Joan Rivers made it clear during a CNN interview last weekend that she wouldn’t take any crap—which is, in a way, exactly what got her in trouble during a visit to the Late Show With David Letterman on Tuesday.
EW was on the scene as Rivers summoned her trademark inappropriate humor to make even the seasoned Letterman blanch by making a joke about losing out on a Depends commercial to June Allyson, quipping that the ’50s star would shill the adult diapers by saying, “Hi, I’m June Allyson. While I’m talking to you, I’m taking a dump.” Yesterday just happened to be the anniversary of Allyson’s death.
It all proved too much for Letterman, who tossed off his jacket and walked off the set, leaving Rivers to her own devices as both host and guest. Of course, she went straight for the vagina jokes:
While Rivers has insisted the CNN walkout wasn’t a publicity stunt for her new book, Diary of a Mad Diva, it seems likely she and Letterman colluded on the late-night shtick to secure maximum laughs. Letterman’s departure was the crescendo of an entire segment dedicated to Rivers’ angry exit from her interview with CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield—though Rivers couldn’t be bothered to remember the anchor’s name. Instead, she railed against Whitfield’s plastic surgery: “She’s 49, and she’s talking out of the part of her hair. … The woman’s got hemmorhoids behind her ears. She is pulled.” As Rivers herself would proudly admit, it takes one to know one.
Overall, though Letterman didn’t think the interview was “that tough on [Rivers]” and that the 81-year-old comedian could have “made mincemeat out of it” given her decades of experience in stand-up, Rivers snarked that Whitfield’s line of questioning was “very judgmental, very nasty, very opinionated—just like my wedding night.” She added, “If I’m an Olsen twin, you don’t ask, ‘Where’s your favorite place to vomit?’” (That was just one of the celeb-based zings she lobbed during the interview. Other targets: Anne Frank, the Kardashians, and Meryl Streep, who inspired an F-bomb after Letterman returned to his desk.)
Quoting Winston Churchill, as she has done since the walkout, Rivers insisted Whitfield’s questions were detracting from her mission as a comic: “Comedians make you laugh just like the Olive Garden gives you diarrhea.” And with that last bit of scatological humor, Rivers was off—this time without any rancor. In fact, she blew the audiences kisses as she left.