Picks and Pans Review: The Late Show
Syndicated (check local listings)
It's Joan Rivers' audience that drives me nuts. At the slightest provocation—like Vic Damone appearing—the crowd erupts into a tumult such as you'd expect at the second coming of Elvis. Whatever drug they're on, outlaw it. But it's Joan who really sets the tone of her fawnfest. She calls Elton John incredible three times and Kenny Rogers incredible four times. These days her surfboard-size fingernails are sharper than she is. Not that I'm dying to see the old Joan. I never liked her latrine humor ("I thought Johnny Cash was a pay toilet"), her fat jokes ("Russia is the only country in the world where women don't need to carry rape whistles"), her finger down her throat or her decibels sufficient to drown out Robin Leach. When she subbed for Johnny, I switched to T.J. Hooker reruns. But even if I were a Joan fan, I'd be disappointed in her show. Her interviews are 16 syllables long ("incredible, incredible, incredible, incredible") and rarely spontaneous. And her shtiks are stale. She makes a big deal of having juicers delivered to her set (page 121). Letterman had pizza and human hair delivered to his. He not only did it first, he did it funnier. Rivers still looks as nervous as Kitty Kelley in the back of Frank Sinatra's limo; she's trying too hard. Maybe she'll improve with age.
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