Joan Rivers' tongue is as sharp as her plastic surgeon's scalpel, and she holds nothing back in her latest book, “I Hate Everyone ... Starting With Me.”
Few have worked as long and hard at show business as Rivers, who at 79 (her birthday is today) stars in two TV shows, runs thriving jewelry and beauty businesses, and still finds time to travel, perform and write.
Comedy's grand dame wrote best-selling memoirs long before publishers began dispensing celebrity book deals to anyone strolling a red carpet. Her new book is a series of humorous observations about people and circumstances that annoy her. Rivers' signature sarcasm starts on Page 1 (she dedicates the book to Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz and O.J. Simpson) and carries through to the insulting end acknowledgments.
The vitriolic tone of the book is so over the top, it could only be satire, but some jabs cross the line and may make readers cringe instead of cackle. Rivers uses her pen as an automatic weapon, firing jokes with little prose in between.
While many clever musings succeed (“If God wanted me to cook, my hands would be made of aluminum”), others feel tired, and after a few chapters, the unrelenting negativity becomes tedious.
Rivers is at her best when she commiserates about experiences that irritate us all. Who doesn't hate double dippers, nose pickers and people who talk during movies?
Clearly not mellowed by age, Rivers stays relevant. Her use of foul language and raunchy descriptions of genitalia belie her grandma-in-Chanel-suit persona.
The book is also chock-full of contemporary pop culture references, with digs at everyone from Snooki to the Kardashians to cougars.
When Rivers says she hates everyone, she means it. She fearlessly mocks historical figures including Ghandi, Anne Frank and Jesus. At points, she overreaches and may lose even the most politically incorrect readers. Her wrath isn't amusing; it just feels mean.
Defenders may say she stays true to her art by pushing buttons. What's missing here is balance.