"We've bonded, Hilary. We have bonded over shitty phone service all over the United States," Joan Rivers remarked to me on Friday, after a few frustrating rounds of phone tag, thanks to AT&T and some botched lines. But "Can you hear me now?" aside, the comedienne is totally impossible to catch up with, anyway. As of late, she's been making the media rounds, promoting her new reality show for We TV and sounding off on a variety of subjects all along the way.
Check out what Joan had to say to HuffPost Style about Michelle Obama's State Dinner dress, Tiger Mom and how she got into the fashion commenting business to begin with.
HP: One thing that has been making headlines in the fashion world this week is Michelle Obama wearing McQueen to the State Dinner.
JR: Wrong. Wrong. Sorry! Sorry, sorry, sorry, but we're pushing America and we're so behind in everything that we're doing. We're trying to push our own industries, the president's coming out and saying we've got to make more American stuff, you know what, darling? Buy American. Wrong. I like the Obamas, I voted for Obama, but totally wrong. Very badly advised. It was like Jackie Onassis used to sneak the French couture into the White House. At least she had the decency to have Oleg Cassini copy it. So she would say, I'm wearing Oleg Cassini when in reality, he had just copied a lot of the fashions.
HP: Do you think there are occasions when the first lady could wear a foreign designer?
JR: In private, God bless her, she can wear what she wants. When she's sitting around with just their friends or if [Obama]'s not re-elected, or even if he is re-elected, she'll have all those years ahead of her to wear what she wants.
HP: What do you think of Hillary Clinton's style?
JR: I think Hillary Clinton's style is perfect. Perfect. You don't notice what she's wearing, you notice the woman....Whatever she's doing is absolutely right. I didn't even like it when [Former Secretary of State Madeleine] Albright used to wear pins. You represent our country. Look simple. Let them watch your mouth. I like my politicians and my judges and my lawyers to be simple. I think if you worry about when your hemline is you're really not concentrating on the world crisis.
HP: Shifting gears, you're on a reality show now with your daughter. What do you think of Tiger Mom?
JR: I adore the Tiger Mom. I think a child should be strapped to the piano. The only thing is, she says, "This is the success," and I don't want to break her heart but if every child learns to play the piano or becomes a pianist or a violinist, how many are in each orchestra? You're setting your children up to fail, you idiot. There's one pianist per orchestra. So if you're strapping your kid to the piano, you're making your kid fail if he thinks he's going to be a pianist. And if you're strapping your kid...how many violinists? There's a first violin, second violin, maybe a small string section. So unfortunately, poor Tiger Mom got it a little screwed up. I think she should strap them to the computer. Or let them make clothes for Michelle Obama. I think Tiger Mom should have all the kids in America designing clothes for Michelle Obama so she wouldn't have to buy outside of our coasts.
HP: What was it like to have cameras following you around all of the time for "Joan & Melissa"?
JR: I didn't mind it because I was coming off of my documentary ["A Piece of Work"]. Melissa minded it I think a lot more. She's much more honest than I am. She really believes you can be in show business and have a private life. So already that makes me laugh because that's impossible. But by the end of it, they were with us for close to 8 weeks, and so by the end of it, she was very comfortable with it too. But we just said, let the cameras roll. We didn't want it to be "let's be cute and let's have something funny happen"...they really let it flow. And I think we got a very good show.
HP: Was there anything that was sacred or anything that you didn't want to put on the air?
JR: We did one thing, which I think was a mistake and that was, we had a chef come in and teach Melissa how to cook. Because she wanted to surprise me one night. And neither one of us can cook. And he cut himself very badly and continued to cook and I think it's hilarious to have a well-known chef bleeding all over the food and Melissa kept being nicer than me, she's nicer than I am. She said turn off the cameras because this'll ruin his career. I got home and I said, "Melissa are you fucking crazy?" But that was the only big thing that happened. A lot of things happened afterward. My darling grandson broke his arm the day we wrapped and it's, like, you couldn't have broken it the day before? If you're going to break your arm, break it on camera.
HP: I actually recently watched your documentary. One thing I was wondering about is how you started in this business of fashion commenting.
JR: That was Melissa. Her first job was at CBS, "This Morning." And then she moved over to E! about a year ahead of me and she heard them talking and saying we should do something outside, before people are going to an event, but who would want to stand out in the sun? And she said, "My mother would." And we really, and this was not me saying it, someone said it to her, we made walking through a building an event. And it was Melissa's idea and we were the first ones really to do it. We never lied. Nothing was even lies. And we just kinda did it. You know, I always loved fashion and when I hosted at the Emmys, every time I came out I wore a different gown, so I've always loved fashion. When I did Carson, when I hosted my own show on Fox, I always was very much into fashion. It wasn't a stretch at all to go out and talk about it. And then I have my own company on QVC, I worked my way through college at Lord & Taylor doing their windows. So it wasn't a stretch.
HP: Last question -- who do you think is going to be a total walking disaster this awards season?
JR: I hope Helena Bonham Carter. She's married to Tim Burton and you know that before they leave the house, they both go, "You look great!"
Can't get enough of Joan? Catch "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays on We TV. And check out this sneak peak from next Tuesday's episode.
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more