Controversial comic Roseanne Barr returns to the road
The Trump supporter and macadamia nut farmer dips her toe back into the stand-up world with a few Midwest theater dates
Comedian and controversial personality Roseanne Barr says that, one year after a very public firing from ABC, she has a "very nice life."
The comic explains that now as a grandmother of six with no sitcom to lead, she's back to her "domestic goddess" roots.
"I like to do those things that you do when you're a housewife. I like to sew and cook and plant, and I like to write jokes, too," she said of her life in Hawaii where she has a macadamia nut farm. "That's my life. It's a very nice life."
Barr, who guesses that she last performed in Detroit decades ago as the warm up act for Julio Iglesias, takes the stage Sunday at the Fox Theatre. Her show here is part of a short run that includes Fort Wayne, Indiana Saturday. Earlier this month she drew around 1,000 fans to a show in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania where she reportedly earned a standing ovation.
Throughout her decades-long career she's been a button-pusher, from one end of the political spectrum to the other, although she says now she's politically "in the middle."
She first made waves by being a realistic mother figure on a national sitcom. "Roseanne" the show — which made Barr a huge, highly-paid star at the time — showcased working class issues, racism, sexism, gay characters and other things that weren't normal fodder for prime time.
When the Emmy Award-winning show, which originally ran from 1988-1997, was rebooted in 2018, she put her planned stand-up tour on hold to return to the Midwest's fictional town of Lanford as the matriarch of the Connor family, which had a whole new generation of grandkids and modern problems.
Barr's involvement with the reboot ended swiftly with one fell tweet, though, in May of 2018. Many called her out for a racist remark against Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to former President Obama. Barr later said the tweet was a joke, and also defended herself by saying she didn't realize Jarrett was black.
The ABC fired Barr and later "Roseanne" was retooled as "The Connors," with Barr's character killed off.
So now, as long as clubs are willing to book her, she can return to stand-up comedy with nothing holding her back, except maybe low ticket sales. There are many seats still available for her Sunday night show in Detroit.
"I blew off the dust and I'm ready to keep going," she said. "I've got good jokes making fun of everybody and, you know, jokes that I had on the show. Regular, real-life jokes about everyday things."
Since she's not beholden to a network, she can make fun of anybody she wants, and that includes herself. Nothing is off limits for the outspoken supporter of marijuana legalization and President Trump.
"I'm not in Hollywood anymore, I'm not going to keep people's secrets anymore so I'm going to tell everything I know -- who's gay, who's transexual, who's a devil worshiper ... stuff like that," she said while saving the name-naming for her act. "But of course it's so ridiculous."
Between her fire-able tweets and support for Trump, one may guess that Barr doesn't have any famous friends left, but that's not the case. She recently surprised the audience at an Andrew Dice Clay show in Las Vegas. She said his audience "showed me a lot of love."
"He's been a buddy for years," she said of the Diceman, who recently starred as Lady Gags's father in "A Star is Born." "I love him. He's a good friend. Good dad. Good person."
She also lists comics Norm Macdonald and Mo'Nique among her famous friends, and says she may make a surprise appearance at one of Mo'Nique's upcoming shows.
Barr, who likes to go shopping and visit restaurants while traveling on tour, says she enjoys being on stage because it keeps her on her toes.
"I've been out of stand up for a while but I love being back," she said. "I like the live audience. You never know what's going to happen."
Besides popping up on friends' shows, she also has an eye on the next generation of comics who are sweating it in the Los Angeles club scene.
"There's a whole bunch of new comics coming up and they're just great," she said. "A Republican president, for some reason, makes comedy really strong and good again and that's happening in L.A."
That goes both ways, though. When asked what she thought of the large field of Democratic presidential hopefuls, she called them "hilarious."
"You get some good jokes out of it." she said.
7 p.m. Sunday
2211 Woodward, Detroit
(313) 471-7000 or 313Presents.com
$25 and up