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ENTER TALKING by Joan Rivers (Delacorte: $17.95; 376 pp.)

June 22, 1986|Florence King | King's "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" is out in paperback from Bantam. and

"People like you when you make them laugh," she says. Maybe, but humor exacts a price from a woman. She must poke fun at herself, as Rivers does in her Jewish princess routines, and she must downplay her sex appeal for the sake of the males in the audience who worry about what might happen if that sense of humor came down from the stage and slipped into their beds, because men regard their sexual performance as a sacerdotal function, and you mustn't laugh in church. Yet, once a woman comic downplays her sex appeal, she must endure abuse from these same males, because men hate women who downplay their sex appeal.

FOR THE RECORD - An Omission
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 29, 1986 Home Edition Book Review Page 8 Book Review Desk 1 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction
In our June 22 review of "Enter Talking," we omitted the name of author Richard Meryman, who co-wrote the book with Joan Rivers.

There is no way out of this conundrum for a woman who needs approval as much as Rivers claims she does. A woman still may not do searing satire in the 18th-Century manner because it demands a trait that has been bred out, trained out, and knocked out of the female sex: curmudgeonry. A woman can get away with anything as long as she "loves people," but she must never say, as did Jonathan Swift, "I hate and despise the animal called Man."

"Comedy is anger, but anger is not comedy," Rivers reminds us. True, anger is not comedy, but it is wit. A woman may be funny, but she dare not be witty unless, like Rhett Butler, she doesn't give a damn. Rivers does give a damn, which makes her book a study of limitations.

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