Joan Rivers Tells Johnny Carson It Still Hurts

Wow. On last night’s episode of WE program JOAN & MELISSA: joan knows best?, the hint of cancer and some bucket list consideration brought up the notion of dancing on Johnny Carson‘s grave. That is, until Joan realized Carson was cremated and his ashes given to family members.

Rivers instead traveled to Johnny Carson Park in Burbank for a posthumous heart-to-heart with her mentor turned tor-mentor. The title of the episode, “The C Word,” refers to cancer. But in this case it also, very sadly, doubles as a reference to the poisoned final chapter of her relationship with Carson.

The shape of the monument to Carson allowed Rivers to sit, camera-left, and look over to the head illustration of the talk show host as if she were back on the couch. Rivers goes through a wide range of emotions, revealing that she feels very differently than what she expected and tearfully reminding the specter of Carson how “stupid… stupid…” the silent banishment was. It all adds up to must-C TV, right down to a Jay Leno zinger delivered at the end by Tony.

Below is footage of Rivers from a 1984 Tonight Show 22nd anniversary special, complete with a shot of then-16-year-old Melissa  in the audience. This was done just two years before Joan’s relationship with Johnny went into a deep freeze. As Rivers put it on last night’s program: “RIP… you son of a bitch.”

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.