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Roseanne Barr: Honoka‘a to Honolulu!

Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Barr

Comedian, television personality, Roseanne Barr has been living on Hawai‘i island for the last eight years.  She and her family recently opened a store, Honoka‘a Country Market, selling locally raised Andrade beef and soon, her own nuts, pineapples, and produce.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa caught up with Roseanne ahead of her stand up shows at the Blue Note, Saturday and Sunday.

Award winning comedian, actress, Roseanne Barrperforms at the Blue Note Waik?k? Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9, 2017.  

Roseanne Barr discusses what life is like on Hawai‘i island, what Hawai‘i audiences are like and offers some ideas for budding comedians.

Award winning comedian, actress, Roseanne Barr, has been living outside Honoka'a on the Big Island for the last eight years.  

Barr:  "My son had some learning issues so I said, Oh to hell with it, I’m getting him out of L.A.  We just flew over there and I bought this farm sight unseen so I could sit there with my kid and make sure he did good in school.  That’s what I’ve done for all these years." 

"Now he’s in college doing so great, so I’m very thankful for that and now I can go out and start doing my comedy again."

Comedy is having a major heyday now, right?

Barr:  “Oh it is, yeah, it’s never been better in my lifetime than it is right now for comedy.”

Is it the raw material we have now?

Barr:  ”Oh yeah the jokes are writing themselves!”

In Honolulu now, you can catch live stand up 3 to 4 nights a week, but it’s a fledgling scene.

Barr:  “I think stand up comics are born, not made.  And most of the people who do stand up comedy, in ten years, they won’t be doing it no more.  The old guys like Rodney Dangerfield and the ones that I idolized that were my friends, they used to tell all of us young people it takes thirty years to make a good stand up comic and I think that’s true.”

“To tell a few jokes is great but to hold a crowd’s attention for ninety minutes with no back up dancers or light shows, just you--- it’s a free speech art form and it’s just fun.”

At Honolulu venues, newcomers to the scene struggle with one liners, then begin to work personal material. 

Barr:  “Most important of all, you have to have the ability to write a good joke that three hundred to thirty thousand people, depending on your audience, they’re all going to get it.  That’s what’s tough, is a joke that everybody with get.  I tell about 270 jokes in my act and I’m proud of every one of ‘em.  It took a lot of sweat to write ‘em and get ‘em right and practice it so that people would get ‘em.”

Three hundred of us so different, to be able to laugh together is a unifying experience, rare these days.

Barr:  “It really is a spiritually transformative experience for the artist, the comic.  When you’re standing up there and you’re seeing people laughing, big smiles on their face, it really feeds you, it’s like food.  It’s good.”

Do you censor yourself at all, so as not to offend people?

Barr:  “Hell no, I don’t censor myself, no.  I do everything I want to do but that’s the art of it. That’s the craft of writing a good joke.   You don’t want to make ‘em mad, you want to make ‘em happy.   But I swear.  Old people like to swear, it’s the only fun we have left.”

“I have quite a bit of material about Hawai‘i.  There’s some weird people out here, too, especially on the Big Island, it’s a lot of weird people, so I talk about that a little bit.”

Roseanne gets around on a scooter since she broke her knee last year.  Wheelies?

Barr:  “I’m just learning to drive that thing.  It’s crazy.  I’m going to be in a scooter on stage there.  I honk, so when you hear that beep, you better jump!”

Barr says she is not planning on another Presidential run.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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