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FLASH FRIDAY: Comedy Tonight, Courtesy of Joan

This week, we are going to go a bit off of the beaten path in an attempt to remove the doom and gloom of midwinter as the snow nearly suffocates the Great White Way and take a look at some truly gloriously guffaw-inducing items from the legendary fifty-year-career of Broadway and Hollywood comedy icon Joan Rivers who is also this week‘s InDepth InterView participant. Ed Sullivan to Johnny Carson, red carpets to talk shows to her two weekly TV series FASHION POLICE and JOAN & MELISSA: JOAN KNOWS BEST? - as well as her best and most outrageous comedy special to date and an interview with Lucille Ball herself!

Live, Lewd & Raw

They say that the hardest of all entertainment art forms is stand-up comedy. After all, it’s much more difficult to elicit a laugh from a stone-cold audience than derive a tear from funereal-goers yet perhaps no live performances are more alike than that of priests and comedians. Perhaps that’s why many rabbis are so funny? Compounding the case: In a field filled with men, to blaze onto the scene with Johnny Carson himself crowning you the queen of comedy on national television is the way to begin a big career with a gigantic bang. And, that was over forty years ago. The last bastion of the Borscht Belt, the true survivor of survivors, Joan Rivers has seen, heard and lived it all - and she’s still here, better than ever. Joan Rivers: A PIECE OF WORK was rapturously received last year and has been rightfully ensconced as one of the greatest entertainment documentaries to date, and for just reason. Before we get to the trailer for that, let’s take a look back at some of Joan’s most memorable and momentous appearances over the years.

Starting at the very beginning, here is one of Joan’s first appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in April of 1967. Notice that fashion is the topic of conversation - and her place in the fashion world would ultimately become her greatest legacy, at least in the twenty-first century.

Now, see Joan playfully pushing the limits and breaking boundaries nearly twenty years later in this riotously ribald clip from when she guest-hosted THE TONIGHT SHOW in 1982. Yes, she went there!

Here she is from 1984 and she somehow manages to be even better - and looks much suspiciously ten years younger. What happened in between, I wonder? A little nip/tuck perhaps?

Here is one more TONIGHT SHOW monologue, this one also from 1984 and featuring Joan in a particularly outrageous ensemble!

Next, here is a two-part interview with the legendary Broadway and Hollywood star Lucille Ball. Watch the two top female comedy icons of the twentieth-century come face-to-face.

Part 1:

Part 2:

As a special bonus, check out Broadway baby and then-KNOTS LANDING star Michele Lee interviewed following Lucy - with Lucy still on the couch and throwing out comments and well-intentioned craziness.

Be sure to view Joan’s tearful and emotional Emmy Award acceptance speech - coming after her dismissal from Fox for a show that they had just cancelled prior to this win - as Best Host for THE Joan Rivers SHOW on daytime TV. A truly touching moment.

Now, check out this very recent and raunchy two-part clip of Joan receiving questions from the rapt audience on the UK TV show LIVE AT THE APOLLO. Watch out Barbra and Angelina! WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.

For all of the tried and true fans who want a generous dose of Ms. Rivers, here we have perhaps her best comedy special to date. From 2005 and, again, uncensored UK TV - Great Britain being where she is arguably an even bigger star than she is in the US - we have the five-part comedy spectacular AN AUDIENCE WITH Joan Rivers. For budding stand-ups of the future: this is how it’s done. A lifetime of hard work informs every look, delivery and punch-line. The best.

Lastly, here is the stunning trailer for the absolutely breathtaking documentary Joan Rivers: A PIECE OF WORK that is essential viewing for all those interested in the arts and, more specifically, the art of live performance. We may even glean a glimpse of what makes the best in her field tick over these too-short 90 minutes. I can’t wait for the sequel. Here’s to fifty more years of Joan!

After all, if anybody could live forever, it would be Joan - looking fabulously doing it.

BONUS: Check out a clip from Joan and Melissa’s new WE reality series JOAN & MELISSA: JOAN KNOWS BEST?

That’s all for this week. Please remember that if you have discovered a particularly thrilling, unique, bizarre or hilarious Broadway-related clip to please send us a line at the link below. Until next week…

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Pat Cerasaro Pat Cerasaro is BroadwayWorld's Chief Interviewer and Senior Editor, contributing exclusive columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Flash Fridays as well as additional special features and extensive news coverage. His work for the site has appeared in The New York Times, US Weekly, The Biography Channel, NBC and more.


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