Joan Rivers was the guest on The Ron & Fez Show this week to talk about the new season of her reality TV show Joan And Melissa. While we can’t really say we care much about her reality show life, we must give credit where it’s due and acknowledge Rivers as a great comedian with a great lifetime of experience.
During the interview, host Ron Bennington took a dive into Rivers’ past to find about what it was like coming up with the likes of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Dick Cavett, and Lily Tomlin. A murderers row of legendary comedians all starting their careers around the same time. Rivers recalled stories about how they’d all be waiting in line for their turn for stage time at The Bitter End in NYC. Could you imagine sitting at one of those shows?
When asked if there was a comedian that changed her life, without hesitation Rivers responded that it was Lenny Bruce.
Lenny Bruce! Nothing to discuss, nothing to discuss. I was lucky enough—we were at The Bitter End holding the numbers—he was across the street at a place called Café Wha getting busted. And we were able to run across and see him. Can’t touch him! Nobody still can touch him. And you wonder… if he was alive—what he’d be talking about now. Told the truth! I know this sounds stupid. And that’s what I try to do—told the truth. And also sexy as hell. Such a — oh, ho ho, you have no idea! The women were mad about him.
And the men loved him because he was a man’s man, and told the truth. And would go around…he knew. you know, like all this stuff now. And I do it in my act. He would say, yeah, you’re a nigger, you’re a wop, you’re a kike, you’re a frog, you’re a chink and…everybody’s something so stop it. And he went ‘yeah’, and then he would do the act. It was amazing. It was amazing.
Rivers also added that Bruce personally reached out to and gave her support to know she was on the right track.
He did something that was so nice for young people. I was at The Bitter End doing my own act, and bombing. And he sent me a note, “you’re right, they’re wrong.” I held it in my bra! And went on and I ended up on Carson, blah blah blah. And I’m sitting with George Carlin one night years later. We’re both okay now. And I said to George, “you know what kept me going? Lenny Bruce came over and saw me and sent me a note “you’re right they’re wrong.” He said, “he sent me the same note.” So I think he sent it to every comedian around. How sweet in a way. He would see a comedian, he would say “you’re right they’re wrong, — Lenny Bruce.”
This story sounds like Carlin took it to heart. Over the years, comedians have mentioned Carlin would tell them, “Keep kicking them in the nuts.”
Here’s some audio of the interview thanks to the Interrobang.