Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/1/11
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleLaughing Matters with Joan Rivers (as broadcast)
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
DateOctober 1995
Duration2 hr. 1 min. 2 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 124)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionLaughing Matters' with Joan Rivers (edited programme as broadcast on British Airways Radio).
[00:03] Intro, Joan Rivers [JR] talks about listening to early radio and television shows [00:25] Clip of Jack Benny plays, [04:09] clip ends Joan Rivers [JR] describes his material as extraordinarily well-written, JR praises early Milton Berle before he became a caricature of himself, [04:22] clip of Milton Berle plays [08:02] clip ends, [08:08] JR talks about how privileged she was to grow up watching I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney.
[08:32] Clip of Imogen Coca and Sid Caesar plays. [10:47] Clip ends, JR talks about the writers of these shows, Neil Simon, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. At college she discovered Mike Nichols and Elaine May [11:12] clip of Nichols & May plays.
[19:11] Clip ends, JR admires Nichols & May’s professionalism on Broadway, “they epitomised everything we were all thinking” [19:50] JR talks about how old comedy still holds up, praises the books of Robert Benchley from the 1920s and 1930s.
[20:26] Lenny Bruce, JR saw him at his height, she says no comedian would be here without Lenny Bruce “calling a spade a spade and talking about taboo subject matters” such as the JFK assassination. [21:47] JR discusses doing a play about Lenny Bruce’s mother Sally Marr, who was also a comedienne. [21:57] JR learnt from the end of Lenny Bruce’s career that you shouldn’t bring your personal problems onstage because people aren’t interested. [22:26] Clip of Lenny Bruce plays.
[30:16] Clip ends, JR talks about his golden time, addressed racial prejudices by saying “who would you rather sleep with, Lena Horne or Kate Smith?” which she incorporates into the play.
[31:04] JR says the only person since who has come anywhere near Lenny Bruce is Richard Pryor [31:07] Clip of Richard Pryor plays.
[34:07] Clip ends. JR talks about how Richard Pryor introduced truth that wasn’t being discussed onstage, [34:30] in 1970 Life Magazine highlighted JR as the next big comedian, but she recommended they watch Richard Pryor. [36:00] JR says that like how Richard Pryor told the truth about race, she told the truth about being a woman. [36:15] Clip of Joan Rivers plays.
[43:50] Clip ends, she says the reason people responded to her was likely the same reason she responded to Richard Pryor, both talked about things you shouldn’t talk about and talked about them humorously. [44:05] She says the same is true of George Carlin, who said the seven words you can’t say on TV. [44:24] Clip of George Carlin plays.
[46:47] Clip ends, JR talks about being in Las Vegas when he got fired. [47:13] Another clip of George Carlin plays. [55:48] Clip ends, Laughing Matters jingle plays.
[55:52] JR talks about Las Vegas. She talks about Noel Coward and Woody Allen drawing a more sophisticated crowd in Las Vegas. [56:15] JR talks about Woody Allen hating stand-up, but how it prepared him for the writing he really wanted to do. [57:16] Clip of Woody Allen plays. [01:00:00] Clip ends.
[01:01:03] JR talks about how with singers people expect Tony Bennett to sing I Left My Heart in San Fransisco or Frank Sinatra to sing New York New York, and people similarly started requesting Woody Allen do the moose routine, to a silent room because it wasn’t fresh and everybody knew it.
[01:02:00] JR discusses how acts evolve, and says Bill Cosby reinvented where Woody Allen didn’t. [01:02:36] Bill Cosby, JR describes him as a “white black man”, he represents family values rather than the racial anger of Richard Pryor. [01:04:02] Clip of Bill Cosby plays.
[01:10:10] Clip ends, JR says Bill Cosby has lived a third of his life in Las Vegas. [01:10:30] Sam Kinison, JR says he was another comedian who told it as it was. [01:10:45] Clip of Sam Kinison plays.
[01:13:12] Clip ends, JR says Sam Kinison would’ve been the next in line following Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor had he not died in a car crash. [01:14:15] Laughing Matters jingle plays.
[01:14:20] JR talks about making her family laugh as a child. [01:15:12] Clip of Joan Rivers plays. [01:18:05] Clip ends, JR talks about the joy of interacting with the audience.
[01:21:12] Laughing Matters jingle plays. [01:21:27] Clip of Moms Mabley plays. [01:25:16] Clip ends, JR discusses Moms Mabley’s onstage persona. [01:26:00] Clip of Phyllis Diller plays. [01:28:41] Clip ends, JR discusses how underrated and topical Phyllis Diller is. JR discusses how Phyllis Diller had to make herself up to look funny and not pretty, and how this was the only way women could be funny. JR says she wanted to change that, and be someone you laughed with rather than at.
[01:29:58] JR talks about why she has so few female successors, because she filled a niche that very few other women could talk about, of talking about married life, being a working mother, having affairs, women’s problems, flaunting married life but also wanting total independence.
[01:30:36] Roseanne Barr, JR describes her as a throwback to the “trailer court lady”, [01:30:51] clip of Roseanne Barr plays.
[01:31:48] Clip ends, JR talks about how women’s liberation meant that women “weren’t supposed to” do jokes about wanting to getting married or having a relationship, and says this is why there were no women comedians for a long time since her. JR says that thankfully people like Rita Rudner are talking about the same topics JR talked about. [01:32:24] Clip of Rita Rudner plays.
[01:33:10] Clip ends, JR says that Rita Rudner is a great example of someone who can have a sense of humour and have style at the same time.
[01:33:40] Lily Tomlin, JR discusses her meticulousness, trial and error style vs JR’s improvisational impulsive technique when they collaborated once on a TV special. JR says “tape record everything, because the first way you say something is always the funniest”. [01:34:58] Clip of Lily Tomlin plays.
[01:37:26] Clip ends, JR discusses her telephone operator character. [01:38:53] Freddi Weintraub the owner of the Bitter End, where JR got her start along with Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Woody Allen, said that comedians who could divide opinion would go somewhere.
[01:39:40] Laughing Matters jingle plays. [01:39:44] JR talks about how The Goons never translated well in America, but loves that The Benny Hill Show did, admittedly for perhaps the wrong reasons.
[01:40:23] She’s glad Monty Python translated well in America, and loved Fawlty Towers before it was popular. The minor television stations in America air the cream of British comedy like Fawlty Towers, Absolutely Fabulous and Are You Being Served? [01:41:31] Clip from Fawlty Towers plays. [01:43:23] Clip ends, JR talks about how the American remake took the essence out of it
[01:44:10] JR talks about Absolutely Fabulous. [01:45:06] JR talks about Barry Humphries and Dame Edna. [01:46:02] JR talks about Barry Humphries Sir Les Patterson character. [01:47:44] Clip of Barry Humphries as Les Patterson plays. [01:52:29] Clip ends, JR talks about Les Patterson and vulgarity and shock in comedy.
[01:52:37] Laughing Matters jingle. [01:52:42] Victor Borge. [01:52:56] Clip of Victor Borge plays. [01:57:53] Clip end, JR laments about a generational gap, how 20 year olds will never willingly choose to see Victor Borge.
[01:58:12] She says they’d rather see Jim Carey, JR says he has more energy than Robin Williams, and that the softer more sardonic sophisticated humour of Victor Borge and Peter Ustinov isn’t appreciated as much anymore. [01:58:40] Clip of Peter Ustinov plays. [01:59:46] Clip ends, JR says Peter Ustinov might do well as a chat show host, if people are willing to wait for the dry wit.
[02:00:50] British Airways Radio jingle plays, recording ends.
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 48kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a Mac running MacOS; SPDIF connection via RME PCI card. Digitisation engineer Adrian Finn, Greatbear analogue & digital media ltd. Digital file was topped and tailed.
CategoryAudio recordings
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