The 3rd Time is Not a Charm

 

The third time is definitely not a charm. It has often been said that when members of the Hollywood elite pass away, their deaths come in threes. By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that Joan Alexandra Molinsky, most infamously known as Joan Rivers, her stage name, has passed away at the age of 81. She completes the the latest trio of Hollywood deaths; most recently, Robyn Williams and Lauren Bacall(please see previous posts). Her career spanned an amazing 50 years; truly an accomplishment. One can only imagine the stories that have passed on with this extraordinary woman, who possessed a personality as broad as the widest of oceans.

Joan Rivers had to be one of the hardest working women, if not the hardest working woman in show business. She never seemed to tire and even maintained a rigorous schedule right up until her death. It is as though she had and endless source from which to draw from, in order to deliver her signature in-your-face ‘dry humor’ that was so characteristic of her authentic style. Somehow she managed to deliver a great deal of her comedic onslaught without barely cracking a smile; another feat within itself.

She was a die-hard New York native, who came into show business with hopes of planting her feet firmly in a theatrical career. Comedy just happened to be a viable means to pay her bills at the time while she auditioned for acting roles. Comedy came natural to Joan and seemed to fit her like a good-fitting shoe. In 1965, she received her first booking on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson who reportedly told her, “God, you’re funny.” Her good fortune of landing this gig and a seemingly inexhaustible work ethic drove her as she continued to write, test and tweak her jokes.

In the mid-1980s, Joan Rivers came face to face with a life-affecting crisis. Her husband of 23 years, Edgar Rosenberg, committed suicide in 1987, following her firing from her late night talk show, which he produced. According to Rivers, the failing show was a major player in her husband’s suicide. The fallout of these events also contributed to the derailing of her career for a brief time. Comedy was both her calling and her therapy. She used laughter to get through the tough times and was often the ‘butt’ of her own jokes. One of the best therapies of all…laughter of self and few did it better.

Joan Rivers was the face of “Fashion Police” on the E Network and starred with her daughter Melissa in a reality show called: Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? I was a fan of Ms Rivers and will always remember her for her for relentless barage of comedic attacks on the many bystanders that waited anxiously to die laughing in the midst of her witty banter. Rest in peace dear Joan. You will indeed be missed.

***Sidebar: I was pleasantly surprised to learn after all these years of watching Joan Rivers, that she and I share the same birthday, June 8th. Wow! You just never know!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Fly Robin Fly

FILE - This 1987 file photo released by Touchstone Pictures shows actor Robin Williams in character as disc-jockey Adrian Cronauer in director Barry Levinsons comedy drama, "Good Morning Vietnam." (AP Photo/Touchstone Pictures)

I was extremely saddened to learn that ‘entertainer extraordinaire’ Robin Williams passed away On Monday August 11, 2014. It was even more disheartening to hear officials speculate that he may have taken his own life. Indeed a crash landing for a man who soared to such magnificent heights as a performer.

I first became acquainted with the work of Robin Williams during the sitcom days of Mork & Mindy which ran from 1978 to 1982. He went on to do such hugely memorable things; everything from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire to Goodwill Hunting and more. His talent seemed to have no bounds and he always had me in stitches. I’ve seen him interviewed on numerous talk shows over the years and I have to say, it was painfully humorous to watch the host(s) try and conduct a serious interview with Mr. Williams with his constant joke-cracking at every turn, taking full advantage of every opportunity to throw them off their ‘game’ with his witty and outrageous tactics. I don’t recall witnessing one host who was able to keep it together in his presence.

You could just see them struggling to stay in control until it became impossible, at which point they would let loose into thunderous hysterical laughter. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but usually ended up doing both. Robin would just continue on mercilessly, with his rapid-fire barrage of comedic jokes that seemed to spew from a never-ending arsenal of humorous lines.

Comedic timing is key in the world of comedy and Robin Williams had it down to a science, that he managed to successfully convert into his own special art form.  He will surely be missed but  never forgotten and is certain to go down in entertainment history as one of the most accomplished entertainers to ever grace the screen,stage, etc. Rest in peace great man with the ever-present smile. Fly Robin fly.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

My mother – The Unknown Comic

Everyone has a mother. It would be nice to think that everyone loves their mother. Maybe you have a mother only you could love. Would it be safe to say that nothing or no one can replace your mother’s love? Fortunately, I can say that wholeheartedly. My mother has always been a constant and rock-hard presence in my life. She has fought for me as a child, when I knew nothing of fighting. She came to my school when I was harassed almost every day by the same boy during my 5th year of high school. I remember coming home upset, sometimes in tears, complaining about this ‘same’ boy that continuously bothered me. My mother never hesitated;she would show up at the school promptly as if she were reporting to work. She would in no uncertain terms, let the principal know that there would be problems if she had to keep coming down to the school. I wish now that I could rewind to those times and watch it play out again. I’m sure my mother had the principal and staff in stitches. Especially with what I now know about her natural sense of humor!

I recall a time in my life as a grade school student, the Halloween season was in full affect. The children could wear costumes,bring treats, and their parents were invited as well. My mother showed up that afternoon dressed in attire that was a combination of a hobo and a farmer! I know….can you even imagine?! I just remember being mortified and just staring at my mother as if she had two heads! If I could have run away and denied even knowing who she was, I’m sure I would have. But I was embarrassed, not crazy! At the end of the day I survived, but I think I stayed on guard after that…never quite knowing what to expect from my blossoming comedic mother.

I’ve come to notice over the years, that she just seems to get funnier. And she doesn’t even try to be funny – it just seems to happen.  My mother was recently ill, so I took her to the ’emergency’ room. As soon as it dawned on her that she would be waited on hand and foot, she quickly dug in and got very comfortable with the idea. Please understand, this is not to take away anything from the fact that my mother was ill. She was and gave us all quite a scare. But by the same token, I’m sure the staff were tickled to tears by her, but were happy to say goodbye when the time came!

My mother lives outside of the city;what some consider the country. I live in the city, but have been staying with her while she recovers from her illness. Honestly, there have been a few times where I could have pulled my hair out from the roots…and I love my hair. My mother is not the easiest person to live with, not to mention her current ‘under the weather’ state of being.

I had been on a phone call with one of my sisters. My mother always gets a little jealous concerning our interaction. Still trying to figure that one out but hey, that will probably be another post!(smile)  I was on the phone with my sister, and my mother interrupted the conversation numerous times to say the darndest things that could have waited until the call ended. When that didn’t work, she even went as far as to crouch over as if she was struggling; in the most dramatic fashion. It took every bit of self-control I had to continue my conversation without allowing her to interrupt as was her plan. I had to fight back the strongest urge to burst into hysterical, teary-eyed laughter, but I maintained!

She had a follow-up doctor’s appointment yesterday of which I accompanied her to. She had began making little complaints before we even left the house. She was getting around fine, so I started the car and waited for her to lock the front door to the house and get in. I heard her ever so lightly mumble under her breath that I didn’t even help her get in the car. I just started praying on the spot for God to give me the strength to get through the errands without my head popping off my shoulders. I took the deepest of  breaths as she got in the car and sat in the passenger seat.

When we arrived at her doctor’s office building, she exited the car with her cane (that she doesn’t need mind you) and proceeds to try and cross over to the building by way of the grass and bumpy landscape. I suggested she use the sidewalk to avoid falling, but of course she insisted on doing things her way. There was a small flight of stairs once we entered the building. Now here I am, about to assist her up the stairs after being almost ‘torn a new one’ from not assisting her to the car in the first place. She walked up those stairs with such speed that I almost fell down in shock. I had to quicken my step just to keep up with her. All this, after moping around the house at the exaggerated speed of a snail. My mother the comedic actress! We got to the check-in window and of course, everyone there was familiar with her. They all greeted her at the same time by her first name. You know, kind of like on the sitcom Cheers whenever ‘Norm’ would enter and they would all say, “Norm” together in unison. I was thinking, “where am I?” They were reacting to her like they were her fans and she was of course loving it! I was merely a bystander.

I accompanied my mother to the exam room to help fill in any blanks she might leave out when speaking with her doctor. Her doctor asked if my mother was depressed. My mother thought that was a silly question and pretty much said as much. I, being in the role of bystander as far as my mother was concerned, knew the doctor was on point in asking her if she was depressed. She had been wearing the most ‘woe is me’ expression and demeanor. Why wouldn’t she be asked that?! And out of all the discussion that went on at this appointment, my mom’s main concern was whether or not she could eat ice cream! Okay…that was it! And this appointment was only the 1st of many stops that we had to make on this journey! As you can see, we made it through! I tell you…if my mother weren’t so downright funny, this would definitely be a different kind of post! Gotta love her…and I do!

 

 

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