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Joan Rivers Helped Many Women Crack Glass Ceiling Of Comedy

LOS ANGELES ( — The comedy scene was very much a man's world when Joan Rivers broke into the business in the early '60s.

She commanded attention almost immediately, even if it took her a little longer to catch on with mainstream audiences.

Her first jokes were like many of the female comics starting back then. But before too long, Rivers started to dabble in topics that were usually off-limits to women, most notably sex, politics and religion.

She earned a reputation for being fearless and for helping other female performers following in her footsteps.

KCAL9's Brittney Hopper spoke to Vicki Lawrence, a Rivers friend and someone who inspired her, as well.

"There are going to be tough, legendary shoes to fill," Lawrence said.

Lawrence is best known for "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Mama's Family." She also hosted an afternoon talk show.

In a clip from "The Carol Burnett Show" in 1975, Lawrence and Rivers are together doing a takeoff on "The Waltons."

Lawrence says Rivers was always a hard act to follow.

IMAGES: Joan Rivers' Amazing Life

"Joan started this in a time when a lot of women weren't doing this, and it really was trailblazing. And now there are many women doing similar kind of comedy thanks to Joan," says Lawrence.

At the Laugh Factory on Thursday, where the marquee was changed in tribute, veteran and relative newcomers comedians all took to the stage to honor Rivers.

"Count the funny women," said Tim Allen. "They're very rare, and you miss one like this that encourages other girls to do this stuff."

"Just very inspirational to all of us and very tragic loss to the comedic community," said Sunda Croonquist.


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