Joan Rivers’ funeral was everything she wanted it to be and a lot, lot more. It was showbiz from start to finish.
Every face you saw was famous. Judge Judy was two rows behind INSIDE EDITION’s Deborah Norville. Also in attendance were Donald Trump, Whoopi Goldberg, and Diane Sawyer. Rosie O’Donnell had tears in her eyes. Kathy Griffin wore her dark glasses inside the Temple.
Audra McDonald took the podium and gave a beautiful rendition of “Smile,” and there was not a dry eye in the house. Howard Stern got up there and said some ribald things we can't repeat.
Then it was Deborah Norville’s turn. She talked about her friendship and what it was about Joan that made her an icon to not only captains of industry around the world, but also the thousands of people who lined the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue and sending messages to Melissa and Joan.
Watch Deborah Norville Eulogize Joan Rivers
Norville said, “This was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do because it's not just saying goodbye to a friend. It’s saying goodbye to an international icon.”
"Hugh Jackman stepped up to the microphone and he sang "Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage,” and it started off very slow and at the end there's foot stomping and everybody's clapping. It was a standing ovation, but not for Hugh Jackman, for Joan Rivers," recalled Norville.
When the rabbi finished with the final prayers, in came the NYPD Emerald Society Bagpipe Corp. and they played “Amazing Grace.”
Watch Celebs Pay Their Respects To Joan Rivers
When everyone walked out the entrance of the Temple and to the bright sunshine where there was a gaggle of press, the black limo for Melissa and Copper, the bagpipers piping, the drums beating, the sun was glorious, and Norville said, “God, Joan would love this!”
Norville said, “As joyful as Sunday’s funeral service was, I know Saturday had to be hard for Melissa because there was a private service for Joan and there was a beautifully poignant moment where Melissa leans over and gives the casket a kiss and off it goes to the crematorium.”
Watch Deborah Norville's Thoughts on Joan Rivers' Funeral
Joan lived for laughter. Norville knows Joan believed that laughter mends a broken heart, saying, “I really think that all of us should leave here and leave here with the mission to spread that laughter that Joan spread so generously.”
Norville proposes “The Joan Rivers Challenge.” Do something, say something, wear something silly, video your pet, whatever makes people laugh. Put it on Facebook with the hashtag #JoanRiversChallenge and let's all honor Joan by keeping her laughter alive.