Friday, August 29, 2014

I Like Joan Rivers

The comedian, Joan Rivers, has an incredibly large following, despite the critics who often find her comedy routines offensive.  I don't think that Joan Rivers is that much different from many other well-known comedians whether they are men or women.  In comedy, the laugh is many times aroused by the ridiculous, the outrageous, and the often offensive.  Maybe that's what makes us laugh because we can't say these things and someone else is saying them for us and we get an opportunity to laugh.

Does that mean we really want to be offensive and something is holding us back?  That may very well be the case.  Whatever is the reason, and forgive me Dr. Freud (he wrote a book analyzing jokes) here, comedy uplifts us in times that are often quite trying.  Comedy is our saving grace when we need that time out to just outrageously enjoy ourselves and have someone help us do it.  Joan Rivers is that someone and she has been doing it successfully for many decades.

Despite what people think about her comedy, and remember you’re seeing the comedian, not the person behind the comedy, she is a worthwhile, giving, loving woman. How many of those protestors know how she pays for the schooling of other people’s children or what charities she supports or who she maintains friendships with through their particularly hard times? The woman behind the comedy mask is unknown to most of us and that’s as it should be. She does have a right to her privacy away from the comedy stage.

Just the other day, while undergoing a simple throat procedure in a local NYC outpatient clinic, Ms. Rivers had one of those quite unexpected medical hazards associated with every procedure.  Whether it was the anesthesia or something else, we cannot know, but what we do know is that she experienced a type of arrest (either cardiac and/or respiratory) and she was rushed to a local hospital.  She had stopped breathing. Quite fortunately, the hospital was only one mile away and she was immediately taken into the intensive care unit.

As I write, Joan Rivers’ daughter and her grandson and friends, are keeping watch as she remains in a medically induced coma.  The word "coma" is, of course, something that causes us an increased level of concern, but I believe it is being done to permit her body time to recoup whatever it needs.  We are all wishing her well and I am somewhat taken aback by some of the comments about her being posted on media websites.

I find it totally repugnant when someone kicks anyone when they’re down and Joan Rivers is down right now. To take potshots at an 81-year-old sick woman is offensive and petty.  But we’ve seen this same type of obnoxious behavior when Robin Williams committed suicide recently. Who are these people who want that 10 seconds of fame on an ephemeral website? I don’t think I’d want one for a neighbor. I certainly wouldn’t expect that of a friend and, if I did hear it from a friend, I’d not sit back and be silent.

The nasty comments regarding Williams were so painful that his daughter closed her Twitter account and I can understand why. Why would anyone want to stand up there and have people say the unkindest things about someone you loved? She has a right to feel outrage and there should be some sort of effort to sort out this shameful posting. How could a Fox anchor call Williams’ suicide an act of cowardice? He doesn’t understand the pain that drove the man to it and his puny apology just won’t fix it.

Yes, everyone has the right to speak their mind, but they do not have a right to intensify someone’s grief at the death of a parent. Or did the Founding Fathers give them that right, too? I don’t think so. In fact, I think they were men who would have done more than frown on this type of activity. They would, undoubtedly, call it an act of incivility. That’s a word we need to get back to and call people on it.

Kindness and understanding appear to be fading in this self-absorbed culture in which we find ourselves. It’s our own fault when we allow it to happen or just laugh it off. And it is all of us who can begin to repair this social rent in the fabric of our American culture.

I wish Joan Rivers well and I wish her family well, too.