Publication Date: June 5, 2012
On September 4, 2014, the nation lost legendary comedienne Joan Rivers after complications during throat surgery.
Rivers was often criticized for being too abrasive and going too far in her humor. She has apologized for a few missteps, owning up when something is truly too far, but stands firm on much of her over-the-top style. Rivers’s 2012 book of satirical essays I hate everyone … starting with me was especially criticized for the hard edges of her trademark, no-boundaries style humor. Costco even allegedly banned the book of essays from their stores. It cannot be argued that her style of insult-comedy is better conveyed in Joan’s fast-patter smoker’s voice than on the page. I saw the paperback in a used bookshelf in 2013 and having heard the criticism felt compelled to purchase the work. Could it really be as bad as people said? Is it just that perhaps we’re a more sensitive society?
On the first page of I hate everyone … starting with me, Joan tells us that “Love may be a many splendor thing, but hate makes the world go round … if you happen to love puppies and kittens and the infirm, I’m impressed. I hate you, but I’m impressed.” Joan’s absolute denunciation of everything starts an avalanche of things that irritate the author. From waiters to tweens to Lorne Green, no one is safe from River’s acerbic wit. In today’s world, it’s hard to shock readers, but many moments were jaw-droppingly followed by a simple inability to stop laughing. Rivers’ style is like her standup. She’s direct, fast-paced and ready to say anything. She once said at Sundance “If you laugh at it, you can deal with it, and if you don’t, you can’t deal with it. And don’t start telling me that I shouldn’t be saying it. That’s the way I do it. I would have been laughing at Auschwitz.” Of her over-the-line Holocaust jokes (in the book she says she’s tired of hearing Holocaust survivors talk about how they only had one piece of bread and water and yet lived) she said “This is the way I remind people about the Holocaust. I do it through humor. My husband lost his entire family in the Holocaust.”
As much as Rivers skirts the line of good taste (and indeed crosses it, delightfully pulling off what is decidedly offensive) when talking about the things she hates, the thing she seems most at ease poking fun at is herself. She jokes about her age, gravity catching up with her and even saggy personal parts. Rivers caustic and wholly politically incorrect style demonstrates why she was the Queen of Comedy.
Let’s face it, everyone knows who Joan Rivers is and you either like her or you don’t. There are even fans who will tell you that I hate everyone … starting with me is mean-spirited and hard-edged. It is quite hard-edged and it can be a bit vicious. While you or I may never say the things Rivers says, she has a style that works for her as a comedienne and conveys to spectacular effect in I hate everyone…starting with me.
If you like humor with an edge, pick I hate everyone …s tarting with me up today. You won’t regret the last visit with Joan.
Read an excerpt and buy I hate everyone … starting with me by Joan Rivers on