Comedy: Joan Rivers is done with kissing ass

At 76, Joan Rivers is perhaps the hardest-working funny lady in show business today. Besides crashing the talk-show circuit on a regular basis and hawking jewelry on QVC, Rivers’ TV Land show “How’d You Get So Rich?” starts up again on May 5, her “E! Fashion Police” Oscar wrap-up show just aired Monday, her documentary “A Piece of Work” hits theaters this summer, and she’s embarking on this North American tour, which brings her to the Horseshoe Casino on Friday. It turns out Rivers has an affection for Louisville that runs deep. “The first love of my life was a boy from Louisville who went to Yale, so I have a very sweet spot in my heart for Louisville,” the comedian said from her hotel room in Toronto.

LEO: I’ve always wanted to ask you this: Who are you wearing?

Joan Rivers: Good question! Right now I’m wearing Donna Karan’s sweater and Chanel pants, but they’re old. My grandmother used to say, “Buy well, weep once.” It’s a great expression.

LEO: Do you miss the red carpet?

JR: Oh god no! Why would I miss it? You had to stand there and ass-kiss people. It reached a point when they all had press agents, and you couldn’t ask anybody any question off the script. If the press agent heard you ask Nicole Kidman something she didn’t like, then she wouldn’t bring over the next three guests. It became so political.

LEO: What celebrity annoys you the most?

JR: It changes. Right now it’s Penelope Cruz, because she stands there looking so beyond beautiful, so beyond pulled-together, and then she says to you, “I don’t care about clothes. I don’t worry about my looks. This is not what I am about.” And you wanna go, “Sweetheart, you have spent five hours getting ready — what are you talking about!?” I hate that in people.

LEO: Why do you think our culture is so obsessed with celebrities?

JR: We don’t have royalty in this country. And even royalty now have become pop culture stars. It’s all about people you think have better lives than you and are more beautiful.

LEO: You’ve made your career out of making fun of yourself and celebrities. So what happens when people approach you as a celebrity?

JR: I never feel like anything except looking in, which is probably why my career has stayed as long as it has stayed. I always am talking about them. None of them are my friends. I’m not on the A-List and don’t go to their parties.

LEO: What can we expect at your show on Friday?

JR: Talking about what’s going on right now — everything, really. Olympics, Tiger Woods … whatever happened that day in the newspapers. It’s also about how I hate children and I hate old people. It’s everything that’s going on in my life at the moment.

LEO: If you weren’t in show business, what do you think you’d be doing now?

JR: Trying to get into it. I love every aspect of it — I love the acting, the writing, obviously the performing. There’s no part of it I don’t like.

LEO: You’re often listed as a role model for female comics. How difficult was the comedy business in your day?

JR: It always was hard for a woman, and it still is. But who cares? It’s not a woman’s field — when you really look at comedy, think about it. Most of the comedians are lesbians; it’s a very masculine field. To walk on a stage and take command, that’s not a feminine thing to do. Also, I always say, “If you’re funny, you’re funny.” If my dog had 10 good minutes, he’d be up there on stage.

LEO: Have any favorites today?

JR: Oh, Kathy Griffin, of course — one of my very good friends. Sarah Silverman I think is brilliant. Little Britain — if you’ve ever seen them on HBO — are beyond hilarious. Graham Norton, who’s an English comedian.

LEO: What’s your secret?

JR: I love what I do. You look at people who retire, and you go, “Why?” And then you realize they didn’t love what they did. This is not work to me. To go on a stage and have fun with people and make them laugh is so great. 

Joan Rivers
Friday, March 12
Horseshoe Casino
$20-$45; 8 p.m.