Joan Rivers’ Last Great Gift To The World May Have Been Billy Eichner

Julie Klausner wrote a great piece over at Vulture about what it was like to work with Joan Rivers. I can’t recommend reading the entire thing enough, but one especially fantastic part that stuck out to me was regarding UPROXX fave, Billy Eichner. Back in 2010, Joan Rivers made her first appearance on The Late Show after her long-standing feud with Johnny Carson (you can read about the whole thing over at Yahoo!), but at the time she seemed to be more concerned with championing a then-unknown comedian than with her own appearance.

And I will never forget how, on the day before she returned to late-night television as a guest on Letterman’s Late Show after 27 years in the post-Johnny chill, Joan wouldn’t let the segment producer off the phone until she could tell him about a young comedian named Billy Eichner. “He’s absolutely brilliant. You have to have him on the show,” Joan insisted to a producer assigned to find out what jokes Dave would need to set up for her the following day. “Billy Eichner.” She repeated. “He’s hilarious. I’ll bring you a DVD.” And the next afternoon, in the middle of all of her frantic preparation for what would be her big, nerve-wracking, triumphant return to the Ed Sullivan Theater — where she debuted as a 33-year-old on a show that preceded Dave’s — she did bring a DVD of Billy’s YouTube clips to personally hand to that very producer.

Billy Eichner seems to have exploded in the past year or two — due greatly in part to his fantastic Billy on the Street segments — so I’m not exactly sure at what point he really hit it big or if Joan Rivers actually had anything to do with it, but either way it’s heart-warming to know that she was going to bat for him. In a sad twist of irony, Eichner will be appearing for the first time on Letterman next week and Joan passed away just before being able to see it.

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