By Liz Shannon Miller
Let’s just be clear about one thing: Joan Rivers is a legend. The ground-breaking comedian, who’s become an icon after decades of television appearances, has been working her ass off since the 1960s, and the fact that she’s turned her attentions toward the internet is honestly something the internet should be thankful about.
Be thankful. Right now. Take a moment.
Okay. So, “In Bed with Joan” isn’t the most sophisticated series, or the best-produced on a technical level. But that’s not the point. The point is, for viewers, to watch Joan Rivers interact with a huge and impressive array of folk in her own unique way.
Over almost 50 episodes, as of writing, Rivers has used her star power to speak with Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, Aubrey Plaza, Jeff Garlin, Penn Jillette, Aisha Tyler, Billy Eichner, and many, many others. They enter from “Joan’s closet,” they sit down on the bed with Joan, and then many, many minutes of conversation ensue.
The show is not shy about showing the bolts and seams of production; you see the lights illuminating Rivers’ bed, you can tell when they’re cutting around something that just doesn’t work. You can hear the crew laughing.
But that aesthetic plays well, especially since Rivers herself is so engaging. You can see why she was the first female host of a late night talk show — while that show didn’t work out, her specific brand of comedy works well in the context of celebrity interview. Especially now, when you can see, in the faces of the interviewees, just how thrilled they are to be meeting her and talking with her.
Episodes of “In Bed with Joan” range from 12 to 30 minutes, which is a bit long for web content that’s just two people talking on a bed, but Rivers’s skills as an interviewer keep things moving. Of course, the episodes that prove most engaging are the episodes featuring folk you’re interested in, but that’s always usually the case for personality-focused series.
The show is also available in audio form (like all proper podcasts, Audible is a sponsor — seriously, how would we know about Audible if podcasts didn’t exist?) but it’s also fun to watch the interviewees interact with Joan.
Unlike Jerry Seinfeld, Rivers brings in a diverse crew of comedians to speak with on her show — many women and people of color make appearances. And the conversations are funny and fresh.
“In Bed with Joan” could maybe use some editing, especially given the format. But it’s a fun relaxed version of a web chat show, and if web content is going to replace television at some point, then it’s exactly the kind of show we’re going to need.