Joan Rivers dead: Trailblazing New Yorker paved the way for generations of comediennes

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NEW YORK (PIX11) - Joan Rivers came from Brooklyn, and got to Hollywood, but it was in New York where she cut her comedic chops.

The Barnard College graduate and one time Rockefeller Center page, started doing stand-up in the early 1960’s in places like the Bitter End in Greenwich Village.

“I think she probably grew from the reception of an audience like this,” said Lynn Miller, who was walking past the club with her husband. “That she started here on the streets of New York where she came from is wonderful.”

In 1965, she made her first of countless appearances on "The Tonight Show" in New York, as a guest and fill-in for its host Johnny Carson, whom she has acknowledged as her mentor. She also appeared frequently on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Her humor at the time was largely self deprecating.

“At that time that’s how women were allowed to be funny, “ said Friars Club historian Barry Dougherty.

But Rivers was able to move on and began tapping into her inner New York, giving her the freedom to speak her mind.

“Especially being a New Yorker, she found her attitude,” said Dougherty.

“That’s what keeps her going. That’s why she’s so feisty,” said Sheila Cates of the Bronx.

The brutally honest Rivers paved the way for other comediennes including Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer.

Rivers became a member of the Friars Club in 1988. She herself was never roasted there, but she sure liked to hurl insults at those who were.

“I remember everything Joan Rivers has said about everybody. She went for the jugular,” said Dougherty, who wrote many of the roasts at the Friars Club.

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