The decade's most triggering comedy
Roseanne Barr says she was independent decades before it became cool.
The “domestic goddess” who revolutionized TV with her blue-collar hit “Roseanne” says success gave her the freedom to do almost anything she pleased in the 1990s. And she ruffled plenty of feathers at ABC during her turbulent times on the sitcom.
Now, she’s calling the shots again but in a new marketplace and for a radically different reason.
Barr is back after one awful, racially-charged tweet targeting Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett ended her “Roseanne” reboot. She returned to the stage earlier this year via Fox Nation’s “Roseanne Barr: Cancel This!” The fiery stand-up special featured her take on the ABC dismissal, the current state of politics, and more.
“It was the end of my blacklisting … I wasn’t offered any paying jobs for five years,” says Barr, who once ran for the Green Party’s presidential ticket, a campaign captured in 2015’s “Roseanne for President!” but now supports former President Donald Trump. And the 70-year-old comic is just warming up.
“The Roseanne Barr Podcast” taps into her decades of stand-up experience, ability to spark debate and, of course, lets her share that signature cackle. Recent “Roseanne Barr Podcast” guests include “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, comedian Ron White, and author Michael Malice.
“I like talking to people, finding out about them,” says Barr, who still mourns the loss of her short-lived talk show in 2000. She often has an ulterior motive on the podcast, though, one that clashes with the divisive zeitgeist.
“My role right now is to remind people as much as I can that we agree on far more than we disagree. We’d be doing a lot better if we took that to heart,” she says. “That’s what I really like doing, finding some agreement in the middle of some disagreement.”
Ironically, her canceled “Roseanne” reboot pitted Trump and Hillary supporters against each other, only to embrace what united them more than political squabbles.
She learned it from the best in the business.
“The greatest television comic was Johnny Carson, and that’s what he did. He kept it right down the middle,” she says. “That’s where all the power is, straight down mainstream.”
Barr is blunt and open in conversation, not willing to pre-package her thoughts.
Her envelope-shredding style still generates blowback. YouTube recently pulled an episode of her appearance on Theo Von’s “This Past Weekend” podcast after she cracked about Holocaust denial.
Barr will be forever stained in the public square by the infamous tweet, but a former colleague shed light on the matter that got little attention at the time. Norm Macdonald worked as a writer on the original “Roseanne” show and shared how Barr went out of her way to hire minority scribes for the show.
Barr adds context to Macdonald’s anecdote.
“I had to force that network that called me a racist to have an integrated crew,” Barr says. “I threatened to leave the show.”
“Roseanne” 2.0 ended with the star’s dismissal, but the show’s remaining players reunited for “The Conners,” which was renewed for a sixth season earlier this year. Barr has had harsh words for former co-stars like Sara Gilbert, who attacked Barr following the infamous tweet.
Co-star John Goodman, who played her husband on the original series and continues via “The Conners,” has defended Barr in the past. The “Raising Arizona” star claimed she’s not a racist and praised their professional bond.
Except Goodman said it long after her ABC dismissal, the moment when it could have saved both Barr’s Hollywood career and her sitcom.
The distinction isn’t lost on Barr.
“I just want him to keep my name out of his mouth. I don’t want him to say one word about me,” she says.
Feminists were similarly silent in the immediate aftermath of the Twitter controversy, but Barr wasn’t surprised by that turn of events.
“They never had my back, ever. They would come up to me at parties and whisper, ‘thank you,’” she says, referring to her work breaking barriers for women in Hollywood. “None of them are really for women.”
Barr craves the ability to speak her mind, which makes podcasting such a snug fit for her brand of humor. She’s also plugged into the emerging Austin comedy scene, buoyed by Joe Rogan and his Comedy Mothership.
“I found I have complete freedom here in a blue city,” she says, adding Austin residents embrace edgy material. “They’re liberal yet they’re thinkers and they like it when you stretch their minds … I say things now that I can‘t say on YouTube. I’m finding that it’s more freedom than I’ve ever had on stage.”
“Austin is gonna end up as the center of the whole new comedy universe, and it’s all because of Joe Rogan,” the Texas resident says.
Barr will soon share her comic stylings on Elon Musk’s X platform, formerly known as Twitter. The untitled show comes via a partnership with Publicsq, an online marketplace dedicated to Right-leaning consumers.
“They came and said they wanted to hire me to push the envelope. I love doing that … bringing up subjects that other people stay away from, to tie things together and connect dots that people should be looking at,” she says. “It’ll be funny but also have some undercurrent of alarm.”
Barr’s legacy, notwithstanding TwitterGate, is secure given her decades on TV, movies and stand-up stages. Retirement isn’t an option, for now.
“Part of me being a comic is a desire to set it right in a joke, to explain or turn it upside down or look at it deeply,” she says of her craft. “I’m not done yet … it’s so important to laugh right now.”
For better and sometimes worse, Barr has been famous for more than 35 years. Being such a recognizable star, let alone someone associated with blue-collar values, has been complicated for Barr.
“There were times in my life where it was kinda scary [being recognized in public] or I didn’t like it sometimes, and sometimes it was nice,” she says. “Now, after everything that happened to me, I’ve changed. I’m just so appreciative of it because it’s different now … it’s how you’d greet some family members you haven’t seen for a long time. It’s very loving. They’re so nice to me after all this time.”
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.