Myth Busted: The TRUE Story Behind Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Laugh

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Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is shown in front of the 2020 Ford Escape and 2020 Chevy Equinox on a city street.

Is it just us, or is it getting crazier out there? That’s the question I ask of this world where people are forced to choose between lackluster presidential candidates, and prospective car buyers are genuinely debating the merits of the 2020 Ford Escape vs 2020 Chevy Equinox. It’s all a circus. So, it feels fitting that we send in the clowns.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably all-too-aware that the Joaquin Phoenix film ‘Joker’ opened on October 4th. Since its’ opening, the film has received a near even mix of praise and backlash for both its execution and its subtext. In terms of the former, director Todd Phillips has been praised for the film’s raw-yet-breathtaking aesthetic and for injecting a fresh take on the Joker mythos. But at the same time, he has been criticized by virginal basement dwellers for detaching the film from established comic continuity – and has been called a ripoff of 1980’s Scorsese films. In terms of the latter, the film has been celebrated for its depiction of mental illness, alongside the now-normalized amount of criticism we expect from the outrage brigade, condemning the film for its violence.

Regardless, celebrated oddball and Hollywood outlier Joaquin Phoenix has been praised- almost universally – for his performance as Arthur Fleck, aka Joker. His dark, distinctive, and tormented performance easily distinguishes him from such beloved favorites as Heath Ledger’s anarchist, Mark Hamill’s animated clown prince, and the gangster-styled persona of Jack Nicholson’s version. Equally distinctive: that laugh.

Take a look…

There have been countless articles and interviews explaining how the infamous method actor developed that laugh. But much like the comic book character he depicts, it’s entirely possible that none of the explanations offered are real — after all, if the Joker is going to have a past, he’d prefer for it to be ‘multiple choice’. Which is why we, at The Lemon, decided to dig a little bit deeper to find the truth behind that laugh.

According to on-set sources, Joaquin Phoenix was present in New York for the final stages of pre-production. However, he insisted on being an isolated observer, removing himself from members of the cast and crew, to help form his persona.

As a result, the actor made personal arrangements when it came to transportation that couldn’t be accommodated by the New York subway system. And part of that was facilitated by a local branch of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, located at 57 West 53rd Street.

We contacted the branch and spoke to a shift manager who specifically asked that we not identify her as 46-year old Heather DiPadua. According to Miss DiPadua, Joaquin Phoenix arrived at the office looking for an extended rental on a new model year offering.

The comic book Joker is pointing a gun at a redhead.
Artist’s rendering of actor Joaquin Phoenix arriving to Enterprise Rent-a-Car while deep in character.

“We don’t often have new models in stock. Every once in a while we have one or two, but it’s usually models that have a least a year on them. And at that time, all we had available for brand new models were a 2020 Ford Escape and a 2020 Chevy Equinox. Once he heard that, he just started to laugh. He laughed so hard that I thought he was going to hurt himself. Then his eyes opened wide, as if he had just figured something out. It was really scary, to be honest, and I’ll never forget the sound. But the next time I heard it was a year later, when I saw the first televised trailer for the ‘Joker’ movie. Looking back, I realized that our shitty selection of vehicles had helped him to create the laugh. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but with all the Oscar buzz going on, it’s really exciting to know that I might have been a part of what made his performance so great.”

So, there you have it, and apparently, the joke is on Ford and Chevy. 

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