Her caustic humor brought her fame on stage but in San Diego, comedian Joan Rivers was known for more.
“When it comes to HIV and AIDS she stands out as our own little Joan of Arc,” said City of San Diego Human Rights Commissioner Nicole Murray- Ramirez. “She was not only Joan Rivers but for the HIV/AIDs community she was Joan of Arc.”
Ramirez presented Rivers with a commendation from the city back in 2008 for her work with the HIV and AIDS community.
“She not only had a big mouth, she had the biggest heart,” Ramirez said.
Rivers' death on Thursday came one week after she went into cardiac arrest during an outpatient surgery. It’s still unclear exactly what happened before the 81-year-old stopped breathing.
Rivers came to San Diego often, performing at places like the Balboa Theater, where Don Telford got to know her on a personal level.
“She was absolutely delightful. So funny, so bright, so quick,” said Telford.
“From the moment she walked in, I greeted her and said ‘Joan we’ve been looking forward to this and it’s going to be a great night.’ And her comment back was ‘You never know some nights I’m hot, some nights I’m not.’”
At the Comedy Store in La Jolla, where a tribute to Rivers was up on the marquee, those were those who never had the chance to meet the comedian but understood what she meant to the industry.
“You’ll never have a repeat of Joan Rivers,” said Russell Brock.
He said she paved the way for so many comedians.
“She always said what was on her mind. She was always unapologetically Joan and that’s what made her this giant colossal orb that everyone in comedy circled around.”