Joan Rivers comes to the Pantages, disses, then dishes with this reporter

From Weekly Volcano

by HEATHER ROBINSON

“Where are we?” Joan Rivers rasped from offstage last Friday. “The Pantages Theater in Tacoma? It’s come to this?”

So the icon kicked off a performance so politically incorrect it would make the diversity-minded cringe if they didn’t realize that it was all shtick. Emerging in a floor-length, silver sequined robe, Joan ranted against people and groups that get on her nerves (“Chinese women, get out! They are gorgeous and they steal your men!”), skewered celebrities (“Jennifer Aniston does not douche!”) and vented about geriatric woes (“Vaginas drop! No one ever told me! You can have sex in your bedroom and watch TV in your living room!”).

After the show, this reporter and a few friends attended the “Meet and Greet.” (New to Tacoma, I brought along local wings Erik Bjornson, Jamie Chase and Kevin Freitas). We were herded inside a gargantuan elevator that opened onto a nondescript room where a mostly 50-plus-year-old crowd stood lined up behind a velvet rope. I tried to employ a reporter’s privilege and dodge the line. When Joan emerged, she told me bluntly (albeit with a warm handclasp): “I’d speak with you, but these people paid, you didn’t.”

Deflated, I returned to my crew. Consoling ourselves with Chardonnay, we debated whether I should dare attempt another approach. We had just decided against it when one of Joan’s handlers notified us, “She’ll see you now!”

I grabbed my notebook and rushed to meet the legend. Up close, her famous face was wizened, almost leonine, and yes, somewhat immobile from all the surgeries. “You’ve waited all this time,” she said. “So ask me.”

Face-to-face with the woman who got me in trouble at age 12 for being up past my bedtime because my parents caught me laughing at her crack that Nancy Reagan picked her nose with a breadstick, I was momentarily speechless.  Then I managed to sputter, “What do you think of Walmart?”

“If they have my products I like them, if they don’t, I don’t,” Rivers told me.

She then praised the “fall colors” of the Northwest and indulged some of my questions about politics, saying “there’s no one in either party” she would vote for. Of the Herman Cain sexual harassment controversy Rivers said, “These are not New York women. If they were, they would have gotten half a million. Who settles for $45,000?”  She said she had just come from performing in Texas and that even there, “No one likes Perry.”

Erik asked how she thought the Tacoma audience was. “Great,” she said. “They went with everything.”

“Will you come back to Tacoma?”

“We’re coming back.”

“People around here need a laugh,” I said.

“Everybody needs a laugh,” said the Matriarch of Comedy.

Rock on, Joan.

This entry was written by and posted on November 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm and filed under Features.