I love angry humor. It's true. There's nothing funnier, for me, than an angry comedian. I like Joan Rivers. I'm not a hardcore fan in the least, but I've seen and read enough of her work to appreciate her particular brand of hard-edged funny.
But man, I did not like this book.
To be fair to Joan (and ward off the honking geese of "wah, racism, wah, prejudice, wah, intolerance") she is certainly an equal-opportunity kind of woman. It doesn't matter your ethnicity, culture, color, gender, sexual preference, moral compass: If you exist and you are sensitive to this sort of thing, you might as well save yourself the cash and just get offended right now. Offense, however, wasn't my problem. And I admit I found myself laughing during some parts of the book:
"I have children!" "Well, next time give your husband a blow job and you won't!"
But for the most part, it's a book banking purely on offense and shock value. Which is really cheap. Borat-level cheap. And if you like Borat, more power to you. You'll enjoy this book. You should probably go and read it right now, you're likely to have a blast. The rest of humanity might take issue though.
It's just plain mean. Not 'funny, but in kind of a mean way', but rather, 'really damned mean, but in a trying to be funny way'. Some people like that, I get it. If you're young you're certainly more apt to chuckle for the shock value alone. But mostly in that kind of uncomfortable, glancing-around-to-make-sure-nobody-saw-that kind of way. You might laugh, but you might feel kind of like a tool for laughing.
I can see this kind of humor transferring to the stage better than it does to book form. I've heard it said that I should try listening to the audio book (narrated by the author herself). The book feels more like Joan took a condensed version of some stand-up comedy and padded it out with some toxic filler which, in the context of the rest of the book, might have seemed like it would fit in. But that's all it is: padding. Angry, mean-spirited padding amidst the original routines. Epic one-liners to distract you from the fact that most of the content is something your old, racist grandmother might shout around the dinner table while trying to get her med dosage just right: 'Please, grandma, please stop throwing the dishes and shouting about the Jews you had to share a neighborhood with once. Please.'
"Next, let me scream about those gays and their gay sex!"
For the most part, it's not funny. It's really not. But it's entertaining to some because of how outlandish, cruel, and reality-show-level entertaining it is. Something that Rivers herself (likely intentionally) makes very clear right from the get-go:
"Being with haters is much more entertaining than being with depressives, because haters are always, always willing to make a scene."
One has to ask herself which camp Joan Rivers belongs to and, after reading this book, it becomes obvious that she belongs to the latter, while vying for the former. The book makes no secret (it's on the title, don't bother arguing) that Joan Rivers is none too happy with herself as a human being. So, she does what people do: And you either get depressed or you get angry. Joan got angry. Very angry. Then she realized other people like angry people because it makes them forget how depressed they feel in turn, and decided to start making money with it while peppering the content with jokes to mask what is essentially just rage-vomit over the course of 200+ pages.
But then, I read the damn thing. Smart move, Joan.