How Many People Can Joan Rivers Insult in Her New Memoir?

Joan Rivers' Diary of a Mad Diva

Imagine: There is a temple. It is an older temple, one that has been around for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. It’s had some reconstruction, a façade-lift or two. A red carpet leads through the spindly columns that adorn the portico. You walk it, reaching a flatteringly-lit antechamber. It is a set for QVC, and the temple’s priest, a drag queen, is performing a ritual sacrifice of all that his holy and good. The priest(ess) leads you further into the temple’s dark recesses. There is another room. It is a dimly lit and smoke-filled casino bar in Bangor, Maine. You go deeper. Flanking the portal, torches flicker. This is the inner sanctum, and you enter. The room is bare. In it, there is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because this is the temple of Joan Rivers, and the woman holds nothing sacred. Nothing. “Irreverent” is a word she eats for breakfast, digests, poops out, takes a photo of, posts to Instagram, and makes a witty, if unoriginal, joke about. “Cheeky” is her chauffeur’s name. “Vitriol” is a supplement she puts in her Ensure. If this is what you’ve come to expect from the 81-year-old comedienne and talk show host, whose latest memoir/diary of jokes, Diary of a Mad Diva, dropped this week, then you will not be disappointed. Her targets range from politicians to starlets to saints. We’ve (tried) to enumerate them, including the handful that were inoffensive enough for the Internet. Here are some of our favorite burns, followed by a (possibly) complete list of every other person Rivers insults:

  1. Kanye West: The book’s epigraph is a West quote from Reuters, 2009: “Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed…. I am a proud non-reader of books.” Rivers’s dedication, one page later: “This book be dedicated to Kanye West, because he’ll never [bleepin’] read it.”
  2. Skinny actresses: “I can’t describe the feelings of joy I get watching narcissistic actors pretending to be happy for someone else. I tingle all over; I imagine this must be what a person in desperate need of an organ transplant feels when they hear the good news of a fatal, twelve-car pileup not three blocks from their hospice bed.” (pg. 26)
  3. Bruce Jenner: “To celebrate, I got matching vagina piercings with my two best girlfriends, Margie Stern and Brucey Jenner.” (pg. 3)
  4. Gayle King: “Gayle King was at the dinner party, looking quite feminine and sporting a small tattoo of Gertrude Stein.” (pg. 15)
  5. Wolf Blitzer: “There’s nothing I hate worse than a person with no chin. When they get old, they’re just going to be a neck and a smile.” (p. 18)
  6. Donny Osmond fans: “Q: What’s sweaty, lonely and weighs ten thousand pounds? A: The front row of a Donny Osmond concert.” (pg. 23)
  7. Carol Channing: “My assistant, Jocelyn, just told me that Carol Channing may still be alive. Whatever.” (pg. 28)
  8. Rosa Parks: “Happy Birthday, Rosa Parks! In her memory, I decided to sit all the way in the back of my limo on the way home tonight.” (pg. 33)
  9. Her trainer: “He’s pretty smart for a steroid-riddled behemoth with huge pecs and itty-bitty nuts. Squirrels have seen him naked and said, ‘Pass.'” (pg. 41)
  10. Christian singles: “Craigslist personals are for dating and hookups; kind of like a Christian Mingle but for people with genitals.” (pg. 244)
  11. Christina Aguilera: “I was hoping maybe Gwyneth Paltrow was starting a trend by naming her child after her favorite food…. Christina Aguilera’s next kid should be called Potato.” (pg. 56)
  12. Warren Buffett: “Great, Warren, go right the [bleep] ahead—pay [my taxes]. My accountant’s name is Michael Karlin; he’ll be in touch, so have one of your five hundred servants sit by the phone.” (pg. 73)
  13. People with AIDS: “I wrote that one starlet, who shall remain nameless (and FYI, it’s not Ashley Olsen) looked a little ‘AIDS-y.’ The autocorrect kept changing AIDS-y to ‘antsy’ or ‘artsy.'” (pg. 81)
  14. Madonna: “You want seminal influence? Talk to Madonna; she considers it a food group.” (pg. 91)
  15. Jackson Pollock: “To amuse myself I bought a bag of M&M’s, which I spit all over the Jackson Pollocks and nobody noticed.” (pg. 101)
  16. David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Osama bin Laden, in one breath: “David Koresh had no fashion sense; Jim Jones wore leisure suits; and I don’t care how charismatic Osama bin Laden was, an AK-47 and an insulin drip do not take the place of drop earrings or a well-placed brooch.” (pg. 120)
  17. The Army: “Not to diminish our soldiers, because ‘Army strong’ is good, but it’s not the benchmark for strength. Broccoli farts are.” (p. 66)
  18. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “You haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed Ruth Bader Ginsburg shoving baby lamb chops into her purse.” (pg. 130)
  19. Anderson Cooper: “I call [Robert De Niro] Bobby, in the same way I called John Wayne ‘Duke,’ or in the same way I call Anderson Cooper ‘Liza.'” (pg. 131)
  20. Betsy Ross: “Admittedly, she only got the flag assignment because she was banging George Washington.” (pg. 143)
  21. “Straight” fashion designers: “I want my designers gay, I want my tailors straight, I want my dry cleaners Chinese and my gynecologist blind.” (pg. 144)
  22. Taylor Swift: “According to the tabloids (which I need more than water, air, or Botox), Taylor’s been dumped more often than a vegan on a cabbage cleanse.” (pg. 160)
  23. Marie Osmond fans: “We’re in Utah today. I wanted Cooper to see and press the flesh of all the people who buy Marie Osmond’s doll collections.”
  24. Network executives: “I’ve been thinking… the creative people who run TV networks are lawyers and accountants who weren’t creative enough to make it as lawyers or accountants, so they became television executives.” (pg. 199)
  25. Poets: “I could identify Larry King’s testicles while blindfolded before I could tell the difference between the faces of Longfellow, Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson.” (pg. 223)
  26. Richard Gere: “I preferred to think of him as an animal lover who saved rodents’ lives by turning his poop chute into a no-kill shelter.” (pg. 202)
  27. Semi-privileged children: “Semiprivileged kids are the ones who face a shit-storm of derision when they show up at the country club that their parents can’t really afford in a Honda CRV, or are carrying a Gucci bag that even a minor trust-fund kid with glaucoma can tell they bought on Overstock.com, or, worst of all, have the faint scent of a domestic boxed wine on their breath.” (pg. 251)
  28. Herself: “I buy tampons so that the teenaged box-boy who works in the store will continue to look at me with both admiration and lust.” (pg. 61) “I guess this means I really don’t have any ‘peers,’ either. A handful of drag queens who do me in lounges in Vegas don’t count. Do the math: How many other octogenarian female Jewish comedians with acid reflux and two cable shows do you know?” (pg. 130)

You’ll have to read Rivers’ book if you want to see every single person on this list get burned. Apologies if we missed a few:

  1. Her daughter, Melissa
  2. Her grandson, Cooper
  3. Skinny models
  4. Bulimics
  5. Germans
  6. Nazis
  7. Mexican Americans
  8. Mexican Mexicans
  9. The Kardashians
  10. Her deceased husband, Edgar
  11. The Chinese
  12. The Jews
  13. Anne Frank
  14. Monica Lewinsky
  15. Disabled war veterans
  16. Avril Lavigne
  17. Nancy Kerrigan
  18. George W. Bush
  19. Sarah Palin
  20. Lesbians
  21. Aretha Franklin
  22. Eddie Money
  23. Sunny von Bülow (who? Google it)
  24. Anne Murray (ditto)
  25. Stephen Hawking
  26. People with Parkinson’s
  27. Michael Jackson
  28. Kathie Lee Gifford
  29. Her agent, Steve Levine
  30. Steve Levine’s assistant
  31. Steve Levine’s secretary’s second cousin
  32. Steve Levine’s cousin’s stepson
  33. Justin Bieber
  34. Charlie Rose
  35. Her blind neighbor, Esther Mortman
  36. Her dead and ugly neighbor, Elaine
  37. Gwyneth Paltrow
  38. President Obama
  39. Tommy Lee
  40. Bruce Lee
  41. Chris Christie
  42. Kathy Bates
  43. Her cleaning lady
  44. FDR
  45. Abraham Lincoln
  46. Tom Cruise
  47. Demi Moore
  48. Adele
  49. Anne Hathaway
  50. Natalie Portman
  51. Jackie Kennedy
  52. Joni Mitchell fans
  53. Football fans
  54. Andrea Bocelli
  55. Muslims
  56. Pharrell
  57. Ricky Martin
  58. Catherine Zeta-Jones
  59. James Franco
  60. Ben Stiller
  61. Kristen Stewart
  62. Goldie Hawn
  63. LeAnn Rimes (Lou Ann Rhymes)
  64. Neil Patrick Harris
  65. Steven Spielberg
  66. Liam Neeson
  67. Tatum O’Neal
  68. Sam Champion
  69. Illegal immigrants
  70. Honey Boo Boo
  71. Tom Brokaw
  72. Prince Charles
  73. Queen Elizabeth
  74. Her friend, Larry
  75. Gary Busey
  76. Dr. Phil
  77. Rosie O’Donnell
  78. Lainie Kazan (look it up)
  79. Same-sex couples
  80. Paula Deen
  81. Martha Stewart
  82. Canadians
  83. Lena Dunham
  84. Stevie Wonder
  85. Her dentist
  86. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  87. Kevin Federline
  88. Heidi Klum
  89. People with multiple personality disorder
  90. Roseanne Barr
  91. Diana Ross
  92. George Michael
  93. Tyra Banks
  94. Connie Chung
  95. Her friend Brian, who is in AA
  96. The Japanese
  97. Bill Clinton
  98. Richard Simmons
  99. Phil Spector
  100. Boy Scouts
  101. Kevin James
  102. Melanie Griffith
  103. John Travolta
  104. Mother Teresa
  105. The actress who plays Flo in the Progressive insurance commercials
  106. Andy Griffith
  107. Whitney Houston
  108. Nancy Grace
  109. Caylee Anthony (yes, the child)
  110. Melissa McCarthy
  111. Lindsay Lohan
  112. Carnie Wilson
  113. Peter Dinklage
  114. Dwarves
  115. Jane Fonda
  116. Marlee Matlin
  117. Mel Gibson
  118. Ann Curry
  119. Matt Lauer
  120. Desmond Tutu
  121. Nelson Mandela
  122. Jay Leno
  123. Ashley Olsen
  124. Jennifer Aniston
  125. Mia Farrow
  126. Kazakhstanis
  127. Victoria Beckham
  128. Sally Field
  129. Chaz Bono
  130. Octomom
  131. Duck Dynasty
  132. David Bowie
  133. Elton John
  134. Mama Cass
  135. Proctologists
  136. John Mayer
  137. Her third grade teacher
  138. People with Alzheimer’s
  139. Paris Hilton
  140. Clay Aiken
  141. R. Kelly
  142. Chris Brown
  143. Sharon Stone
  144. The Pope
  145. Katie Holmes
  146. Veterans
  147. Veterans with PTSD
  148. Princess Diana
  149. Ontario
  150. Showgirls
  151. Siegfried and Roy
  152. Selena Gomez
  153. Her father
  154. David Carradine
  155. Jennifer Lopez
  156. Amanda Bynes
  157. Judge Judy
  158. Liza Minnelli
  159. Betty White
  160. John McCain
  161. Kevin Spacey
  162. Scientologists
  163. k.d. lang
  164. e.e. cummings
  165. Eleanor Roosevelt
  166. The Midwest
  167. WASPs
  168. Beverly Hills housewives
  169. Josh Brolin
  170. Meg Ryan
  171. James Gandolfini
  172. John Gotti
  173. Beyoncé
  174. Angelina Jolie
  175. O.J. Simpson
  176. Don Rickles
  177. Robert De Niro
  178. Israel
  179. Palestine
  180. Germany
  181. Australia
  182. Charles de Gaulle
  183. Katie Couric
  184. Malawi
  185. Tommy Hilfiger
  186. George Washington
  187. Martha Washington
  188. CeeLo Green
  189. The Brits
  190. The Greeks
  191. The Russians
  192. The Croats
  193. The “Eskimos”
  194. Bruno from Dancing with the Stars
  195. Keanu Reeves
  196. Renée Zellweger
  197. Woody Allen
  198. Shelley Winters
  199. New York
  200. Precious (Gabourey Sidibe)
  201. The French
  202. Bethenny Frankel
  203. Rocky Dennis, inspiration for the 1985 movie Mask
  204. Barbra Streisand
  205. Natalie Wood
  206. Elvis Presley
  207. Nashville
  208. Barbara Mandrell
  209. Jerry’s kids
  210. Koreans
  211. Pink
  212. Her elevator man
  213. Mountain climbers
  214. Pamela Anderson
  215. Iceland
  216. Ethopia
  217. News anchors
  218. A-Rod
  219. Michelle Duggar
  220. Asians (in general)
  221. Thomas Jefferson
  222. Men who wear turquoise jewelry
  223. Charles Dickens
  224. Helena Bonham Carter
  225. Robert Redford
  226. Michael J. Fox
  227. San Francisco
  228. Handicap drivers
  229. Anita Bryant
  230. Steve Levine’s new assistant
  231. Charlie Sheen
  232. Judi Dench
  233. Diane Keaton
  234. Kate Gosselin
  235. Karen Carpenter
  236. Peter J. McGuire, creator of Labor Day
  237. NeNe Leakes
  238. Yoko Ono
  239. Mary-Kate Olsen
  240. Aileen Wuornos
  241. Paraplegics
  242. Baby daddies and baby mamas
  243. Meryl Streep
  244. Mayim Bialik
  245. Anna Wintour
  246. Winona Ryder
  247. Off-Broadway
  248. Ke$ha
  249. Helen Keller
  250. Cloris Leachman
  251. Kathleen Turner
  252. Paul Anka
  253. L.A.
  254. Her cab driver
  255. White supremacists
  256. Mariah Carey
  257. Larry King
  258. Danny Thomas
  259. Mick Jagger
  260. Jon Hamm
  261. The homeless
  262. Johnnie Cochran
  263. Richard Ramirez
  264. Charles Manson
  265. John Goodman
  266. Dyan Cannon (you’ll remember once you see her)
  267. Jodie Foster
  268. Miley Cyrus
  269. Rick Santorum
  270. Jessica Simpson
  271. Self-help book readers
  272. Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi
  273. Susan Boyle
  274. Angela Lansbury
  275. Sarah Brightman
  276. Andrew Lloyd Webber
  277. Kristin Chenoweth
  278. Arabs
  279. Michael Bloomberg
  280. Brad Pitt
  281. Robert Pattinson
  282. Colin Farrell
  283. Johnny Depp
  284. Courtney Love
  285. Patti Smith
  286. Bill Cosby
  287. Her dogs
  288. Dog people
  289. Debby Boone
  290. Underprivileged children
  291. Elisabeth Hasselbeck
  292. Rihanna
  293. Librarians
  294. Temple Grandin
  295. Britney Spears
  296. Lee Harvey Oswald
  297. Suzanne Somers
  298. P. Diddy
  299. Celine Dion
  300. Native Americans
  301. The uncircumcised
  302. Sienna Miller
  303. Kirstie Alley
  304. Transgendered people
  305. Nicole Richie

Who did Rivers miss?

  • Tor Sprø Søvik

    The LGBTIQ people

Follow BNReads