By Andrew Wroblewski
Coming face-to-face with one’s hero is a feeling that Helaine Witt experienced to its fullest last week.
“I’m a comedienne and she inspired me to be one,” Witt said of Joan Rivers, who appeared at Book Revue on Friday to sign copies of her new book, “Diary of a Mad Diva.” “She’s my idol; I watch her all of the time… all three of her shows. If I miss her, I watch reruns.”
Witt, of Elmont, also touched upon Rivers’ new book, published on July 1, which the actress, comedienne, writer, producer and television host from Brooklyn signed for eager fans at the Huntington book store. Rivers’ 12th written work, “Diary of a Mad Diva,” as the title suggests, peeks into the everyday ventures of the former “Tonight Show” regular – alternating between family vacations, encounters with world celebrities and everything in-between.
But Rivers’ night didn’t end at Book Revue.
Serving Huntington a double dose, the current co-host of E! Entertainment Television’s “Fashion Police” left the bookstore only to head down New York Avenue toward The Paramount – where she performed standup both on Friday and Saturday night. Following in Rivers’ footsteps, many fans left Book Revue with smiling faces and signed memorabilia, walked down the block and packed into the downtown venue.
“I’m going to see her right after this,” fan Nikki Gigliotti, of Oceanside, said shortly after meeting Rivers. “It was very, very much worth [making the trip to Huntington]… I love her… [Meeting her] was really fun; she was really nice.”
Others at Book Revue weren’t able to double-down on Friday, but were just grateful for the chance to meet Rivers, 81, best known for her frank feel of comedy that gets to the point while addressing just about anything and anyone.
“I’ve watched her for years, I’ve memorized her routines,” Linda Francy, of Huntington Station, said with her signed book in hand. “It was great [to meet her]. She’s very gracious to anyone she’s signing for. She says something personal to everyone.”
Traveling to Huntington from St. James, Angela Wakefield-Kubelle also received this personalized treatment as she approached the signing table with books in hand on Friday.
“She actually wrote something really nice because my mother’s birthday is coming up so she wrote her a birthday note,” Wakefield-Kubelle said. “Not only is she writing to whoever [you request], but she’s [also] writing some really nice stuff.”
The personalized greetings and welcoming demeanor came as no surprise to Witt, who said she has written jokes for Rivers in the past. But that doesn’t mean it was any less flattering.
“[Rivers’] assistant said to me, ‘We missed you at the Barnes & Noble [signing]!’ It was such a compliment,” Witt said with a smile on her face.