“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” (2010)

The documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work got good reviews when it came out, of the urging kind, as in “I urge you to seek out this film.” Eventually it was my turn at the library, and my husband and I watched it this week. And still, it surprised us with how good it was.

Joan Rivers, with her squawky voice and admitted predilection for plastic surgery, would be an easy target. But she steadfastly refuses this role. She’s 75 and not only still working, she’s disappointed in herself if she’s not doing more than one show or appearance a day. She’s happiest when she’s busiest, especially when she’s onstage and making people laugh. She’s shameless about her fear of not working and readily admits she’ll do anything (not just about anything) for money. This honesty helps balance out her raucous, oft offensive, jokes. She is simulataneously unafraid of saying or doing anything, but very afraid of being forgotten or ignored, or bombing on stage. She is fascinating, funny, offensive and though larger than life, still human. This was a fine portrait of an interesting person.

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