The SmarK DVD Rant for Roseanne – Blonde and Bitchin'

The SmarK DVD Rant for Roseanne Barr: Blonde and Bitchin’

“You may be wondering what a has-been of my caliber has been up to.”

The Film

And so begins Roseanne’s return to stand-up comedy after more than a decade-long hiatus thanks to celebrity and producing a TV show.

Of course, everyone knows Roseanne from the 9 seasons that her TV show ran, but not everyone has actually heard the stand-up routines that inspired those shows. Well, sadly, this isn’t them, but it’s still pretty good. Produced in 2006 for HBO, “Blonde and Bitchin” sees a much older and somewhat wiser Roseanne Barr returning to the comedy clubs after 3 years of hiding away and meticulously honing the new act. Put together as a response on her part to 9/11 and the lack of humor surrounding it (not a complaint you hear often, I know), this show was basically a one-hour “I’m back, I’m still pissed off at everything, and I’m older now” and it’s certainly effective in that regard.

Whereas her original show was focused on being the “domestic goddess” and complaining about her then-husband, the post-TV Roseanne’s act is more of an angry liberal rant, as she chants “I hate Bush, I hate Bush” at various points and then wonders if it’s still legal to say that in public. Although her political messages tend to fall flat, and especially fall flat with the unresponsive and apparently conservative audience she’s performing the show for, the more personal stuff hits hard and is much more effective at getting her points across. A lengthy diatribe about aging and menopause, and the perils of having a 10-year old son at 53 years old, for instance, is one of the highlights of the show. As is her description of giving anti-drug lectures to a daughter, only to get caught with a large stash of her own. “Do you know how many drugs we had to do to pay for all the nice things you have?” is her response, which is certainly the Roseanne thing to say.

The audience, however, really holds the show back from being a home run, as they applaud wildly when she mentions the TV show, but seem reserved the rest of way, apparently not ready to hear the Domestic Goddess preaching to them about her paranoid spells as a result of taking male hormones for menopause. And it’s too bad, because this is prime Roseanne stuff and it really shows that she can still be cutting edge and funny with the right material, freed from network standards again and ready to swear like a sailor even when she’s a grandmother. I just wish they would have recorded two or three shows and spliced together the best bits instead of having to ride out the quiet audience through the dry spells. Perhaps her final song, an ear-splitting version of “My Way” that she did to conquer her own fears about performing again, was punishment for them, who knows.

The Video

As with most HBO releases, this is a pristine, 16 x 9 widescreen transfer that was obviously filmed in high definition and still pops off the screen even on a regular TV. Not that there’s much going on with just Roseanne standing on a stage, but it looks great regardless.

The Audio

Available in your choice of Dolby 5.1 or Dolby 2.0, both of which sound exactly the same to me. Again, it’s Roseanne on the stage talking, so it’s not like you’re going to get much action in the surrounds. A livelier crowd might have made the difference more noticeable, like when the vocal gay portion of the audience participates at various points and you can hear them in the back speakers, but as it is there’s no point in worrying about one over the other.

The Extras

Nothing too interesting. You get a 5-minute skit with Roseanne and her new make-up artist, a flamboyant drag queen. Then another skit with a motivational coach who spews ridiculous cliches and metaphors. There’s also a backstage candid video of Roseanne and some friends discussing the show, and an 8-minute interview with Roseanne talking about the origins of the show (and she looks every minute of her age without the makeup, by the way). Plus the usual photo gallery crap.

The Ratings

The Show: ****1/2
The Video: *****
The Audio: **1/2
The Extras: *1/2

The Inside Pulse
A fine return to form by the bitchiest of bitches, featuring a hilarious hour-long rant on getting older and the state of the world, which is almost ruined by an audience that no longer gets her. Still, it’s a fun show and well worth picking up if you’re a fan.