Trump or Clinton? That is the big question for this 2016 US Presidential election. Four years ago, a comedian threw her hat in the ring. She made dents in the polls. This week’s game changer ran for president under the Peace and Freedom Party, and she came sixth overall in that race. This week’s Game Changer is Roseanne Barr.
Barr was born in 1952 and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Surrounded by Mormons, her family was Jewish and included Holocaust survivors. Barr’s father wanted himself to be a stand up. She credits him for teaching her about comedy. The two would listen to Lenny Bruce together. Eventually, Barr dropped out of school and ran away to live on a hippy commune in Denver. While there, she got married and waitressed to get by. She started doing stand-up at an open mic hosted by a local club.
She excelled. In 1983, she moved to Hollywood. In a time when women were expected to be the primary childcare providers, Barr’s bits were biting and satirical. On her 1985 debut for The Tonight Show, she riffed, “I’m a housewife. I hate that word. I would prefer ‘Domestic Goddess.’” This got a great laugh from the audience. Barr continued, “I live in the suburbs. I have a real nice two car garage with a house attached.” The 1980s were a time when Americans felt the dream was achievable, and the big house with two cars mattered.
In 1988, ABC gave the Domestic Goddess her own TV show, Roseanne. It was a hit comedy about a working class family in the Midwest. For nine seasons the show confronted controversial topics at the time like homosexuality, divorce, domestic abuse, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy. In 1992, Barr achieved a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the span of show, Barr was an Emmy and Golden Globe winner. She became the first female comedian to host the MTV Video Music Awards solo in 1994, and the only one to do so until 2010.
In the 30 plus year career, Roseanne Barr has had a range of projects. She starred in movies including the 1989 cult classic She-Devil with Meryl Streep. She had a short-lived talk show and a couple of reality tv shows. She returned to stand-up in 2006 with her HBO special Roseanne Barr: Blonde and Bitchin’. She has made several cameos over the years as herself in tv shows such as The Larry Sanders Show and Portlandia. She was also a judge in multiple seasons of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, proving she is still comedic voice of influence.
In 2012, Barr used her influence in bigger ways. She believed to be making a difference in politics. The documentary was just released, Roseanne for President! The movie followed her out on the campaign trail. Whether or not this was a publicity stunt as some speculated, it shows the power and influence that only a true game changer has!