Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg spent a year following Joan Rivers around, from her ostentatious, gold-plated apartment, to little stand-up shows in the Midwest, to tiny nightclubs peopled by elderly fans, to her stage show in England—and mostly into her strange and needy soul. They portray a woman obsessed by fame and success, who feels she hasn’t gotten the recognition she deserves, and who lives in a series of resentments. Her attitude toward her husband, who committed suicide, is perhaps most telling: She says that he abandoned her and left her with debt, and that he was a bad businessman. And yet, in spite of her shallowness, and maybe because of her insecurity, she comes off as tremendously human. It’s an interesting balancing act: The directors understand that Rivers is vaguely despicable, but they explain why a woman of her generation, entering a world ruled by men, could probably only survive with the kind of inhuman drive that made Rivers famous, beloved, hated and the butt of an endless series of jokes.

Credits

Directors:

  • Ricki Stern
  • Annie Sundberg

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