She was undoubtedly the greatest comedienne of the past forty years and, I believe, the second most influential comedienne behind only Lucille Ball. Like many people my age or older, I watched Joan's appearances on The Tonight Show in the 1970s and 80s. She was incredibly funny, and, it seemed, no topic was off-limits.
But I really fell in love with Joan's comedy in the summer of 1983, after my college freshman year, when I worked for a pool cleaning company. Though May and June were spent doing the grueling work of 'opening' pools—draining it of the fetid water that had sat over winter, then brushing the cement bottom with hydrochloric acid—July and August were pleasant, as I mostly had to do cursory vacuuming and skimming. This gave me plenty of time to take a quick swim, and listen to (over and over) Joan's seminal album, "What Becomes A Semi-Legend Most." By the time I returned to college, I could recite most of her jokes. Which was a good thing since the cassette tape had nearly worn out.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Joan had already been in comedy some twenty years. To think that her career continued another three decades, is mind-boggling. Few entertainers, male or female, have had such longevity and success. Today, is it even possible to mention red carpet, celebrity fashion and plastic surgery without thinking about Joan's influence?
In the end, she was funny, honest, biting, and controversial. I am sad to see her go.