Trailblazer who changed life with a laugh

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Just as the tears had dried on our rainbow-striped hankies after the irrepressible Robin Williams left a Mork-shaped hole in our lives, the incomparable Joan Rivers left us for the great comedy store in the sky.

We’re rapidly losing those trailblazers who provided the funnies and pushed boundaries.

Those who spent hours crafting their art in backstreet comedy clubs, instead of finding themselves in a job simply because they looked right or knew somebody further up the ladder.

She who coined the ... “and who are you wearing?”... standard that goes along with every major red carpet event, Ms Rivers paved the way for female comediennes everywhere, and smashed the glass ceiling back in the 1960s, when getting ahead as a woman in a male-dominated industry was nigh on impossible.

“Feminism” has seen somewhat of a resurgence but, worryingly, many of our young women are using it in the wrong context, employing the F-word as a go-to for putting men in their place and putting women on a pedestal.

But Rivers was a true feminist, her sharp-witted, acid tongue had no boundaries, she lambasted both men and women, but not on behalf of womenkind, she did it for herself.

Some called her quest for success “unladylike”, but that drive was what made Rivers a feminist icon, she didn’t recognise the notion of acceptable ‘ladylike’ behaviour.

American talk show host Howard Stern got it, telling mourners at her funeral earlier this week that Rivers was as “brassy in public [and] classy in private... a troublemaker, trail blazer, pioneer for comics everywhere... [who] fought the stereotypes that women can’t be funny.”

She revealed, in a documentary about her life, that an empty schedule was what “fear” was for her and, right up to her death at the age of 81, she packed her calendar with stand-up shows, her weekly E! show, Fashion Police and personal appearances.

Each decision she made was in the pursuit of personal empowerment, and what better way to get ahead, male or female, than to empower yourself? It is only then that we can truly begin to pay it forward and make the world a brighter place to live in.

That, and a pair of rainbow-striped braces.