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A Rose Is a Rose, but Not Roseanne

November 19, 1994|DAVID KRONKE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Whether mud-wrestling in the pages of Vanity Fair, grabbing her privates before a baseball game, declaring herself a victim of both parental and spousal abuse or introducing her conflicting internal personalities, Roseanne has demonstrated an unerring talent for turning anything she does into something worthy of discussion, into a certain brand of trailer-park performance art.

So it was appropriate Thursday night that the sitcom star, in her first stand-up comedy performance in four years, exploited her ability to shock and dismay by providing an angry attack on everything in sight, and a good many things not in her purview, as well.

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In this benefit at the Comedy Store for the Feminist Majority Foundation, an abortion-rights organization, comics Carol Leifer and Wendy Liebman won big laughs with their sets, but Roseanne practically erased all pleasant memories of their jocularity with her caustic, admittedly "bitter" musings.

Wearing a leopard-print top, Roseanne emerged smoking a cigarette, which she quickly stamped out on the stage floor. "I thought I'd smoke to (irritate) everybody," she announced.

"Tom Arnold's penis is three inches long!" she immediately bellowed to shrieks of delight early on, pulling no punches in her fierce battle with her soon-to-be former husband. Well, maybe one punch--"OK, I'll say four, 'cause we're trying to settle."

Though she said she preferred Adolf Hitler to Arnold (Hitler at least knew "when it was time to go in the bunker and blow his head off; why don't they die when I'm through with 'em?"), her ex fared better than many of her targets. Her stated goal to offend appeared to be successful, as the crowd's initial delight deteriorated into numb, mute disappointment as her sour, bilious demeanor turned an evening of comedy--with tickets at $125 and $200--into a seminar on self-loathing. (L.A. City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky was among a few patrons who walked out mid-set.)

Her attacks grew so relentless that at one point, she allowed, "Maybe I should go back on Prozac." It scarcely seemed a joke.

"I hate men," she announced, launching into a profanity-strewn explanation as to why every member of said gender was responsible for the ills of the planet. "I hate women," she added, conjuring a violent scenario of female victimization.

The entertainment industry was a special target for her wrath: "Everything's a phony (expletive) piece of (expletive) designed to mess up your head. (Here are) the most evil (expletive) people on the face of the Earth." Denouncing entertainers as "sexual perverts," she said, "There's no integrity here . . . in this satanic hellhole." (No word on why she's still in town.)

Somewhat redundantly, she summed up her sentiments with, "I hate every (expletive) living human being." Roseanne, Roseanne--when are you going to get in touch with your feelings and tell us what you really think?

Working initially off notes, Roseanne delivered a smattering of comic material, but soon wearied of her jokes and chose instead to field questions from the audience.

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Not to say that she answered them. Asked why she would want to get married again (she plans to wed Ben Thomas on Feb. 14, 1995), she barked, "None of your (expletive) business." Nice ad-lib.

A question on the recent election revealed her to be totally clueless that one even occurred. She did attack Proposition 187, but admitted she hadn't voted. Her proclamation that "I tell the truth" rang hollow in light of her lack of social awareness.

She did say that she planned to expand her restaurant empire from the one in Iowa and that she hopes to have another child. After calling every sentient being in Hollywood a "whore," she admitted that after her notorious exploits with a fax machine (she sent withering messages to critics who panned Arnold's first sitcom), she approached various fax machine manufacturers about "hawking" their product but got no takers.

About her infamous kiss on her TV series with actress Mariel Hemingway, she said, "I've had better." Her basic theme of the evening was summed up when she told one audience member, "Hope's usually a big, fat lie."

By the end, her pity party disintegrated into confusion, and fellow performer (and "Roseanne" writer) Carrie Snow convinced her to cut her losses.

Why doesn't someone who so clearly hates what she does, and has the money to do so, just not bolt from this satanic hellhole? In fact, one woman even asked her, "Where do you want to go?"

In a rare moment of playfulness, she quipped, "Ben and Jerry's."

Godspeed. And Roseanne--don't bother; I've already faxed myself a nasty note.

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