Comedy has changed quite a bit since Joan Rivers' death in 2014, but Melissa Rivers says her mother wouldn't have "bent to" the pressures of cancel culture. In a Monday morning interview on The View, Melissa Rivers said she believes the comedy world would have turned a blind eye to Joan's political incorrectness, particularly when it comes to joking about other celebrities — including Barbara Walters and David Letterman, who she once said were "f*ck buddies" in a memorable appearance on the ABC talk show.
Though Rivers stopped by the show to promote her new book, "Lies My Mother Told Me: Tall Tales From a Short Woman," the discussion quickly turned to she and her mother's place in The View history. In Joan's final appearance on the show, in April 2014, she brought up Walters' impending retirement, saying, "America, figure this one out. She retires, and a week later David Letterman retires. It's time America knew they were f*ck buddies!" The remark earned a raucous round of applause from the audience, and even prompted co-hosts Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd to walk away from the couch in shock.
When Ana Navarro asked how Joan "would be navigating comedy in today's day and age" — "Would she be canceled? Would she be able to survive, slap somebody?" asked Navarro — Rivers insisted her mother would be just fine. "Well, I think she would've slapped a lot of people for different reasons," said Rivers with a laugh. "I would hope that she would've been grandfathered in, kind of like Dave Chappelle. And I honestly don't think she would've given a — I'm not going to say it — a damn for what she said about Letterman and Barbara."
"Well, I don't know. She was pretty politically incorrect, your mother," replied Joy Behar, to which Rivers responded with faux surprise. "And so I think she really would've had to work at that."
Rivers admitted that Joan "would've had to work at it," but wouldn't have "bent to it" too much. She went on to say that comedians making fun of celebrities "is such a slippery slope," but "you can't pander" to anyone, regardless of their fame. "Part of being a comedian is pointing out the foibles and the hypocrisy and the craziness of life," said Rivers. "And we're living in this world where for comedians, it's incredibly difficult. Because part of comedy is taking the risks, and you don't want to stifle the creativity and have people constantly second guessing themselves because that will kill comedy."
"The pendulum has swung so far one way. I certainly hope it swings back towards the middle," she continued. "And it's also frightening, with the slap, for people who do stand up."
Elsewhere on The View... Guest co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin urged Americans to be wary of another Trump takeover in 2024. "He's absolutely running again," said Trump's former communications director. "And what's more concerning than that — he is actually stacking state houses, secretaries of state offices, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, so if he runs again and loses, he will have the levers of government in place to try to once again steal power."
ARE AMERICANS NUMB TO TRUMP SCANDALS? After Rep. Liz Cheney said the Jan. 6 committee has enough evidence to refer former Pres. Trump for criminal charges and a report shows texts from Donald Trump Jr. about overturning the election, #TheView discusses. https://t.co/cVclFZQmjA pic.twitter.com/CLOd0gQTK4— The View (@TheView) April 11, 2022
"So we need to pay attention to what he's already done. I mean, Don Jr. laid out a coup attempt in a text message and we're just kind of not doing anything about it," said Griffin. "But more importantly is looking forward to what he is trying to do in 2024. He's absolutely running. This is the time. Wake up, America, because our national nightmare is not over."
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.