She still has something to say (The Province)

She still has something to say

Roseanne Barr: Stand-up lets her say what’s on her mind

The Province, September 21, 2006

For nine seasons, Roseanne Barr entertained us weekly with her ground-breaking sitcom Roseanne as the matriarch of the Conner household. In fact, it’s quite possible she went by Roseanne Conner longer than her various professional surnames (or lack thereof): Barr, Arnold, Thomas, nothing.

But if you can, try to suppress the urge to shout it out during her appearance at the Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam on Friday. Despite rumours to the contrary, Barr is a real person.

After a 14-year hiatus from stand-up comedy, Barr is back doing what propelled her to fame, fortune and infamy after her debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1985. What drove her away from her chosen art form was yahoos who couldn’t separate fantasy from reality. As her talent was eclipsed by her enormous celebrity, audience members would take to shouting out, “Hey, where’s Dan?” in reference to her TV husband, played by John Goodman.

“It made me so furious,” she says now with a laugh on the phone from her home near Los Angeles. “I’d get real angry and go on stage and tell people to [screw] theirselves and stuff.”

Don’t get her wrong. She’s not bitter; it just goes against the old comedy axiom about timing. “Sometimes I’d be like, it isn’t even worth trying to come back from that because first of all, it [the series] is the greatest thing that ever happened and I really don’t have to do anything after that. I proved everything I needed to prove. But I’m doing it because I’m a comic.

“That’s why I ever got into that television show. I was a comic first and, once you’re a comic, you gotta do it.”

Now that she’s come back to her showbiz roots, she’s having a grand old time spouting off on politics, feminism, class struggles, and being a grandma. “It’s awesome. I love it,” she says, but admits it wasn’t easy coming back. “It wasn’t like riding a bike at all. It was like, ‘Geez, I gotta start over.’ The writing drives you crazy.”

She hasn’t noticed a significant difference in the stand-up scene since she first started back in 1980.

“They wouldn’t let me on stage then because they said nobody wants to hear anything any woman says,” she recalls. “I proved that pretty much wrong. They still don’t want to hear it. Even worse than when they didn’t want to hear it the first time I had to cram it down their throats. But, you know, I’m still going to say it… I like being a woman with something say and I’ll always want to say it.”