As we mourn the loss of Joan Rivers, I must confess to having admired her bravery and toughness and work ethic more than her one-liners. She took chances. Like a good journalist, her comedy “afflicted the comfortable and comforted the afflicted.” But she also worked like hell. That’s what endeared her most to me. And, I suspect, I’m not alone.
Whether you’re talking about a journalist, a politician, an athlete, or a comedienne, you’ve got to respect the player who respects the game. “Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time,” declares Annie Savoy in Bull Durham, “but it’s also a job.” As fans, rather than destroying the facade, knowing this can enhance our appreciation for the players of the game — for their workmanlike commitment to the profession.
That’s part of the reason I respect Joan Rivers so much. The entertainment business isn’t just about the “magic” we see on TV; it’s also a job. Even for the famous. What may look glamorous to you and I is sometimes humiliating or humbling (behind the scenes). A lot of people, having attained some modicum of success, are, perhaps wisely, no longer willing to endure it. They don’t have the eternal “fire in the belly” like Rivers did.