Friday, August 29, 2014


The news this week that comedian Joan Rivers is in the hospital prompts the inevitable question of whether that famously quotable lady is giving thought to what her eventual "Famous Last Words" will be.

No doubt Joan Rivers worries at times that her eventual "Famous Last Words" from her own proverbial deathbed scene might not be witty enough or funny enough to rank her among the "immortal deathbed quipsters" of American history.

As an occasional freelance writer who has myself sent some humor material to Joan Rivers in recent years, I would like to offer some possible "Famous Last Words" lines that that world-famous comedian might want to use on her proverbial deathbed someday:

---"I was hoping to live long enough to witness a permanent and lasting peace in the Middle East in which all parties involved are completely happy. But I guess I won't have that opportunity now. With my luck, the first-ever successful peace treaty for the entire Middle East region will get signed seconds after I'm gone."

----"Edgar, I will NEVER forgive you for abandoning me and leaving me all alone like this!"

----"Moments like this make me wish I believed in an afterlife. But since I'm Jewish, that is not an option for me."

----"I wish I had re-read Norman Cousins's book on how to cure yourself of a terminal illness by laughing more often. Maybe I didn't laugh enough in the last few months, and that is why I'm having this crisis. Does anyone know a good joke that would help me to laugh so hard that I'd be fully cured of everything the doctor says I have right now?"

----"I guess it's too late for me to sue my doctor for malpractice. If I die today, my attorney tells me I can't file a posthumous lawsuit against my doctor in a court of law! I would have to rely on the administrator of my estate to file that medical-malpractice lawsuit for me, and I think I picked the wrong guy to represent my estate, since he never promised me he'd sue my doctor if I die before age 100! It's all turning into a complete posthumous disaster for me!"

----"My God, I never once had anyone interview me for an Oral History Videotape for the New York Public Library archives! Here I'm the funniest lady in American history, and the Oral History Collections section of that public library has nothing on Joan Rivers! That's a very cruel joke on me!"

-----"I wish I had been a Hollywood actress, at least I would have had immortality in the form of my footprint forever on display at that famous theater in Hollywood! Since I can't act, and I never could act so help me God, I don't get any footprint on display for future generations to remember me by! That is quite devastating to me!"

----"Maybe I should rewrite my will to exclude each of the persons who didn't send me flowers or get-well cards when I'm on my deathbed like this. The ones who didn't send me flowers or get-well cards can't possibly be true friends of mine, so I don't want them to get anything from my estate!"

----"It seems like I've spent all of my life doing stand-up comedy, so I'm used to being on my feet when I'm exploring the humorous side of life! And now that I'm lying on a hospital bed like this, I can't think of anything funny to say! Maybe the humor has switched to my doctor doing the stand-up comedy in front of me and I'm the one who's supposed to laugh at whatever he tells me is my prognosis! So it all ends with Gallows-Humor, and I'm expected to chuckle as I ponder who is going to get my social-security number after it gets re-assigned to someone else one minute after I'm dead!"

----"I can't bear the thought of a nationwide humor drought after I'm gone. Maybe I should ask my attorney to set up a 'Joan Rivers Comedian of the Year Award' that will financially reward future generations of comedians for excellence at exploring the funny side of life!"

-----"To me, the worst part about being on my deathbed inside a hospital is that I can't eat the dishes I enjoy the most. I know dozens of first-rate caterers here in New York, but my doctor won't let me call them up and ask for delivery service to my hospital room. It's against hospital policy, my doctor tells me!"

-----"What's so odd about it all is that for years I had practiced what I would say as my Famous Last Words, God forbid that I would ever end up in a disgusting deathbed scene like this inside a hospital. And now I've forgotten all of the best lines I came up with from that favorite pastime of mine in which I would imagine how to drop dead in the most cleverly quotable manner!"

----"At least I'm not a suicide blonde, as Marilyn Monroe was. I think all my friends are very proud of me for not being another of those infamous suicide blondes!"

-----"I wish I could figure out which food I ate that gave me the heart attack. Was it the slice of New York cheesecake I ate the other day that proved to be a fatal attraction for me, or was it something else?

----"At least I don't have to worry about when to go to the bathroom, now that I'm on my deathbed inside a hospital. The catheter takes care of everything for me. It saves me a lot of time, and God knows I can use every extra minute now that my lifespan is down to a matter of hours, according to my doctor."

-----"My biggest regret was that I never became a CEO for a company of my own. Donald Trump agreed that I had the talent for it, since I won first place on his show 'The Apprentice' several years ago. It would have been fun to own my own company and join a CEOs of America Club of some type and attend annual banquets honoring first-rate CEO's like myself!"

---"At least I had a pretty good record for endurance. Look at all the talented ladies and men I knew who died younger than myself. I attended hundreds of funerals in my life, and it was a very bleak experience for me. Maybe that is what helped me to make a firm decision to postpone my own funeral as long as I possibly could!"

----"The worst part about being on my deathbed is my certainty that all of my enemies and rivals are smirking and gleefully celebrating what they hope will be the day I turn into a 'Joan Drops Dead' front-page story in the New York Post. I wish I could leave behind a special provision in my will that finances year-round electronic surveillance of each of my 10 most hated enemies, along with automatic filing of criminal charges against each of them the minute they commit a felony crime of any type while being electronically surveillanced by the administrator of my estate!"

---"I don't agree with those who say that I pursued a life of humor because I was incapable of leading a serious and mature and responsible adult life. I feel that what I did was NOT childish or sophomoric or silly, as so many of my high school classmates have sarcastically commented to me at our class reunions!"

----"My worst fear is that my darling daughter Melissa will write a 'Mommy Dearest' expose on me a year after I croak! I have tried to avert that scenario by leaving behind a very generous fund in my estate that's earmarked for filing a lawsuit against any relative of mine who writes an expose on me after I'm dead that my attorney determines to be at all libelous or defamatory toward me!"

----"At least I didn't end up in a nursing home! Think of all the relatives and friends and classmates of mine who got stuck in a nursing home and turned into brain-dead human vegetables long before they passed away!"

-----"The timing of this deathbed scene disaster for me couldn't be worse. I was very excited this week about pursuing a new book project in which I would compile and edit an anthology of my all-time favorite jokes that I have either heard or read or come up with myself! I was thrilled about that 'Joan's Favorite Jokes' book project, since it could make the Times best-seller list and earn me millions!"

----"If my mother were alive today, she would be asking me if I have anything to confess to a rabbi before I'm officially pronounced dead by a coroner. Mother was very thorough that way. I think she felt it was always best to make a last-minute confession to a rabbi, just in case that might somehow affect any possible afterdeath outcome, if you get my drift. 'Better to be safe than sorry' was a favorite saying of my dear Mother. It's not that Mother believed in the afterlife. She just wanted everyone she loved to cover all the bases, just in case, before they pass away."

----"I had hoped to schedule my death to occur during the term of office of a REPUBLICAN President, since I myself am a staunch Republican. But it hasn't turned out that way. Maybe former President George W. Bush or his nice father will be willing to attend my memorial service and offer some Republican Party praise for me at that point!"

----"To think that the last bagel I ate was an 'everything' bagel, and I myself almost never eat bagels of that type! I always take pride in eating low-calorie bagels with one primary flavor to them that are as low in sodium as possible!"

----"I wonder who the next American Queen of Comedy will be, now that my own multi-decade reign is about to end very abruptly. I feel bad that I didn't emulate Donald Trump in my own way by offering an apprenticeship to aspiring young comedians. I guess I was too selfish to think about helping to train in a future star of American comedy!"

----"I am grateful I don't have to attend my memorial service. With some of the very blunt friends and relatives I have, that memorial service could turn into a lengthy critique of whatever they regard as my least flattering traits. And I would have no opportunity to reply in person to what they say about me at that ceremony!"