September 4, 2014 3:34 PM EDT Joan Rivers, who TIME’s Richard Corliss remembers as an “acidly funny comedy diva,” has died at 81 after complications from throat surgery. Though her contributions to the world of television of comedy are incredibly vast, we’d like to take a moment to appreciate a small but bright little moment from the later years of her career: a 2011 cameo on Louie.
In the episode — titled “Joan” — Louis C.K.’s semi-autobiographical character, Louie, finds himself hanging out with Joan in her hotel room after an Atlantic City gig. Louie starts to whine about being a comedian, and Joan immediately shuts him down to deliver some serious real talk.
“Listen, I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn’t get better. You get better,” the comedy veteran tells him. “I’ve gone up, I’ve gone down, I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been broke. But you do it, and you do it because we love it more than anything else. That’s why you’re doing it.”
After she finishes her very wise and heartfelt speech, Louie of course pulls a Louie and totally ruins the moment, but the impact of her words remain.
Joan Rivers: A Life of Laughter in Pictures Joan Rivers, pictured here in 1965, was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn N.Y. on June 8, 1933. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Rivers got her big break on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" in 1965. Dan Grossi—AP Comedienne Joan Rivers making faces in a mirror on the street in New York City on March 1, 1966. Truman Moore—The TIME & LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Comedienne Joan Rivers wearing black mesh dress and heels, while talking on the phone in a bathtub in New York City on March 1, 1966. Truman Moore—The TIME & LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Joan Rivers lights a cigar for her husband Edgar Rosenberg after giving birth to baby Melissa Frida, 6lb 13.5 oz, in New York City on Jan. 20, 1968.
New York Daily News/Getty Images Joan Rivers, Dick Cavett, and Liza Minnelli on This Morning, Feb. 12, 1968. ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images Ed McMahon and host Joan Rivers on Kraft Music Hall on Aug. 21, 1968. NBC/Getty Images Comedian Rodney Dangerfield (L) and actress Joan Rivers wrapping up Dick Cavett (C) in a scene from the Portnoy's Complaint, Jan. 1, 1969. Arthur Schatz—The TIME & LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Joan Rivers with daughter Melissa at home in New York City in Nov., 1970. I C Rapoport/Getty Images Producer Edgar Rosenberg and wife comedian Joan Rivers during the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 10th Anniversary party on September 30, 1972 in New York City. NBC/Getty Images Actress Joan Rivers guest stars on "The Carol Bunett Show" on Dec. 13, 1975 in Los Angeles. CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images One of the many accolades that Rivers received during her life was being named "Woman of the Year" by Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the Harvard University drama group in 1984. She celebrated by riding a parade float through Harvard Square. Ted Gartland—AP Rivers' celebrity gave her the opportunity to meet prominent figures in show business and politics, including Nancy Reagan in 1984. Bettmann/Corbis Rivers, pictured in 1985 with star wrestler Hulk Hogan, became a regular guest host of the Tonight Show in the early 1980s and published "The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz," a best-seller, in 1984. AP Oprah Winfrey was one of the many that Rivers interviewed during her guest-hosting stints on "The Tonight Show" in 1986. NBC/Getty Images By 1986, Rivers had been cut out of Carson's circle, having signed on to host "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" on Fox. Elton John, Cher and Pee Wee Herman joined Rivers for her first episode. Bob Galbraith—AP Rivers remained on "The Late Show " for less than a year before leaving Fox in 1987 and starting her work on "The Joan Rivers Talk Show" in 1989. Nick Ut—AP Joan Rivers is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 26, 1989, at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood Ron Galella—WireImage/Getty Images Rivers, pictured with RuPaul in 1993, won a Daytime Emmy Award for hosting the eponymous "Joan Rivers Show" in 1990. Jim Cooper—AP Rivers, pictured with Kelly Osbourne and daughter Melissa in 2012, became best-known to younger generations for hosting E!'s red carpet pre-awards show for the Oscars. A. Ariani—Splash News/Corbis Pictured here at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, Rivers remained active up to her death, hosting internet talk show with her daughter Melissa, "In Bed with Joan." Andrea Collins—WireImage/Getty Images More Must-Reads From TIME Meet the 2024 Women of the Year Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment In the Belly of MrBeast The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap How Long Should You Isolate With COVID-19? The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time