How does one review Whoopi Goldberg? “She was at the Lyric for one show Saturday night and she was brilliant.” But somehow, I feel like I should say more than that.
Her entrance onto the stage was fun. First, all you see is a sliver of white just offstage on the right, flitting around. Gradually, it becomes obvious she is dancing. So, we all got up and danced, too. Well, a lot of us did. After dancing her way onstage, she started being brilliant.
One of the things we love about Whoopi – and indeed, most really good comics – is their honesty.
She begins by telling us this is not The View, or any of the other shows she’s associated with. Apparently, some audiences have been expecting that kind of performance. And sure enough, in the Q&A that closed the show, someone asked something that implied she wasn’t behaving as she did on The View. She said, “What was the first thing I said when I came out here?! The first thing!” But that is skipping ahead.
If language is an issue for you, you might want to avoid her live shows. After explaining this is not The View, the very next thing she told the audience was that she did swear a lot, and that if that was going to be a problem for any of us, we should “get the __ out right now!” She does not consider words like that “bad words” (but for purposes of this family-friendly web site, they are, so I’ll censor them). Stupid is a bad word, she says. No matter who you are or who says it to you, it’s going to hurt when someone calls you that.
I think the reason she uses the “f” word so much – besides that it’s fun – is to take its power from it. (I do not know this to be true, I’m just guessing.) As with any word, if it’s used over and over and over again, it ceases to mean anything. It becomes just, well, a word. Not even a word, really. Just a sound.
One of the things we love about Whoopi – and indeed, most really good comics – is their honesty. They look at situations we see every day and assure us that everyone has the same fears, hang-ups, concerns, etc. Every little girl’s very first sanitary napkin seemed to be as big as a boat and she didn’t know how she was going walk with it on. Everybody’s mother used to sometimes get very quiet, and that meant serious trouble. They also make these fears and concerns something we can laugh at, which makes it easier to deal with them in real life. This close to the election, there was plenty of opportunity for that.
Whoopi’s audience is the people who have always been her audience. That is to say, they have aged as she has, so menopause jokes go over very well. Like when she tells men, when they see a trail of dust behind their woman, she is not interested in sex, “cause she’s dry!” There were, of course, many younger people in the audience, but they seemed on board with it, too.
As for the election, she makes no secret of the fact that she is a Democrat, but she did a very good job of being bipartisan in her routine; she criticized both sides pretty equally. She also discussed some ballot measures that are taking up a lot of headline space. Like the one many states have now to legalize same sex marriage. Her philosophy is, “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person.” By the way, she is not scared of Romney, but she thinks he’s probably scared of her.
I thought the best part of the evening was the Q&A. Watching someone like her think on her feet is amazing. Good comics are almost invariably very bright, and this is one of the places it really shows. Someone asked something about how she can get along with another woman on The View because they disagree so much. Whoopi explained that people can disagree with her all they want; she’s fine with that. And they can still be friends; it doesn’t matter because it’s not personal. But they have to be respectful, or it does get personal. That’s why she walked off the set when Bill O’Reilly was on, and she is not at all apologetic for that.
Someone else asked what rules she would have had if she had moderated a presidential debate. Two of them were: 1) Don’t interrupt me, and 2) Answer the question! Isn’t that exactly what we were all thinking?
If I could give her one note, though, I would tell her that when people shout out questions without the mic during the Q&A, repeat the question so the rest of us can hear it.
Whoopi Goldberg performed one show at the Modell Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, November 3rd at 8:00PM. For a list of upcoming events at the Lyric click here.