At 79 most people have already settled into some form of retirement, but as Joan Rivers namedrops her various shows and work, it almost as if she’s only getting started.
Starting the night off with some style and class are the Kit and McConnel who, in a style reminiscent of Flanders & Swann, imagine Abba singing about Nandos, explain pilates with the aid of a Calypso beat and get the crowd vocal using Nessun Dorma. Together they comprise a high-class low-brow musical comedy act who, unusually for a warm-up act, are given free range to lampoon the star of the show throughout their set.
Rivers arrives on stage and kicks off with a breathtaking stream of consciousness: explaining who she wants in her audience and who can leave; opening up a barrage of bile against those she hates and even more so those she loves. Gays, lesbians, fat, thin, famous, infamous, rich, poor… why bitch behind backs when its so much more fun to do it to faces?
In days of old, jesters were the only ones allowed to tell the kings of their foibles. In this day and age where celebrity seems to be our ruler, Joan is the fool who is close enough to the throne but still able to spot when the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. It’s even better that the people she’s tears to shreds are close celebrity friends.
Even the deceased are not immune from a dressing down. The crowd lets out an uncomfortable groan when Diana and Michael Jackson are mentioned, but are back onside as soon as she unleashes another volley of venom against the rich and privileged – including herself.
It all ends quite abruptly after a piece that sees her rolling around in the floor talking about dropped vaginas and seems to have no real ending; but then Rivers herself will probably never stop.
Old-school American comics are starting to realise that there is a market over here for a style we don’t often see. From Eddie Pepitone in Edinburgh to Dick Gregory in London and even the likes of our own Mick Miller are gaining from higher profiles.
But Rivers will never suffer from a lack of attention because she is that good and simply relentless.