On Thursday, we lost comedy legend Joan Rivers. A pioneer for women in comedy, Rivers was a true original. Her style, her voice, her wit… Everything was unapologetically, fiercely her own. Though she paved the way for many up-and-coming comedians, there was never anyone quite like her. There likely never will be, either.
Rivers had a unique personality. She exhibited traits that we associate with a “special pattern” personality type: (d)ISC. This personality type is shared by only a small percentage of the population, and contributed to the distinctive way Rivers saw the world.
If you looked at the (d)ISC personality type charted on a DISC graph, you would see the D-style traits below the midline, and ISC traits all above the midline. Though at first glance this might suggest that people with this personality type are low in Dominance but high in Influence, Stability, and Conscientiousness, this pattern actually manifests itself in unexpected ways. When the (d) is below the midline and ISC all above the midline, this means that the person strongly exhibits ISC traits, but also easily can adopt D-style behavior when the situation calls for it. The (d)ISC is a leader, and exhibits D-style dominant behavior because the I, S, and C traits all work together to bring out those qualities. The end result is a person that strongly demonstrates qualities associated with all four DISC personality styles.
Here’s how the special pattern (d)ISC is wonderfully personified by the late Joan Rivers:
Joan River’s comedy style showed that she was confident and bold. She was a risk-taker that didn’t mind ruffling feathers. She loved to break taboos, cross boundaries, and do the unexpected. Her voice was loud and nothing was off limits. She was also a shrewd businesswoman, and when circumstances called for it, she rose up to meet all the challenges and obstacles that were in her way. She knew when it was important to put herself first. She could be also be tough, straightforward, without the need to please everyone. Rivers was also driven by a sense of anger that made its way into much of her comedy. About anger, she said “I don’t know where mine comes from, but thank God it’s there,” she said. “[It’s] Anger at the stupidity of everything around you.” She didn’t suffer fools, either. When she didn’t like the line of questioning the reporter took in a recent CNN interview, she simply took off her microphone and walked away.
Rivers’ I-style personality traits were responsible for her sharp sense of humor, and the strong self-confidence that allowed her to stand on stage in front of thousands of strangers. She loved to be the center of attention, and was always unflinchingly herself— full of energy and exuberance. She also had a great sense of style, and had an originality about her that’s impossible to replicate. Better still: Even when she was telling jokes that put celebrities or audience members in the hot seat, she was always just genuinely likeable. She seemed game for anything, anytime. Her signature line “Can we talk?” is pure I-style.
Rivers also embraced the new. She especially loved social media sites Twitter and Vine. She said, “…there’s Twitter and Vine. This is what it was like when we went from radio to television. I feel we’re absolutely in the Wild West. It’s great. I love Vines. You make this 6.4-second drama, and you can reach 6 million viewers, and make people laugh. I find it so fabulous.” Staying constantly connected to her audience through social media brought River absolute delight.
Joan Rivers had a strong belief in the importance of family, as seen by her close relationship with her daughter Melissa. Rivers loved working with her daughter, and stayed close to her by partnering with her on many of her recent projects. She loved her dogs, too—She had her dogs visit her in the hospital on the day she died, and her daughter was by her side the entire time she was hospitalized.
Rivers also believed in keeping the professional aspects of her life stable and consistent. She worked constantly, and was very open about the fact that she never wanted to retire. Doing comedy gave her purpose, focus, and joy. At age 81, she had her own television show, and had performed stand up just the week before she died. Performing gave her a sense of stability and security that’s important to all S-types.
The C-style traits in Joan River’s personality made her a wonderful observer of the world around her, which became the foundation for much of her humor. She had a sharp critical eye, and a killer sense of timing. She was also a very organized person. She kept a filing system with all of her jokes in it—every single one she’d used since the 1960’s—meticulously arranged so they could be cataloged and referenced.
In the end, Joan Rivers was a role model, friend, and inspiration to more people than she even realized. Throughout her life, even through the ups and downs, she kept an optimistic outlook, and her strong voice and personality never dimmed or faded, even at the end. As she herself said, “If life is 100 percent, I’ve got 90.” Hard to argue with that.