Ever since I saw Joan Rivers' documentary, A Piece of Work, I've had a lot of respect for the 79-year-old comedienne. Say what you will about her plastic surgeries or fashion bitchery or relentless QVC hawking, the woman works harder than most people in show business. Which is why I have to grudgingly give her props for the over-the-top publicity stunt she launched at a Costco in Burbank this week.
After all, you have to appreciate anyone who cares enough about their book sales that they're willing to handcuff themselves to a grocery cart.
Rivers showed up at the warehouse chain armed with her trademark oversized sunglasses, a bullhorn, and a copy of her book I Hate Everyone ... Starting With Me in order to chain herself to a cart and loudly protest Costco's decision not to carry the title. Apparently the store has refused to sell the book based on the back cover, which includes some fake, cuss-word-laden reviews from historical figures (i.e., Wilt Chamberlain: "I wouldn't even f**k her").
According to Rivers, the protest was totally sincere and reflected her own deep-seated personal values:
This is very frightening and it is truly about the First Amendment. This is America and I don’t want to see censorship.
According to reality, this was a cleverly-staged media event. Rivers brought her own camera crew, for crying out loud -- not to mention a team of assistants to help her peddle books directly to customers. Ever the entertainer, she also spent her timing doling out wisecracks to television reporters:
This is a store that sells 300 rolls of toilet paper at the same time. And I say any customer that buys 300 rolls of toilet paper deserves a funny book to sit on the toilet and read.
Check out this video on Rivers' Costco stunt:
The idea of an author protesting a business's choice not to carry their title is pretty silly, but as for whether or not it worked as a marketing activity -- well, I'd say yes, being as how I had no idea she had a book out right now. Well played, Ms. Rivers.
What do you think of Joan Rivers' Costco protest? Smart PR move, or just ridiculous?
Image via ABC