A few years ago America’s most racist comic (human) asked me to join her for dinner to discuss her revived career. Of course I couldn’t resist! Looking back at our chat I’m still fascinating by this woman and how she’s managed to go from rags to riches to racist. Here’s a look back at our dinner chat.
There was a time not too long ago when I couldn’t walk past a tabloid or magazine and not see you
mentioned. But over the last few years, you seem to have vanished from the limelight. Where have you been?
Roseanne Barr: That actually was a long time ago. People don’t realize that was 10 years ago when I used to be seen in those things all the time.
How have you enjoyed the time off from the headlines?
I thank God I figured out how to get a little peace and quiet. I needed it!
Has it changed you? What, the peace and quiet?
So to speak, yes.
Oh yeah! Not working all the time and being off TV and kind of out of the loop saved my life. It’s just great.
Thank God! Yes.
For some reason, I was expecting you to say that you miss the attention and the excitement.
No, I don’t miss that. I do miss telling jokes and seeing people laugh. That’s what I really miss after taking a long
time away. That’s what I really like to do. I don’t miss going out with other Hollywood people or any of that crap.
Tell me about your life these days. What is a typical day like for you?
I get up at 6 a.m. and I drink some coffee and play solitaire on the computer for about an hour. And if anything comes over me that I want to write, I’ll stop and write it down. My son wakes up at 7 a.m. and from that point on
my entire life is regimented into 15-minute increments that end at 9:15 p.m. when I go to sleep. Most of my life is about homework. I go to school every day by helping my kid with his homework. But I’m lost! I’ve got two tutors
and I still can’t get it. He’s in fourth grade and I never did any shit like this, even in high school! It’s shocking to me how the world has moved forward.
Does it make you feel dumb?
Yeah, real dumb. Really dumb. But I’m excited that I’m learning a little bit more about computers and math.
I never really would have gotten the chance to learn otherwise.
Do you surf the Net?
Over the last few years I’ve had a Web site where I talked to people and stuff like that. I posted writers, columnists, and poets. But I had to get rid of that when my son’s homework started to become three hours a night. These days there’s no time to do anything but homework. I swear! I don’t know how people who have more than one kid are doing it.
Do you at least enjoy it?
No, I hate it! I never liked school. But I have to fake it so my kid will think [school] is a good thing. (Laughs)
I get the feeling that when you were the biggest star on television during the mid-’90s, things were different in terms of doing homework with the kids.
Oh yeah, I wasn’t able to be there for my kids as much as I am now. I was doing that show [Roseanne] and
I was busy fighting every day. I never got to be in fourth grade until now.
So it’s like a second chance?
It’s like a first chance! Because when I was in second grade I was no good then either! (Laughs) I sucked!
What kind of reaction do you get from parents when you show up at PTA meetings?
Well, they know me by now. They might have thought it was cool in kindergarten for a minute.
But they all know me now and they don’t care. They like it when it’s my snack day because when I’m the one that brings the snacks, I’ll tell you what, I bring the snacks! I don’t mess around with those little Fruit Roll-Up jobs.
I bring the real deal!
What do you watch on television when you’re not doing homework?
All I watch on TV is the Hitler Channel [referring to the History Channel] and Conan [O’Brien].
I don’t care about all the other stuff. I actually also watch “The Daily Show.”
There are probably four shows that I like.
You’re not a fan of reality television?
(Yells) I HATE IT! I HATE IT!
Reality TV has taken over television. How do you avoid it?
I know! People like to watch other people eat rats and stuff. Man, that sucks!
But weren’t you offered and didn’t you accept your own reality show?
Yeah, I did it and then I got really sick because I realized I couldn’t get out of it. (Laughs) They gave me a choice
between continuing and having an organ removed! So I had an organ removed so that it could end.
Did you really have an organ removed?
Yeah, I had my uterus taken out. I figured I was going to lose it anyway since I’m in my 50s. I mean,
I didn’t need it anymore. So I thought, let them have it, as long as I can get off that show.
I’m surprised that experience didn’t become part of the show rather than the end of the show.
You know, they probably would have tried to do that. But no, I barricaded myself at the subject of them filming me
in the bathroom. It was the most disgusting and horrifying experience I had yet, and everyone knows how many of
them I’ve had on TV. But that did it for me. That was the end of TV for me. That was it.
So you’re officially finished with television? That’s it. I’m done. Porn, maybe.
Well look what porn did for Paris Hilton. (Laughs) My little boy thinks she’s cute. I don’t even know
who she is or anything.
She’s the tall, rich, skinny blonde who made a career out of being a tall, rich, skinny blonde.
Her career? Good for her. I really don’t care. It’s all so vile. Everyone’s a porn star these days.
People are obsessed with porn.
Do you agree that to be famous today you also have to be shocking?
I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s how it looks right now. That’s because people who are in power don’t know what
talent is. Christ, they wouldn’t see it if it hit them over the head or fell on top of them while they were sitting there. They have no idea what talent is. But somebody who shows their tits is good entertainment, I guess. They’ve driven away all the viewers who had half a brain. Those people have moved on to the Internet, or just living their lives and reading and talking to people. The only people who watch TV today are the dumbest people in the world. They think it’s cool to watch people eat rats and spit worms.
You’re referring to “Fear Factor”?
Yeah, it’s just the bottom of the barrel. Instead of trying to get back the intelligent viewers, the networks just keep
pandering to the dumb ones.
What about Dr. Phil?
(Screams) I HATE DR. PHIL! HE’S SATAN! I HATE HIM! I want to go on record! I hate Dr. Phil and I would fight a grudge match with him if I were a wrestler.
Now that would be great television.
Dr. Phil is just a freakin’ used car salesman using barnyard psychology. Once they turn off those cameras, nobody does anything that he says. He’s just a fat slob talking about how to lose weight, and who wants to hear that?
Did you see his special on raising children, where he told a young child’s parents that the child might end up becoming a serial killer?
I thought that was the most satanic thing anyone has ever said on television, and that includes Oprah! She’s Satan
herself! But Dr. Phil sits upon the right hand of Satan. I hate him and his wife! I shouldn’t go off like this, but he’s just so stupid! The dumbing down of America is purely evident if you watch just five minutes of that guy and don’t see that he’s a scam artist. He’s got nothing of value to say to anybody, and I’d like to knock the shit out of him!
So why do millions watch him?
(Yells) BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING ELSE ON! That’s why people should get into solitaire on the computer.
It’s much more entertaining. The only thing worth watching on television is “Court TV,” and anything on the Hitler Channel. 24/7 Hitler! I love it! All day, all night! You’ll see many parallels from our time to be learned from watching that. I think people should do that immediately! The only thing good on TV is watching Hitler getting killed
in his bunker. I actually think that Dr. Phil is Hitler! He’s Hitler reincarnated.
In your stand-up act, don’t you call Arnold Schwarzenegger a Nazi?
I say that I had an affair with him and it’s embarrassing because of that whole Jew/Nazi thing. Although his dad was
a Nazi and so was his grandfather. I don’t know if he is … but.
Now it’s Governor Schwarzenegger.
(Yells) CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! I can’t even believe it!
I wonder what would have happened in the mid-’90s if you ran for Governor of California?
It never would have happened. I never would have let that happen. But I have a feeling that I will be called upon at
some point to save this government, and I’m ready, willing, and able.
What’s wrong with the government, in your opinion?
It’s just pure show business. Like Bush the other night, giving a speech. He was just working the room. It was an
act. It had nothing to do with reality. He’s just out there telling bad jokes and giving sound bites. There’s no reality
to it whatsoever. All the politicians today just do an act. They’re nightmares. People who actually have something to
say are being prevented from saying it. Let’s not forget that.
Who are the people who have something to say but aren’t being heard?
Anybody that’s intelligent! Think about it. Those people are being totally wiped out of pop culture. It’s only the people who sell things that we hear from anymore. The people who sell things. It’s all show biz. I said it on “Saturday Night Live” ten years ago when I was hosting. I said, “Don’t let show business decide your government.” But it’s happened. It’s all show business and Arnold Schwarzenegger is the proof of that. It’s worse now than it’s ever been.
I guess people think Arnold will ride on his Humvee and blow up a bunch of people and save us. There’s just no reality to it.
The reality is that teenagers are dying in Iraq.
The reality is that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s kids aren’t going to go to Iraq. In fact, I would guess that Arnold
Schwarzenegger doesn’t know one human being whose kids have gone to Iraq … unless it’s a maid. I would say that Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t hang out with one human being who has anybody in their family who risks anything. The rich are just getting richer than they ever dreamed of getting. Like I say in my act, the rich got the chickens
voting for Colonel Sanders! What the f—k? People are so doped up on porn and Zoloft that they can’t freaking think anymore.
So let’s recap. Good is The History Channel, Conan O’Brien, Court TV, and The Daily Show. Bad is reality TV, Dr. Phil, politicians, and the rich.
Dr. Phil having Laura and George Bush was about the scariest thing that’s ever been on television. John Kerry and
his wife on Dr. Phil was scary too. It was just scary.
Who are you voting for?
I’m a Democrat, are you kidding? I vote for the party.
You’ve always been the voice for blue-collar America.
I know, that’s why they tried to shut me up! I’ve called every damn show to tell them I want to come on, and they all say “No!” I’ve been kept off of everything!
For example? Name it!
FOX news has dozens of talk shows. Not one of them will have you on?
Actually, Bill O’Reilly just called me to come on.
I’m going to go on his show because there’s no voice of (Laughs) What hump? The hump of death? Yes, it’s totally
How does that make you feel?
Pissed! I don’t want to die! I don’t like it! I don’t like getting old and not being able to smoke.
Fifty isn’t considered old anymore.
Well, you can’t smoke anymore! I had to give up smoking.
Because of health issues?
No, but you just can’t smoke after 50 if you want to live.
Do you have any vices these days?
Yeah, but I can barely enjoy them. I’ve tried to change all my vices into things that won’t kill me.
So have you become a gym rat?
I do that once a year! But I also walk around the malls.
How would you describe your health at this very minute?
I would say I’m okay. Thank God. I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to jinx myself. I still have enough energy to chase after a nine-year-old kid and work all the time. So that’s pretty good.
I read a quote from you where you actually admit to missing PMS.
Right. It’s the one time of the month where I’m allowed to be myself. That’s so true for women. We so get that “Get Out of Jail Free” card when it comes to PMS. People think women are crazy when they’re going through menopause, so in a way it’s kind of good. Everyone just lets you run off at the mouth because they all think you’re
out of your mind, and it’s true. I am out of my mind.
That brings me to my next question. There was a time when you claimed to have dozens of people living in your brain. How is your multiple personality disorder doing?
That’s just a fancy word for dissociation. I had dissociative thinking. Now I don’t. I went to therapy for a real long time and did a lot of work for over a decade and got better. I think that’s real good news. At least it is for me. (Laughs) But I miss being able to ignore things and act like I didn’t even know what was going on! Now that I’m not divided, I can look out into the world and see how divided everybody and everything really is because I’m not anymore. People are living the way that I used to live by pretending that things aren’t going on that are. Acting that things don’t mean what they really mean or acting like everything has a meaning when it doesn’t. That’s actually what it’s like to have dissociative disorder.
What exactly did you do to get better and come to terms with your mental disorder?
I learned to meditate, and I learned Kabbalah and to focus my mind and to stop running away and to be responsible
for the things I do and say. I actually learned to back up my shit and walk the walk and talk the talk. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to also actually heal some of the damage that I caused in my personal relationships and in the world. I’m real, real lucky and real, real blessed for that. Now that I have my family back together and know what’s going on, I just want to slap Dr. Phil and all those other people who don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m feeling the love!
Since you’re feeling love, let’s talk about your exhusbands. How do you feel about Tom Arnold, Ben
Thomas, and Bill Pentland?
Well, you know I have kids with both Ben and Bill. I didn’t have any kids with Tom. When you have kids with somebody, they’re in your life forever so you have got to make it work. I never had kids with Tom so I have no reason to continue any friendship or anything like that. When I was with Tom, it was the most horrible time in my life and the craziest. It was not a good time in my life for me, my kids, or my family. It was all negative, so I just let it go and wished him well. I don’t feel one thing or another about it. It’s just over and I moved on.
Do you watch any of Tom’s work on television or film?
No. Not at all. I don’t care anyway. I wish him well, but I don’t care. (Laughs) But I get along with my first and third husbands as well as you can.
Rodney Dangerfield played a big part in your life, as he did so many other young up-and-coming comics. How were you affected by his recent death?
I was a pallbearer at his funeral. He helped two generations of us comics. He not only helped us, he mentored us
and loved us and protected us. Plus, Rodney always had the best pot! That was so awesome! I just want to say that. He was my idol and the greatest that ever lived. The fact that I got to have a friendship with my idol is as good as it gets in this world. That was cool. His wife loved him so much. So he had a happy ending. I’m glad for that. He deserved it.
Did you watch the made-for-TV movie on your life?
Yeah, me and my kids watched it. We thought it was pretty funny. There were a couple of them, actually.
There were two or three of them. When I see any of that stuff that happened during that time in my life,
I just think how so not me that is and how so not true it is. It’s more about Tom Arnold than it is about me.
I just got lost in that whole circus. For instance, I was going to guest star on the show “Two and a Half Men.”
They wrote me a part that was kind of like me being Tom Arnold. I just thought, that’s kind of sad if
that’s how people remember me. It’s just sad. But anyway, off of that and into my stand-up act.
Was it hard getting back into stand-up after so many years away?
It was so hard! Man, it was really hard. I went with my friend Louie Anderson about five years ago to perform in a couple of cities and I got no laughs at all. They just sat there staring at me like, “What are you talking about?” So I decided to learn it all over again. Even if it meant standing there getting no laughs at all, that’s what I decided I was going to do. I could have quit, but I didn’t. I just had to learn how to do it all over again from nothing. Everybody around me wanted me to quit, but I just couldn’t! Now it’s finally starting to pay off. I’m saying things and people are liking it. I’m making people laugh again. I’m so happy! I love stand-up so much, but after 14 years I just forgot how to do it. It’s taken me about five years just to get over the stage fright.
What was it that made you want to go back to stand-up?
I never thought I would do comedy again until September 13th when I turned on the TV and saw that two days before New York had been blown up. I didn’t even know it until September 13th! That’s how isolated I was.
I was cut off from the world. But when I saw New Yorkers being nice, I knew that it wasn’t the end of the world
and I decided to get out there. It inspired me. That’s why I’m so happy to come to New York!
What was going on in your life that you weren’t aware that New York had been attacked until two days afterwards?
I was in bed. I was so depressed. I didn’t even open the curtains. I just stayed in bed until my son would come home
from school. At night we would just listen to music and read. But we had no contact with the world. But after September 11th we decided to have contact with the world and move to a real neighborhood with real people.
I didn’t want to be that isolated anymore. I made a big change in my life because of September 11th.
Patriotism was not something associated with your name after you were killed by the press for your
controversial singing of the National Anthem before a Dodgers game.
I used to love to sing on stage. I sang in all my stage performances, including my HBO specials. I sing the [National
Anthem] a lot better than what people heard that day at Dodgers stadium. I just got real nervous and didn’t do well.
Fear can make you look really stupid and I got really scared. I didn’t know what else to do.
When your public image was dragged through the mud, how bad did things get for you?
I was voted the world’s worst singer on the Internet. I thought, is that what I want people to know about me?
No, I wanted to be the world’s worst singer who got better. So I’ve been singing for many years and I’ve gotten better. But after that day I had a paralyzing fear of singing or talking in public after having done that. I couldn’t do stand-up or anything. I felt real scared about what happened to me after that day. What happened to the Dixie Chicks wasn’t shit compared to me. I had to have armed guards around my house. People with guns had to be stationed on my roof. President Bush tried to make it sound like I personally attacked the United States.
So you’re not the strong, loud woman you appeared to be?
I was never that. I just had a big mouth in public because I thought women would like that. I wanted to
speak on behalf of other women. But in my real life I was just a weak whatever. I didn’t stand up for myself in
my real life until later. A lot of us are like that in life. The person who’s the loudest in public may be the quietest one at home.
So we finally get to see the real Roseanne, and she’s not so bad after all.
I finally feel like I’m out from that thing that happened to me where I kind of lost my mind for a while.
Anyway, I’m the real me now … I think.
Let me leave you with this last question. When all is said and done, is there anything about your life you will regret or wish you hadn’t done?
I regret every single thing I have ever done! I really do! I was talking to my boyfriend about this the other day.
Can you imagine going through life and not regretting anything? I regret everything I have ever done and I would just like to take this opportunity to apologize for anything I’ve ever done to hurt anybody! If I could change anything it would be just to make people laugh and not mad.