Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers (Audiobook)

I have been a fan of the late Joan Rivers for many years. Even since her passing this past fall, I have consumed a generous amount of Rivers’ work – including her latest book, Diary of a Mad Diva. I decided to download the audiobook from iTunes as it is narrated by Rivers herself. You really can’t ask for a better combination of her writing and her incredibly funny presentation, can you?

I wasn’t sure what to expect before pressing, “Play” on my iTunes player. I wasn’t sure if it would be as funny to listen to this work, knowing she is no longer with us. However, she did not disappoint in the final long-form writing project of her career.

The book covers diary entries almost every day of the calendar year of 2013 in Rivers’ life – the year in which she reached age 80. Despite being an octogenarian, this text truly exemplifies how the legendary comedienne was definitely at the top of her game before her unexpected death following a routine  procedure on her vocal cord. While some of the diary entries are literally one or two sentences and others are a few paragraphs, she makes each one count.

Throughout the book, Rivers makes mention of the numerous plane rides she takes, primarily from her home in New York to Los Angeles and back. A common theme she goes with encompasses the various personalities she comes across on her numerous flights. From overly obese passengers to those who simply won’t shut up, she does a fantastic job of documenting the cross-section of humanity any frequent flyer would observe in the sky.

She also discusses her emotions in a way that truly demonstrates how an 80-year-old stage artist would feel – or at least someone as unique as Rivers was. She writes about getting depressed at times. She writes about the joys of performing in front of a receptive audience and having dinner with close friends. She talks about her daughter, Melissa, and her grandson, Cooper. You can really tell how much she cared about the two in her life, describing the “Grandma-grandson” trips she would take with Cooper every year.

As far as celebrities go, Rivers doesn’t hold back in this book just like in her standup routine and frequent appearances on Fashion Police. The Kardashians seem to be one of her favorite targets. I can only imagine what she’d have to say today about Bruce Jenner’s gender transformation.

It’s no secret Ms. Rivers had a foul mouth. If her language as a child was as filthy as it was in her adulthood, it’s amazing she still had a usable mouth if her mother washed it out with soap every time she dropped an “F bomb” or used the “C word.” This book is certainly not for the easily offended crowd. She actually used dirty words a little more often than I expected. But compared to the live show I saw her do in Clearwater, Florida just 6 months before her passing, I guess I shouldn’t be too taken aback. She also comes across as a true equal opportunity offender. From race to religion to sexual orientation, she goes after all groups with no hesitation. I absolutely loved this freewheeling, no-holds-barred attitude of hers in such a politically-correct world where censorship seems more prevalent than ever.

If you are looking for a funny read that won’t take too long to get through – or a 6-hour audiobook perfect for some long flights – Rivers is top-notch in the way she communicates her real-life, non-fictional adventures in Diary of a Mad Diva. I recommend it to anyone who loves the type of comedy Joan Rivers pioneered throughout her career. Consider downloading the audiobook to get the text’s full effect. It’s just a shame we could not have gotten a few more years out of her humorous yet brutally honest perspectives on life.