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 Barrs 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 its 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 theres no such thing as domestic tranquillity.
L.A. WEEKLY: Is there a "Connor" family on TV today?
ROSEANNE: No! Theres not even any working class at all that can afford to have a home and send their kids to school and afford medical care. Its gone. Our entire culture has rid itself of a healthy working class. On TV its just disgusting people humiliating themselves, and I dont even watch it. Unless Im watching Court TV.
Why go back to standup?
Well, I am a standup comic, and Ive 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, theres a lot of really funny ones. New ones, young ones. I love Sarah Silverman and Wanda Sykes, shes really funny. Ive seen Dame Edna, who I think is a great social critic. But as far as a woman comic whos speaking for other women, they dont like any representation of the working class, women, people of color or anything anymore on TV. They only like models who cant get laid.
You were lambasted for singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a baseball game. But dont you find it a farce that these pop stars are getting busted for lip-synching and exposing themselves on national TV?
I didnt wanna be remembered as being the worlds worst singer. I want to be the worlds worst singer who got better. Theyve always lip-synched. I dont think any of them have any talent, so thats the farce. Theyre porn stars that lip-synch. That aint rock & roll and it aint 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?
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Oh, I love him. Hes a good guy. I didnt even know he had [a radio show]. I havent seen him in a few years. But Id love to go and talk about music. Im 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 Im available.
The name of your tour is "Let the Healing Begin," but surely theres 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 were the only generation that has not left the world in better shape for its own kids. Im also talking about healing from the election; eight years of George Bush and the fact that hes never really been an elected president. I think everything is so absurdly ridiculous that its just a good time to laugh it all to scorn, cause its 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 cant 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.