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Life Is Tough, Says Joan Rivers, So 'You Better Laugh At Everything'

Comedian Joan Rivers got a diary from her daughter for the holidays a while back, and at first she was upset. Then, she reflected: Maybe it's a chance for her to save and share her wisdom. Like this entry from Feb. 16:

Rivers' new book is called Diary of a Mad Diva. She joins NPR's Scott Simon to discuss her least favorite phrases, her comedy style and what it's like to be in her 80s.

Interview Highlights

On how much plastic surgery she's really had

I was very lucky. I had a friend who was a plastic surgeon, so he would do little things. I never had like a full thing. So I would go in maybe once every two or three years, and he'd do a little here, a little there; tweak you, like you tweak your car. Then I became the plastic surgery poster girl.

On why she dislikes the phrase "my bad"

It's silly! I mean, there [are] certain things that "my bad" does not cover. A woman [who] sleeps with your husband and breaks up your marriage and then they all commit suicide can't walk in and go, "Yeah, I slept with your husband, ruined your marriage, ruined your life — my bad!" No, not good enough!

On why she dislikes the phrase "good job"

I [don't exercise] at this age — I lift like 2-pound weights. And this gorgeous girl who's 26 years old with a body, you know, of a movie star, she says to me, "Good job." ... That's not a "good job," that's an old lady trying to get away with murder.

On whether she's made a shtick of saying things others would hesitate to say

I've never thought of it consciously. ... I say exactly what I think and very often it's totally politically incorrect. I get, always, chastised for it. So it's not shtick. But I think I'm the one who says, "The emperor has no clothes."

And I also think – serious for a second? ... Life is so tough. I don't know how old you are, but I've seen so much in a wink. One phone call and your life is changed forever. We all know that. You better laugh at everything. And people get very upset with me.

On being in her 80s

Loss. Loss. Loss. That's what the final act is about. I look back at the amount of friends I've [lost] — and I'm talking good friends, you know — that's the hard part. There's no one to call up and have the same memory bank. ... Nobody wants to hear that you met Harry Truman. ... I met Harry Truman. ... But you know what I mean? Nobody's interested. They want to know you met Rihanna. And that kills me.

On still loving her career

I adore working. I am so – do you know how lucky I am? At this age, I have [a TV show,] Fashion Police, I have an Internet show, In Bed With Joan, and I just started something now called Drunken Celebrity Phone Calls. It's incredible. ...

Show business is — you're there by somebody's fluke. And as long as somebody likes you and the show is going well, you're fine. I'd do anything. There's so much I want to do.

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