Episode 182: "A Cup and Saucer Made Out of a Daffodil"

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September 5, 2014


Joan Rivers

Origin of the episode title[edit]

What Willy Wonka drinks out of in the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Fact


On April 7, 2011, JOAN RIVERS was kind enough to appear on episode 5 of this podcast. Here is that interview in full.

In addition to being a small tribute to the enormous legacy of this phenomenal woman, it also features the following exchange: Julie: "What DO dogs know?' Joan: "Oh, the usual crap."

In addition to a remembrance of Joan, this week's podcast also features a story about a candy store in Montauk, a lesson about baths versus showers from Reverend John Waters, a meditation on the rhythm of The Simpsons, some Glenn Hetrick news about his cats and Halloween, a sock-eating Great Dane whose privacy doesn't matter, and extensive rumination about Kevin Spacey's upcoming concert in our nation's capital, which is surely a great idea.


Download the Episode[edit]

Episode Link

Monologue Transcript[edit]

Transcription by Amy

Let's do it. I'm back. Hi everybody. It's Julie back for another episode of HWYW. I took off last week because I wanted to mix it up and now Joan Rivers is dead.

I'm really pissed off actually and I don't know if I'm cycling throughout he stages of grief quickly but you realize she was not supposed to die. You do know that she had another 10 or 20 years easily. It really comes down to the fact that she should have had her endoscopy in a hospital instead of a clinic. I hope that doctor likes malpractice or was considering moving to Tijuana to be one of the seed doctors on Botched. The doctors who do the work that the other doctors correct. When they greet him at the border I imagine one of the questions they will ask is how does it feel to have killed a legend who had a very full week? Joan's calendar had been full lately. She was so happy.

I didn't want to say she was at her peak because she was always at her peak, but she went out working. The fact that she was 81 doesn't matter. It really doesn't. Whenever someone points that out I want to say, "Shut Up." Don't man-splain her age to me because the whole point is that she wasn't 81 she was Joan Rivers. I can't believe she's gone. I actually thought, because the 9/11 lights are back, every year they put the 9/11 spotlight down around the World Trade Center and they point up to the sky where the twin towers used to be. For a minute I thought it was for her. Look at the 9/11 lights look how they shine for you and all of the things you do.

You were Joan Rivers.

I wrote a thing for Vulture on Joan Rivers and I am so happy it has gotten the response it has.


People have been really nice about it. I was worried about making her death about me. The nice thing about writing this essay is I was able to refrain from overly expressing myself on social media which I recommend every once in a while. I had worked with Joan a couple of times. I said what I wanted to say about her best in the essay so if you want to go and read it. Maybe I should read it to you. Maybe that would be redundant. Also I haven't returned any of my Brand Manager's phone calls though I think he Snapchats me and I deleted that application from my phone weeks ago. Brand Manager, Ben Lashes, the guy that manages Grumpy Cat and Nyan Cat and other memes told me to make sure your brand is consistent.

This is all a bit, there's no Ben Lashes. He's not a real person. I think I am going to read this. If you read it on Vulture fast forward through this part. No one has a gun to your head. I want to read it because I am rambling. It would be better to speak eloquently about one of the best people. Weren't we lucky? Wasn't I lucky?

There’s a moment in the excellent documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, that has nothing to do with show business. Joan and her grandson Cooper are riding in the backseat of her town car on Thanksgiving morning, delivering a hot meal to a homebound woman with multiple sclerosis. Cooper tells his grandmother that he got his video-game console from a classmate who had three PSPs and gave him one. “Does he have a single grandfather?” Rivers jokes to the camera. In the small, warm silence that follows, Joan picks up her grandson’s hand and squeezes it. “I love your hands,” she tells him. “They’re good hands.” Cooper reaches over with his other hand and squeezes back. Joan soars.

It never once occurred to me that Joan Rivers could die. Like everyone else, I can’t remember a time in which she wasn’t around. Joan has always been in the cultural conversation; so much so that we took her for granted. She was always there, like Santa Claus or the New York Post, or the sun or the moon. The fact that she was 81 when she died seems irrelevant, even insulting to mention. Joan was ageless. She went out buzzing.

Before I met Joan Rivers, to interview for a writing position on a web series that would never materialize, I spent an afternoon researching her online, and, in the process of doing so, realized she was my idol. As I scrolled through her credits from the desk of my shitty day job, I remember thinking, the way you can suddenly fall in love with a longtime friend, Remember that woman I grew up with? Who was always on TV? Well, it turns out she’s awesome, and I want to be exactly like her. Typically, I was a couple of beats behind. We all were.

We called her a throwback when she was actually ahead of her time. We used the internet to call her mean. Everybody made fun of her face, as though any of us were ever given a choice to look like Angelina Jolie at birth but just checked the wrong box. She took jobs that weren’t cool, and her only reward was more work. She was never — EVER — given her due.

Years later, I wrote for Joan Rivers on two of her reality shows: How’d You Get So Rich? and Joan and Melissa: Mother Knows Best. Basically, I was paid to hang out with Joan all day and pitch her jokes when they occurred to me. Sometimes she’d use the good ones, but not before she’d say to me, “That’s very funny.” It was a thrill to hear her iconic voice deliver the stupid, dirty things I came up with at the time about Mackenzie Phillips’s sexual relationship with her dad, or about David Crosby’s sperm being delivered to Melissa Etheridge in a turkey baster, or whatever was in the news at the time. But as great as it was when she’d use my stuff, I really just loved hanging out with her for as much time as she’d let me.

Joan is — was, I guess, though I can’t yet refer to her in the past tense — not just funny, but fun. You felt like you were at a party when she was around, and a good one, with classy people who had great stories and wonderful food. Just talking to her, you felt more alive, more glamorous, sharper. You felt pressed to dazzle her; to make her laugh or to pique her interest in something you knew or had just read. And when you were around Joan, you were never bored. Do you know how hard that is, to never be boring? To Joan Rivers, it was like breathing.

When I worked for Joan, work felt like something I could do forever without a break. Energy is a feeble description for what she had. Sharp is a pathetic way to describe her recall, or the speed of her brilliant brain. And the word kinddoesn’t even begin to do justice to her colossal heart.

Joan showed me by example that generosity only brings more into your own life.

After one of Joan’s stand-up shows at the Laurie Beechman, I took my parents backstage to meet her. After Joan was nice enough to tell them how proud they should be of me for writing those incredible Mackenzie Phillips incest jokes, my mother complimented her glittery watch (QVC, natch), which Joan promptly removed and forced us to take home. She loved giving gifts to everyone in her orbit; she would never permit anyone around her to be deprived of anything. I remember seeing Joan lock eyes with the cleaning lady working a shift in her office one evening. She made sure that woman went home with as many handbags as she could carry.

And I will never forget how, on the day before she returned to late-night television as a guest on Letterman’s Late Show after 27 years in the post-Johnny chill, Joan wouldn’t let the segment producer off the phone until she could tell him about a young comedian named Billy Eichner. “He’s absolutely brilliant. You have to have him on the show,” Joan insisted to a producer assigned to find out what jokes Dave would need to set up for her the following day. “Billy Eichner.” She repeated. “He’s hilarious. I’ll bring you a DVD.” And the next afternoon, in the middle of all of her frantic preparation for what would be her big, nerve-wracking, triumphant return to the Ed Sullivan Theater — where she debuted as a 33-year-old on a show that preceded Dave’s — she did bring a DVD of Billy’s YouTube clips to personally hand to that very producer. Billy, by the way, will be appearing on Letterman next week for his first time. Somewhere, she’s kvelling.

Joan was one of the first-ever guests on my podcast, How Was Your Week. She recorded with me in her library, wearing workout clothes, sweating through a perfect blowout. She was kind enough to talk shit about Peter Cook and Elizabeth Taylor, and we played Fuck, Marry, Kill with center squares (fuck Martin Mull, marry Paul Lynde, kill David Brenner). Joan got a lot of shit for having the nerve to say “yes” to opportunities that came her way, from cruises to lecture circuits to dinky podcasts like mine. But when the alternative is fading away, the possibility of burning out gets smaller every day you decide to participate in life instead of observing it from the sidelines.

The last time I saw Joan, she was doing a guest spot on Billy on the Street, the TV show I write for starring Eichner. I complimented her recent appearance on Louie and she asked me, point blank, “Is he funny?” I laughed and told her that, yeah, Louis C.K. was funny. She took me at my word. After she shot her bit, Billy got into her limo and they circled the block, catching up. When they hit a traffic jam, Joan got out and directed traffic. Everyone was thrilled to see her, and the feeling was mutual.

“If one more woman comedian comes up and says to me, ‘You opened the doors for me …’” Joan says in A Piece of Work, “… you wanna say, ‘go fuck yourself.’ I’m still opening the doors.” Even posthumously, I will not call Joan Rivers a legend or dare suggest that she was a pioneer for funny females because, at the very least, that would be some indefensible “Joan-splaining.” So instead of rotating in one of those tired phrases you’re adorned with moments before you’re buried, I’ll just call her a goddess, a mensch, and a friend. I will miss her terribly.

Oh Joan, that was weird that I read to you on the podcast right? Everything is different. I take one week off and all of a sudden…

This week we are re-running our interview with her from April 2011.She was on the 5th episode of this podcast. You hear her say, "Delighted to be here." Do you even know what a podcast is? Fine. Sure I'll do it, do I need to be in makeup? Fine. God bless her, there will never be anyone else like Joan Rivers.

Other things I did want to talk about before Joan Rivers had the nerve to die. I went away last weekend. I went to Montauk. There's a lot about it which is really beautiful. What's frustrating is that there are people there. They are such tacky, not classy people. I used to go to Montauk 13 years ago and it was not the Hamptons, and now it is sort of the Hamptons. But there's an influx of--when I say Jappy girls, I'm obviously a Jappy woman, but these girls are all of the entitlement with none of the education.If I were a dirty pervert I would go to Montauk and had my pick of all of the loud mouths.

There are a lot of young women there that go in packs. I realized that on the first night I discovered a candy store which is new next to the pancake house which is not. The candy store in Montauk is sort of upscale, it's a bit more Dylan Lauren than Brachs scoop and weigh. I went there the first night. I got very excited. I mention this in the context of there being a lot of girls there. Montauk, if it played it's card right could become 'Girl Island' You could go there with your girlfriend's and eat frozen yogurt all day. I don't know what else girls like, flip-flops? That candy store felt like it knew what my needs were and they were all met. I went in to t \hat shop and saw all of the gummies I wanted.

I am like a child when it comes to sugar. They had mint malt balls. It was Wonka-esque. I just learned recently that the interiors for Cabaret were shot on the recently vacated sound stages that had been just used for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wait it was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The one with Gene Wilder. Isn't that crazy. Gene Wilder is eating a cup and saucer in the shape of a daffodil and then next thing you know Liza Minnelli is doing Mein Herr?

The 70s were better. There were better thing made then by better people, better artists, better people. Anyway this candy store is amazing. On the first night I was wondering what I should buy. I'll get a chocolate covered Stroopwafel. It was a good idea that I got what I got. I loved it. As I was bringing it to the counter two little girls came in, I am always surprised to see children doing the activities I enjoy most. Then I realize, again and again, that the things I like most are for children, such as Broadway plays like Annie, zoos, and candy stores. Anyway two little girls hop into the candy store as I am about to buy my Stoopwafel and they say to the woman behind the counter, "Is the cotton candy machine working tonight?" Before the woman behind the counter has a chance to respond, I say, "THERE'S A COTTON CANDY MACHINE?" It was broken. The end.

I had a nice time in Montauk, thank you for asking. I got a sun burn. I only looked at the internet to check to see if there was any Joan news. That's not true, I looked at the internet buy not as much. I watched a lot of the Simpsons Marathon which establishes a rhythm in your brain. The rhythm of the Simpsons is consistent, like a heartbeat. Once it has been established anything else seems usually too slow, and if it is fast, it is off. It's a good show except for the LEGO episode. I can't handle that shit. Don't make me look at that shit, 3D animation LEGO garbage.

The other big news of the week before Joan Rivers had the nerve to die is that Glenn Hetrick participated alongside Ve Neill and Neville Page in the first ever Face Off competition where the judges competed. For those of you who don't know Face Off is a television show on the Syfy channel where the excessively charismatic McKenzie Westmore whose qualification to host the show come front he fact that her father is a makeup artist. She hosts and the judges are this nice lady named Ve Neil who humble brags about working with Tim Burton so much, Neville Page who I can't describe because I don't feel like it, I will say that the charity he was playing for is the Orangutan Foundation, and Glen Hetrick, who Jon Mulaney in the past has speculated, is gradually, probably, turning his feet into hooves. The three of them competed against each other. They got out from behind the judges table and decided to create characters based on chess pieces. The reason why it was wonderful is that we got to see mor eof Glen Hetrick's odd he-man body, and we learned that he has two cats. They are "the center of his life." I have since gone online and asked Glen Hetrick via twitter what do I have to do to see photos of your cats? He didn't respond so I kept tweeting him. I said, "What are their names? Are they both black?" I figure one is black because he's goth. Finally I tweeted him "Here's a photo of my cat," and I sent him a picture of Jimmy Jazz, and wrote, "Your turn." Finally he responded, "I will, in a few days it will be time to try on their Halloween costumes and I will post here." Then I committed suicide via chainsaw. I couldn't handle being alive anymore. That was really intense. Soon we'll see Glen Hetrick's cats in costume.

What do you think they will be dressed up as? I bet it is not Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy unless it's Goth Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy. I have said on this show, and I stand by it, I would fuck him. It's one of those things they tell you about, mindfulness--just be curious. I am curious, what would that be like? I am not saying it would be good, but it would be interesting. I would totally fuck Glen Hetrick.

Now that all of the posters for the Blacklist are coming back or as I call it the Stewmaker anthology, I will remind all of you who are listening that I would, and will, and would love to have sexual relations with James Spader at any weight, at any age, at any time and I was going to say at any location, but not a shul, maybe. Have you ever made out in your place of worship as a teenager like in the basement of the church or the schul or whatever? If you have please don't tell me because I will be jealous of you. I spent my entire life as a young woman trying to hook up, trying to make out, trying to get somebody to touch me. It wasn't until high school when the fumbling began. Don't worry there was also pain.

Malcolm Gladwell and Rivers Cuomo has sold shows to network television. Malcolm Gladwell and Rivers Cuomo have recently sold TV shows to network television. Malcolm Gladwell who you know from the New Yorker, Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point and Rivers Cuomo who you know from Wheezer have both sold shows to network television. Congratulations to them. I read a couple of books over the weekend because I wa son vacation. I read Jon Water's new one, Carsick and I learned that he only takes baths because he finds showers too violent which I thought was revelatory. I finished We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with our Families. I don't know if it is the book that Hotel Rwanda is based on but certainly that story is in it in addition to many other stories which make The Act of Killing look like a cute rom-com. From that book I learned that Black lives are unimportant and the entire world will sit on its hands and do absolutely nothing while a million people are massacred, violently via machete because of the color of their skin. Congratulation to the 90s for Rwanda genocide-horrible. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that story is completely unacceptable.

Speaking of things completely unacceptable from the 1990s, Kevin Spacey who attended the Emmy's holding cane in his hands like he was goddamn Fred Aistaire is singing a concert in Washington DC. On September 29th Kevin Spacey will take time out from filming the third season of House of Freddy to show off his vocal talents at a concert in Washington DC. He promises some Billy Joel songs, some Simon and Garfunkle--clearly he'll just do Bridge Over Troubled Water, Billy Joel could be anything. It could very well be We Couldn't Start the Fire. It could be something from the Great Mouse Detective. You don't know anything! He could pick one out of a hat. Spacey who played Bobby Daren in Beyond the Sea promises some Billy Joel songs, Simon and Garfunkle, a bit of Sinatra, plenty of swing (Thank god Joan Rivers is dead because this would kill her) a few stories and a surprise guest or two all backed by a 40 piece orchestra. "You never know what I might come up with." We're going. I am going to buy tickets for this and per Tom Scharpling's recommendation I am going to buy all of the tickets--we should probably do a Kickstarter so that when Kevin Spacey comes out he just hears one person clapping and that's me. The rest of the stadium is completely empty. I gave money to your charity let's hear a story. Is it time for a bit of Sinatra? What are we doing? One for my Baby and One for the Road? What's the Billy Joel--In the middle of the...I go walking in the...

Go to YouTube and enter 'Kevin Spacey sings' and enjoy or try to enjoy a video in which Kevin Spacey sings I Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas at an awards ceremony in 2011 with "funny lyrics" It is really important that you watch that. We'll come back and discuss it next week assuming we haven't all suicided via chainsaw.

Finally I want to mention the big story before Joan Rivers had the audacity to die was the a Great Dane in Portland, Oregon ate 43 1/2 sock and ended up ok. If you are new to the podcast I will fill you in that I am a huge fan of stories involving dogs that eat things that aren't food and end up ok. This is a great story about a dog that ate 43 1/2 things and ended up ok. However, this Great Dane will not be inducted into the Critter Hall of Fame until we know his name and we see a photo. The family didn't release the dog's name becaus eof privacy. Guess what? It's too late. Your dog should have thought of that before he ate 43 1/2 socks! Show me the dog. That sent me down a rabbit hole.

Merrill Markoe posted about it on Twitter. She posted a story of her own from one of her many wonderful dog friends. She wrote, "I should point out here that my now deceased dog Louis had the same squeaky latex porcupine gifted to him by a beloved rock star surgically removed twice. Cost to me $3000. As the Vet Tech presented the toy to me the second time Louis foggy from anesthesia made a weak attempt to take it into his mouth a third time.

I love this story so much for a couple of different reasons the main one being that Louis, after surviving the ordeal and waking up on the surgery table and being probably if not pain, with some discomfort confusion and distress, blinking his eyes open, seeing his mommy knowing he is going ok, and then upon recognizing his latex porcupine pal thinking, ahh friend, you too have survived this wicked journey, down my throat you go! You will be my companion in this calm after the storm, having no idea that's what brought him there. I was eager to see a photo of Louis, all before Joan Rivers had the nerve to die. If you google Merrill Markoe dog Loius you are taken to a wonderful Christmas story about Louis eating half of a raw frozen turkey. It's a great read, a Christmas tale of hope and renewal for dogs. Enjoy that. Now that the weather is getting cooler we can all look toward our Lord Jesus Christ's birthday.

Finally, finally, I have been thinking a lot about Cabaret, not just that it's interiors were shot on the Indian burial ground that is Wonka Land-Wonka World? But also because I have been listening to the score and thinking about the score and I remember a time in my life when the Sally Bowles songs in Cabaret were the ones that most affected me personally. They were the ones I related to most. I would get myself out of my house in my mid - to late-20s by shaming myself about the book and the broom and thinking maybe I'll go like Elsie or at least not spend seven nights in with the DVR and the cat. I was smitten by the dark beauty of the grotesque Weimar. I though the whole thing was red lipstick and dirty garters. Now that I am who I am now, I look at Cabaret and the song that affects me is the part in Willkommen when the emcees says, "So life is disappointing, forget it. In here life is beautiful," which is a lie. What a lie. All he does is lie. The other thing that really moved me is the song So What, which is not in the movie, "The sun will rise and the moon will set and you learn how to settle for what you get. It'll all go on if we're here or not so who cares, so what?" Life's creeping disappointments was the worst we had until the Nazis came and then all of a sudden things weren't a rye waltz anymore.

I am considering covering Tomorrow Belongs to Me at my next live show. I don't know when that is going to be by the way. I have been writing for the Jack and Triumph Show which will be very very funny. That's what I have been working on, that's where my head is. I don't know if it is a good idea. I do know that the band Screwdriver has covered it and I looked into the history of that song. There are a bunch of dumb dumbs, aryans that say it was an original Nazis anthem. It was written by two Jews dumb dumbs. Nazis hate being called dumb dumbs.

We are going to play the Joan Rivers interview from a couple of years ago. How lucky we were. Joan Rivers everyone...