Days of Change

The Joan Rivers Post

September 5, 2014
3 Comments

The death of Joan Rivers yesterday brought out a number of tributes to her long and varied career in show business. At the risk of pulling an Obama, I’m going to write about my perception of her.

Joan became a household name due to The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson almost 50 years ago. She was a frequent guest and eventually became the permanent guest host for the show when Carson dropped to 4, then 3 days a week on air. As someone who wasn’t part of that generation, I only knew Joan Rivers after Carson.

I was a David Letterman fan in the 80’s, before he became a liberal tool. I watched and read “The Late Shift” which was the abridged story of the late night wars in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Joan set off the sequence of events to some extent by leaving her guest host gig to host a talk show on Fox. This was pre-Simpsons, which is a long time ago. This departure gave Jay Leno an opening to become the heir apparent to Carson over Letterman. Carson never forgave Leno or Rivers because they did not tell him he was competing against him before it got to the press.

Even after her failure at Fox, Joan got her own Emmy winning talk show and then moved into her own claim to fame, red carpet shows. If awards show are the Superbowl for women, she became the sport’s John Madden. This led to post-show fashion reviews and shows like Fashion Police. She teamed up with her daughter Melissa for many of these occasions. Joan was top banana now, not just the fill-in host.

I think younger people saw Joan Rivers as ubiquitous over the last 25 years. She was out there, doing any number of television shows and appearances. There are so many people who have no idea who Johnny Carson is anymore, but Joan Rivers did a lot to keep herself in the limelight. Everyone’s time on the stage ends at some point, but I think Joan’s post-Tonight Show career introduced everyone to Joan Rivers without the filters.

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