Joan Rivers made a comeback of sorts Thursday night and it wasn't about her plastic surgery or in response to a celebrity who thinks her jokes are too harsh. Joan Rivers appeared on The Tonight Show after being banned for 26 years. Rivers was her usual self, starting off with a story about getting to the show late after being stuck in a broken down Mercedes Benz. It started innocent enough, but ended with the line "The Germans killed 6 million Jews, and you cant fix a fucking carburetor." Ya know, her usual stuff. After her bleeped out line, new host Jimmy Fallon added, "Welcome back to the network, Joan."
There was also, of course, talk about her age ("Number one of my bucket list is 'wake up.'"), a Bruce Jenner is a woman joke, and commentary on her current breast placement when Fallon showed a photo of Rivers on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965. Rivers said of the picture, "Second night I was on ... My legs look good, the breasts are in the right place." The entire interview was very, very Joan Rivers, meaning some people will love it and some people will hate it, but regardless of what you think of her, you might be curious to know why Rivers was banned from the show in the first place.
Rivers began on The Tonight Show in 1965 as a writer, three years after Carson started hosting. During her time on the show she served as a guest host and in 1983 became Carson's permanent guest host. Three years after that, in 1986, Rivers left the show when she was offered her own late night show on Fox, The Late Show with Joan Rivers. In an essay she wrote for The Hollywood Reporter in December 2012, Rivers says,
I adored Johnny. In the ’70s, I did opening monologues, I was hosting. The turning point was when I left the show. Everybody left the show to go to do their own shows. Bill Cosby. David Brenner. George Carlin. Everybody. I stuck around for 18 years. And they finally offered me my own late-night show.
The first person I called was Johnny, and he hung up on me -- and never, ever spoke to me again. And then denied that I called him. I couldn’t figure it out. I would see him in a restaurant and go over and say hello. He wouldn't talk to me.
Carson never allowed Rivers back on the show and Jay Leno followed suit.
In the interview with Fallon, Rivers brushes off talking about the ban from NBC noting that "They banned me... I think it's 'cause you get old." before launching into a joke about her vagina being dry. Again, classic Joan.