Roseanne Barr, who tonight debuts as a judge on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, would rather be at home on her Hawaii macadamia nut farm, eating food from her garden and seeing her grandkids off to school.
Now there’s a sentence you would never have expected to read back in the days when Barr was the hell-raising, tabloid-dominating, reigning queen of the TV sitcom.
But here she is, after taking a red-eye flight back to LA to promote the new show, already missing her piece of Paradise.
“I bought the farm sight-unseen about seven years ago,” she says. “It used to be run by a corporation. They used that GMO (genetically modified organisms) stuff, and I wanted to return it to its native character. I got really involved in native seeds.”
And lest anyone dismiss her agricultural pursuits as some Hollywood-fueled eccentricity, the Utah-born star hastens to add, “I’ve always had a farm. Since I was a little girl I worked on farms. And I also wanted to move to Hawaii ‘cuz I like the schools for my son and grandkids.”
The change agrees with her: Fans who catch Barr on Last Comic Standing—on which she mentors up-and-coming comedians—will discover a slimmed-down star who credits her recent weight loss to her healthy farm life.
“I’m just doing the stuff you hate hearing,” she reveals, “Eating less and moving more. There’s not much fast food in Hawaii and the restaurants aren’t very good. So I’ve been eating out of the garden and swimming.
“I also do my 7,000 steps every day. I feel much better mentally when I exercise. People used to tell me that and I thought they were just dirty liars.
“I didn’t even know that I’d lost that weight. I thought I’d lost maybe 15 pounds. Then I went to the doctor and got on the scale I had lost almost 40!”
In the same manner that she has always set new challenges for herself—remember her Presidential run in 2012?—Barr demands that the comedians who compete on Last Comic Standing reach deep inside themselves for their material.
“I tell them, ‘You’re not bringing the pain,” she says. “Comedy needs to be raw like that.”
In some ways, with her new role she is paying forward the guidance and encouragement she got from her own mentors, including Rodney Dangerfield and Phyllis Diller.
“Phyllis, especially, mothered a lot of comedians, including me,” she says. “She loved comedy until the last days of her life. We would talk about comics and their writing. She wanted to come to my roast (in 2012). She got dressed and got to the car, but was too tired. She wanted to come and hear the jokes. She died a day or two after that, but she was a fan of comedy. It’s so cool.
“I guess I’m the new old lady now,” she adds. “Which is kinda neat ‘cuz I feel a little like Phyllis.”