This might have been the most beautiful day of the summer. We went to the movies! Don’t feel bad, it’s where we wanted to be and the movie, the Joan Rivers documentary “A Piece of Work,” was everything we expected.
You’re not going to find this “film” everywhere. In fact you’re not going to find it as a film. We watched “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” off a Blu-ray disk in a 35 seat screening room at the Bow-Tie Cinema in Downtown New Haven.
As the feature started an usher came in with a remote control and asked the four seated patrons whether we wanted the volume up or down?
“A Piece of Work” follows Joan through a year of her life. Though 75 she must work. She claims she needs the money. That seems incongruous to me, but who can ever tell? She has an expensive life.
In reality she needs to work because her life is centered around her work. Everything else is second. She is constantly in motion. She must perform. She claims to never says no to work.
If you want a cinematic revelation: insecurity.
Comedians as a rule are insecure, but Joan Rivers elevates her insecurity to obsession! Life is sad when you’re incapable of being happy on a long term basis. The glow from anything good has a very short half life in Joan’s world.
Insecurity aside, many parts of her life have actually crumbled. Her husband Edgar committed suicide after Joan’s ill fated late night talk show. Her personal manager, a seemingly affable Billy Sammeth, disappears from sight during the movie and is later fired on-camera though in absentia¹.
“When she dies,” Helaine offered as we left the theater, “it will probably be on-the-road.”
¹ – TMZ reports: Joan Rivers is being sued by a bitter ex-manager — who claims he was never compensated for resurrecting Joan’s “dormant career” … but it’s clear this lawsuit is as much about hurt feelings as lost money.
The guy going after Rivers is Billy Sammeth — Joan’s longtime “personal manager” — who claims he “took [Joan’s] dormant career” … and found a way to get her more work and more money … only to be stiffed out of $179k and humiliated in a recent documentary about Joan’s life.