Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Synopsis: This documentary follows one year in the life of Joan Rivers, who sees herself first and foremost as an actress, with her life as a comedienne/writer just an extension of being an actress. Now at age 75, Rivers has faced her ups and downs in her forty plus year career, the year leading up to filming being a down compared to what she would have wanted, which is a calendar full of engagements with several engagements each day. That want is in part to support her opulent personal lifestyle, but is more a need to bolster her own sense of self-worth as a basically insecure person who is probably best known now for her overuse of cosmetic surgery rather than her professional work. She feels that Kathy Griffin, who she admires, is now getting all the engagements she would have gotten in her prime. During this year, Rivers is seen going from engagement to engagement, some big - such as a Kennedy Center Honors for George Carlin, a double bill with Don Rickles in New York, and her own celebrity
Director(s): Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg (co-director)
Production: IFC Films
  5 wins & 12 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
84 min

- Would you welcome

Miss Joan Rivers.

You know, you're going to be

a big star.

- Now here is my daffy

little friend, Joan Rivers.


Joan Rivers,

the groundbreaking

female comedian,

paves the way

for women everywhere.

- You know how I know

who's gay and who's not gay?

Can we talk here?

And the Emmy goes to...

Joan Rivers.

Here's Joan Rivers!

Yes, but I'm very, very late.

- I hope you've had

a few drinks,

'cause you're gonna need 'em.

Will you welcome, please,

Miss Joan Rivers!

This is my career.

I mean,

how depressing is this?

in the f***ing business,

and this is where you end up.

Just to show you...

My daughter and I are

very close, very, very close,

very close.

But I brought her up

all wrong.

I brought her up

to have morals.

She turned down

doing Playboy magazine cover.

How about that?

$400,000 naked to the waist.

Turned it f***ing down

and calls me up for approval.

For approval!


I've turned down Playboy.

What do you think?"

And you know-

What do I think?

"Oh, I'm very proud of you,


"What do I think?

"What do I think,

you stupid f***ing c*nt?

"What do I think?

"I think you should ask

for $200,000 more

"and show your p*ssy.

That's what I think."

I'm a 75-year-old woman up here

playing to drunks in Queens.

What do I think?

I'm on the f***ing red carpet

in the hot sun,

talking to these a**holes.

"Where you from?

"Got your lucky charm?

Who the f*** are you?"

Not good.

I mean, this is not good.

We have no Vegas,

no giant club dates.

Kathy Griffin has taken

all of those away.

Uh, I have the play,

which is not going

to bring me any money.

Can't we get club dates?

Can't Billy get club dates?

This is not a full book.

- Like a little date

here and there?

- Yeah

- Sure.

These were the good years.

- These were

the good years.

- See, this is the kind

of a book I like.

Now, that's a good page,

you know what I mean.

These are good pages.

This and that.

That's happiness.

Last year was

a very difficult year.

I was playing-here we go-

The Bronx at 4:

in the afternoon.

That was a real... good one.

I'll show you fear.

That's fear.

If my book ever looked

like this,

it would mean

that nobody wants me

and that everything I ever tried

to do in life didn't work

and nobody cared

and I've been totally forgotten.

- When you say,

"Joan, get out your calendar,"

she goes, "Hold on,

let me put my sunglasses on,

because the white

of the page hurts my eyes."

So that's a joke.

So we used to laugh about it.

She goes, "Hold on.

Let me get my sunglasses.

Okay, what day?"

You look handsome.

Yeah, right.

- Billy looks good.

He can't stand it.

I can't.

- Why not?

- My career is in the toilet.

Oh, no, that's Joan.

That's me.

My career is in the toilet.

Nothing is going right.

- That's right.

- Nothing.


- I don't know.

It's like, you know...

That's what I always tell him.

Unless Joan gives me...

- Billy Sammeth

is a big part of my life,

huge part of my life.

He knows my history.

You know,

there are so few people

that you can say, "Do you

remember Bernie Brillstein?"

And we both laugh

and laugh and laugh.

Joan is a chronic workaholic.

One job a day is not enough.

It's almost like

an addict, sadly,

but she's a work addict,

so it's not enough.

No matter how much you give her,

it doesn't fill up that need

to be working.

Now, this is Jocelyn Pickett.

This is my assistant,

who is now going to show you

how busy I am.

Anybody call?

- No.

- No.

- It's not about whether

the talent is good.

It's about whether they're hot.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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