Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Fans, Comics Across City Remember Joan Rivers as Comedy Pioneer

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Fans and fellow comics are mourning the loss of Joan Rivers, who died Thursday afternoon at the age of 81. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

A tribute to Joan Rivers lit up Thursday evening on the marquee outside the Gotham Comedy Club.

Inside, Jerry Seinfeld said the 81-year-old helped him before he made it big.

"She invited me to be on one of her early Tonight Shows when she subbed for Johnny Carson, and at that point in my career, that was a big break," Seinfeld said.

Rivers died Thursday afternoon surrounded by close friends and family. She was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital last week after she went into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure on her vocal chords. It was performed at another medical facility, and the state Department of Health is investigating.

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the Brooklyn-born comedienne an iconic New Yorker whose wit and humor will always be missed.

Fellow comics said they admired her.

"I just love her," Seinfeld said. "I loved her life. I loved the way she lived her life. I loved the way she approached her comedy, that it was comedy, and that she worked constantly."

"She was funny," said comedian Larry Miller. "That sounds overly simple, but it's not. It's a hard thing to do, and she was it."

Melissa Rivers issued a statement that reads, in part, "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends…My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."

Melissa Rivers returned to her mother's Upper East Side apartment shortly after she left the hospital. Flowers and tributes quickly piled up outside.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Joan Rivers a pioneer for women in comedy. NY1 spoke with Gina Yashere, a female comic who was also performing at the Gotham Comedy Club. She said Rivers was not afraid to say anything and was hilarious.

"Joan was my hero because she broke through all the glass ceilings," Yashere said. "She'd been in comedy for as long as she has and was still as powerful and amazing and hilarious at the age of 81 as she would have been 40 years ago."

Rivers' funeral is scheduled for Sunday at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side.

NY1 Extra: A Look Back at Joan Rivers' Career


TWC News: Fans, Comics Across City Remember Joan Rivers as Comedy Pioneer
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NY1 VIDEO: Joan Rivers made audiences laugh for five decades. NY1 compiled some of the highlights from her career.

NY1 Extra: Seinfeld Shares How Joan Rivers Helped Him Get Started in Business


TWC News: Fans, Comics Across City Remember Joan Rivers as Comedy Pioneer
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NY1 VIDEO: Comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Gina Yashere shared their admiration for Joan Rivers in interviews with NY1.

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