Jerry Beck meets Joan Rivers Jerry Beck meets Joan Rivers
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Jerry Beck meets Joan Rivers

Not the most embarassing moment in my life, but it comes pretty close. By popular demand, and as a Brew 4th Anniversary special, here’s my appearance on Joan River’s syndicated TV show, Can We Shop, in February 1994. The longest eight minutes of my life:

There was absolutely no prep for this show. I met Ms. Rivers on the set. I have no idea what she would ask – and they had no idea what I might say. The show needed a “Looney Tunes expert” and they located me in L.A. on a Friday, flew me to tape the show in New York on Monday. I recall the day this was taped there was a horrible blizzard hitting the city. I took the opportunity of being in Manhattan to schedule a meeting at The Museum of Modern Art later that day to pitch a Famous Studios retrospective. Thanks to Joan Rivers flying me into New York for this, the February 1995 Cartoons From Times Square screenings and Famous Studios reunion at MoMA took place – one of the greatest moments of my professional life.

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  • Good job. Seems like you handled it pretty well.

  • Jerry, you were great! A truly stellar performance. Of course, you didn’t steal the show, but Joan would never let that happen.

  • Isn’t that Debra Wilson from MadTV?

  • I think it’s funny that she’s so centered on the bags. :]

  • Keith Paynter

    “I’ve suffered for my art…now it’s your turn!”

  • TJR

    “The longest eight minutes of my life”

    After reading that comment, I braced myself to watch something that would be filled with embarassment, but you were fine.

    Joan Rivers asked the kind of questions you would expect from someone who didn’t know anything about animation, and you managed to use those questions to provide some real knowledge to an audience that most likely, knew nothing about animation.

  • rachel

    The problem is, who wants to hear about the origins of the Looney Tunes characters (that are, apparently “all the rage”) when you can learn about waterproof 400 denier oxford nylon & :all foam back” tote bags????!!!!

    Well, at least you finally got to settle the bitter, age-old controversy over Tweety’s sexuality.

  • haha, who’s voice were you trying to imitate? i would feel so embarrassed if someone asked me to do a voice just because i love the stuff, especially in front of an audience O.o

  • God bless you for persevering, Jerry.

  • Haha, that was great! Joan really got you involved and asked some nice questions which you answered perfectly. I must say though, that designer guy came off as a wet blanket. =P

  • Sgt King

    Thank you Jerry for sharing that clip. Very entertaining.

  • You did great, Jerry. Wow, she was really excited about those bags. I’ve gotta ask, did she give you a free set?

  • Animation Pimp

    Did you get one of those wonderful bags?

    Actually, you should snapped, grabbed the bag and forced it over her head until she promised to flee civilization for a life in a swamp.

  • Jim

    You handled that amiably! She is terrible though.

  • Chuck R.

    Oh c’mon, that’s not embarrassing. Imagine if you and Evan both sat down on that couch wearing that exact same tie!

    It’s a long clip, but worth sitting through for this one tidbit of background info: Jerry Beck didn’t watch cartoons as a kid?!!
    I somehow assumed you were already chronicling them at age 9.

  • now that is about as pa-RICELESS as it can GET! (“Are you Jewish?” —- that’s hysterical! And boy did that bring back a memory for ME (when she asked you to “do an imitation!”) I was on Joe Franklin once promoting a cartoon programming in New York (the Thalia) ….and….sure enuff…he asked ME to do the same thing on HIS show! How ill-prepared were WE to do that—- johnny-on-the-spot!!?) Thank YOO for the clip! I adore those time-capsules of pure GOLD!!!

  • Derek J

    holy cow. to say you were a good sport is the understatement of the decade.

    i don’t even understand what was happening there. was that a precursor to HSN? it was a whole show devoted to selling crap?

    and was the audience as dead and awkward as they seemed?

  • 6:51 – OMG. Worst. Tweety. Impression. Ever.

    Somehow, Jerry, in your younger days, you kinda look like the Angry Video Game Nerd.

    If anyone wants to see an even younger Jerry Beck, should watch the “Tribute to Mel Blanc” Special which is also on YouTUbe,

  • Random Douche

    “Jerry Beck: Looney Tunes Expert.” Hilarious.

  • red pill junkie

    I think her face looks even more PLASTIC than the bags :-/

    At least tell me you got one of those back-packs in return… PLEASE!

  • I have respect for you Jerry just for posting this. It is pretty humiliating. Animation Historian has a much better ring to it.

  • Everything seemed very awkward. I’m glad they had you on for something like this but man you poor guy, having to listen to Joan talk about this and making no sence. I think you handled it good though, I just want a Looney Tunes bag now…

  • I remember seeing a similar interview Billy West had to go through. Only the guy he was talking to wasn’t as intelligent or at least he allowed his IQ to drop down to a small 2 digit number. I don’t think the guy was even listening because pretty much every time Billy mentioned a cartoon character’s name, either one he worked on or one of his inspirations, the guy would just say “Oh WOW! I love that cartoon.” and then sit there with a dopey grin the rest of the time.
    I don’t remember if I watched it to the end but I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if Billy either throttled the guy or just walked away.

  • Richard

    Isn’t it ironic?

    Jerry is a cartoon expert.
    And Joan Rivers has had so many facelifts – she LOOKS like a cartoon.

  • GENE

    Sorry but I couldn’t make it to the end…four minutes of Joan Rivers was all my body could tolerate. Jerry, you have truly sacrificed for the toons.

  • I felt bad for you while watching this. You did fine. But didn’t you want to do a primal scream thing halfway through?

  • Pedro Nakama

    That was pre-facelift. Both Jerry and Joan. ; )

  • Well Jerry, by making the world aware that you were a guest on a Joan Rivers show, you have blacklisted yourself from The Tonight Show and Late Show.

    At least you handled yourself well, given the circumstances.

  • I remember that Famous Studios retrospective! I remember having a really nice chat that day with Martin Taras’ daughter, who applauded any time her dad’s name showed up in the credits. That was one of the last, if not THE last, animation-related things I did in the City.