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Joan Rivers: Outrageous and Outspoken as Ever

For comedienne Joan Rivers, almost everything is fair game: race, sex, death and, of course, her life.

That's the subject on her latest project, an autobiographical play, Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress, which premieres Wednesday at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

She discusses her new play — which is set in her dressing room before an awards ceremony pre-show — her comedy career, and her life.

"Comedy is such a great way of getting through anything in life. ... The first time I came back on air or in a nightclub after my husband's suicide, I said that it was my fault, because we were making love and I took the bag off my head. Everybody gasped. But that got me through my husband's suicide," Rivers says.

She has always talked openly about her husband Edgar Rosenberg's death in 1987.

"It was a major thing in my life, and I work very hard — we're talking seriously now — for suicide survivors. And I think that I've become, in a way, a very good example of 'Life goes on,' 'You will be happy again,' and mainly, 'It ain't your fault,'" she says.

Known for her self-deprecating, bawdy and — some would say — offensive humor, Rivers says she is "bored" with political correctness.

"If everyone would just relax, we'd all be much happier," she says.

And if anything, growing older has only made her feistier. What does she think of the younger generation of comedians? Bring 'em on.

"I'm truly working the best angle, and that's age. Age has freed me — I don't have to hold back on anything. I've never worked so strongly and so freely in my life. And that's because I have nothing to lose. I've already been fired. I've already been bankrupt. I've already had the suicide. I've already had my daughter not talk to me for a while. I've already had all kinds of things taken from me. So I might as well say what I think," River says.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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