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How to go too far and still be funny

JOAN Rivers is on her back. Any minute now, the 79-year-old New Yorker is going to have a hell of a time trying to stand up. But it's okay -- she's probably just faking the pain (it's easy to fake things, apparently).

It just goes to show how far the woman will go to get a good laugh. Because it's no longer funny to talk to an audience about what it might be like to have sex while watching television. You gotta show them, too.

It probably explains why Joan is only with us for an hour or so (physical comedy in a big glittery coat can take its toll). Any longer, and she might even run out of celebrities to shame. Ah yes, you need to be clued in to get Joan's humour (or, at least, a good portion of it). Knowing your Kardashians might help. Or maybe just a little about Cher, Tom, Katie, Angelina ... screw it, watch an hour of E! Entertainment Television and you'll be fine.

What's important is that we remember not to take any of it too seriously. Even the humorous voiceover at the beginning warns us to take a hike should any of us find ourselves offended by Joan's coarse language or brazen storytelling. And the woman does go too far. But it's all an act. You just know that she doesn't actually lose her head at, say, people in wheelchairs. Or the blind.


You pray that she might have even enjoyed her recent stay in Mexico and that, if and when she might have ever taken a trip to Haiti, she didn't actually do what she says she did. Because that would be wrong. Very, very wrong.

Most of the time, though, Joan Rivers is funny. Extremely quick, too. Indeed, some might view Rivers' slippery yet speedy attacks at the rich and famous as a sort of vacuous brand of unnecessarily filthy stand-up. And, to a degree, it probably is. Heck, there's even some sort of gigantic script taped to the front of the stage. But it takes more than the writing to make a joke work.

Why she needed a band by her side -- the Camembert Quartet -- is anyone's guess, but it's nice to see that the world's most ridiculous gossip queen has yet to mellow with age. HHHII