Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
If you're not laughing with her, she's talking about you!
AH, humanity! So much to hate, so little time! It's a Herculean task, but feisty (she hates that word) Joan Rivers is willing to take a stab at it.
Many, many stabs, in fact, all of them designed to sting with a smile, and all deftly delivered. She confides that she is "totally fed up with "all the morons and losers and cretins who are cluttering up the planet."
Writing from her self-described decrepitude, the comedy writer-performer-producer makes it clear that the people she is picking on have this acid-based book coming.
Typically, the 79-year-old doyenne of comedy is unafraid of being attached to "the hating class." Haters are, she maintains, a better breed than the merely politically correct, always willing to make a scene, thereby lightening the mood of those trapped in the daily ennui.
That is exactly what Rivers did recently when warehouse giant Costco refused to sell this book because of its "inappropriate content."
She showed up unannounced at the store's Burbank location, chained herself to a customer's shopping cart and, with a megaphone, started a one-woman conversation about freedom of speech.
When police arrived, she left, promising to continue to buy her condoms at Costco.
Many will wonder what new offences Rivers could possibly think up after 40 years of offending audiences as a mouthy stage and television satirist.
Quite a few, as it turns out. Following in the brave and brash footsteps of her beloved mentor Phyllis Diller, Rivers is forever closing in on the unspeakable, but her material respects the golden rule of comedy: that it contains at least enough truth to be recognized in laughter.
I Hate Everyone is a collection of one liners, asides and riffs that takes her into new territory.
Here she lets loose with a rain of razor blades on the normally unassailable: old people, depressed people, handicapped people, pregnant brides, dry weddings, cash bars.
Rivers is always ready with a salient question. Why, for example, don't inter-faith marriage announcements ever mention which family is more disappointed?
The hateful list goes on: baby talk, kids, people who belch, Madonna as spiritual leader, simpering Tom Cruise. Anne Frank and Stephen Hawking take their lumps.
Death gets the most lavish and detailed crucifixion. Why can't the obituaries explain how the person died? "Would it kill them to just say, Murray Weintraub, 58, mumps?"
Obituaries are shredded, but funerals are spared:" A funeral is just a red carpet show for dead people."
Rivers herself wants to be buried in Valentino, with a wind machine so that "even in the casket, my hair is blowing like Beyoncé's."
I Hate Everyone is a gold mine of humour, but don't look for the eloquence or intimacy Rivers produced in her autobiography, Enter Talking (1987).
Her account of many years of ignominious, soul-destroying struggle and humiliation as a female comic in the '60s is one of the true masterpieces to emerge from show business.
In any case, read this book and savour the laughs.
Rivers wants to send her grandson Cooper to college on the proceeds.
Lesley Hughes is a Winnipeg-based writer and broadcaster.
I Hate Everyone ... Starting with Me
By Joan Rivers
Berkley, 242 pages, $27.50
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 1, 2012 J7
(1 of 23 articles for this week)