Joan Rivers: Queen of Controversy

Joan Rivers: Queen of Controversy

Series 1



Viewers enjoying splendid Amazon drama The Marvelous Mrs Maisel may have twigged that its main character – a fearlessly edgy female comedian in 1950s New York – was at least partly inspired by Joan Rivers. This excellent clip show/profile concentrates on the era from the mid-60s onwards when Rivers became a regular on US late-night talk shows. There’s a wealth of great gags that seem caustic and boundary-pushing even by today’s standards. A friend recalls how Rivers would “go anywhere for the sake of a joke”.

In one 1990s TV special, she silences the audience by telling them, “My first sexual experience was a rape…” before following up with, “Luckily, he didn’t press charges.”


A look back at the astonishing 50-year career of the queen of comedy. Clips from Joan's unique, shocking and blisteringly funny routines from the '60s and '70s on the Johnny Carson, Ed Sullivan and Carol Burnett shows, reveal how she smashed down doors and shattered glass ceilings for a new generation of female performers. Joan was also an astute businesswoman who made millions investing in QVC, plus she almost single-handedly changed how the world watches the red carpet. Contributors, including her daughter Melissa and comedian Barry Cryer, celebrate the comedian's life and times.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Melissa Rivers
Contributor Barry Cryer
Director Tom Hopgood
Executive Producer Emma Clarke
Executive Producer Matt Crook
Producer Tom Hopgood
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Documentary Arts