Joan Rivers: The Real Deal

There are certain people we just assume will be with us forever. We see them as immortal, ubiquitous, omnipresent. Joan Rivers was such a person. Her death came too early, and even in death, she celebrated life. When she went out she did it with the same nerve and verve that made her the ICON that she was and is.

When the word came out last Thursday that Joan had left us, I was stunned and sad. I wasn’t ready to lose her. Not that she was ever my friend, but as her life story unfolds, I realize how many lives she touched, how many people she connected with, how gracious and well-mannered she was, how much adversity she had to overcome in her life, and how much I could relate to her. And this is NOT about me. DUDE, SERIOUSLY. It’s about the fact that Joan stood for much of what I believe in. (Except maybe the plastic surgery.)

Joan was FUNNY. Something many of us are afraid to be.We need more humor in this crazy VUCA (volatility,uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world we live in. Get over yourself and make someone LAUGH OUT LOUD.

Joan was a CONNECTOR: not just with studio execs and the rich and famous, but with everyone she came into contact with, from the taxi cab driver to the girl on the street.

Joan was GENUINE. WARM. APPROACHABLE. She was never a legend in her own mind. You can see this in any of her interviews. She never tried to outdo, impress or put down others, unless she was part of the put down, and could make you laugh while so doing.

Joan had GOOD MANNERS.  Betty Halbreich, her friend and personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman remembers her treating everyone like they were special and important, and that Joan wrote thank you notes as a matter of course when someone had given her a gift or had done something special for her. She used her words: Please. Thank you. I’m sorry. And she meant them.

Joan was a master of OVERCOMING ADVERSITY. Three months after Fox cancelled her show, her husband committed suicide. With no partner to lean on, and no paycheck coming in, she started her own highly successful line of jewelry and handbags on QVC. When people asked her how she did it, she said simply: when I see a door, I open it. Good advice for all of us who are stuck, whiny or ungrateful for what we DO have.

LIFE. She lived it with the axiom YOLO. Look it up if you don’t know it by now.

RETIREMENT was not in her vocabulary. Retire from what? She started everyday with a purpose and a calendar full of events: from stand up shows and guest appearances, to lunches, dinners and parties with her family and friends, her social and business calendars were a whirl of living life to the fullest.

To quote Joan: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift, that’s why we call it the present.”

Thank you for making me laugh until I cry Joan.I will miss you, your verve, your nerve and your authenticity.

R.I.P. Joan Rivers