For more than 60 years, Joan Rivers made people laugh — in clubs, on late-night television, through her books, and in a feature-length documentary. But only once did she make them laugh on Saturday Night Live.
It's hard to believe that Rivers hosted only once, on April 9, 1983. Her gig didn't seem to make much of a splash; there are no reviews or mentions to be found. Indeed, it even failed to make an impact on Rivers herself — she forgot that she ever had hosted. As she told the Daily Beast recently, her unflinching brand of humor made her persona non grata in many places.
"I haven't been invited to the White House since the Reagans were there. I've never been on Saturday Night Live," she said.
Well, she was on SNL — that one time. Here are the highlights from her hosting tour:
Rivers relies on her usual shtick about her looks, calling herself the ugliest kid in town, growing up. "I was so ugly that they sent my picture to Ripley's Believe It or Not, and he sent it back and said, 'I don't believe it,'" she jokes. It was a punchline she used throughout her career.
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Joe Piscopo impersonates Rivers alongside Rivers herself as they vie to see who is the "real Joan." Once again, they draw heavily from the "ugly jokes" well. But the funniest one-liner is the real Rivers declaring, "I once dated a guy so dumb, he couldn't count to 21 unless he was naked." The audience gasps at her daring.
Calvin Klein Jeans Spoof
Rivers was the first person on SNL to impersonate Elizabeth Taylor. The commercial spoof targets Taylor's weight as Rivers chomps on an éclair. "I remember my first husband. My first diamond," she sighs. "My first chin."
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Old Folks' Home
Rivers and Eddie Murphy play themselves as senior citizens in the year 2040. They're still cracking jokes, but they have to supply their own rimshots since their nurse, played by SNL's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, doesn't find them funny. And the sketch calls back to the Calvin Klein jeans spoof, as the two comedians wonder whatever happened to the very large star, what's-her-name.