Next Monday, the Turtle Creek Chorale is going to shake things up when Joan Rivers takes to the stage for an evening of blue notes and bluer humor. And we have a definitive answer to the comedian’s trademark “Can We Talk?” question. That’s a big fat yes, if you couldn’t guess.
We caught up with the queen of comedy just days after the Emmys and her return from an extended engagement in the UK and got her insight on Clay Aiken, Sarah Palin and the worst interview of her career. Monday’s show comes with a language warning and so does this Q&A. But isn’t reading the real word more fun than a bunch of !@#$%?
Q: You’re just getting back from a run in the UK with your new play. Who’s better, British audiences or American?
A: Exactly the same. I hate to tell you guys, it’s all over. We watch the same movies, the same TV shows, the same everything.
Q: Are you a fan of the show “Little Britain?”
A: Fan? I ADORE that show.
Q: So I guess you’re familiar with all the controversy the US version of the show’s been getting from groups offended by its humor.
A: About what? Oh shut up, it’s hilarious. Just plain hilarious. Get over and get on with it.
Q: They skewer everybody and that’s the point. They’re showing stereotypes at their extremes for a reason. We think people are in an uproar over nothing.
A: Well, you know they’re in an uproar with me. MyHollywood.com is a very good new site.
Q: That’s Melissa’s site, right?
A: Well, she’s writing for it, but it’s a much bigger thing. So they wanted us to do all the awards shows, so we said fine. But we also work for AOL, so they made a deal where they would split. And AOL gets beyond upset because what I said was offensive about there being Third Reich hairdos [at the Emmy’s] this year. And I said, this is after The Producers? You’re worried about this after that was on with “Springtime for Hitler?”
Q: We actually watched that segment of the red carpet coverage where you talked about Julia Louis Dreyfus having a Hitler mustache! Is it more fun and more liberating being able to say what you want on the web versus broadcast television?
A: I LOVE the web. I’m sorry, let me tell you. It is liberating, it is hilarious, you can say what you want. When you’re on the red carpet and you’ve got the people in front of you, you can never say the truth. I could never say to Oprah, “You can pick a dress, but you can’t pick a designer.”
Q: You seem extra, extra mean this time, which is fantastic. You’re not censored at all.
A: It’s just a whole different thing. It’s a lot funnier.
Q: Who do you think was the worst dressed at this year’s Emmy’s?
A: Oh, I don’t know. That was three days ago. I’ve totally gotten them all out of my mind. Oh, it would have to be what’s-her-name from Loose Women, uh, Desperate Housewives.
Q: Eva Longoria?
A: Yeah, if she’s not pregnant, it was a terrible choice. That bow. It made her look fat and pregnant and funny with skinny legs. She looked like one of those cartoon creatures with one eye. Skinny, green, with one eye in the center.
Q: So, you’re coming to Dallas to perform with the Turtle Creek Chorale.
A: Yeah, I can’t wait. It’s going to be wonderful.
Q: Are you going to be singing?
A: No, no! They’ll do theirs and I’ll do mine. It’s just going to be wonderful that I’m there with them. It’s going to be a great evening. Fabulous music and terrific comedy.
Q: Is this going to be the first time you’ve performed with a gay chorus?
A: Noooo! Are you kidding? The New York gay men’s choir? My God, I go back 15 years with them. I’ve had them at Christmas parties. They sang at Melissa’s wedding!
Q: Your career took off about the same time as what we like to call the Holy Trinity of gay icons: Cher, Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand, but you’re the only one who’s given us an interview, so of course we love you best.
A: Right, you have no choice!
Q: How do you explain your rabid gay following?
A: I think gay men have always loved strong, funny ladies. Because gay men are strong funny ladies. You know what I’m saying? You really think about it, they have all the strength of men and they’ve got a lot of sensibility of women. And all the ones I know are funny. If I look out and see a lot of gay men, I know I’ve got a good shot here.
Q: You and Kathy Griffin! And Margaret Cho. And you’ve been on both their reality shows. So do you consider either of them to be the heir to your comedic throne?
A: Not at all. I’m so different than they are. And that’s what makes it interesting. They’ve got a lot of swimming to do yet. You know, we all develop in such different ways and our styles are so different. But they’re hilariously funny.
Q: It’s just nice to see someone continuing what you sort of started in female comedy, you know, not caring what other people think.
A: You can’t in comedy. Comedy is all about observation and about what you really think the truth is. That’s why, going back to Little Britain, it’s so hilarious. The idea of that guy with the friend in the wheelchair who’s such a mean son-of-a-bitch. No one’s allowed to say cripples are mean. That’s so verboten. And the guy who keeps coming out to everyone and nobody cares? They all already know!
Q: Speaking of people already knowing, what do you think about the Clay Aiken news?
A: Nooooo surprise! Clay Aiken? You wanna say, “It’s fuckin’ about time!” I understand that they think they’re going to lose that wonderful audience of middle-aged women that love Clay Aiken.
Q: The Claymates! So it’s safe to say you’re not one?
A: The Claymates? (laughs). No, I’m definitely not a Claymate.
Q: So, Sarah Palin: pit bull or patron saint of the Republican Party?
A: You tell me! I just think it’s not even a laughing matter. I can’t even find a joke about it. So frightening. She’s so against everything we’ve worked so hard for. I mean, you know, gay rights and abortion rights and the thinking that she believes there was an ark. I wanna know who she thinks God put into First [class] and who he put into steerage.
Q: We’ve always loved your interviews with celebrities. Who was your all-time favorite or least?
A: The most disappointing was Sophia Loren, because in real life she looked like a dentist’s wife from Long Island. The wig was a little twisted, the mouth was a little funny, there were a little bulges going. I remember saying to my husband, “Oh, you’ve gotta see this show tonight. She looks eccchh.” And then when we sat down to watch, it was amazing, she looked like a movie star.
Q: Is it frustrating to you that these people like Paris Hilton and the girls from “The Hills” fall into the business and get all this fame without any real talent?
A: No, because it all goes away so quickly. The ones who don’t appreciate it while it’s happening, I say, “Appreciate it, they’re sending you a limo, you idiot. Because in ten years it’s not going to be there.” Don’t take yourself so seriously. Russell Crowe, you idiot. Get out. You’re a good actor, but there are a lot of good actors.
Q: Actors can be replaced, right?
A: I was old enough to be around when Julie Garland died and the world didn’t stop. We all watched a weekend of Judy Garland movies and then it all went on.
Q: Anything new coming up?
A: Oh yes, my play’s coming to Broadway, I’m doing Celebrity Apprentice with Melissa, I just shot a pilot yesterday which I think is going to go, but I don’t want to jinx it. My club dates are moving. I’m going over to England for another command performance. QVC. QVC. QVC. So my life is busy. I have two books coming out in January.
Q: So can you get us any free samples from QVC?
A: QVC free samples? It’s like getting whores out of a, oh I don’t know where I’m going with that joke. But you get it. Oh, they count everything. I can’t even get free samples.
So support Joan and head to QVC.com and buy some jewelry. Or even better, catch her live with the Turtle Creek Chorale and catch a few gems in the form of one-liners and scandalous stories.
Joan Rivers Live
Tickets: $24 – $80
Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
2301 Flora Street, Dallas