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Like many of us, Joan Rivers likes to be on top. It’s a position she’s held for years in the comedy world and she’s not going to relinquish her post quietly.

The new documentary, Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work offers a highly personal, detailed year in the life of the comedian and it the real Joan Rivers may shock you more than her raucous stage persona. Generous to a fault, busier than the President of the United States and at times sadly insecure, the film truly puts a human face on a woman mocked for her love of plastic surgery.

We even get a few glimpses of her without makeup, revealing what cosmetic enhancements can’t even hide, which shows just how brave she truly is. Perhaps the most shocking revelation is how utterly lonely she seems. For all the people she has around her, there seems to be something missing. And that’s heartbreaking to watch.

There is plenty of laughter in this film, of course, so it’s not all tears and Botox. Rivers is one of the hardest-working women in show business, taking gigs that Z-listers wouldn’t even consider because to her, a paycheck’s a paycheck no matter how humiliating the requirements may be. We even get a behind-the-scenes look at her time on Celebrity Apprentice, which turned out to revitalize her career in ways nobody believed possible.

Her creative process is intriguing to watch as a joke gets tweaked and refined until it’s perfect, much like the woman herself. But it’s her wall of joke files (by category) that better end up in the Smithsonian.

Like The Eyes of Tammy Faye before it, this documentary digs deeper into the life of a real woman behind an outrageous public persona. It makes Rivers more complex and in the process, more likeable than ever. If you’re already a fan, like us, you’ll find it difficult to see the end credits roll because we so desperately want more.

Thankfully, she’s prepared to give us exactly that.

Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work
Opens wider today and throughout the summer

Click here to watch the trailer