Joan Rivers Sparkled on That Show, Now on DVD
If you’re twenty-something, you may think that Joan Rivers is the United Nations Ambassador to Plastic Surgery. You may not be familiar with her work as a stand-up “comedienne” or the host of several television shows. If you’re thirty-something, you may remember when you were a tot your parents watched The Joan Rivers Show, a popular talk show way back in the nineties. Baby boomers may remember that Rivers hosted That Show, a syndicated, weekday talk show, in the late sixties.
On February 21, 2012, Synergy Entertainment releases ”That Show” with Joan Rivers 1968, a three-disc collector’s set that includes eighteen full episodes. The programs begin with a Rivers’ dialogue related to the day’s topic which is followed by a conversation with her guests, heavily-laced with Rivers shtick. In an episode featuring decorator Nick Grande and an impossibly young Joel Gray, the topic explores how single women can attract men through their home décor. Surprisingly, although the topic is dated, much of the decorating advice that both Grande and Gray dispense is still valid.
Imagine my delight when I found that two episodes feature my first heartthrob, Soupy Sales. In one, Soupy admits that he knows nothing about the topic—women's hats—much to the dismay of hat designer Mr. John who was so serious while Joan and Soupy continuously cracked jokes. Alas, Mr. John’s attempts to focus on the seriousness of hat fashion failed.
Among the guests featured on That Show are Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Florence Henderson, and Jerry Lewis. Today’s audiences will be amused to see guests lighting up and smoking on camera. Topics covered include nudism, cosmetic surgery, hypnosis, catering, teenagers today, “Do you need a maid?,” fan magazines, and men’s furs.
In 1968, Joan Rivers’ comedy was self-deprecating and relationship-based, particularly on her relationship with her husband. Because the humor is not topical, and because some things never change, it holds up well.