Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Outspoken comic Barr hasn’t mellowed in stand-up special
Almost five years have passed since Roseanne Barr fired off a late-night tweet that changed her life, bringing about her fall from grace and the cancellation of the groundbreaking show that made her into one of TV’s most electric personalities.
The years since that controversy have been relatively quiet. But that calm is ebbing as Barr plots her comeback.
“What a privilege it is for you to have me here this evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Barr said as she greeted a capacity audience in January at the Cullen Theater in Houston. “And of course, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.” Then she added a pointed question: “Has anyone else here been fired recently?”
Those moments kick off “Roseanne Barr: Cancel This!,” a new stand-up special now on Fox Nation. The streaming service also recently debuted “Who Is Roseanne Barr?,” a documentary examining her stormy career.
The special is the latest chapter in the saga of the comedian whose acidtipped humor and volcanic personality have been a lightning rod since 1988, when “Roseanne,” about a blue-collar family facing harsh economic times, debuted on ABC, becoming an instant hit and lasting nine seasons.
In the special, Barr revisits the firestorm that erupted following her tweet referring to former Obama admistration adviser Valerie Jarrett as the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. Ignoring her pleas to go on “The View” or another show to apologize, executives axed the top-rated reboot of “Roseanne” and fired her. The series was later revived as “The Conners,” and Barr’s character, Roseanne Conner, was killed off.
Aside from a 2019 tour with Andrew Dice Clay, Barr has stayed mostly below the radar. She has curtailed much of her social media activity. “I’m not on Twitter,” she says. “That’s been a great thing for me, to be off that.”
But those who expected the outspoken entertainer to mellow after being kicked off the air will abandon that notion minutes into the special. Snarky references to “Hillary donors” and allusions to conspiracy theories about a Democrat committee are sure to make liberals grit their teeth.
But most of all, Barr says “Cancel This!” is a signal of her refusal to remain defeated.
This interview with Barr has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: How did it feel to return to performing stand-up comedy?
A: At first, it was terrifying. I was really afraid because I didn’t know how people were going to respond. … So I would go to comedy clubs … and these friends of mine would call me up on stage to do five or 10 minutes. … And it got easier and easier. People showed me so much love. I was kind of overwhelmed by that.
Q: It’s very clear that the audience missed you and loved you.
A: I just was so happy that when I looked out in the audience there … I have a large African American and people of color fan base. I always felt horrible and wondered whether that would go away. That was always so important to me because my whole career had started in jazz clubs and in neighborhoods where workingclass people lived and where I lived. I was afraid that this horrible experience would poison all that. But there it was in all its majesty and beauty. I was performing to a beautiful, diverse audience.
Q: What about the future? More shows, another tour?
A: I already want to do another special. I want to go further in depth than the first one. Once I started back writing comedy, I couldn’t stop it. … Now I’ve got so much material it’s hard to carve down. I want to talk about what it’s like to work in the creative arts in Hollywood, how crazy it is.