Awww, Howard! Joan Rivers' funeral was kicked off by a very special guest, longtime pal Howard Stern, who delivered a raunchy and funny eulogy remembering the late comedienne at NYC's Temple Emanu-El on Sunday, Sept. 7. Stern took to his radio show on SiriusXM on Monday, Sept. 8, where he shared details from Rivers' star-studded service.
"You know, to be at her funeral yesterday was really probably the most remarkable service I have ever witnessed," Stern, 60, told listeners. "Beautiful temple. I have never been there before [and] it was magnificent. I've never seen anything like it. Just sitting in there made you reflective. And so, I got there early because I had gotten a call from [Joan's daughter] Melissa like a day and a half before the service, asking me if I would speak. I said to her, 'Melissa you're asking the wrong guy.'"
Still, he agreed to speak before Rivers' friends and family. "I said, 'I'll do it. I will do anything for Joan. I'll do anything for you.'"
To prepare for the moment, Stern immediately sought advice from another fellow comic. "I was in touch with Louie C.K. and he'd written me and he said, 'You know, Joan really deserves a great send-off because of her impact.' He said something very profound: 'Joan was like an aunt or a best friend who could make everything better. And even in times… after let's just say 9/11 or the country just seems to be going downhill or things just seem to be bad… she would crack a joke, and you know this is true, when she would crack a joke, you didn't feel so alone. You felt like we were all together and you felt like oh maybe things aren't so bad.'"
Louie reminded Stern about what great comedians do best. "Louie said probably the loneliness and the unhappiness of life — what else could ease that despair than a great comedian? That's what great comedians do. Great comedians have the ability to snap you out of this sadness, this loneliness…to set it all right again and she was really, really a top pro."
Stern described Rivers as a "remarkable" friend. "I remember there was a time she invited me over her home," he recalled. "It probably meant nothing to her but it meant something to me because I don't think a famous person ever invited me to their home before… She was just so embracing, so lovely to be around. I'm really, really rocked by her death and it was very upsetting when I heard that she died. You know to be at her funeral yesterday was really probably the most remarkable service I have ever been witnessed."
The service, according to Stern, was incredibly "emotional." One profound moment occurred when Hugh Jackman got up and sang very slowly to a song written by Peter Allen. "It was one of Joan's favorites," Stern said. "He starts singing it quietly and part of the song is clap your hands together. He made everyone get up and start clapping their hands to the song. I was so f—ing moved by this guy's performance. I had tears. Now, you know me. I'm a big scumbag. I don't get moved. I appreciated this guy so much. Hugh Jackman. You know f—ing Wolverine."
After the emotional service — which was attended by stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, fellow funny women Margaret Cho and Rosie O'Donnell, and Bill and Giuliana Rancic — the crowd filtered out to the streets of the Upper East Side in Manhattan. "I walked down the street and I was still so sad to think that we will never see Joan Rivers — our friend — again," Stern told his listeners.
The show host said Rivers held a special place specifically on his radio program. "And you know there was such a special bond between this show and the audience and Joan," Stern said. "For so many years, she was a part of this."
He went on to say he was never one to turn down a Joan Rivers appearance. "Time's running out and you can't miss this," Stern would say. "She always reinvented herself."
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