Joan Rivers philosophy of life must have been“laugh ‘till you die” because that is exactly what she did up to her last breath on Thursday September 4, 2014 of cardiac arrest. Her untimely death at age 81 made me pause to reflect on the gift of life I still enjoy. As I began to think about her incredible life, I realized that one tribute would not be enough for the impact of her diverse life; and any essay I wrote could fit equally well in any one of my three blogs on this site. So, I decided to write three different essays to celebrate her diverse and fully-lived life from which she surely put more into the many lives she touched than she took out. The three essays are posted in my three blogs: “Life, Work and Meaning:”
Laugh ‘till You Die; Create ‘till you Die; Inspire ’til You Die
Joan Rivers Laughed at Death
Regarding her chances of getting into heaven when she died, Rivers once joked: The only thing I worry about is that God won’t recognize me because I have had so many plastic surgeries. It is said that people who make us laugh are either comics, people who say things funny; or comedians, people who say funny things. Joan Rivers was both.
We love to laugh; but more than anything, we hate to be laughed at. How strange it is, then, that people like Joan Rivers who make us laugh do so by embracing the one fear that terrorizes us the most: Fear of being laughed at. It turns out there’s a word for this fear: gelosphobia, from the Greek word gelos for “laugh,” and phobia for “fear.”
Joan Rivers Made us Laugh at Life
We cry with our first breath the moment we are squeezed out from our comfortable first home into the cold, harsh outside world. Crying is our first expression of “no.” By our six month birthday we have figured out that reality is not so bad, and seems kind of funny; so we begin to laugh; this is our first expression of ‘yes.” Armed with just these two primitive “yes/no” binary bits of language we create a new life. There will be millions of no’s and yes’s in our life, some good and some bad; but our yes’s to laugh will always be good, cost virtually nothing, and will always make us feel happy. As Joan Rivers might say: Oh please! Do yourself a favor and laugh; it’s just a joke.