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Watch Conan O’Brien’s Moving Tribute to Joan Rivers

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After hearing news of Joan Rivers’ death Thursday, late-night host Conan O’Brien reminisced about the influence the comic icon had on American culture when he was a child.

“Joan Rivers would fill in for Johnny Carson and when she did it was an event,” O’Brien said. “Everybody in the country would talk about it the next day. Media is so fractured now. There’s so many thousands of different shows and people competing for attention, it’s hard to explain to people today what an event that was.”

Rivers died Thursday at 81 due to complications following throat surgery. Her career as a comedian spanned six decades and paved a fresh path for female comics in an era when the comedy scene was even more dominated by men than it is today.

“At that time she was so, so outrageous. Her comedy felt so out of the bounds and people were just blown away.”

On The Late Show, fellow late-night host David Letterman called Rivers “indefatigable” for her famously unrelenting work ethic.

“Here’s a woman, a real pioneer for other women looking for careers in stand-up comedy,” he said. “And talk about guts — she would come out here and sit in this chair and say some things that were unbelievable.”

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