Onstage and on TV, the sharp-tongued and absolutely fearless comedian did just that by taking on everything from Hollywood stars to housework. She also used humor to get through the sometimes extremely tough times in her career and in her personal life, and plenty of her schtick included self-deprecation about her own looks, aging and sex appeal.
Here are some of Joan's thoughts, jokes and one-liners that will help fans laugh again – and remember the way she saw the world through a lens of humor:
"I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking."
"I think anyone who's perfectly happy isn't particularly funny."
"My love life is like a piece of Swiss cheese. Most of it's missing, and what's there stinks."
"I've learned: When you get older, who cares? I don't mince words, I don't hold back. What are you gonna do to me? Fire me? It's been done. Threaten to commit suicide? Done. Take away my show? Done! Not invite to me to the Vanity Fair party? I've never been invited! If I ever saw the invitation, I'd use it as toilet paper."
"I've learned what's funny verbally ain't so funny on e-mail: They don't hear your intonations. Melissa broke up with somebody over that. She tried to tell him: 'That was a joke!' But he just didn't get it. Mick Jagger said, 'F––– 'em if they don't get the joke.' And I love him. That comes with age: Knowing it's their problem, not mine."
"Comedians are the lucky ones, because if you're funny, you can be 125 years old and they will still accept you."
"My best birth control now is to just leave the lights on."
"She's so fat, she's my two best friends."
"The first time I see a jogger smiling, I'll consider it."
"You know you're getting old when you buy a sexy sheer nightgown and don't know anyone who can see through it."
"I have a wonderful psychiatrist that I see maybe once a year, because I don't need it. It all comes out onstage."
"Life is very tough. If you don't laugh, it's tough."
"My routines come out of total unhappiness. My audiences are my group therapy."
"Anyone that says looks don't count is lying. Of course they do. Even babies go to the attractive face. It's the way humans work."
"I have no sex appeal; if my husband didn't toss and turn, we'd never have had the kid."
"I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again."
"Grandchildren can be f–––ing annoying – how many times can you go 'And the cow goes moo and the pig goes oink'? It's like talking to a supermodel."
"I don't think I'm good in bed; my husband never said anything, but after we made love he'd take a piece of chalk and outline my body."
"The fashion magazines are suggesting that women wear clothes that are 'age appropriate' … for me that would be a shroud."
"Is she fat? … Her favorite food is seconds."
"She doesn't understand the concept of Roman numerals; she thought we just fought in World War Eleven."
"Looking fifty is great – if you're sixty."
"I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I'd look like without plastic surgery."
"I always like a charity with people who don't speak English because I get them to do all kinds of things around my house."
"Don't make friends with your dogs! The sons of bitches will literally die ahead of you and cause you grief."