Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Wednesday, 9.30pm, ABC2 Dear Joan Rivers, you are one of the funniest women on the planet. At 79 years of age, you recently appeared on The Graham Norton Show. You were sensational. But the point of this feature-length documentary is to show how you are put together, how you became that contentious thing, A Piece of Work. And there is something unedifying about it. Sure, it is fascinating to see how even after all these years you go to pieces at the sight of a blank page in your diary. We follow you in this documentary for an entire year, during which you turn 75. At the beginning we see make-up being trowelled on to your brave face. On top of the many surgeries you have mined for comic gold for decades, the result is eerily youthful. Ironically, we get to see your inner pixie, the eternal child behind the adult outrage, the foul language and the bitchy humour. We see you give an exhausting performance and get a standing ovation. But in spite of all the well-wishers who line up to get your autograph later, and the protestations of your crew who say you’ve never been better, all you really care about is what’s going to be in the press the next day. Damn the critics, Joan. We see your harried assistants coping with your demands. We see that, in keeping with your name, a river of insecurity runs through you, driving you relentlessly forward. I preferred it when I thought you just turned up with a lively mind and a gag list as long as an old man’s beard. There are things in the night that are better not to behold. Perhaps the true life of a comedian is one of them.