The national tributes that have gone out with Joan Rivers’ passing have not made much of the fact that she was once a Second City performer. Of course, neither did she.
Del Close, without much prodding, often told tales about performing with her in the same Second City cast. He talked about improvising a scene with her as a married couple in which he asked “But what about the children?” She responded “But we don’t have any children!” So much for “Yes, and…”
Del often described performing with her when she would essentially turn her back on her scene partners, step to the edge of the stage, and begin a monologue about her marriage, husband, etc. Although the others didn’t know it, she was building a stand-up act, albeit at the expense of her fellow improvisers.
In an interview many years later, when asked about Second City, she said something to the effect of “I don’t think they care much about me there.”
All told, she was not much of an improviser. Fortunately for her, she was able to find something else to fall back on…