Tag Archives: Margaret Mead

Joan Rivers on Female Comedians and the Women’s Movement

So stop right there – I know what you’re thinking: No one likes Joan Rivers.  She’s old.  She’s not funny.  She’s ugly.

All of those things are pretty harsh after seeing this segment from CBS Sunday Morning.  In fact, her age (77) is probably the coolest thing about her.  In this interview with Richard Schlesinger, Rivers talks about being one of the first female comedians when she began in the 1960s, and how it was NOT hard being a woman:

Schlesinger: Was it hard to be a female comedian back then?

Rivers: No. No, no, and I’m so tired of hearing that.  I’m so tired of people saying, “Well, oh, I’m a woman and so they don’t let” – Let me tell you, if Hitler had six good jokes, they’d be saying, “You know, he’s changed.  He went to Nazi rehab…and he’s fine now.”  If you’re funny you can be anything.

A photo of Rivers when she first began comedy in the 1960s. Click to watch the 9 minute segment. Discussion on gender begins at :45.

Rivers also went to Barnard College, a very prominent women’s college, during the genesis of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  In fact, Rivers passed out questionnaires on gender to her female audience members for her professor Margaret Mead:

River: I would leave on the tables little questionnaires with little pencils and the women could fill out who makes the money in your house, who distri – women’s lib was just coming in.  And I would send them back to Mrs. Mead.

Schlesinger: You did research for Margaret Mead in your comedy club?

Rivers: Yes!

Schlesinger: Well what did you discover?

Rivers: That women were still dominated by men, but just starting to break through.

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