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DVD Review: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

January 11, 2011

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – An eOne Films’ Release


DVD Release Date: January 11th, 2010

Rated 14A for coarse language and crude content

Running time: 84 minutes


Ricki Stern (dir.)

Anne Sundberg (dir.)


Paul Brill (music)


Joan Rivers as Herself

Melissa Rivers as Herself


Our reviews below:


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work follows the 75th year in the life of the legendary and groundbreaking comedienne, and how she still manages to fill her days performing the edgy material that she continues to write.


Showing us hilarious footage of her classic stand-up routines, as well as new interviews with her family and business partners, this documentary serves as an entertaining, revealing and somewhat bittersweet look at the long career and current life of Joan Rivers.


The DVD includes deleted scenes, commentary, and a Q&A from the Sundance Film Festival.


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/4 (out of 4)

This doc is an interesting look at Joan Rivers and the personal side of show business.  At 75, she is a comedienne who still entertains and likes to have a full schedule even after these many years in a business that makes it so hard to keep competing.


By following an interesting personality, (and someone who works well with the camera), this documentary is entertaining and funny.  It is also edited well to keep it short enough for us to follow the story without losing interest.


All in all, I would reccomend checking this one out.  It is one of the better documentaries this year.


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work gives viewers insight into the life of a comedy icon.  At 75 years old, Joan Rivers still amuses, shocks and occasionally offends audience members with her disinhibited and crude humour.  This documentary also takes a glimpse at Rivers’ personal life.


Joan Rivers’ comedy, while sometimes shocking, has revolutionized the entertainment world.  Some of her stand up jokes are clever, and some are just rude.  Though Rivers is getting on in years, she still manages to hold her own and defend her position onstage.


I personally found the most interesting part of this documentary to be Rivers herself.  To paraphrase, after 9/11, where would we be without comedy?


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Love her or hate her, you can’t help but admire and respect the drive and determination Joan Rivers has to keep her career alive at over 75 years of age.  This documentary truly does show that Joan Rivers is indeed a piece of work.


We watch as she sits in the makeup chair getting ready for a wide range of public appearances, some gigs better than others.  Rivers speaks candidly about her long spanning career, her sometimes difficult personal life and her tireless need to keep on working.  The many clips of her past and current performances are fun to watch, leaving the viewer with a sense of admiration and a touch of sadness at a career and a life that has had its share of highs and lows.


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is a real tribute to an interesting person and performer.


Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work follows the comedienne for a year as she turns 75. From the opening closeup on her eyes as makeup is applied to a face largely wrinkle-free after countless lifts and botox injections, we are immediately aware of how driven she has always been, only happy when her daybook is full and now panicking to see white space in its pages.


To stay at the top of her profession and maintain her opulent life style she will work anywhere from small clubs to larger engagements, such as a Washington tribute to George Carlin, a celebrity roast and opening for her old friend Don Rickles. She admits that she originally saw standup as a diversion from her true ambition to be an actress, as seen in dark-haired pre-rhinoplasty pictures from high school plays, and some efforts at semi-autobiographical stage productions. Numerous clips of her present act as well as archive material going back to the 1960s remind us that she has always had an edge, even without the vocabulary lacking in the old TV clips, though her onstage loose woman persona seems as fictional as Jack Benny’s cheapskate. Mutual loyalty between her and her family and staff is longstanding, despite strains over the years.


A low point followed her move from NBC as a substitute Tonight Show host to start a rival talk show on Fox, leading to estrangement from Johnny Carson, the loss of her husband Edgar (typically beloved despite being the butt of many of her jokes), who could not live down the failure of the show, and the resulting strain on her relationship with her daughter Melissa, assuaged by a TV dramatization written by Joan in which she and Melissa played themselves. As for any great professional, the apparent ease of her work belies an incredible amount of preparation, from voluminous joke files to cue cards that she writes herself by hand.


Though it is nothing new to observe the typical insecurity of a standup comedian, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is never dull (unlike for example the 2002 doc Comedian with Jerry Seinfeld notable only for its clever trailer), due largely to good editing and ultimately the strength of her personality that dominates every scene.


Consensus: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is an entertaining and revealing documentary about the longstanding career and current life of the legendary comedienne. *** (Out of 4)

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