Amid a veritable forest of ficus trees and potted plants, a small orchestra bedecked the stage of the packed North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday night for the
So what was this all about? A one-woman stimulus package for underemployed musicians? An expensive joke at her own expense? A nod to how this irrepressible
And the awkward-looking musicians presented an opportunity; she introduced them at the top of the show as the Jerry Sandusky Orchestra. Rivers has long been an adherent of the school that argues that comedy is tragedy plus time. It's just that she prefers to measure time in, oh, seconds.
That face, incidentally, not only looks remarkably youthful (for all of Rivers' shtick on plastic surgery, she is a walking advertisement for its age-reducing properties), it has lost none of its ability to form into myriad physical shapes. That's the paradox of Rivers' onstage persona: She makes herself look grand just so she can screw her face up to make people laugh. No
Much of the time, Rivers will say or do something mildly shocking — like impersonating the way a silent
Few are better than Rivers at needing all of the showbiz validation — the shows, the stories of daughter Melissa and
This is dark stuff, of course, but it's Rivers' way of attacking the selfishness of the world and, especially, the fake culture that she herself has exploited for so many years. It feels almost like an act of absolution.
You might think it would be her way through the pearly gates, but she seems not to care for an afterlife. "All my friends are dying," she said at one point Tuesday. "People say, 'She's gone to a better place.' I say, 'No she's not. She had a place in the Hamptons.'"
That's a complicated gag, amid several others about the way people treated the aging — all with a
Well, as Rivers well knows, for her it was always this. You get the sense that she wants her audience not to think of themselves as special, but to know that she does one-nighters most nights a week, just as she has for decades. It's high-energy retail with no sell-by date. Most entertainers fear the rote; Rivers embraces it. Her uber text is simple enough: Whatever the world dishes out, life must go on, fast and furious. Perform or die.