Rex Murphy: Joan Rivers was the woman who taught feminism to laugh

National Post | Full Comment

She was hardly an ornamental presence on stage. Joan Rivers was an abrasive force with the microphone, a rapid-fire joke and insult machine who went from one “delicate” topic to another.

She herself was not delicate. Indeed she was almost always working at the top of her voice, and shouting insults or observations designed to expose the pompous, take a swipe at the pretentious. When she riffed on some big name, you could feel the tension build in the audience (Is she really saying this?) before they gave in and laughed.

[np_storybar title=”Joan Rivers — 1933–2014: Iconic comedian dies in New York hospital” link=”http://arts.nationalpost.com/2014/09/04/joan-rivers-dead-at-81-comedians-daughter-melissa-confirms/”]Joan Rivers, the raucous, acid-tongued comedian who crashed the male-dominated realm of late-night talk shows and turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities, died Thursday. She was 81.

Rivers was hospitalized last week after she went into cardiac arrest at a Manhattan doctor’s…

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