Bravo Star With Bravura


Can we … kvell?

Sure, Joan Rivers, go right ahead; after all, there's much to kvell about!

"I'll be doing the Keswick [in Glenside] on Oct. 28, then there's my special on Bravo, that's Oct. 24, then I'll be in Atlantic City Oct. 20 and 21 … "

Will the airlines allow such a weighty schedule as carry-on? And carry on she does: Schmoozing with Rivers pre-Shemini Atzeret … one needs a sukkah as succor just to support her agenda.

But then the erstwhile Joan Molinsky makes no bones — well, she is somewhat skinny these days — that life is not so much a cabaret as a convention center, and she's booked to her … well, may she live to be 120 (and then some).

Then something else will come up, of course. But why not?

"I love the business; my joy is the business, it's my second child," says the energizer Rivers of a career that keeps going and going, even after a battery of accomplishments that would weigh down a woman half her 70-some years.

Funny girl-cum-woman-cum- legend, which explains her latest TV special. What becomes a legend most? Laughter: Bravo, Joan Rivers? Brava for bravura! "Bravo's Funny Girls" flows with Rivers as its opening act, premiering Oct. 24, at 10 p.m., with Caroline Rhea and Paula Poundstone in following weeks.

Tough act to follow, that Rivers. But tough she's been to tackle the spitfire side of comedy over the years on TV, on Broadway, in clubs, in films … in your face.

Ooh, That Hurt! 

The woman who once verbally assaulted Elizabeth Taylor by pouring stand-up salt in her flab is tailor-made for today's times. (Not for nothing is her Keswick date of topical, undated caustic commentary called "Live & Uncensored.")

Witty, wicked — and looking wonderful — she reads like a red carpet littered with thorny flowers.

Speaking of red carpets … who is she wearing? "I'm wearing a Dolce & Gabbana jacket, which I had to pay full price for — and I'm not happy about that."

She wears her irritation well, but then nothing — nothing! — sags about Rivers or her career, which has the elasticity of plastic.

Then again, the chic comic has been more than cheeky about the importance of cosmetic improvements in her chi-chi cosmos over the years.

A Jewish gem with a multifaceted career unlocked by talent and tenaciousness — a Phi Beta Kappa key of an education helps her decode de business, too — Rivers is a classic, as is the Joan Rivers Classics Collection of fashion jewelry, for which she puts the pedal to the metal on QVC.

But then off-screen, she's also a fashion plate not above dishing on her own frailties. The one-time Johnny Carson heir apparent given the air once she took up a talk-show time slot opposite the late legend on Fox, is sly and slinkily pretty, willing to challenge herself and fall flat on her face — all while her skin stays in place.

Whether the chat is about her beauty line or her beaut of a career, you can expect straight talk from this icon of gay fans everywhere.

When it comes to "Straight Talk" … "The pilot's been done but it hasn't been picked up yet," she says of the show already described as a gay "The View" targeted for Bravo, placing her alongside four gay male co-hosts.

Queer oy for the straight un-goy? "The best evenings I've ever had," says Rivers, "have been dinner parties sitting around with my gay friends, and just laughing and laughing."

She is also tickled pink by cuddly grandson Cooper and daughter/red-carpet comrade Melissa. But all that togetherness … doesn't that mom/daughter duo need some downtime? Doesn't their chemistry wear thin?

"No, never, because we actually only see each other every three weeks — which is not enough for me. But we talk on the phone every day."

Also an Ambassador

And, despite the dish and rags on celebrities Joan's known for, this ambassador of the National Osteoporosis Foundation doesn't have a mean bone in her body.

Unless, perhaps, she has a bone to pick with you. And, that said, Mel Gibson will need more than a brave heart — and tough exterior — to make it past Rivers' riven response to his recent rants.

Passion of the caustic? "What every Jew should do is not see his movies," is what Rivers sees as an antidote to his anti-Semitic comments.

Compassion for a Hollywood comrade? "Why should there be compassion? Just because you're famous doesn't make you smart," says the still-smarting comic of this "piece of garbage."

Her trash talk isn't reserved just for the malevolent Mel. Some of those who deliver sermons also deserve them. "I have no respect for the rabbis" offering their bimahs as bizarre byways, venues for apologies should Gibson ultimately give a mea culpa to the community beyond his dire Diane Sawyer attempt at dayenu.

While she exhorts Jews to "turn your back on him," Rivers remains front and center, the backbone of the funny-bone business.

As for those who complain that her on-stage mien is filled with a mean streak, Rivers retorts: "Too bad."

But she's oh so good at it.


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