Yesterday, the world lost a legend, a trailblazer, a diva, a role model and one of the funniest people to ever live. No shrinking violet, Joan Rivers often stirred the pot with her biting, quick-witted humor, which some deemed to be offensive and others, hilarious.
One thing is undeniable: The woman stayed on top of her game for 55 years, an accomplishment only a very few elite in the entertainment industry share.
Even in a field dominated overwhelmingly by men, Joan didn’t let anybody or anything deter her from becoming the shining star she knew she was meant to be.
This generation is often accused of feeling entitled to success without having to earn it. Let’s follow these tips from Joan and prove them all wrong.
1. Work your ass off.
Although Joan’s talent was undeniable, her work ethic was unquestionably one of the cornerstones to her success.
Before she hit it big, she worked for seven years, performing stand up comedy in strip clubs and dank bars in the Bronx. She paid her dues and never thought the work was beneath her. Since those days, there’s almost nothing the self-proclaimed workaholic hasn’t done.
From talk show host to playwright to fashion commentator to contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice," Joan was just happy to be working. She once said the thing she feared most was an empty calendar. To her, happiness was a schedule filled with more ink than Kat Von D’s client base.
She maintained this kind of fortitude right up until her dying day. At the time of her death, Joan was working as the host of E!’s “Fashion Police,” star of her own reality show on WEtv, jewelry designer for QVC, star and producer of new a web series, “In Bed with Joan,” and author of her twelfth book, "Diary of a Mad Diva."
2. When others say “you can’t,” don’t believe them.
Joan’s career as a comedian started in the 50s and 60s, when women were a rarity in the genre. Instead of resorting to safe, housewife humor, Joan was outspoken and brash. She made decidedly unladylike jokes that drew criticism from peers, including Jack Lemmon and Jerry Lewis.
Early in her career, after making a joke about her own sexuality, her manager took her aside and told her that women shouldn’t talk about “those things.” Undeterred, Joan told him that he was wrong and that it was exactly what women should be talking about.
She was right. Audiences couldn’t get enough of her, and 55 years later, Joan is, indeed, laughing not with her critics, but at them.
In life, many will try to tell you that you can’t do something. Laugh at them.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others.
When asked what advice she’d give to other aspiring female comics, Joan said, “Ignore the competition.” As women, we too often compare ourselves to our contemporaries and allow the success of others to make us feel inadequate.
Remember, just because someone else is smart doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Just because someone else is funny doesn’t mean you’re dull. Just because someone else is gifted doesn’t mean you lack talent.
Don't think you should be just like your competitors because you aren't. Equally important, they could never be you.
4. Overcome discouragement.
At the end of her 81 years, fans mostly remember Joan’s illustrious career highs, but she also suffered many, many lows.
She was fired from her late-night talk show, blacklisted by Johnny Carson and NBC, fell into a deep depression after her husband's suicide, bore the brunt of mockery about her plastic surgeries and endured constant criticism for her controversial brand of insult humor.
However, Joan was like a freight train; nothing would stand in her way. It's normal to feel discouraged and disappointed during setbacks, but Joan’s success is due, in large part, to her determination and refusal to let life’s temporary cowlicks keep her down.
5. Keep family close.
Joan’s only child, Melissa, joked that her mother’s career was like a second sibling. Joan spoke often of her close relationship with her daughter and included Melissa in numerous projects.
Melissa produced “Fashion Police” and Joan’s web series, co-starred in their reality show, “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” and joined her on the red carpet as a celebrity interviewer.
Joan also doted on her grandson, Melissa’s son, Cooper, evidenced by photos of him proudly peppering Joan’s Twitter feed.
When Joan agreed to let Comedy Central roast her on television, the comic said only one thing was off-limits: her daughter. Joan was unfailingly committed to her career, but she never lost sight of the importance of family.
6. Don’t give a sh*t what other people think of you.
One of Joan’s most admirable qualities was that she did and said whatever the hell she wanted and didn’t really care whether anyone else liked it.
Whether or not you agree with Joan’s words or actions, we can all respect that she would not edit herself just to make you feel comfortable.
Throughout all of her life’s ebbs and flows, she always stayed true to herself and knew exactly who she was: a loud-mouthed, opinionated, ingenious and hilariously mad diva.
Rest in peace, Joan Rivers.
Photo Courtesy: WENN