Joan Rivers’ Advice

Right around the time I was working with Dave Gnojek at Designojek on this website, which was also right after I moved to New York, I happened to see an episode of the TV Show “Louie,” written, directed, edited, produced, and starring the amazing comedian Louis C.K. This particular episode had an exchange between Louis and the comedienne Joan Rivers, who gave some strikingly candid and relevant advice for comedians, but also any artist or freelancer. I’m not sure how much of it was from Joan’s brain, and how much was written for her to say by Louis; either way it’s wonderful. I have written a transcript (slightly edited for younger audiences) as my first blog post.

Rivers: You’re in the lounge?

CK: Uh, I was.

Rivers: You were fired?

CK: Eh, I quit.

Rivers: What do you mean you quit? Nobody quits.

CK: I quit.

Rivers: Are you crazy? Are you a trust-fund baby that you quit?

CK: No, it’s just that they got upset cause I was saying stuff about the casino and I was making fun of Trump.

Rivers: You’re in a Trump hotel! You don’t make fun of the owner of the hotel, are you crazy? He’s not gonna hire a comedian that’s gonna say —- Donald Trump.

CK: I know, but I just, I…

Rivers: You know, this is not an easy business. I mean, you wanna try my life sometimes? I work in Arizona–how about that? What do you expect? I mean you got a job, how lucky are you for goodness sakes?

CK: Yeah, but come on, you’re in the nice theater here. They got me in the tiny lounge.

Rivers: I was in the tiny lounge, sweetie-puss. Two years ago. For all I know I’ll be back in the tiny lounge two years from now, and you’ll be in the main room. Things change, that’s the business! Look at the perks you’re getting. You’ve got a job. You got a card for the free food in the employee cafeteria. Stop whining and go buy yourself a pocketbook that’s lined in plastic and throw food in when they’re not looking.

CK: Yeah. Great.

Rivers: You know what’s wrong with you guys? You don’t know when you’re lucky. Appreciate where you are for god sakes. It goes up, it goes down! I thought I had the lock on old. LOCK on old. And then guess what? Back from the dead, Betty White dusted off her old dumb shoulders and trotted ‘em out. It could happen to you! You think you’re doing so well and suddenly what’s-his-name? Dane, uh Clock-guy? He could come out and take your job from you! Know when you’re lucky!

CK: Yeah, I know. I mean I know all that. It’s just that sometimes I get sick of the bull.

Rivers: Sick of the bull?? What is your problem? Ugh. I am a million years old. Do you know what I’ve been through? I’ve been in this business for a million and two years and I’m a WOMAN! I’m a WOMAN! It’s not easy. You listen to me, I have done it all. I’ve done it all! And the only thing I’ve learned, the ONLY thing I’ve learned is you don’t quit. You DON’T quit. You have a job for god sakes, you don’t quit a job!

CK: You’re right.

Rivers: Of course I’m right. Listen, you’ll be fine. You’ll be absolutely fine. Tomorrow morning you just go downstairs and you go tell Sam…is it still Sam, right?

CK: I don’t remember his name.

Rivers: What do you mean you don’t remember his name? You work for the guy, you gotta know the guy’s name. How can you work for someone and not know their name? You think you only meet these people once? You GOTTA learn their names for god sakes. You learn the names on the way up so when you need help on the way down you have the name.

CK: His name is Sam. I think his name is Sam.

Rivers: His name IS Sam. And he is a PERSON. Tomorrow morning, you go down there and you say, “Sam. I’m sorry, I was wrong,” — that’s important — “I want my job back.”

CK: Okay, all right.

Rivers: Listen. I wish I could tell you it gets better, but…it doesn’t get better. You get better. You think it’s been easy? I have gone up, I’ve gone down, I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been broke. But you do it. And you do it because…because you love it more than anything else. That’s why you’re doing it. You want a real job, honey, there are a million things you can do. But what we do is not a job. It sounds so stupid… What we do, is a calling, my dear. We make people happy. It’s a calling.

And then Louis tries to kiss her, and hilarity ensues.