"My mother never thought of herself as a woman working in a man's world. She just thought of herself as a comic, and had to be funnier than everyone else," Rivers said during a speech at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Breakfast this week. "She just wanted to do her job, and that was to make people laugh."
Joan Rivers died Sept. 4 at age 81, after she went into cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure on her throat. Melissa reportedly plans to sue the facility where her mother was undergoing the operation.
Melissa and Joan Rivers appeared on several red carpets together, hosting pre-awards show specials for E! Melissa says she feels like "an orphan" in the last three months and six days ("not that I'm counting") since her mother's death.
"My mother was fearless," she said. "And I don't mean she didn't have any fears. I mean that even though she was only 5-foot-2, she stood tall and walked through them. And that is what made her such a brilliant performer. She was willing to say what others were thinking and too frightened to admit. She made fun of herself, first and foremost, which gave her the right to joke about others. She never apologized for a joke, and no topic was taboo, and she was fine with that."
"She has been called everything from a legend to a trailblazer to a bitch," she added. "It is hard for me to really think of her as any of those things, because the bottom line is, she was really just my mother."
Watch Melissa Rivers' full speech here: