Today Joan Rivers - comedian, talk show host, red carpet terror - passed away at the age of 81. Rivers was fearless and funny as hell, a comic legend who breathed jokes as easily as air and never apologized for anything. I've always loved her old stand-up routines, just joke on top of joke, never pausing to give herself or the audience a moment to catch up.
She was brash, born a crotchety old Brooklyn Jewish grandma even before she grew into one. She was always in hot water and she liked it there, never one for reverence or pussyfooting. No one was safe from her malicious wit, her bright, casual insults - least of all herself. She really gave herself the brunt of it, so who could blame her for being just as mean to someone else?
Well, plenty of people, but Joan never cared. This is the woman who once said, "I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking," and that is exactly what set her apart. She was unrepentant and merciless, but had a self-deprecating cheer that warmed her up, even if it never quite softened her. She was mentored by Johnny Carson and influenced by Lenny Bruce, but she was her own animal. Joan Rivers was a woman who said anything and got in the face of everyone, and we need more women like that. I hate that she's gone, but she probably doesn't. She worked until the end, looked great until the end, remained relevant and sharper than a blade until the end. That's better than most of us will manage.