Arts and Culture | Local

UA Hillel snags busy Joan Rivers for benefit concert

Joan Rivers wouldn’t mind meeting a nice Jewish man who is affluent, healthy and can drive — that is, if she can find the time.

“It would be nice, but at my age? My god, the curtain is down, the hotel is closed,” jokes Rivers from her home in New York City.

Between multiple hit TV shows, a fashion business, and coming to Tucson on March 16 to delight audiences with her comedy act at this year’s University of Arizona Hillel benefit at Centennial Hall, “An Evening with Joan Rivers … A Piece of Work,” it’s a wonder she even has time to think about dating.

“I just got back from L.A. and I’m off to QVC,” says Rivers, who is one of the hardest working and busiest celebrities in the world. “I love my life and my business and being able to do so much at 77 and still be relevant. Betty White came back and that’s wonderful … but most are long gone.”

Rivers is far from gone. In fact, she’s so hot now she has more of what Hollywood calls “face time” than even Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan.

In addition to promoting her jewelry and apparel line, Rivers is one of the hosts of E!’s popular “Fashion Police,” a weekly series that also covers the red carpet for the annual awards season by picking the best and worst dressed stars in Hollywood.

Her latest and most personal project is a new reality show on WE tv called “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” The show follows Rivers as she moves in with her daughter Melissa Rivers in her Malibu home, a move which can perhaps be best summed up in one Yiddish word: Oy!

“Yes, our show is real. I’ll be out there two-thirds of the time. I’ll be there for Passover, you have to do it — family is the most important thing,” says Rivers.

The show is successful, she says, because it’s true to life.

“You want to see a real mother and daughter situation,” which includes yelling and bickering, says Rivers. “I can say things to my daughter, but let someone else try and I’ll kill them. You need to tell them the truth. You can treat them like a client, but that takes away the part of being a parent.”

But how long will she live in a small guest area just to be with Melissa and grandson Cooper? Along with the family comes live-in boyfriend Jason, permanent houseguest Conrad, and nanny Dominica, a Swedish big-busted bombshell who could make Pamela Anderson jealous, says Rivers, who plans to find a place of her own near her daughter’s as soon as possible. But with her schedule, it may take awhile.

This past summer her documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” opened in theaters nationwide to rave reviews. The year before she starred in NBC’s reality series “The Celebrity Apprentice,” along with Melissa, where Joan was crowned the winner by Donald Trump. And in 2009, Rivers was roasted on Comedy Central. She also has a TV Land reality show, “How’d You Get So Rich?”

Rivers, who is a Tony-nominated actress, bestselling author and director, also appears regularly in Las Vegas at the Venetian Showroom and makes dozens of other appearances nationwide.

But what’s near and dear to her heart is her family — and if she has any time off she wants to spend it with them.

Of course if she, Melissa, and in the future, her 10-year-old grandson, could each find someone Jewish, she’d be happy.

“I’d prefer it, we have such assimilation and I want traditions to continue, I think it’s very important,” says Rivers, who quickly turns the conversation to Dior’s former star designer, John Galliano, who was fired amid allegations he made vile anti-Semitic comments. “I’ll never wear another Galliano dress. I’m so … angry at that pig.”

Rivers is looking forward to performing in front what will be a predominately Jewish audience in Tucson. “Sometimes, you are more comfortable,” she says.

“An Evening with Joan Rivers … A Piece of Work” begins at 7 p.m. on March 16. Tickets are $42 to $62 (students, $21 to $62). Group discounts are available. Call 621-3341. Sponsorship opportunities are available through Hillel. Call 624-6561 or go to

A former editor for the Tucson Citizen, Lorrie Brownstone is a freelance writer and stand-up comic.