TIME celebrities

Joan Rivers ‘Resting Comfortably’ in New York City Hospital

FILE  Comedian Joan Rivers Hospitalised After She Stops Breathing Following An Operation On Her Vocal Chords
Joan Rivers attends the 2009 Mardi Gras VIP party at the Zeta Bar of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on March 5, 2009 Mike Flokis—Getty Images

Comedian was scheduled to perform Friday in Red Bank, N.J.

Updated 7:39 a.m. Friday

Joan Rivers, the 81-year-old comedian and television personality, was rushed from a doctor’s office to a New York City hospital on Thursday morning after she went into cardiac arrest, according to the Associated Press.

“This morning, Joan Rivers was taken to The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she is being attended to. Her family wants to thank everybody for their outpouring of love and support,” Sid Dinsay, a spokesman for the hospital, said in a statement. Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, said Thursday that Rivers is “resting comfortably” after the episode.

Rivers, who rose to national fame with her 1965 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, was scheduled to perform on Friday in Red Bank, N.J. The Count Basie Theatre said in a statement on its website that Rivers’ show has been postponed and that they “look forward to hosting the iconic comedienne in the near future.”

The entertainer gave a talk on Wednesday at the Time-Life building, where TIME is based, and had told the audience she had no physical ailments — even calling herself “lucky” — according to a reporter who was at the event. Rivers said she does not restrict what she eats and joked that the processed foods and fake sugar may be what preserves the body.

With reporting by Dan Kedmey

TIME Media

Patton Oswalt: Why I Quit Twitter—And Will Again

Maybe the next fashionable rebellion is to become “unlinked"—only reachable face-to-face

On June 1 of this year I resolved to take a break from all social media. No Twitter, no Facebook. No visiting click-bait video sites, news aggregators, or any link with the words “… you won’t BELIEVE …” in the title. I logged off on June 1st and planned my return for Tuesday, September 2.

In the first week alone I dropped 15 pounds, re-watched Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue, built a sustainable small-yield garden for my daughter, and learned knife throwing. By the second week I’d read all three volumes of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, completed a triathlon, and cooked the first half of Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit cookbook. By week three I had melded my consciousness with the sphere-bleed of galactic central point’s sentient Time Shell and hiked the Andes.

Actually, I spent the first week silently lurking on Twitter, checking my “@” mentions, visiting the feeds of people I both love and despise. I did the usual Google searches of my name and played game after game of GemCraft: Chasing Shadows. I gained weight. I started but still haven’t finished Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby. I still clicked on videos. Visited my usual news aggregate haunts. Wasted time.

The second and third week weren’t much different, but … they weren’t the same. A couple of times, in line at a grocery store or coffee shop, instead of taking out my phone to stiff-arm the creeping ennui, I’d look around instead. At the world. At the people around me. Most of them looking at their phones. We now inhabit a planet where the majority of the population is constantly staring downwards, entranced, twiddling like carpenter ants. Do pickpockets know they’re living in a second renaissance?

Sometimes I’d catch the gaze of a holdout like me. A freak without a phone. Adrift in this gallery of bowed heads. A teenager, whose phone had probably died. Or a slightly older “millennial,” probably waiting for a video to load. But they were unique and far between. It was, mostly, people my age, and older—stooped, staring statues, peeping at windows in their palms.

Once I’d gotten past the first month, though, I noticed an interesting pattern. By this point I rarely looked at my phone. The only times I’d use Twitter was to re-Tweet a link to a project I was involved in, or help promote a friend’s documentary, or fund­raising effort, or album release. My phone only came out of my pocket if I needed to call someone or, more often, text someone. More and more, my eyes met the world. At eye level.

Those holdout freaks I talked about? The teen whose phone battery I assumed had died? Or the older millennial I assumed was downloading a video? They were the ones not using their phones. They had the strongest immunity to the devices’ pull. It was the older people, the over-40s like me, and those way older, who couldn’t escape the tiny gravity of connection constantly yanking us out of existence.

Maybe it’s because this younger generation doesn’t have the demarcation we have—of a world before cell phones and then after. It was always there for them. So it’s not a novelty. And thus has less power. They don’t remember the endorphin rush of sudden connectivity, like when people my age first logged onto dial-up Internet and, after 10 minutes, sheepishly searched for their own name. Or the first time we received an email. And when those things happened on our phones? It was like the apes touching the monolith at the beginning of 2001.

I really enjoyed these three months away. Slowly weaning myself off of social media has, ironically, made me feel younger. At least, I have the habits of a much younger person now. I used social media—at least for these past 90 days—at the frequency of a 20 year old. Occasionally, like it wasn’t some exotic novelty, and didn’t need to be consumed like a wine whose supply was finite.

Here’s a thought—what if the next fashionable rebellion, from whatever generation rears its head after the millennials, is to become “unlinked.” Only reachable face-to-face. Hmm.

I think I’m going to do this every summer. June 1 to post–Labor Day. Eyes up, logged off. Remember how, in The Matrix, mankind had become batteries, so the machines could feed off of us? Well, it’s happening now, just 140 words at a time. It’s too late to go back, but you can carve out three hot months to recharge.

Oswalt is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor.

TIME Television

Watch David Letterman Pay Tribute to Robin Williams on Late Show

"I had no idea the man was in pain"

+ READ ARTICLE

David Letterman returned to the Late Show on Monday and paid tribute to his friend, the late Robin Williams, who had died while the show was on a summer break.

Letterman had known Williams for 38 years. They met at the the Comedy Store in West Hollywood, where Letterman says he watched Williams’ first set at the club.

During his tribute, Letterman lamented Williams’ passing and his depression. “I had no idea that the man was in pain, that the man was suffering,” he said.

TIME Television

Snooki Who?: The Cool, Edgy, Other MTV You Didn’t Know Existed

Everett

MTV may have stopped airing arty, odd shows on TV a decade ago — but the network's original spirit lives on, online

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Tucked away underneath an elevated subway line in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two frat boys named Josh are making butt jokes behind an unmarked steel door. The pair of horny bros with facial hair of dubious origin leans over the blueprint of a yoga studio, plotting how to situate their mats so they’ll be best able to attract women. One Josh points to the map with a Green Apple Dum-Dum sucker; other Josh leans in, eyes wide, and deadpans, “Tell me about these feet rugs!” Moments later, a Josh starts singing the chorus to “Old Man River,” which morphs into a Katy Perry mashup: “Old man river, you’re gonna hear me rooaaaaar.”

Josh and Josh’s entourage — the camera people, the director, the dude holding the boom mic — erupts in laughter. The Joshes are the alter egos of Kate Riley and Fran Gillespie, Upright Citizen’s Brigade regulars who have co-created a short series called, cannily, Two Guys Named Josh. The makeshift soundstage is an apartment near the Hewes Avenue JMZ stop, rented from some arty loft type whose painted brick walls are just rundown enough to be believable as the abode for two best friends whose main goals are boozing, broing and snagging babes. The confluence of UCB and YouTube has been so instrumental in propelling young comedians from the Internet to television or film fame — from Aubrey Plaza and the Lonely Island to Drunk History and Broad City — everybody knows online comedy is the way to score. But the difference is this time, MTV is footing the bill.

MORE: MTV VMAs: The Wildest Moments Ever, Ranked

For 15 years, MTV has been both reviled and applauded for its shift from emphasizing videos and music programs to reality-television shows that some deem exploitative. The annual Video Music Awards still remain a marquee event, but the airing of actual videos has been shoved off onto tentacle, extended-cable choices like MTV Jams and MTV Hits in favor of wildly popular shows like Catfish and 16 and Pregnant. Videos are much lamented, but that wasn’t all MTV cast off in favor of The Hills and Jersey Shore. Viewers also lost creative programming like Liquid Television, the block of animated series in the Nineties that led to successful, groundbreaking shows like Daria and Aeon Flux. (Full disclosure: I have written for Viacom/MTV, but never for the subcompany MTV Other.)

MTV Other was conceived in spring 2013 and launched that summer as a “laboratory for original video content,” according to Garth Bardsley, VP of Original Video for MTV’s Connected Content Group, who had stopped by to check in on the taping of Two Guys Named Josh, now in its second season. “The legacy of MTV was that back in the day, it was a home for creative people to have an outlet, right? It still is,” explains Bardsley. “But if you’re going to put something on TV, you’ve got to typically have an agent who’s going to call an executive. He’s going to get you a meeting. And you’re going to have a lot more meetings. And you’re going to talk through it all. And there’s going to be scripts and yadda yadda. We do some of that, but we’re also just looking across the web for content creators, and we’re able to turn projects around more quickly.”

MORE: 8 TV Shows You Should Be Watching Right Now

MTV Other’s tagline is “short shows, random weirdness,” and it acts as a hub for a resurrected Liquid TV, though roughly half of Other’s shows are live-action comedies and talk shows. Bardsley cites programs like the burger-joint comedy Fast Food Heights, created by Bridesmaids actor Greg Tuculescu, and a sketch called Teacher’s Lounge written by Morgan Evans, who also directs Two Guys, as the type of programming Other leans towards. “We want to find our own version of hits,” he says, sitting on a loveseat on the makeshift set. “A hit for us would be much smaller than what TV needs. But we want to keep looking for hits. Who’s going to break out and people want to see more of? And we want to have more creative people in the building who are feeding into higher things.” MTV Other bookends web oddballs with more established comedians (Eric Andre; Murray Hill) in conversation with musicians like the Beastie Boys and Har Mar Superstar. They even do service journalism, showcasing scenes in cities across America and weed-food tips.

In a sense, Other is a bit of MTV magic: If YouTube and Vimeo act as incubators for networks like Comedy Central, Other is MTV’s own in-house farm team, a place to groom talent and test out shows until they prove themselves. Or in the event that the reality-show template ever topples, MTV will have ready-made content to replace it, already tested on the Internet. Of course, that’s not Bardsley’s expressed goal (which is adamantly about developing creativity), but it’s a savvy move for a goliath in a climate that increasingly rewards shows and ideas that are agile. There’s certainly enough network crossover: Other has developed animated spin-offs narrated by popular MTV2 hosts Matt Pinfield and Charlemagne the God. But Bardsley insists the creativity comes first. “It’s not like we’re setting out to do a legacy play at all,” he says. “It’s just that there’s a history of doing this at MTV, which is kind of nice. We still basically want to play around and find audiences outside of television. I think if you look there, you will see things that are perhaps on the weird side.”

MORE: 12 TV Shows That Came Back from the Dead

Weird, in fact, is a good word for this shoot of Two Guys Named Josh. Stars Riley and Gillespie both have ample improv experience, so they keep repeating scenes with different lines, each odder, if not funnier, than the last. Their show is wildly hilarious — they portray their frat-dude Joshes quite literally (props include red dixie cups and bikini posters), but there is a tenderness to the characters that could attract both the bros they’re spoofing and the feminists who love to roll their eyes at them. (A high point in Season One, says Riley, was when they were written up by the websites Bro Bible and Jezebel in the same day.) Still in costume in popped-collar Polos, khakis and ridiculous facial hair, Riley describes the duo as a sort of Pinky & the Brain. The duo mines their family and friends’ experiences for inspiration. “I was home for Christmas,” explains Riley, “and I would be like, ‘I’m naming characters! Someone yell out something they call a frat brother!’ And [my brothers] were like, ‘Pootsie! Bowels! Shoes! Chicken Parm! Young Tit! Bozo!’ just all these names. Chicken Parm. You know why? All he ate was chicken parm. Real guy.”

Riley and Gillespie are clearly real talents — even the intro credits, featuring Josh and Josh gesticulating wildly at a curvaceous woman while a ridiculous dubstep beat plays, are a riot — which may be why in their case, MTV Other pursued them, rather than the other way around, through Riley’s agent. The developers, producers and Bardsley are often on-set during filming. “Sometimes when people from a network are there, you kind of feel your butt tighten,” says Gillespie, “but not with these people. And that’s great, because when we’re improvising, you can’t be in a headspace where you’re like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this.'”

The duo also says it has control over the editing room, with the network censoring only when offensive terms — or brand names — make it to the mix. “This is for the web, so the production value is incredible, that we get to play with [this type of equipment] — it’s like Candyland for the creative department,” Gillespie says. Referring to the scene on set, she adds, “When you’re doing TV, it’s twice as many people and everyone’s staring at you!”

If the great MTV Other experiment finds its groove, there’ll be a whole lot more eyeballs on them soon.

MORE: TV’s Most Heart-stopping Moments

 

TIME Late Night Highlight

Watch: Taylor Swift Nerds Out With Jimmy Fallon

Swift plays a 13-year-old with a Band-Aid collection

+ READ ARTICLE

Taylor Swift went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday night and did not hold back, unleashing her inner nerd during one of Fallon’s signature sketches.

Fallon plays sassy pre-teen Sara (with no “h”), who hosts the segment “Ew.” Swift plays his guest, 13-year-old Natalie, who has a Band-Aid collection. This was far from Swift’s first time showing off her nerdy side, as evidenced by her music video for “You Belong With Me.”

The music superstar is set to perform at the Video Music Awards on Sunday, Aug. 24.

TIME celebrities

Owner of Iconic New York Comedy Club Remembers Robin Williams

The legendary comedian would show up at the famed New York club to support other performers

+ READ ARTICLE

When Caroline Hirsch, owner of New York City’s renowned stand-up club Carolines on Broadway, came to know Robin Williams, he was just building his name on TV with Mork & Mindy.

But soon enough, in the mid-1980s, Williams became one of the big stars to appear on the stage of the famous Times Square comedy club. In the decades since then, Hirsch said, he would return to support other performers.

“Who’s going to fill that, that of the comedy world?” she told TIME. “Because we really don’t have that kind of unique person. I haven’t seen it. And I don’t know who will come up the ranks to be that guy, who is always there for everybody.”

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

The Psychology of the Sad Clown

Is there a connection between depression and humor, really?

The death of Robin Williams has sparked some discussion about why some of the funniest people also seem to be the saddest. But is there really a link between humor and depression?

Though research on the topic is limited, there are a couple of competing theories out there. One is from the late New York City psychologist Samuel Janus, who looked at the link between Jewish humor and tragedy. A 1978 article in TIME describes his conclusions:

Jewish humor is born of depression and alienation from the general culture. For Jewish comedians, [Janus] told the recent annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, “comedy is a defense mechanism to ward off the aggression and hostility of others.”

Over the 10 years Janus spent on his research, he also found that many of the comedians he interviewed (not exclusively Jews) had experienced significant trauma during their childhoods. Many had also been in therapy.

“Eighty percent of comedians come from a place of tragedy,” Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada told Slate. And while that’s likely a exaggeration based on anecdotal—not scientific—evidence, Masada does host a therapy program for its comics. “They didn’t get enough love. They have to overcome their problems by making people laugh.”

Research from Oxford University published earlier this year surveyed 523 comedians and compared them to a control group. Their finding? “The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis—both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” study author Gordon Claridge, of the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology, told the BBC. He said comedians may use their act as a form of self-medication.

But not all researchers agree that comedians are necessarily—or even often—depressed and troubled when compared with the rest of the population.

“People think comedians have these really dark personalities, but a lot of people have dark personalities and most of them don’t become comedians. You actually have to be pretty well-adjusted to be successful in the world of entertainment because it’s so competitive,” says Peter McGraw, a psychology and marketing professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny.

“Most people have demons. The folks in the audience may be alcoholics, or they’ve been divorced. They just don’t have the spotlight,” he says. “Our research has shown that the act of trying to be funny makes people seem more troubled than they might actually be. We hear about the Belushis and the Pryors, but we ignore the Seinfelds and the Cosbys.”

McGraw’s research, which hasn’t been published yet, looked at how humor influenced people’s impression of a given person. He and a team of researchers had a group of comedians and non-comedians write either a funny story or an interesting story. Then, a separate group of people read the stories and shared their impression of the psychology of the story’s author. Those who wrote the funny stories were rated as more troubled. “Humor plays on taboos. It talks about things that are wrong. You have to act a little foolishly and disclose information that makes people laugh,” says McGraw.

There’s no consensus, clearly, on the link between humor and depression, but the fact that someone who brought people so much joy could be so unhappy underlines the complexity of depression, a disease that can afflict anyone, at any time.

TIME Opinion

Why Robin Williams Was a Millennial Hero

MSDHOOK EC005
Robin Williams in Hook in 1991. TriStar Pictures

To the generation of kids who grew up on his movies, Williams was a revelation, a teacher and a lifeline

It might seem ridiculous for a generation to claim a universally loved celebrity as their own, but if there was ever a Millennial hero, it was Robin Williams.

The news that Williams had died, at the age of 63, hit the world like a shockwave yesterday. For many older Millennials, like me, who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, the loss strikes as a particularly hard blow. Williams’ career spanned five decades, but his best films, many of which were for kids, were released when we were kids. As a result, his work became entwined with our childhoods — and how we felt about comedy and art and divorce and growing up — in a way that’s evident now with the overwhelming outpouring of love for him.

I was born in 1984 and, sadly, missed out on the staggeringly popular Mork and Mindy. No matter: my earliest experience with Robin Williams was Aladdin at the age of eight and it was wonderful. I didn’t know enough about Williams at that age to recognize his particular style of comedy at the time; all I knew is that I adored the Genie. It was the first Disney movie I properly loved. My sister and I watched it over and over and quoted it constantly (a particularly annoying Millennial habit, I know). It was my first taste of Robin Williams, but it was only the beginning.

A year later, Mrs. Doubtfire was released, which saw Williams playing a divorced dad who poses as an elderly woman nanny so that he can spend more time with his children. It is insane, but Williams embraces the role so fully, with such sincerity and devotion, that it’s no wonder it’s routinely included amongst his best work. But what made the movie so important to me — and the kids of my generation — was that in spite of how over-the-top the scenario was, Williams didn’t oversell it. Just because it was a children’s movie didn’t mean he wasn’t going to put his best comedy chops into it. Having rewatched it for the first time in years just a few months ago, I can honestly say that it is just as funny now as it was back in 1993.

Beyond the laughs, for kids with divorced parents locked in an ongoing custody battle — kids like me, that is— Mrs. Doubtfire was a real comfort, without being after-school-special cheesey. Don’t get me wrong: there was heart in it. But it was a movie with a message that didn’t look or feel like a movie with a message. It feels almost corny to say this now but at the time I needed reassurance that no matter how ugly the divorce was, my parents had nothing but love for me. Williams, who never panders to his onscreen kids or the kids in the audience, seemed to get it, and that was a rare thing.

Throughout the ’90s, Williams took on roles in kids’ movies that have stuck in our minds and culture: Peter in Hook; Alan Parrish in Jumanji; Professor Philip Brainard in Flubber; Andrew Martin in Bicentennial Man. Williams embraced roles in family movies unlike almost any other actor I can think of and in turn, we embraced his films. To this day my husband— also Millennial, though a British one— still raves about how much he loves Hook. (Not loved. Loves.)

Obviously not all of his films carried the emotional weight that Mrs. Doubtfire did for me, but there was always something that deeply resonated. The 1996 film Jack — wherein Williams plays a 10-year-old boy with a genetic disorder that makes his body age very quickly — was widely panned by critics. Yet it was one of the movies that struck a chord with my best friend, who sobbed so hard while watching the VHS tape that her mother had to turn it off. But it stayed with her. Last night, nearly 20 years after she first saw the movie, my best friend sent me a text in the middle of the night that simply said, “Thinking of the movie Jack.”

But it wasn’t just the kids’ movies that we Millennials adored. I first saw both 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 1989’s Dead Poets Society around the same time, just when I was about to start high school. I was just entering my angsty, teenage years and the last thing I was susceptible to was an idealist mentor-type, even if it was played by a beloved actor. But Williams’ Dr. Sean Maguire, a counselor who becomes a father-figure to the troubled title character in Good Will Hunting, punctured even my teenage gloom. He wasn’t jokey, he wasn’t zany, he wasn’t any of the things I had come to associate with Robin Williams, but his warmth was wholly recognizable and I was in awe.

And then there’s Dead Poets Society, one of the ultimate teenage movies and Millennials just lucked out that it was available by the time we were coming of age. Though I was only five when Poets hit theaters, the film enjoyed cult status among kids throughout the ’90s. The movie’s plot, which centers on a conservative boys school where a radical teacher works against the system to inspire his students, is hardly original and I knew that even back then. But the zeal and honesty that Williams poured into John Keating almost single-handedly elevated the movie from a cliché to an actual inspiration. Like any teenager, I was a bit disillusioned by school in general, but books and learning and truth were still things that could lure me and Williams’ Keating made a great case for them.

To this day, I still can’t resist Williams’ line, “But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

Yet even with the years of cinematic evidence, I didn’t quite realize how much of an influence Williams had on my generation until today. When I woke up this morning, every single Facebook status in my News Feed and every single trending topic on Twitter— two clear indicators of Millennial mindsets — were related to Williams. Everyone seemed to have their own personal memory about watching his films growing up. He was the teacher we always wanted, the baby-sitter we would have loved, the best friend who knew exactly how to make us laugh.

It feels like I have always known that Robin Williams was an amazing actor, but I never understood just how amazing. Because looking back on it, I realize that his best roles didn’t define him — they helped define us.

TIME celebrity

Watch Robin Williams’ Funniest Moments From That Time He Was on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The Comedy Awards 2012 - Show
Comedian Robin Williams accepts an award onstage at The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. Gilbert Carrasquillo—FilmMagic / Getty Images

He appeared on the improv comedy show back in 2000

Robin Williams, who died yesterday from an apparent suicide at 63, is known for so many incredible movie roles — from the hilarious and erratic to the occasionally more somber and serious. But we’d like to take a moment to appreciate one of the smaller, quieter moments in his impressive, loud career: an appearance on the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? back in 2000.

The show’s wacky, anything-goes style proved to be the perfect platform to show off Williams’ signature manic comedy. He managed to light up the room without upstaging his fellow performers, helping create a memorable and delightfully entertaining episode. Check out some of his best moments below.

As a party guest who rounds up citizens for committing crimes against fashion:

As a paranoid superhero, an interpretive dancer and Carol Channing:

As a cheerleader, Cruella de Vil and more:

As an emphatic gospel singer:

 

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