By Rick Coates
The Domestic Goddess Roseanne (yes, she is part of that first name club) will headline the first TC Comedy Festival this weekend. She will appear Saturday night at the State Theatre (tickets are sold out but as is the case with TC Film Festival, there will be a standby line and there is always a possibility that a few tickets might become available).
Roseanne dominated sitcom TV in the 90s with her show of the same name. For nine seasons she portrayed Roseanne Conner, whose husband was played by John Goodman. The show was number one in the ratings for two seasons and was always in the top eight shows watched weekly during its run from 1988-1997.
The TV show evolved out of her stand-up routine that she crafted in the early 80s, portraying the unglamorized typical housewife in working class America. She became a favorite on the new Comedy Channel and made late night appearances with Johnny Carson.
After her successful sitcom run, she hosted her own late night show for two seasons, portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West for the Madison Square Garden production of the Wizard of Oz. She made a variety of other television appearances.
Her career has seen its share of personal tribulations with her very public divorce from husband Tom Arnold to her failed attempt to sing the National Anthem at a San Diego Padres game. Through it all Roseanne has kept her chin up, overcome adversity and returned to her roots on the stand up comedy circuit. She has written a couple of books, won Emmy and Golden Globe Awards and remains at the top of the comedy world.
She took time out of her busy schedule to share a few thoughts and give an exclusive interview to Northern Express:
Northern Express: How is the stand-up comedy scene different than when you started?
Roseanne: There are more women out there today. When I started it was the best and worst of times. It was tough for women. But also back then there was a golden age of comedy clubs for awhile and a comic like me or Jerry Seinfeld could hit the big time with a network TV show. I mean weve got Wanda Sykes and George Lopez getting their shots, right now, but money is tight right now, so it is tough.
NE: There has been talk about you returning to sitcom TV with a new show. What is the status?
Roseanne: Well, you know the health care legislation debate and all the back-and-forth and picking it apart, and theres gridlock and arguing and indecision and everybody calls each other names and then theres more blabbing and frantic inactivity and nothing actually comes of it? Its like that, except more complicated and less productive.
NE: Roseanne had a nine-year run, pretty impressive and very hard for a sitcom, was it stressful trying to develop material to remain on top or did it come naturally?
Roseanne: It naturally came stressful. Sometimes it was like having 20-pound twins - breech birth. Other times, wed all go home after a week of 12-16 hour days, look at our personal/family lives going to hell and -- bingo -- say wow, thats another episode.
NE: Comedy is often topical; is your current show topical about you or your observations of the world around you?
Roseanne: Its observational and wide-ranging, but I always try to have something to say about the big splashy front page stuff were all hit with. I mean, Sarah Palin, Tiger Woods, John Edwards, the news is like a clown car - except not quite that classy.
NE: On the Red Carpet at the new Michael Moore film you said you were working on geriatric porn. Just a joke or do you think it is a good idea?
Roseanne: My marketing geniuses and I are giving it another look. I think it could be good once people get over their closed-minded and prejudicial, you know, waves of nausea. I heard there was a Rush Limbaugh and Nancy Pelosi sex tape out there. Lets hope it stays out there.
NE: Michael Moore has been a blessing to Northern Michigan with the film festival, State Theatre restoration, and now this new comedy festival. You are obviously a fan of Michaels - your comments on him?
Roseanne: Fan is too casual a word. Im in awe of the guy. Hes a brave, committed citizen who could easily lay low and live high, but he puts himself on the line and says things that Americans and the world, for that matter, need to hear. Theres no monolith big enough to intimidate or discourage him. Economically, Michigan is Ground Zero and a battlefield for the working class and Michael is in front carrying a righteous banner.
NE: How would you describe President Obamas first year as President?
Roseanne: No good deed goes unpunished. I wish theyd have jammed things through harder in the beginning and been less about cooperation and bipartisanship. Now, its the old pushing a car up a hill with a rope situation.
NE: What do you think President Bush is doing in his retirement?
Roseanne: As little as possible, I hope. Hes done more than enough and were deep in some holes as a result.
NE: Finally, you have a long career mixed with success and challenges; you are among the funniest and best comedians of your generation. When you think about the future where do you see yourself going professionally?
Roseanne: Full-time, not-for-profit nut farmer/writer/part-time standup comic/actress/small-time philanthropist/world community granny activist/recluse/gadfly in Hawaii.
NE: Thanks Roseanne.
Roseanne: Not so fast pal, I remember you from my show in Mt. Pleasant back in 1986. You were hitting on me at the bar afterwards. I am not upset but I get even; be afraid be very afraid.