Last Night … Joan Rivers called me a….

This inducts a new, irregular series with my blog: “Last night…” which are usually started the night after a momentous occasion, but are definitely not finished/posted until much later.

More than a month since I last posted – bad blogger, bad!  To make up for it, here is a crazy long blog post, about an amazing birthday and an amazing lady.


When I left you, dear reader, I was in the throws of insanity for the big gala at work. That is now over, thank heaven.  Although day of, we had a few small fires (literally – candles and low hanging flowers don’t mix), it went really, really well and I was very proud of my work.

As soon as it was over, I think my brain just shut off for a little while. But by the end of March, work was picking back up again – we have another event in three weeks, so had to get cracking on that – and life got back to normal.

AND it was my birthday. Which was just absolutely great.
Generally, I don’t think I fall into girlie stereotypical roles. However, when it comes to my birthday, I def tend to make a huge deal out of it.  And I appreciate that my amazing friends helped to make this one kick ass.

At around, 3pm on the day I started the following post: Things that made my birthday great

– receiving an e-card at 12:01a and finding two birthday cards on the coffee table at 12:15a

– reading a new blog entry by Neil Gaiman

– reading Sarah Vowell’s new book, Unfamiliar Fishes, my birthday present to myself

– Attending the Gracie Mansion tour
(Robert Moses connection, actual canon ball from Revolutionary War, neat design – all around super awesome)

– Hysterical historical e-card (Presidents bickering and then wishing me a happy birthday)
As Kate said: Presidents+Birthdays+You= match made in heaven :)

– yummy semi-schmancy lunch with my boss

All of which were super awesome, but I had no idea what was coming next….

I have a tendency to be a super intense planner about all things, but especially about my birthday.  Well, this year things were a little different because in early February, I got a google calendar invitation to “Esca for Erin’s birthday” from Justin, with no explanation.  Turns out, my boys were not letting me plan my birthday. Instead, they were taking me to a fancy restaurant for dinner. And I was super excited.

At around 7pm, we leave Justin and Joe’s apartment.  I’m wearing heels because fancy dinner=heels, right?  And we walk from 48th to 43rd, where Esca is. Justin has to go to the bank, and I try to beg off the extra block, but he insists I  come with – and since the boys are paying, who am I to bitch?

We are bantering in the bank, and when we leave, all of a sudden instead of heading back to 43rd, Justin quickly makes a right and turns into this little restaurant, the West Bank Cafe. The boys have been kinda secretive about this whole night, so I am wondering what is going on, maybe we meeting people for drinks before dinner? But, we walk super quickly through the main restaurant, pass the bar, and down these steps into a little theater space… all the while, I am going… Um, what is happening?

After initially being seated in the middle of the room, the management moves us to the very front of the stage, at a four seater table. So, I’m sitting there, looking confused, as Joe, Justin and Robert all have these little smiles, but no answers. The name of the theater – Laurie Beechman – sounds super familiar, but I had never been there before, and the piano player tinkling the keys with the Great American Songbook is not a clue, either.

So, we sit and we eat. And I try to figure out what the hell is going on?

The rooms cliental is somewhat of a tell – older than most comedy clubs, mostly men, mostly gay.  I lean over to Robert, and say… “Is this Joan Rivers?” But he won’t answer and I don’t have confirmation for another 45 minutes, when the crew comes out and tapes down these huge white cards to the stage – which I know she uses for her stand up.

And then I am so excited!!

Why, you might ask? Why am I excited to see Joan Rivers? What a strange birthday present!

Growing up, Joan Rivers was just a Red Carpet talking head and a punch line about plastic surgery. I had no real connection to her at all.  However, over the course of the last few years, I have been getting more and more into comedy. And last summer, EVERYONE was raving about this documentary, Joan Rivers: a Piece of Work.  So, finally in early January, Joe, Robert and I sat down to watch it … and laughed our asses off.

She is brilliant! She is vulgar! And she has had an amazing history in comedy – including being Johnny Carson’s right-hand-woman for quite a long time on The Tonight Show.

I really loved it and loved her.  And the boys realized this, and came up with this amazing surprise for my birthday. (Apparently, they had been planning this for a long while, and shortly after they had purchased the tickets, I brought up seeing her do stand up. No one responded to my email, so I assumed it wouldn’t happen, but they had a whole plan to make sure I didn’t go before the night of the surprise.)

Just seeing her would’ve been amazing.  She was so funny, and made fun of everything under the sun.  However, no one could have expected how freakin’ cool it was to be sitting front row center for her performance.  First and foremost, we did get to see the crazy plastic surgery up close.

But much more importantly, about two minutes into the set, she looks down at me and goes “What? A woman sitting here? How did you get this seat?” I shrug helplessly, and she continues, “This is for my prime fans… its for the gays.” So, I kinda mumble and gesture at my fellows at the table.  She looks at them, nods, and says, “Oh good. Keep the gays as your friends. You may end up lonely, but you always be happy…and well decorated.”

Not that long after that, she comments on my breasts, and asks if I am a tranny. When I say they are real she recommends marrying old and rich and using them to smother my husband in order to quickly inherit. What do you do when Joan Rivers makes fun of you???  I laughed, and smiled, and felt this incredible joy of watching someone who is sooooo good at what they do, make their art. (After, while rehashing all the humor, we also discussed laughing at non-PC things, and how her level of absurdity and how nothing was sacred made it seem ok. Whether it is, is another question.)

Seriously, our table and especially me, ended up being made fun of for solid 8 minutes of her hour set.

And I couldn’t have been happier.

(Well, until the next part of my birthday surprise, but that will have to be a different post)

For now, I will leave you with a little humor from Ms. Rivers.  I hope you laugh as hard as I did.