Joan Rivers has fun with hating on everything in her new book, "I Hate Everyone ... Starting With Me."
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
In her new book, “I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me,” Joan Rivers presents jokes in the rat-a-way she performs them live, all preceded with the organizing device of a first sentence starting with “I hate” or “I love” (usually sarcastically). Reading Rivers’ book, one is reminded that she didn’t just carve out a path for many female comedians but also claimed a distinctive space, blending the “woe is me” one-liners of Henny Youngman with the cutting insult comedy of Don Rickles, all presented with her own flair and style.
Beyond that, the material is organized into broad themes in each chapter – children, death, sex, manners and show business to name a few. The fun of this book, which is probably just a fraction of the material Rivers keeps in her card catalog shown in the documentary about her, “A Piece of Work,” (see review, 6/9/10) is the “I can’t believe she said that” reaction you’re likely to have to the material. A small sampling:
“A graveside funeral is like eHarmony for the bereaved.”
“I hate couples that make out in public. I always want to yell, “You’re disgusting! Can’t you finger each other in the back of the bus like the rest of us?”
“I hate Houston. It’s crawling with bugs. Oh wait, that’s Whitney Houston; I’m sorry, my bad. (Can I just mention that Whitney looked fabulous at the Grammys? She was in mahogany from head to toe.)”
“Everyone dies—except maybe Betty White, and I think it’s high time someone pushed that bitch in front of a train because I’m sick and tired of losing the ‘sassy grandma’ roles to her.”
As you can see, Rivers revels especially in ripping beloved figures like Houston and White. And in bits like the first two above, she’s so concise with a set-up and punchline, sometimes all within the same sentence, and all containing some transgressive idea or thought, that is so effective.
All told, “I Hate Everyone” presents the work of its author as a classic performer, still active and sharp, entertaining even in print form.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua