“I don’t know if I really liked her humor,” I said. “It’s not that I dislike her, but it seems to me that her humor was mean… or just not funny. I don’t know.”
“Me neither,” Laura replied, “her brand of humor did seem mean, self-deprecating. I don’t know, either, I’m not a terribly big fan of comics who put themselves or others down. But she was brave and strong and made her way in a tough world. And I think one thing that she had that was extraordinary, was that she wouldn’t be quiet. You know, in a man’s world, men want women who listen to them. Men want women with a sense of humor, but only so they can laugh at the man’s jokes. But Joan wouldn’t be quiet the way we wanted her to, nor tell jokes the way we wanted her to.”
“Oh my god, I think you have revealed an unpleasant truth about my gender, Laura. Did I not care for her humor because deep down I am uncomfortable with opinionated women… that what is more comfortable is a woman who knows her place? Wow, that’s a real revelation. I know I wouldn’t answer that way on a test question, but maybe what is comfortable, what seems right is a partial product of our male dominated society.” I thought about it for a bit, “You know what, I admire Joan more now. She made America think. She wouldn’t be quiet when America wished she would. Through her humor she could resist the pressure to be quiet by making people laugh and changed society for the better.”
“You know what? It makes even more sense that Johnny Carson banned her from his show for all those years. When she took her own show on CBS, he felt it was a personal betrayal, but I think his actions reveal it to be more than just a simple infidelity. Johnny Carson thought he owned her. He made her, gave her her first big chance, and felt that she was his. Instead of being happy for her continued success, hoping that she take flight and soar, he wanted to control her, possess her, and have her do his bidding. Ugh, it makes me so so sick. Johnny was a dick. I’m glad she succeeded without him and made her own way.”
Even for all her insensitive jokes and gaffs, the world was a better place for having had Joan Rivers in it.