Here are a few of the fascinating things you learn about Joan Rivers in the rip-roaring documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. At 75, she works constantly, taking any gig that's offered - it doesn't matter if it's in a Laundromat in Queens, if they're paying, she'll go. When you get inside her apartment, it's shockingly ornate, with the gilded walls and royal-court furniture of an Upper East Side Versailles. Back in 1986, after spending years as Johnny Carson's guest host on The Tonight Show, she was offered her own late-night show by Fox - and, out of loyalty (because Joan is very loyal), the first person she told was Carson. His response? He slammed the phone down and never spoke to her again for the rest of his life.
When Rivers, with her tirelessly blaring, paint-scrape voice, tells an anecdote like that one, she does it with a merciless appreciation for the comedy of her own misfortune. Yet there's never a hint of self-pity; her ruthless mockingbird personality wouldn't allow it.
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