Some things to know about Roseanne Barr: She owns a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island. She loves living in Hawaii.
Inspired by Frank Zappa, she's been blogging for years, dishing out often outrageous and acutely insightful political observations, along with gems of spiritual wisdom.
She credits meditation with helping keep her balanced.
She's still hilariously funny.
She's been relishing her return to stand-up comedy, and we can expect a kind of comic state of the union address Friday night at the Hard Rock Caf.
"I'm all about jokes," she enthuses. "It's a real great art form to know how to write a joke, and it's thrilling to compile them like George Carlin having material that actually has some substance. It's thrilling to be in that creative groove. I'm excited to come to Maui because in my act I have about 250 well-thought-out jokes. The act I'm doing is kind of like a comic state of the union, a manifesto from a loud-mouthed woman.
* Roseanne performs her new comedy show Friday evening at 9:30 p.m. at the Hard Rock Caf in Lahaina. Entertainer Brian Evans will open the show. Tickets are $100 and $40. A portion of proceeds will benefit World Hunger Year. Call 667-7400 for tickets or more information.
"It's great to get a laugh from something people haven't thought of yet. They say it takes about 30 years to make a great comic, and I started in 1980. It's great to learn the timing of a joke, how to say it right, how to cut out the fat, and get to the punch line quicker. It's a great high. And I'm glad I still have the brain for it, after all I've done by way of drugs and alcohol. I just love it, and hope I'll be still doing it like my friend Phyllis Diller, who is 91, and still trying out new jokes."
Thirty years ago Roseanne launched her stand-up career at a Denver comedy club, unleashing her trademark caustic witty insights into women, men and domestic life. She had been making people laugh from quite a young age. "My whole family was very funny - my grandparents, my parents, uncles and aunts, all of them," she recalls. "It was a big deal to make people laugh in my family, like a badge of honor. I was never a person to conform, I don't think I had a choice; I was just born who I am."
Within a few years, she had become one of the most popular stand-up acts in Denver and, in 1983, headed for Hollywood. She was spotted by a talent scout from "The Tonight Show," who promptly booked her for an appearance. That night Johnny Carson predicted that Roseanne would become "the biggest woman comic ever."
An HBO special followed, and then came her amazingly popular, award-winning-hit TV show, "Roseanne." Breaking all the rules, "Roseanne" ran for nine years, and was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as, "the most ground-beaking kitchen-sink sitcom since 'All in the Family.' "
In later years this domestic goddess hosted her own talk show, a cooking program, and a reality show. A return to the stand-up stage was prompted by an invitation in 2004 from filmmaker Michael Moore to join him at an event in her home town of Salt Lake City.
"It was a tough crowd - a lot of them had come there to boo Michael," she reported in the U.K. Independent. "But as soon as I got going, it was the most fantastic fun." A sell-out "Let the Healing Begin" morphing into "Blonde n' Bitchin' " U.S. tour followed - and a subsequent HBO special.
Politically astute from an early age - "I was always aware that things were not what they seemed and that it was really funny and ridiculous" - Roseanne has created one of the most entertaining blogs on the Web, www.roseanneworld.com, a forum for her political and social concerns.
Providing a voice for the disenfranchised, depending on one's political persuasion, readers may find her blog quite brilliantly insightful, or audaciously reprehensible. Amid humorous essays like her own obituary - "She was the first of her generation to refuse to explain and apologize for being offensive, fat and in possession of an altered opinion and an unapologetic lack of respect for anything that did not come from other resisters, jokesters and martyrs lynched on the tree of human Pride" - she skewers the powerful.
Recently she pronounced: "Obama is a lobbyist for Banks, Leiberman and the entire repub party are lobbyists for Insurance Interests. This Government exists only to protect predators."
It takes courage to so boldly decry blatant corruption infesting Washington, D.C.
"I'm no wallflower, that's for sure," she emphasizes. "I wouldn't want to live my life that way. I like to be as loud as possible and as brave and big as possible. It's funny to be that ridiculous. I just feel like somebody should say it, it should get said, and sometimes I wish somebody besides myself would say it, just so I could save myself from some of the down side of being a visible target of people who don't like women saying anything. Sometimes I feel I have to say it because nobody else is, very few women are saying much.
"I like my blog and trying to say something truthful in a funny way. I'm a big fan of all kinds of comedy and all kinds of comics. I think it's the greatest thing that anyone could hope to be. It's hard not to be insightful if you're funny. They kind of go together because the funniest things are the truest things. The good thing about this country is that a women like me, and there's about two, we're not completely prevented from saying crazy, old woman things like they are in every other country. As long as people tolerate crazy, old, loud-mouthed women, I think our country has a chance to stay free."
Appreciating the therapeutic aspect of humor, she continues: "Laughing at things or with things really changes them and puts them into perspective where we can deal with them better. I definitely feel there's a service part to entertaining people and making them laugh and feel happy.
"And also there's another part which is the job of the comic or the social critic to speak truth to power. That's the real heroine high, to get right up in their face and tell them the truth that they don't want to hear. It's fantastic. It's like being a rodeo clown. I just love that people who sit in those ivory towers know other people are aware of what's really going on and are laughing at them. I think that's awesome. They need to be laughed at, and they need to be laughed to scorn until they all disappear. I can't think of anyone of them that's decent except for (Ralph) Nader, and I kind of like Obama because of his stimulus package which I wish people would really read.
"I'm going to start blogging a lot about the stimulus package because it is aimed at women of my generation and younger, and we could possibly get it together to get the money to remake the whole world. We could start some nice green businesses and be self-sustaining, which is kind of why I have a nut farm over here, and it's all about getting off the grid and having a real life that's not artificial and material. I like to grow things and get my hands dirty."
Besides her astute political observations, Roseanne often takes time with her blog to talk about meditation and spiritual practice.
"I meditate, and I feel that's such a great thing that if people knew how to do it they would be able to give up a lot of dependence on BS," she explains. "It helped me calm down, and be centered so I don't just go off because I've been a pretty extreme person. It's given me more balance in my emotional life, so has digging in the earth. I've planted so many things this year, and that's a great meditation working with your hands in the dirt."