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Melissa Rivers Says Her Mom Joan Rivers Would Hate Cancel Culture: 'She Would Be So Over It' (Exclusive)

The late comedian's daughter opened up about what her mom, who died nearly a decade ago, would dislike about the world today: "She'd hate not being able to be funny"

D Dipasupil/FilmMagic Melissa and Joan Rivers in 2014
D Dipasupil/FilmMagic Melissa and Joan Rivers in 2014

Melissa Rivers is getting candid about her mom Joan and how she thinks the late, great comedian would be upset about people getting canceled — especially comics.

"I think she'd be very frustrated," says Rivers, who now hosts the Melissa Rivers' Group Text podcast, where she chats about entertainment, current events and more with celeb guests including Chelsea Handler, Tan France and Eric McCormack. "She'd hate not being able to be funny."

The 55-year-old producer and TV personality continues, "She always said, when you make someone laugh, it's like giving them a mini vacation. So when we all lost our sense of humor about everything, she would not have liked it. On the one hand, she wouldn't give a s--- if she were canceled. Then again, that would only happen if I let her out of the closet and removed the duct tape from her mouth."

Related: Celebrating Joan Rivers' Life in Photos

Melissa is joking, but she points out that her mother's entire comedy routine was pointing out the absurd to everyone — and that nothing was off-limits.

"Towards the end of her life when she was performing," she recalls, "she'd come out on stage and just come up with every horrible word there was for everyone and let loose with a string of it, and you could just hear the audience gasping. Then she'd say, 'See, every single one of us, we're all something. Now let's get started.'"

She explains, "Her whole thing was, oh God, everybody take a deep breath. The world and life is hard enough as it is. Everyone's got to stop. There's plenty of times that we have to take things incredibly seriously in our lives, but cancel culture, while it feels like it's lessening up in a way, it had gone way too far."

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Rivers points out that her mother would probably also be annoyed that celebs weren't able to laugh at themselves anymore.

"The Golden Globes were an example of that. People decided they weren't going to laugh, so they didn't. The fact that Jo Koy was taken to task for a joke that essentially complimented Taylor Swift ... I know what my mom would say, 'Everybody lighten up! We're the entertainment! We're not serious people. We're not doing neurosurgery! We're not solving world hunger! We make entertainment!'"

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images Joan and Melissa Rivers on the red carpet for the Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers, held at CBS Studios on July 26, 2009 in Studio City, California.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images Joan and Melissa Rivers on the red carpet for the Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers, held at CBS Studios on July 26, 2009 in Studio City, California.

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Melissa does go on to say she's glad her mom isn't around to see some of the ways the world has gotten scarier since she died in 2014.

"She'd be disappointed and disheartened and sad about a lot of things," she acknowledges, before adding, "but I think if she thought she could get a tight 10-minute set out of it, she'd be fine."

She recalls, "She'd always say, 'If you can't laugh at yourself and at the dark times, you will not get through them.' And as hard as it is to laugh at anything right now, if anyone could find a way to make something funny or point out the absurdity in things and force people to laugh? It would be her."

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