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Roseanne Barr’s Domestic Policy 

The working-class hero knows you’re hurting and wants to help

Thursday, Jan 20 2005
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Photo by Michael Hiller

While in search of a network for a sitcom he was producing about two blue-collar workers, Michael Moore was once quoted as saying, "After Roseanne ended, what else is there?" Anyone who was a fan of Roseanne Barr’s nine-year show and recognized the warmth, earnestness and humor of watching a mother (overweight and underpaid) struggling to raise a screwy but hard-working family, paycheck to paycheck and on generic brands only, knows it’s a character unmatched on TV today. Now, Roseanne is just settling into mother-/grandmotherhood ("All I do is homework"). But, as we found out speaking to her via telephone about her February 5 show at the Long Beach Center Theater, you can take the girl out of fictional Lanford, Illinois, or Hollywood, but this goddess is still a good reminder that there’s no such thing as domestic tranquillity.

L.A. WEEKLY: Is there a "Connor" family on TV today?

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ROSEANNE: No! There’s not even any working class at all that can afford to have a home and send their kids to school and afford medical care. It’s gone. Our entire culture has rid itself of a healthy working class. On TV it’s just disgusting people humiliating themselves, and I don’t even watch it. Unless I’m watching Court TV.

Why go back to standup?

Well, I am a standup comic, and I’ve never stopped. I just put a whole show together after 9/11, ’cause I had something to say. It is the only stronghold of freedom of speech, and the only way we can say anything is through humor.

Growing up, who were your female comedic influences?

I idolized Mae West, Lily Tomlin, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Carol Burnett, for sure. As for women comics, there’s a lot of really funny ones. New ones, young ones. I love Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes, she’s really funny. I’ve seen Dame Edna, who I think is a great social critic. But as far as a woman comic who’s speaking for other women, they don’t like any representation of the working class, women, people of color or anything anymore on TV. They only like models who can’t get laid.

You were lambasted for singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a baseball game. But don’t you find it a farce that these pop stars are getting busted for lip-synching and exposing themselves on national TV?

I didn’t wanna be remembered as being the world’s worst singer. I want to be the world’s worst singer who got better. They’ve always lip-synched. I don’t think any of them have any talent, so that’s the farce. They’re porn stars that lip-synch. That ain’t rock & roll and it ain’t music.

Speaking of music, the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones played a creepy, disgruntled customer on Roseanne. Do you listen to his radio show on Indie 103.1? Have you been invited on as a guest?

Oh, I love him. He’s a good guy. I didn’t even know he had [a radio show]. I haven’t seen him in a few years. But I’d love to go and talk about music. I’m just a big fan of musicians, and I had met him and he was wanting to do some acting. We wrote an episode for him, and we tailor-made it for him. I should call him and tell him I’m available.

The name of your tour is "Let the Healing Begin," but surely there’s still a punching bag for you to swing at.

Well, I talk about being a grandma, getting older. The baby-boomer thing, which is just a code word for old. I talk about how we’re the only generation that has not left the world in better shape for its own kids. I’m also talking about healing from the election; eight years of George Bush and the fact that he’s never really been an elected president. I think everything is so absurdly ridiculous that it’s just a good time to laugh it all to scorn, ’cause it’s just a huge accident waiting to happen, and I think we better just start laughing at it right now and stop taking it so seriously, ’cause since we take it too seriously, we feel like we can’t change it.

Roseanne Barr, "Let the Healing Begin," at the Long Beach Center Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.; Saturday, February 5, 8 p.m.; $55 & $45. (213) 480-3232 or (562) 436-3661.

Reach the writer at sbabayan@laweekly.com

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