Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Rated 3.0

Brash comic, shameless publicity hound, cutting-edge performer, workaholic practitioner of self-invention—the lady is indeed a piece of work. Documentary filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg followed this show-biz legend around for more than a year and the resulting behind-the-scenes portrait shows a performer whose public persona is a corrosively comical work in progress. No special prodding is needed from the filmmakers—Rivers and her daughter/collaborator Melissa are already working full time on the business of “the career”—a lifelong pursuit of the limelight via the “Joan Rivers” persona, an entertainer who is both self-promoting and self-lacerating. Vintage clips of Rivers’ early TV appearances are included along with more recent material from Celebrity Apprentice and Comedy Central’s Roast. Kathy Griffin and Don Rickles appear briefly as well. Pageant Theatre. Rated R