tv Tavis Smiley PBS September 1, 2014 11:30pm-12:01am EDT
>> good evening from los ange s angeles. tonight the second of two nights with joan rivers. at 81 she's still going strong. her latest is already on the "new york times" best seller list. glad you joined us for night two with the incomparable joan rivers coming up right now. ♪ >> contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪
>> welcome back to night two of our conversation with joan rivers. i said last night in case you didn't see the show last night, if you didn't, go to the website and check it out. i said last night thai have been wanting to talk to joan rivers for so many years when i first moved to the city 27 years ago. joan was the first comic ever i saw do stand-up at carlos and charlie's. i have been trying the longest time, particularly when the documentary came out, i wanted to have you on. couldn't make the dates work. i'm delighted she is here for her new book, perennial "new york times" best-selling author, joan rivers. "diary of a mad diva." there's funny stuff in here. how did you know --
or is there no line for you? >> have you such good questions. i have no lines. if i think it is funny, it is for -- life sucks. i always say -- scratch anybody and some will come out that's so amazing and so -- you will find out what they have been through. had a you can be funny being everything. goes back to lenny bruce who said everybody -- here we go. get ready to -- bleep. you are a pollack, you are a -- a progress. he you are all something. who cares? nobody is not something. and that's what life should be. everybody is something. okay. enough. now let's go to lunch. okay. >> we are going to lunch. >> is the joke for funnier the more politically incorrect it is? >> yes. because it makes -- shakes them up. it shakes them up. you want to say stuff. the thing now -- someone said --
you can't call an indian an indian. i'm not talking about feather. i'm talking about dots. what do you call them, gandhi lovers? diaper wearers? what do i call you? you are from india. you are from india. it is insane now. it is insane. i get very angry. i think -- you know, don't worry about that. write to your congressman and get something changed. don't worry about this -- nonsense over here. worry about the big issue over there. >> did you said last night -- that over the years, not just -- at this 50 years, your career obviously ebbs and employees. >> lot of -- lot of ebb. >> on that every third week you
read this last night when your moment is being taken from you -- how have you navigated those ebbs? how have you not taken personally to walk away from this when you feel like you have been insulted and offended and thrown out and kicked to the curb again? >> first of all, i never read reviews. >> you don't read them? >> i don't. nothing negative is told to me. my assistants -- i have wonderful, three on the west coast. show me nothing negative. i'm not interested. i don't want to hear it. i just push forward. push forward. a mafia guy in vegas said to me write your own race. don't worry. run your own race, sweetheart. he said in -- who you want killed? that was the second half. i -- i ignore it. i don't address. >> it i don't think, joan, that
one has to necessarily read critics reviews to assess one's own gift and talent and performance but if not for critics and reviewers how do you assess your own performances? >> how do you know when you killed it or not killed it? >> i walk on a stage and i know if has been a good show or not. you know when it is a good interview. no one has to tell you. you know it. you feel it. you know you have messed up and -- you are so angry at yourself. you don't need anyone to tell you. i know, thank you. i know. i know it was mistake. sometimes they are wrong, too. sometimes critics can be very wrong. and say this -- you know -- woody allen, nobody liked him the first seven years. larry david, 20 years before the critics said -- this crazy guy is brilliant. you just have to go your own way.
the door shuts, find the window. >> let me ask you a question. >> sure. >> last night on this program without me asking or saying anything about it, unprompted, you raised the issue of carson and what happened and how he didn't speak to you. the question i always wanted to ask you, he's gone and you are still here, if -- >> dead. not just gone. he is dead. >> how do you navigate forward when someone who meant so much to you really cuts you off and there's no way to really get closure on it on it because he's dead and you just have to live with that hurt and the pain and that disrespect until you die? how do you navigate past that? >> first of all, it made me so sad that this man who everything couldn't forgive that he thought
i left the show for 21 years. what kind of a -- that's -- that's what's eating you inside? that always made me very sad about him. his son died. killed in an automobile accident after -- after he cut me off and everything. i wrote him a letter and said i'm sorry your son -- this shouldn't happen to anybody. whatever happened between us. never answered me. as you get older you want the same people in your tappestry. i don't want anybody disappearing. >> when somebody disappoints you and hurts you and lets you down in that way, i take that, i get had a. but what have you learned about yourself and the way that you want to treat others around you given the way you have been
treated? >> you really are going for it. that's great. the carson thing. much more honest because i know i called him and said i'm leaving. i was very proud of myself in that. what the whole world said you didn't do -- everyone was calling me a liar. i knew i wasn't. i knew that -- i treat people in a certain way. i was very -- glad the way i did that. i learned from that. i'm much more honorable than he was. i also learned -- when the chips are down, i can't put the ice in. i wish i could. i would have been a lot bigger. i wouldn't be sitting here. that was a joke. >> yeah. i get it. >> you know what i mean? >> i got the joke. putting the knife in would have been what? expressed itself how? >> he had answers. so nasty and really -- blackball
from late might. i should have gone and fought back and screw you and this is the truth and this is the truth. i can never do the final killing of somebody. which a lot of people can do. >> i always believed -- if i have -- i have come to believe it as my life moved on. simply that if you keep going and eventually you will get there. you have to keep going. if you keep going, eventually you will get there. or as your guy, larry says in that documentary i loved so much that you can't get hit by lightning if you're not out in the rain. he says joan will stay in the rain longer than anybody i know until that lightning hits. she has to be out in the rain. have you to be out will. >> you have to keep going forward. you know, i -- i do a lot of lectures on survival. i always say you can't change what happened. so have a little wallow and feel very sorry for yourself and then get up and move forward. you can't change what happened.
it is all about going forward. all about pushing forward. you never know. you might find tomorrow that you paint. and all these years, great painting. ray everything. rye everything. you can be a ballet dancer. have you great ankles. >> that's not going to happen. >> there you go. see. negative. negative. >> that ain't going to happen. >> you may walk out today and go unusual dressing room. >> yeah. speaking of things you have ride that you are good at, we all love you, you know. we love your fashion critique and commentary. >> i love doing it. >> have you always loved fashion? are you -- is that just a way to get off good jokes? do you love fashion? >> all my way through college, i
worked my way -- window dresser at lord & taylor. always liked fashion. always loved fashion. and -- i loved that we could do it and not take it seriously. you have -- like herpes, you have it or you don't. it is so much fun when they come down the red carpet. they think they look terrible. they think they look wonderful and they look really bad. oh, thank god. >> you always tell the joke. you always say do you think some woman making $25 million really thinks -- really cares about what -- i think they do. >> i think they do, too. >> i think people do care. >> i think they do, too. some of them don't. i love it when -- sarah jessica parker, i always bring her up. she will come up to me and say look at the shoes the can you believe the shoes? you just want to hug her. she knows it is fashion. instead of anna. bulimics. allegedly. the olson twins. you smell the vomit before you see them. here they come. allegedly. allegedly.
the little shrimp -- where are the olson twins? >> does the stuff just come to you after all he is years? is there -- one of those inside the after studio kind of questions. is there an equation for how to write a good joke? or just -- how do you do that? >> none. the first time you it it is the best. quick, quick, quick. write it down. there's no equation. you know what breaks your heart? when something is -- isn't funny after you thought about it. your hear -- hear i come, audience. here's the joke. and the audience goes -- not so good. and it kills you. there's no way to know it is going to be funny. i once said -- woody allen, i said, tell me, i -- how to make it something funny. write it. you get on your knees and say thank you, god. and you go on to the next.
that's the answer? okay. >> this book comes courtesy of your daughter melissa who gave you a diary and told you to write in it. joan writes in the diary. a year later we get this book. >> she hates me. >> she regrets giving you the diary. >> she regrets it. >> i raised melissa's name only because -- i want to talk about family. >> number one. >> melissa. talk to me about family. >> family is everything. you know that? what it comes down to -- the chips are down, who takes you in, family. who's there? family. most important thing. i made sure may life that -- my family were very small that -- cooper, my grandson knows. melissa knows. i know. we are it. holidays. always together. i don't care if you fly 1800 miles. we are together. we are together.
we are together. >> are you and cooper taking the annual grandma grandson trip? >> yes. >> just the two of you. >> yes. i take a friend now. 13. >> plus your stylist. >> oh, my god. my makeupman. my limo driver. >> and cooper. >> yes. i'm very aware of the real world but you might -- pen out and my limousine. i see the homeless. >> speaking of your penthouse it is not a penthouse. >> it is nice. i haven't been there but i have seen it. it is a very nice place. you live well. >> yes. you should live well. >> have you on work hard to maintain that lifestyle. >> honey, we are going through this life once. and i love working hard.
i love coming home to something nice. i love -- living well. i live -- i -- like a lady. i love pretty china. i love a nice table. i love nice towels. i would rather work four more club dates and have -- live nice. >> it is working for you. >> yes. >> even at this age it is working for you. >> yes. >> sometimes i rethink that. i have a nice house. >> good. >> sometimes i'm thinking -- maybe i should just downsize and not work so hard. >> are you enjoying your house? when you go home do you say i did this? >> i do. >> i did this. it is my house. i love it. you are a man. and this is my car. then you work hard. enjoy it. tomorrow -- tracy morgan, a friend of mine. turn around. you don't know. you don't know. and enjoy it while -- while you are doing it. >> what do you make of -- this the my word. you don't have to own it. you don't have to. what do you make of the fact you have been to your point now blessed to do this for as long and as well as you have? >> i wake up every day or i do not wake up any way without saying how lucky i am.
you think -- okay, i think i said it in the documentary, 50 years now they are sending cards to me. i still open my door and i look and there is a limo. i go -- yes! good morning. i'm still aware. my dogs, too. they walk right in. i still go -- yes. very lucky. very lucky. i'm aware of it every single second. >> what -- what -- do you get? what's the takeaway for you when you are standing on stage and you know it is working? what's that feeling? what's that takeaway?
>> at this age it is starting -- i walk on stage. i am genuinely happy to see those audiences. my first words usually are -- i'm so happy to see all of you. will's like 5,000 people. i genuinely am so happy. i am so happy when a show is going well and they are laughing. and i am laughing. it is like one big party and we are all getting it. it is heaven. it is heaven. it is great. you walk off after a good show, and nothing like it. it is so hard to go home to a -- an empty hotel room and watch which i love watching. "lockup." >> if you had to complete this sentence, after all the years of my doing this, i was right about -- what i'm getting at here is -- i know there are -- there are things -- people told you shouldn't do that wouldn't work and that were bad decisions. what do you feel that you were -- i was right about that? >> right. i was lucky enough to be dumb
enough to be driven enough to know this is what i am going to do. i was so lucky that i made the choice and stuck with the choice. and that was -- it was like action nun's calling. here's what i -- i still -- i -- going -- before i go on, i go -- oh, my god, i'm going on. i walk on the stage at rehearsal i start to smile. find myself smiling when i hit the stage. i'm so lucky. and in a previous life, i must have been like the jewish mother teresa. i was not very good. because -- i must have washed a bunch of stinky feet. this life has been terrific. >> did you smile when you walk on stage. is there ever stage fright? >> always. terrified. terrified. >> of what?
>> of -- with l they like me? will they think it is funny? is it going to be all right? i'm at the age now -- will i remember? not that ever happened yet but remember -- who knows? can we see you before the show? no. you know. i'm working. come afterwards. i'm terrified before guy on stage. let it be good. let it be good. i'm always and -- do they like me? give me a, one to ten. give me a number. terrified. >> if the moment should ever come had when you no longer have it on stage, and i can't imagine that would happen, but if that moment should come and you don't have it, how will you know? >> i will know when i -- i guess i do the same joke three times. i will know. and then i will go off stage and call dr. kevorkian. >> can you -- >> there is no joke. no joke.
>> no. i was just saying -- i think you meant that. you couldn't be on stage you wouldn't want to be here. >> done. i have it in my will, whatever you call it, and the lawyer got crazy. do not resuscitate if i cannot get up and be able to do 90 minutes on stage. my lawyer argued with me how long. >> you wanted 90 minutes. >> what about 60? >> i said 90 minutes, michael. >> i can't do 90, don't resuscitate me. do not resuscitate. 90 minutes on stage. he -- how about 60? really good opening. my life -- >> i didn't laugh when you said had a. i -- i saw in your eyes you meant that. if i can't do what i do, i don't want to be around here. >> i don't want -- i don't want melissa to see her mother singing world war i songs. ♪ over there change her catheter. i don't want any of this.
no. hello amsterdam. i'm out of here. i had a great life. if i dropped dead right now, nobody will say "so young." i had such a great run. such a great ride. it is -- i'm just so lucky. >> what -- in retrospect, what do you hope, believe, that you would have given the american public? >> okay. i will tell thank you truth. here we go. the nicest thing someone would come up to me and i'm very reverent. i go right -- to the jokes the same day it happens. and someone will come up and say you made me laugh after 9/11. i or you were the person that made me laugh after my mother died. and they will take my hand. you are -- my husband committed suicide. i didn't laugh until you. that to me is like -- this is
why i'm here. this is why i'm here. >> i love how you tell your jokes in the moment. i love it when you do that. >> looks like -- tracy morgan's limo after the crash -- the whole audience went -- too soon? okay. paul walker. too soon? all right. how about -- kept going. too soon? james dean? too soon? >> you never had any problem pulling the trigger. you at least put it out there. you laughed.
you know what i sent tracy? get flowers. holding these flowers. waiting for you to come out of the coma. not my fault they are dead. 2 1/2 weeks now. and they said he laughed. >> my time is up. i could do this for another night. i thought it was hilarious. did you think that the walk-off was hilarious? i loved it. >> david letterman -- when he stood up and walked off, i'm so glad. he is such a grand man now. love that he did that. loved that he did that. >> i love that you have done this book. and -- the documentary, as i said, last night and again tonight. and -- just to the gift you shared all these years. >> i love talking to you. >> nothing like laughter. >> i hope your numbers didn't drop from last night. >> the new book from joan rivers, another bestseller, called "diary of a mad diva."
again, make sure you read the first page and read the disclaimer very carefully so you know. it is a book of jokes, comedy. good stuff. "people" magazine said it is the best read this summer. who am i to argue with "people" magazine? joan rivers, i love you. there ain't nothing you can do about it. >> my joy. back at. >> did you glad to have you here. that's our show tonight. thanks for watching, as always. keep the faith. >> i'm up for an activia commercial. i'm so nervous because -- i lost out on the depends and -- >> really? >> i'm talking. taking a dump. nature. [ applause ]
>> rose: welcome to the program. as summer ends on this labor day holiday we reflect on presidential leadership. and on this encore presentation, doris concerns goodwin, and a scott berg. >> part of it is opposites attracting that teddy was so outdoorsy, teddy drag him on the rock creek park expeditions in the afternoon when you climb over rocks and mountains an he would just stay home. but they shared from early on a-- they were like new reformers, in the early o corrupt age of the early 1900s, early gilded age they both wanted to see politics out of civil service. they both wanted to see regulation of government. and they were considered new men. >> kennedy's grandiosity was aimed at the world. get world peace. he said foreign policy can kill yo