5 Lessons We Should All Learn From Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers at the Tribeca Film Festival

Joan Rivers was a real piece of work—who could teach everyone a thing or two about actual work. | Source: Sam Aronov / ShutterStock

As an aspiring comedian who happens to have a vagina, Joan Rivers has been an extreme influence on my life and career. You don’t have to be funny to appreciate the trailblazing that the legendary funny lady has done for women as a whole. Here are some life lessons you can learn from Joan Rivers, regardless of what field you happen to work in, to make sure you excel.

If you can work, you better work.
Joan Rivers told Cindy Adams of Page Six, “A day without working’s a day lost. That’s my real life. Show business must recognize me. And this is to tell everyone, ‘See, I’m still here. I’m not finished. I’m not Joan of AARP.’”

Always be on time.
Joan Rivers was never a second late. Once, when a truck was blocking Rivers’ limo from getting to her gig, she jumped out and ran there in pouring rain until cops came and escorted her in a squad car. That dedication served her beautifully, as well as the rest of us.

Always be prepared.
Cindy Adams reminisces about Joan Rivers, the consummate professional, as thus: “For every appearance, she’d prepare. At one-nighter club dates, papers with reminder jokes were spread on the floor. She’d stay up a whole night before a TV appearance prepping, plus suggesting questions they should ask to elicit the lines. Joan never disappointed.”

Don’t expect a break based on luck.
Joan Rivers explained on a 2014 episode of Fashion Police,”I love what I do, but I also know you must do it.”

Don’t compare yourself or your success to others.
Joan Rivers gave some golden words to The Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “First of all, don’t worry about the money. Love the process. You don’t know when it’s gonna happen. Louis C.K. started hitting in his 40s; he’d been doing it for 20 years. And don’t settle. I don’t want to ever hear, ‘It’s good enough.’ Then it’s not good enough. Don’t ever underestimate your audience. They can tell when it isn’t true. Also: Ignore your competition. A Mafia guy in Vegas gave me this advice: ‘Run your own race, put on your blinders.’ Don’t worry about how others are doing. Something better will come.”

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