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Jewesses with Attitude

Joan Rivers: "Rediscovered at 76"

There is a lovely piece about Joan Rivers in New York Magazine to mark the premiere of her biographical documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Jonathan Van Meter notes that Joan Rivers has been "rediscovered at age 76," despite the fact that she has been in our hearts and minds all along.

Not too long ago, Joan Rivers was roasted on Comedy Central. The jokes centered around her age, her plastic surgery, and her age. It was as if they set out to convince us that she was past her prime or old news. Not being one to take things lying down, Joan Rivers got up there and, in the best performance of the night, trashed each and every one of the roasters with wit and grace that could not be matched. It was obvious to those who saw her that Joan Rivers is not someone to be set aside.

New York Magazine argues, and I would agree, that Joan Rivers remains relevant in her content, as well as the medium in which she shares it. I have enjoyed following Joan on Twitter, where she mixes information about where she is performing and what she is doing with her infamous one-line zingers.

On the new documentary, Jonathan Van Meter writes, "One of the best things ... is that it reminds you, with great archival footage of Rivers’s early TV performances, that she is the mother of a certain brand of transgressive female comedy. Would there be a Sandra Bernhard or a Roseanne or a Rosie O’Donnell or a Kathy Griffin or a Sarah Silverman, without Joan Rivers?"

While Joan Rivers is a trailblazer in her own right, it is also important to recognize her within the context of the incredible Jewish women in comedy who came before her. JWA's film about funny Jewish women, Making Trouble, provides this context -- covering Joan Rivers along with five other trailblazers who together created a legacy for Jewish women in comedy.

We're excited to share that the Making Trouble DVD has been flying off our shelf. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is just one piece of the Making Trouble legacy. Don't see one without seeing the other! Get your copy today.

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Joan Rivers: "Rediscovered at 76"." 27 May 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 20, 2017) <>.


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