Billy on the Street has Joan to thank. Comedian Billy Eichner remembered the late Joan Rivers in a touching essay written for Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday, Sept. 16.
Eichner, 35, wrote of the first stand-up show he had ever seen at age 8, which featured Rivers "wearing a long, heavy sequined gown in the middle of a sweltering summer day in New York City." Twenty years later, Eichner met Rivers in person while the two were working on a talk-show pilot for Bravo. "The pilot didn’t get picked up, but Joan became a friend, and my greatest champion," Eichner wrote. "And although Joan was Queen of the Red Carpet, I’ll remember so much more than who she was wearing."
The Funny Or Die personality described Rivers as the "quintessence of hard-won New York fabulousness." He added, "The glamour, the ruthlessness, the persistence, the resilience, the lust for life, the tireless energy, the confidence, the loneliness, the hustle, the love of fashion, of money, of theater, of gay culture, the love of the game. Joan loved New York. Joan was New York."
Eichner went on to share a couple of personal anecdotes about Rivers, recalling the time he joined her and her daughter Melissa for Passover seder in L.A. He also detailed a sweet and funny interaction they had at the wedding of a mutual friend.
Eichner wrote of Rivers' supportive spirit, too. "Years ago when I was struggling for work, Joan insisted on dropping off DVDs of my YouTube videos with producers at Late Show With David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live! Coincidentally, a week before Joan died I was booked on Letterman for the first time," Eichner wrote. "Would Joan be proud? I think so. Would Joan find it amusing that I’m doing the show on 9/11? Absolutely."
After Eichner's hilarious Billy on the Street skit with Seth Meyers at the 2014 Emmys, Rivers and her longtime assistant Jocelyn sent him a congratulatory email. "I wrote back and thanked them, and—caught up in a moment of elated morning-after-Emmys buzz—I added, 'Joan is my hero,'" he said in his EW essay. "Those would turn out to be my final words to Joan," he wrote. "She was."
Read Eichner's full essay at EW.com.
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