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Betty White and Joan Rivers are insult comedy gold in resurfaced clip

Rivers interviewed White during a 1982 appearance on "The Tonight Show" in a recently resurfaced clip shared on Johnny Carson's official YouTube channel.
/ Source: TODAY

It’s been over six months since Betty White died at age 99, but the internet is still finding ways to honor the late actor.

On June 20, the official YouTube channel for the late talkshow host Johnny Carson shared a nearly 12-minute-long clip from an episode that aired on Dec. 2, 1982. The clip featured two late comedic legends, with Joan Rivers, who died in 2014 at age 81, subbing in for Carson to interview White in the show. 

From the moment Rivers teed up White’s appearance on the show, the two spitfires began their exchange of perfectly executed insults all in good fun. Immediately when White sat down and Rivers made a comment about her outfit, the actor replied, “Oh, well I would like to say that you look lovely, but unfortunately…”

“You can’t see probably that far anymore,” Rivers replied.

White also talked about losing power, saying "You don't realize the number of things that you do electrically," prompting moans from the audience with her sexual innuendo.

Keeping up the schtick, White added, "I'm so lonely!"

Rivers barbed back: "I know my Christmas gift to you will be D-cell batteries!"

White appeared on the show to promote the short-lived game show “Just Men!” which aired only one season starting Jan. 3, 1983 and ending on April 1. When asked what the show was about, White immediately told Rivers, “Oh, you would love this!” 

“It’s two girl contestants and seven young studs—stars,” she said, immediately correcting herself, before the crowd burst into laughter. “Various shows… nighttime shows and daytime shows and soap operas and stuff. And the girls ask the questions about anything but the subject we’re looking for.”

White joked to Rivers and the crowd about a sampling of some of the questions the female contestants asked, explaining. “Based on their answers, the girls try to figure out how they feel about lots of things, like how they answered, 'What do they think about palimony or being a kept man or did they sleep with a teddy bear as a child?'”

Rivers eventually shifted the subject toward parties and hosting, asking White if she entertained often, to which White replied, "Oh no, not now, no, but I used to."

“Once in a while I get myself girded up to give a party, but I like to give real small ones," she added. "My idea of a nice big party is two people."

Later in the interview, the duo took a moment to discuss White’s love of animals when she revealed that if she wasn’t an actor, she’d like to be a zookeeper and work in the zoo. When Rivers suggested that White would want to at the very least be a “glamorous zookeeper,” she responded, “Of course! Chic. Gucci uniform.”

“I’m would be a zookeeper if I could have a lady come and do my nails, my hair, you know, and wash the cages for me,” Rivers added.

The clip of the episode has since garnered nearly 500,000 views on YouTube with over 400 comments leaving sweet notes for the two late masters of comedy.

"Two great comedy legends who could trade friendly barbs equally with each other," one commenter wrote. "RIP Betty and Joan."

Another commenter added, "These two threw more shade than an eclipse. It was awesome. I hope wherever they are they know how much they are deeply missed."

"This is how you do insult comedy with class!!" another user wrote, commending both women for their comedic skill. "Will always love these ladies for life!!!"

In the days following White’s death on New Year’s Eve in 2021, fans quickly began circulating touching stories about the late actor, in addition to some of her funniest moments.

One of those moments included another one of White's appearances on “The Tonight Show” when Rivers was filling in for Carson, this time in 1983. 

Throughout the entire interview, the interview followed a similar structure, with both comedians exchanging roasts back and forth as they launched witty insults at one another effortlessly.