Did anybody else ever do the Joan Rivers gig?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by stu FORD, Nov 27, 2021.

  1. stu FORD

    stu FORD

    May 22, 2004
    Back some time around '09-'11 I got a call to do this gig for Joan Rivers. She was doing a stand-up tour and they were hiring groups in each town to play her on, laugh at the jokes, and play her off. The one I did was a 2-night stand in Petoskey, MI. We were a trio of piano, bass, and drums. They sent us charts of Colonel Bogey's March and Anchors Aweigh to play her on and off, though I can't recall the order. All of us had to sign these goofy contracts. There was a section in the contract about how Joan might call us "lesbians" (all three of us male) and we had to agree not to be offended. There was also a section about how if she fell over on stage and appeared to be hurt during the set, we should assume it's a joke and under no circumstance get up and help. Another part of the contract said we were not to speak to her unless she spoke to us first, but she literally started chatting with us as soon as she walked in. The 2nd night of the gig, her management approached me because I had not been laughing enough at the jokes, and they needed me to laugh more for the jumbo screens. All in all, it was a really fun, unforgettable experience. We only played about 2 minutes worth of music all night and were paid more than fairly. Joan was absolutely charming and a pleasure to work with. She was into her 70's at that point and raunchy AF.

    I imagine they hired a different ensemble in every town, and I've always wanted to hear somebody else's account of on e of this gigs. Anyone on TB ever do that gig?
    Jim Kernan, oldrocker, Beej and 8 others like this.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    never had the pleasure, but it sounds fun! :thumbsup:

    a bunch of 'touring' acts (comedians, magicians, speakers) worked the same way --- most were a stitch...only a few were exceptions, IME.
    Winslow and 2saddleslab like this.
  3. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    No, but I’ve been to Petoskey many times and it’s a lovely little town.

    My question is, what if Joan really did have a heart attack on stage?
  4. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Sounds like a cool gig and would love to have done that as well.

    My drummer got a chance to play Thanks For The Memories w/ Bob Hope and a TV commercial w/ Florence Henderson. That's all I got.
  5. Thummel


    Jun 24, 2007
    West Texas
    I always thought Joan was a riot! That sounds like a blast gig, good for you!
    Prof.Dr.Metz likes this.
  6. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Somewhere in the late 90s or early 2000s, my Dad was the union president (and a FINE trumpet player!) on the MS Gulf Coast and he assembled a Big Band (or swing band) for an appearance by Joan Rivers and Don Rickles (pretty sure that's who he said) at one of the casino showrooms. Pretty simple instructions, a book with an hour's worth of music. They scheduled a rehearsal, but got through only 3 tunes...the head of the show, "something in the middle", and the play-out. Dad was the conductor for the show and said he had several quick conversations with both of them over notes on the charts. Ms Rivers and Mr Rickles kept everyone in stitches all day. Dad said it was a good thing the players were all decent sight-readers.

    He spoke fondly of that gig for a long time.
  7. stu FORD

    stu FORD

    May 22, 2004
    Hey, thanks for the story! That sounds pretty similar to what our deal was. We played on the opener, played a tune in between and played her off. We only had a trio, but the stage decor featured 3 large mirrors, which Joan used to make a joke about asking for a six-piece and getting ripped off... She called us "the Moses Goldstein Orchestra"
    Geri O, Jim Kernan and Prof.Dr.Metz like this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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