Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Rated 3.0

Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg’s documentary portrait of the commedienne as a tired old woman is more or less what you’d expect: charitable, shrill, redundant, hit-and-miss funny. Once in a while it’s even insightful: “I’ll show you fear,” Rivers says, holding up a blank page in her appointment book, real pain briefly visible in her synthetic face. No one seems to want to admit how boring this is. But she’s a trouper, all right, and yes, a pioneer. Thanks to Rivers, future generations won’t have to live in a world where most of the vain, bitter, insecure comics who persevere into their 70s are male. Also, she paved the way for Kathy Griffin. Yeah, thanks so much for that.