Persistence Pays Off

Persistence Pays Off

From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Persistence Pays Off

Like many young women, Joan Molinsky dreamed of a career on stage, entertaining themasses. She had a knack for making people laugh, so she opted for a career in comedy.

However, her parents were skeptical, despite their daughter’s success in a number of small-time revues and local talent contests. Eager to see her perform in a club setting, Dr. Molinsky had his comedian-wanna-be daughter booked at the family’s beach club in New Rochelle, New York. The show was the club’s last of the summer, and Joan’s first dinner engagement.

Miss Molinsky started her act with a funny song, but the audience’s attention span lasted only as long as it took the dessert carts to visit their tables. In a matter of no time, the 300 people in attendance had resumed any and all conversations they’d had prior to the pretty, 20-something’s introduction on stage.

Heartbroken and ignored, Joan ground her way through each of her numbers to the best of her ability. Uttering a meek “thank you” at the conclusion of her final song. Joan burst into the nearby kitchen, teary-eyed with embarrassment. Her parents were also embarrassed, not for their daughter so much as themselves. Their daughter had flopped, reinforcing their belief that Joan had no future in entertainment.

Later that night, Dr. Molinsky told Joan that she would have to give up her dream of comedy and pursue a more realistic career choice. His daughter went ballistic.

“I don’t care what you say! You don’t know,” Joan screamed at her father. “I do have talent. It’s my life. It’s my choice how I live it.”

The fight eventually resulted in Joan moving out of her family’s home and returning to New York City. Living out of a local YWCA, she took up temporary work, while pursuing her dreams with a variety of troupes and shows. Her dedication eventually led to a stint with the prestigious Second City performers and a job in California as a writer and on-air “bait girl” for Candid Camera.

Despite her growing role on the show, host Allen Funt never could remember her first name, calling her everything from Jeri to Jeannie to Jackie.

It was during her time with Candid Camera that Joan received a call from The Tonight Show, whom she had petitioned and pestered for over a year for a guest shot. They wanted her to appear with Johnny Carson. Calling in sick at Candid Camera, Joan prepared for the chance of a lifetime.

Once on stage, Joan and Carson hit it off immediately, engaging in verbal jousts too funny to be scripted. In the end, Carson wiped tears of laughter from his eyes and said aloud to his millions of viewers, “God, you’re funny. You’re going to be a star.”

The next day, dozens of appearance offers flooded in from all over the country, putting Joan on comedy’s A-list. She also resigned from Candid Camera that day, much to the chagrin of an angry Funt, who’d watched his “sick” employee on Carson the night before.

Chomping down on a carrot stick, he chewed thoughtfully and said, “I think you’re making a big mistake, Jill.”

From that point on, no one would ever misidentify or underestimate Joan Rivers again.

Curtis McAllister

Submitted by Christine Belleris

and Rand e e Gold smith

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