Comedienne-author Roseanne Barr

Emmy winner and best-selling author explains why she feels that the poor have essentially bailed out the rich in the U.S.

Roseanne Barr has been called one of America's funniest comedians. She was also one of the more outspoken TV stars of the '80s and '90s. The Emmy winner grew up in Salt Lake City and began her career doing stand-up. She toured on the comedy club circuit and appeared on late night talk shows before starring in HBO comedy specials, in her award-winning self-titled ABC sitcom and hosting her own talk show. A best-selling author, she's written three books, including Roseannearchy, in which she discusses the humor of everyday life.


Tavis: Always pleased to welcome Roseanne Barr to this program. It is hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since the debut of that sitcom that made her a television icon. The Emmy-winning actress is out with a provocative new book. It’s called “Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm.” Got to love the title. (Laughter) Roseanne, always good to see you on this stage.
Roseanne Barr: It’s good to see you, too.
Tavis: I like those – you’re rocking those red gloves.
Barr: I am.
Tavis: That’s pretty hot.
Barr: The red gloves, the red lips, the red eye thing, the glasses, yeah.
Tavis: You’re working that thing out.
Barr: I am.
Tavis: (Laughs) This title, “Roseannearchy,” as I said, I love it.
Barr: Thank you.
Tavis: How’d you come up with this one?
Barr: Well, actually, my boyfriend came up with it, because it kind of just says it all, doesn’t it?
Tavis: Mm-hmm.
Barr: That’s exactly what – it’s kind of what everything’s all about, kind of where I found myself in the last 18 years since I – I guess it’s 15 years since I wrote another book. So it’s all about questioning the basic assumptions of everything.
Tavis: This photo – Jonathan, put the cover back up for me again. Tell me about this cover design. I love this.
Barr: Well, my son came up with that idea. It’s kind of like a left-wing Rush Limbaugh (laughter) mixed up with Mao and Allemande.
Tavis: And Che Guevara, yeah.
Barr: All at once.
Tavis: You got the whole thing. A little Castro.
Barr: Yeah, everybody. (Laughter)
Tavis: You got the whole thing mixed in here.
Barr: Yeah.
Tavis: Have you always been so – you’ve always been outspoken; the Roseanne that we know has always been outspoken. Have you always been so political? Is that a fair question?
Barr: Yeah, I always have been. Yeah, kind of, talking about class and stuff is kind of political. Yeah, yeah, I always was. My family, always, too, for a long time back, very political.
Tavis: So let me walk through some issues, then.
Barr: Okay. You said you had to keep an open mind; that’s what you said.
Tavis: You have to. When you read this book, you have to keep an open mind, and it helps if you have a sense of humor.
Barr: Okay, well, you’re acting like it was an ordeal.
Tavis: No, no, no, no, it was cool, I loved it, I loved it.
Barr: You did, you loved it?
Tavis: I’m just saying it helps when you read your stuff; you’ve got a sense of humor.
Barr: Oh, okay.
Tavis: So there’s so much to talk about on the American political scene today. Let me start with this one first because it is, obviously, so serious; not that these other issues are not. What’s your take on this Tucson – everybody’s talking about it and the whole issue of civility, et cetera, et cetera.
Barr: Oh, no.
Tavis: I don’t want to color the question too much. Tell me about your thoughts on Tucson.
Barr: Oh, no, I just think when you’re mixing up weapons and a lot of resentment and negative feelings towards your neighbors and you’re kind of taunting a mentally ill bunch of people it’s a recipe for disaster. I hope this is the end of that whole way of thinking. I hope Americans – Tavis, you know that I do pray, and I do pray for Americans to not let themselves be divided against each other anymore.
Let’s not let these people do this. They want to divide us, and it’s just not – we need to be for something all together, all of us. We’ve got to remember this is America, this is America. It blows my mind. This is America. We’ve got to join up and be for good things, like Americans have always been for. We’ve always been for education and diversity. We can’t turn our back now. We can’t let this happen.
Tavis: When you say “taunting the mentally ill,” what do you mean by that? What do you mean by that, “taunting the mentally ill?”
Barr: It just seems like on my blog,, I found this thing about how I felt like two years ago the mentally ill were being taunted to take action when I watched Glenn Beck, and I got real scared and I started talking about all the time, like, you can’t be saying the president isn’t an American. You can’t be saying stuff like that. It’s not good.
We’re in a war that your friend Bush started, and you told us all that time we weren’t supposed to talk down the president, but now you’re – come on, which is it?
Tavis: So are we blaming the media for this, left and right, the media, the politicians or the people?
Barr: I’m blaming the people at the top, where the blame goes. It doesn’t go to the bottom. I’m tired of it being put there by people who are getting paid off by people at the top to get people blaming the people at the bottom who have nothing to do with it.
There are people at the top, and they have to, like, straighten this – they have to give us a solution. Now the Republicans, they took over again. Well, let us see some solutions now, because we’re going to be able to start blaming them real soon if they don’t do something.
Now it’s all gridlock. Okay, well, let’s get something done. I don’t care who does it, a Republican or a Democrat.
Tavis: But how do you expect that we’re reasonably going to get anything done with a divided government?
Barr: Well, because the people are – as I was trying to say, because the people are going to unite and go, “We’re done with you robbing us and our tax monies.” The people’s money, the people’s public money, belongs to the public. It just drives me crazy. Public money belongs to the public. It’s not to be divided among the rich and going into their private pockets.
Excuse me, it drives me crazy and I just have to say it, and that’s a lot of why I wrote that book. But that book’s funny, and now you’ve got me all serious (laughter) and I don’t know what. But part of this book is real serious stuff.
Tavis: No, it is.
Barr: Well, we can’t be like – we can’t go down that road that other peoples have gone down, where it’s neighbor against neighbor. We’re not going to do that here. I just pray for that.
Tavis: One of the things that you are passionate about, and funny about, you had a whole TV show that made you an icon talking about this issue, and I don’t accept the fact that you can’t mix the serious and the funny. You do it better than anybody.
Barr: Well, thank you.
Tavis: So, class. The issue of class.
Barr: Yeah.
Tavis: You have made us laugh about the issue of class for years. It’s a serious issue, but you find the funny in it.
Barr: Well, it’s kind of ridiculous. It’s all kind of just all so ridiculous. I tried to do the last year of my show about the difference, the two Americas that I’ve seen in my life – a working-class, near-poor one, and a real wealthy one of Hollywood and stuff in it. It’s too different – it’s just too different, disparate. I think there needs to be some reconciliation, I think, between the two.
Tavis: The class problem in this country getting worse, as you see it?
Barr: Yeah, it’s totally – the rich are – the poor are bailing out the rich. How crazy is that? (Laughter) Talk about the – doesn’t have any clothes, the emperor, the poor are bailing out the rich and the rich are blaming the poor for the problem.
These Republicans (unintelligible) he’ll be, like, “Okay, the deficit is $4 trillion,” but that Boehner, he’ll be, like, taking $150 from hungry kids and saying, “Hey, we’re going to take care of this problem,” and then he turns that $150 over to the bankers to pay down the debt to get us – like, to spend more money to get us out of debt.
It’s a scam from frigging top to bottom. (Laughter) Every inch of it. That’s why I’m running for president, as you know, or may not know.
Tavis: No, I saw that, you made the announcement that you’re running for president.
Barr: I am.
Tavis: So your platform is going to be?
Barr: Just exposing the scam from top to bottom. It’s a big old Ponzi scam.
Tavis: Eliminating – what is it? I love the line, “Outlawing B.S.?”
Barr: Yeah, no more B.S. Just give us the facts. (Laughter) No more – people are addicted to B.S. in our country right now. That’s what scares me.
Tavis: How’d we get addicted to it? Why are we addicted to it?
Barr: Well, because it feels so good to lie. (Laughter) You know that, everybody knows it. It feels good to lie and say everything’s – but it’s not. We’ve got to get some reality in there and go – the only thing I’m trying to say, and I do want to say before you tell me it’s all over, my book, “Roseannearchy,” Tavis, is a – I want to just say it’s a story of repentance and redemption.
I just wanted to come on your show and see if you got that, if you got that out of there. Did you get that from that book?
Tavis: I get it loud and clear. For those who – we don’t want to give too much of it away, but for those who are going to read this, repentance about what?
Barr: Things I’ve done wrong. Yeah, like – yeah, all that, everything.
Tavis: Before I let you go, we should – because we’re just scratching the surface on this – but we should explain when the subtitle reads “Dispatches from the Nut Farm,” there really is a nut farm.
Barr: Uh-huh.
Tavis: Yeah, we should explain.
Barr: Okay. My whole – I think that I’ve been placed on Earth – this is no joke – at this time to talk up the benefits and the wonders of the macadamia nut, and I’m growing them, and they are a fantastic nut for the following reasons.
They are pure protein, they have no carbohydrates, and they are high in fat but it’s the right fat that people need. So it could replace, like, cheeseburger farming; hence no greenhouse gases would be produced, to actually feed most of the people in the world some great protein. I feel it’s going to happen.
Tavis: So the moral of the story is repentance, forgiveness and eat more macadamia nuts.
Barr: Yeah, the nuts are always on my – yeah, the nuts are high on my list.
Tavis: Okay.
Barr: Yeah.
Tavis: There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. (Laughter) The new book – love the title – “Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm,” by “New York Times” best-selling author, comedic icon and just all-around good person, Roseanne Barr.
Barr: Sex symbol. Thanks.
Tavis: Is that cool?
Barr: Sex symbol’s good. You forgot that one.
Tavis: Okay. Sex symbol as well. (Laughter) Forgot to add that on the list. That’s our show for tonight.
Barr: Thank you.
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Last modified: April 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm