By Christopher A. Pape
For years, Joan Rivers has been bringing laughter and joy into the homes of many. Through hard work, pride and a never-ceasing sense of drive she has conquered it all. From hit television programs to packed concert halls, she is the embodiment of how a woman can break down barriers and be truly, funny. And now with her daughter Melissa, she is having a Renaissance, risen to new heights and has subsequently engrained herself in the hearts of a new generation of fans.
Both Joan and Melissa sat down with us to explain it all - from what it means to be the quintessential mother-daughter team, to Melissa’s son and Joan’s grandson Cooper and their favorite places in NY. Join us for the ride, it’ll be as thrilling as it sounds!
New York Resident (NYR): Thank you for this opportunity. I can’t think of two stronger women than the two of you. Tell us, how do you do it, in such a tough and demanding field?
Joan Rivers (JR): I try to pay no attention to any career, except my own. I always think of myself as a horse with blinders. And once I get something, I work on it without a stop. If I get an opportunity, I never sit back and think someone else will help me with this. And I try, try, try to be involved in every aspect, which is very difficult, but that’s what I do.
Melissa Rivers (MR): Yeah. I try to do the same thing. I definitely take a page from my mother’s playbook.
NYR: Well, obviously it works.
JR: If you start getting upset about what the Kardashians are doing, you’ll go insane. Just worry about your own package.
NYR:(Joan): I am a “Joan Ranger” and a fan of your reality series, Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best. And I know for these shows and your comedy routine that you don’t like to be called a legend or an icon, but if someone wants to honor your work and your fame, what should one say?
JR: Nobody ever wants to, so you don’t have to worry. I’m never going to get this award or that award. I’m so out of that context.
NYR: You’re never going to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
JR: I don’t think so. I’ll never be given the Mark Twain Comedy Award. So we don’t have to worry.
NYR (Joan): Is it hard to be funny. Do you practice at it or does it just come naturally?
JR: Unfortunately, it comes totally naturally, but you have to learn to shut up sometimes and only share certain jokes with certain people.
NYR (Melissa): How was it to grow up with such a funny mother? Was she constantly making you laugh?
MR: People always ask me that and my life was very normal - it was always hilarious when I was getting grounded. No one checked under their seat to see if there was a Whoopee Cushion, it didn’t work like that.
JR: I remember once, Edgar (her late husband) had very bad appendicitis. It ruptured, it was just awful. And we were driving to the hospital and I said to him - jokes or no jokes? And he said, no jokes.
That’s how the family dealt with pain.
NYR: When I think of Joan and Melissa Rivers, I think of New York. What about you makes you a New Yorker. What does it mean to be a New Yorker?
MR: Well, I grew up in LA. So my mom will have to answer that one.
JR: I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Larchmont. I love the city, I’ve got the pulse of the city. I just think it’s the best city in the world. But if you’re born in NYC, you’re an ass. Because there is something for everyone here,
and I make sure when Cooper visits, that he loves the city and that he gets a big chunk and taste of it. We shop, we go to lunch and the theater at least once, while he is here.
NYR: What is your favorite place, restaurant or thing to do in the city?
MR: Well, Cooper loves Serendipity 3 .
JR: It’s been around forever. I used to go with Melissa and Jackie-O was there with John-John - that’s how old it is.
NYR: Have you been to Dylan’s Candy Bar?
MR: Oh yeah. Cooper loves it there.
NYR: How about you Joan?
JR: There are five places that I really go to in NY. Fancy, terrific dinner - Le Cirque. But that’s old lady, dress-up. I love 21 because of the tradition. My god, it’s a speakeasy. This is great, this is New York. And then when I want to go to talk to my friends and have no one annoy us - David Burke’s on 61st street - I just went there with Barbara Walters and Cindy Adams. My favorite place for lunch is Michael’s, if you want to make a deal. And if you really want to talk, Sarabeth’s on 59th street. Sarabeth’s is the best kept secret because nobody famous goes there.
NYR (Joan): Where in the city do you live and what do you like about it?
JR: I live on the UES and I love the shopping on Madison Avenue, best shopping in the world. I love the park, I use the park.
NYR (Joan): Many people know that you work with God’s Love, We Deliver. Is there any other charity that you work with and how else to you give back to NY?
JR: I was involved with Blaine Trump, when God’s Love, We Deliver was first delivering meals on bicycles. They now do 3,000 meals a day. I’m very involved with Guide Dogs for the Blind. And now Melissa and I are very involved with Wounded Warriors. With them, we go to hospitals and we talk to wounded soldiers. It’s people who really need someone to talk to.
MR: I work with the Bogart Foundation which is for pediatric cancer research. Their motto is “bench to bedside”, where they follow the inception of an idea to the actually application and it’s great because it’s based in LA.
NYR: I know you’ve met them all, but who has been your favorite celebrity meeting or interview?
MR: On the red carpet, it’s always the one’s that get it. George Clooney, the comedians are fabulous. The bigger they are, the more charming they are.
JR: On Fashion Police, we had Nicki Minaj and was just adorable.
NYR (Joan): What was your favorite venue, show or special that you were in?
JR: I work one night a week, whenever I can, at the West Bank Cafe. It’s my favorite place, because I adlib so much.
NYR (Melissa): Other than Fashion Police, which you are the Executive Producer of, what other things are you working on?
MR: I have the shopping website Shoparatti and I’m a mom - which is hard work!
NYR (Joan): Working on any new jokes, we’d be honored to test one out for you?
JR: Always! Here’s one - My dog is dead and my Filipino neighbor fished him out of the garbage and threw him in the freezer and now they’re eating him as a popsicle.
NYR: Are you watching the new Celebrity Apprentice?
MR: I heard it’s really good.
JR: I just found out that our season of Celebrity Apprentice just started airing in the UK, but it gave me the chance to spend time with Melissa - she came back to NY and stayed for a month.
NYR: Any scoops you can give us? Working on anything new?
MR: Fashion Police is becoming an hour-long show.
JR: We are very excited about that!