Watch Joan Rivers Explain the Life of a Comedian to Louis C.K.

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 4 2014 3:11 PM

Watch Joan Rivers Explain the Life of a Comedian to Louis C.K.

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Joan Rivers in 2009.

Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Joan Rivers, who died Thursday at the age of 81, was a famous—and working, always working—comedian for half a century, having first broken through on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965. One of the many comedians she inspired was Louis C.K., who, in 2011, told the A.V. Club that he had always loved her and that the documentary about her life and career, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, was “a huge inspiration.”

After seeing that movie, C.K. asked Rivers to appear on his show, Louie, and wrote a scene in which she tells him that comedy is not a job, it’s “a calling.” (“When I asked for script changes,” Rivers later explained in GQ, “we rewrote it together.”) Rivers tells Louie that the life of a comedian doesn’t get better, but “you get better,” and that, in any case, you do it because you “love it more than anything else.”

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After she had filmed the episode, Rivers told Vulture that she had not yet seen C.K.’s stand-up, but that she hoped to, adding that “Louie needs a good fashion makeover but that will come later.” 

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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