Joan Rivers put the ‘fun’ in funeral. I arrived almost an hour early, as our invitations had suggested because of tightened security. I snuck into a side entrance, so I missed the grand spectacle of paparazzi, fans, well wishers and shiny black cars, a mass of people covering at least 3 city blocks in front of Temple Emanu-El. There was no red carpet, which was oddly disappointing, as this had been teased by the press in the hours after Joan’s death. This was to be a staid, classy, dignified affair. I did sneak outside to look for protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church. They did not show up! Even they, as twisted and dumb as they are, had to respect our Lady Joan.
The temple was huge and packed and silent and all her fancy friends were there, as well as many of us girl comics, because we had lost our dear leader (I do see her as my own personal Kim Jong Ill as she was tiny yet commanded an empire) and so it was our saddest day. Rosie O’Donnell and Kathy Griffin insisted we sit with them because I kept complaining that the funeral organizers had given me ‘lawn seating’ and I didn’t have a beach towel. Judy Gold wept –- which is hard for me to watch -– my ebullient and sunny and tall friend who I have known for over a quarter of a century and have never, ever seen cry was overwhelmed by grief. Rachael Ray consoled her, and hugging they looked like a lower case letter ‘h’.
We all wept – like professional mourners. We should have gotten paid! Tears fell as we listened to the dulcet tones of the Gay Men’s Chorus with their rendition of “Hey Big Spender.” It was bittersweet and perfect.
It is still hard for me to see women comics sad, no matter how many adorable men are singing in harmony. I can’t take it -– that is too terrible -– and all the funny people, not only us, the female comics who marched so faithfully to the tune of Joan’s stiletto footfalls, but all her friends and family and mighty legions of producers and writers who helped her create the industry that was Joan Rivers – none of us could stop crying. You don’t know heartbreak until you have seen John Waters in tears. I am sure stock went up in cucumbers as we all needed them for our eyes this morning.
Her signature gardenia perfume mixed with the gargantuan arrangements of the heady white blooms and so her presence was heavy and uncompromised. This is how she wanted us to say good-bye to her, and everyone came early except Donald Trump, who was whisked to the front near the family, ginger hair exploding and obvious over all the yarmulkes.
In the morose silence Howard Stern said, “Joan Rivers had a dry pussy.”
At first, the words just hung there, as no one knew exactly what to do. Of course I started laughing hysterically, and everyone else, remembering who we were there to honor, followed suit. Howard Stern actually choked back tears as he continued – “Joan’s pussy was so dry it was like a sponge –- so that when she got in the bathtub –- whooooosh –- all the water would get absorbed in there! Joan said that if Whitney Houston had as dry a pussy as Joan’s, she would still be alive today…”
It was so wrong but so right at the same time. So Joan. So great. RIP my friend.
Reprinted with permission from Margaret Cho