disconnect. The book wore me down. The repetition of the “I hate…” opener really hit a nerve. It’s like Jerry Seinfeld’s “What’s the deal with,” but toxic. Kristen Linklater, master teacher, vocal coach, and author of Freeing The Natural Voice, has said “The unconscious doesn’t know how to take a joke.” And so seeing the word “hate” on almost every page (in bold) took it’s toll. Granted, I’m sensitive; granted, I’m an artist. But I wonder if others who read this book, found the relentless repetition of the word “hate” and the negative gestalt to be, at the very least, tiresome.


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