The album features a new essay by Sarah Silverman

By Alex Heigl
Updated April 06, 2015 02:00 PM
John Shearer/Stand-Up! Records

Joan Rivers had a long and prolific career, and some of her albums are harder to find than others. But in the case of The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album, that’s a tragedy, which is why it’s so great the long out-of-print album is getting a proper re-release from Stand Up! Records, just in time for Record Store Day (April 18).

The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album has been out of print for over 45 years: It’s culled from a set Rivers did at Upstairs at the Downstairs in NYC in June 1968, and has been remixed and remastered for the occasion. It also comes with a new essay by Sarah Silverman and new liner notes by comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff, a portion of which we’ve excerpted below to give some context to the album.

“At the time [of the album’s release] there were probably no more than five women doing stand-up professionally, and one of them, Totie Fields, didn’t take too kindly to seeing Joan Rivers on the [album] charts. Fields went out of her way to keep Rivers from working. A regular in Las Vegas and The Mike Davis Show, Fields carried on a whisper campaign, fabricating vicious stories about Rivers in an attempt to keep clubs from booking her.”

“It seemed to have an effect. In order to counteract the sudden lack of gigs, Rivers found an upstairs venue at 37 West 56th Street in New York and made it her homeroom.”

Nesteroff adds one amazing bit of historical context to the album as well.

“Buried in the album is an inconsequential joke: ‘I had my baby in Larchmont, New York and it’s a very small town. The hospital is called simply Fred’s Hospital and Grill.’ A 24-year-old kid who was trying to break into the business wrote the joke. His name was Lorne Michaels.”

“Joan Rivers was not done,” Silverman writes in her essay that accompanies the album. “At 81 she had lived a life that could jam-pack ten lifetimes.”

The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album represents a vital part of that life. It’s good to have it back in the world.

Related: Joan Rivers’s Best Red Carpet Moments