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Joan Rivers' credit card of a mantra? To her credit, the comely comedian whose caustic wit is as scalpel-scary as the surgery she's undergone, is, at 76 trombones of a career and years, very much an up-and-comer.
C'mon, you're saying? In the neck and neck -- nip 'n' tuck -- face off at the finish line for the title of "Celebrity Apprentice," it is Rivers and her stream-of-consciousness cut-to-the-bone humor that has hit home more than anything, making this season one of the best for the TV reality series.
Get real: Yes, she really did smash that champagne glass playing the part of protective mother hen in coming to the defense of daughter/player Melissa in the NBC Sunday-night series.
And that was no poker face when she lashed out at a "two-faced" competitor who did her daughter wrong, causing a furor when comparing her to the Fuhrer.
Don't expect Joan to ask for tickets to the next revival of "Annie."
And if the Larchmont, N.Y., native is left in the lurch at the end when the last apprentice is left standing, well, she'll always have stand-up.
And her cosmetics line, jewelry business, hand creams, movie and theater career, string of best-selling books ...
What's left to talk about? Her appearance May 2, at the Gershman Y's annual benefit, where "An Evening With Joan Rivers: Can We Talk?" (www.gershmany. org) is the talk of the town these days.
So ... talk, Joan. "Oh, I'm not a good businesswoman," says the wickedly witty woman whose business it has been to make others laugh for decades. "I'm learning so much from Donald."
Trump this: One of the world's -- yes, world's -- most fashionable and famous merchants of mirth and myriad other businesses has added a new wrinkle to the renewable franchise that is "Celeb Apprentice." She is one hell of a game-changer.
"And this," she adds, "is a great game show."
And she's so Fab at it. No, she reminds; Joan's all about All.
Indeed, the hilarious parody of a commercial she did for the dishwashing detergent as part of the game was awash with wit, now making the rounds of the viral video community.
There are times, of course, when she could use some of that soap to rinse out her own mouth that roared. Talk about ousted contestant Claudia Jordan, the model/radio host whose talk of Melissa as a "spoiled brat" has mom Joan spoiling for a fight. "Claudia Jordan can go ..."
And where that is no travel agent has yet to find a return ticket.
But Rivers has returned in good form on the show winning over even Trump with her truly heart-felt and teary refusal to tear into her team; not that she's ever left. After all, booking her for an appearance as the Gershman Y has done is a shout out for "Author! Author!"
Rivers' latest literary leanings are of the laugh and learn type: Murder at the Academy Awards, a blood-stained red carpet ride of a murder mystery where "dead man walking" has everything to do with the trip up to the Oscar podium; and Men Are Stupid ... and They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery, or, as Rivers suggests, what might be a more apt condensed title: Men Are Boobs.
And just what would Joan's Jewish compatriot Heidi Abromowitz -- "That skank!" -- think of this last titular effort? "Heidi? She's my age; she's probably dead."
Live and laugh, regales Rivers, whose far-sightedness far outdistances so many others in her profession. Her first feature film as director, "Rabbit Test" (1978), was punchy with punch lines about the first man (played by Billy Crystal) to become pregnant.
There was a pregnant pause of years before other comic directors could come up with such outlandish outlines that would break out at the box office.
And speaking of breakouts ... The accomplished actress (Broadway's "Broadway Bound"; "Sally Marr and Her Escorts," which garnered Rivers a Tony Award nod and acclaim for her work as playwright) seems to have a cream for every facial problem facing beauties and beasts these days.
And her hand cream? Try it and your hands may slap you in the face -- much as Rivers' routines are a wake-up call to the vicissitudes of life.
Rivers dance: Joan knows all the steps to make an audience laugh -- and a business thrive. "I've been so tremendously lucky," says the joker/entrepreneur who has really "worked so hard."
She's hardly unaware of communal obligations. Much honored and hailed, Rivers enjoys giving back, earning her a major community service award from the New York branch of the National Council of Jewish Women.
Ask her, "How'd you get so rich?" and she may very well sell you a couple of tickets to her next show of the same title, which she's written and will star in.
Isn't it rich? Isn't it Rivers!
But the street-smart, Phi Beta Kappa key holder long ago keyed in on what is the energy force that's made her star trek so much more than a fleeting sensation.
"Funny," she knows oh-so-well, "keeps you going."