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Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work - A Comedic Legend Unveiled

Dive into the life and legacy of Joan Rivers, a woman who broke barriers in comedy and continues to inspire even after her death.

Keywords: Joan Rivers, Comedy, Feminism, Entertainment Industry, Documentary


"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg and released in 2010, offers an intimate glimpse into the life and career of the iconic comedian Joan Rivers. As Rivers turned 75, this piece of cinema captures the essence of a woman who shattered the glass ceiling in the world of comedy, a field dominated by men.


This documentary takes us behind the scenes of Joan Rivers' life, showcasing her journey from a struggling comedian to a pop culture phenomenon. It delves into her personal life, her struggles, and triumphs, painting a poignant picture of a woman who was anything but ordinary.

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The documentary takes an observational approach, providing an unfiltered view of Rivers' life. The research is thorough, delving deep into her past, her impact on comedy, and her personal life. The presentation is candid and engaging, immersing viewers in Rivers' world.

Historical and Factual Context:

Joan Rivers was among the first women to host a late-night talk show on a major network, paving the way for many others. She constantly reinvented herself, remaining relevant in an industry that often overlooks aging entertainers.

Key themes in the film:

  • Breaking gender barriers in comedy
  • Perseverance in the face of adversity
  • The price of fame and success
  • Aging in the entertainment industry

Film Comparisons:

Compared to other biographical documentaries on iWonder, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" stands out for its raw honesty, humor, and depth.

Noteworthy Moments:

The documentary uncovers the woman behind the laughs, revealing her insecurities, her relentless work ethic, and her unwavering determination.


The film was widely praised for its candid portrayal of Joan Rivers. It received an IMDb rating of 7.3 and garnered 5 wins and 12 nominations at various film festivals.


This documentary is a must-watch for anyone interested in comedy, feminism, or the entertainment industry. It offers a rare look at a trailblazer who changed the face of comedy forever.

Watch Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work - Streaming Online | iwonder (Free Trial)
Go on a year-long ride with Joan Rivers in her 75th year of life. It peels away the mask of an iconic comedian, laying bare the struggle and thrill of living life as a groundbreaking female performer; including her fight to keep her career thriving in a business that celebrates youth and beauty.

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IMDB: 7.3 | Rotten Tomatoes: 92% | Metacritic: 79
Awards: 5 wins & 12 nominations: News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Sundance Film Festival, Satellite Awards, National Board of Review, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, Alliance of Women Film Journalists

Joan Rivers: Iconic comedian and television host known for her sharp humor and tenacity.

New York City, USA: The city where Joan Rivers carved her comedy career.
Los Angeles, USA: Where Joan Rivers became a household name with her television shows.

Links for further exploration

Key Questions Raised by the Film:

How did Joan Rivers pave the way for women in comedy?

To what extent did Rivers' personal struggles shape her humor and public persona?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form:

Book: "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou for its story of resilience against adversity.

Song: "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor for its theme of perseverance.

Art: Frida Kahlo's "The Two Fridas" for its exploration of the duality of public and private personas.

Celebrity: Meryl Streep for her longevity and versatility in the entertainment industry.

Colour: Gold for its representation of success and prominence.

Music Style: Jazz for its improvised and expressive nature.