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Joan Rivers, blunt and boisterous, got laughs by getting at truth

Joan Rivers at the Riviera Hotel in Las

Joan Rivers at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas on April 8, 1982. Credit: EPA / Las Vegas News Bureau

What would Joan Rivers have said about the Islamic State beheadings? You know the acerbic comedian would have weighed in fearlessly. And whatever she said wouldn't have been remotely politically correct.

Know any good terrorist jokes?

Those who speak and write in public understand the inherent peril of their craft. They're always one hot button from someone's outrage, one stray crack from forced oblivion. Yet for these gifted few, to succumb to blandness is to disrespect their God-given talents and the platforms they've been honored to hold. So they take their chances and press boldly on.

There was nothing Joan Rivers was too nervous to talk about, nothing she couldn't push the envelope on — from her barren sex life to her own many face-lifts to politicians and other famous folks. Sometimes, she stumbled far across the line. (Michelle Obama, America's first transgender first lady? Really?) It was impossible to defend Joan Rivers sometimes.

Yet from her first appearance on the "Tonight Show" in 1965 until her death at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital at age 81, she said it like she thought it was — and then some.

Love her, hate her, cringe at her: The woman did something that is truly worth celebrating. She spent a lifetime telling everyone just exactly what was on her twisted mind.

RIP, J.R.

1. That's private

2. That's gross

3. That's not acceptable

4. That might upset someone

5. That's the truth

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: That toxic cyanobacteria bloom in Lake Ronkonkoma? Honestly, doesn't it look a little like something organic foodies put in their salads? . . . Who's copying whom? Are tree-eating Asian longhorn beetles really spreading the same way real estate development has — north along the Route 110 corridor and east-west along the Southern State Parkway? . . . Too few bike commuters, a rattling rate of cycle fatalities: How will Suffolk County pull itself out of the cellar in Bicycling magazine's ranking of the best places for bicyclists? Even Nassau got better scores? . . . Ratting out his father as a world-class Ponzi schemer? Facing his brother David's suicide? Dead of cancer at 48? Whose life story is any more tragic than Roslyn-born Andrew Madoff's? . . . $1,000 a deer for East Hampton Village's Spay-a-Doe program? How much would local hunters charge to, ah, solve the deer-population explosion? . . . Under the Kings Park board of ed's new public-comment rules, residents will now be heard before a vote is taken? This is being touted as a new concept in public participation? . . . Be honest: When you saw the headline "LIer sentenced to 2 years in NYC pre-K fraud" -- was your first thought, "Did someone cheat at finger-painting?" . . . It's a dumb and dangerous thing to do, but haven't you ever been tempted? LIRR had to cut power on the Babylon branch in Thursday's p.m. rush when impatient riders climbed onto the tracks during a maddening "debris strike" delay.

 

THE NEWS IN SONG: Let your conscience be your guide: Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is," tinyurl.com/tellitis

Follow on Twitter @Henican

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