Across town from the glitter and glamour of the Emmy Awards, Roseanne Barr, the star of one of TV’s most popular shows of the year, was holding court in a Beverly Hills theater, discussing her fall from grace and the theme of forgiveness.
Barr, who was fired last May from the hugely successful reboot of her groundbreaking ABC series “Roseanne” after she posted a racist tweet targeting Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Obama, appeared with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the Saban Theatre for an event titled “Is America a Forgiving Nation?” The discussion was one of the embattled comedian’s first public appearances since her dismissal from the sitcom.
More than 200 people paid $20 to attend the event, which organizers said was timed for the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of atonement, and wasn’t intentionally meant to conflict with the Emmys, where Barr’s former costar Laurie Metcalf was nominated for supporting actress in a comedy series (Metcalf lost to Alex Borstein of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”)
Barr was visibly emotional during the event, breaking down in tears as she described the toll her ouster had on her.
“It physically defeated me, and I was just leveled,” she said. “It was so depressing, like a death.”
And although the topic of the evening revolved around forgiveness, she suggested that she had already done enough, had apologized repeatedly and expressed remorse for her tweet. She said it was more important “to get right with my maker than to be forgiven.”
The joy is in knowing what you did wrong. It’s the bravery and courage and self-reflection to get down to it and make it as right as you can.
She added, “The joy is in knowing what you did wrong. It’s the bravery and courage and self-reflection to get down to it and make it as right as you can. I’m someone who is interested in healing my own soul.”
At another point, Barr described the stress of making the sitcom. “It was harder than last time,” she said, referring to the original version of “Roseanne.” During one emotional moment, she said she was moved by the support she received following her firing.
”I felt so much love that I’ve never felt before in my whole career, from people of all colors,” she said.
Many of her comments centered on her plans to hit the stand-up circuit next year, going “coast to coast.” Though she didn’t give details about cities, dates or venues, Barr called live comedy her “first love” and said it was “a very healing thing to connect with an audience.” The crowd responded with cheers and applause.
Barr also repeated her intention to leave the U.S. to live in Israel for several months to study Judaism with her “favorite teachers,” and that she will not watch “The Conners,” the revamped version of “Roseanne,” which ABC will launch this fall. John Goodman, who plays Dan Conner, has said in interviews that the Roseanne Conner character will die.
In a brief interview following the 90-minute program, Barr said that she is in the early stages of creating her new live show. “I’m formulating it, and I’ve got to write material. I’m kind of excited to be writing jokes again and centering on new things to say.”
She added that she had been told that her “Roseanne” character would die of an opioid overdose.
“I’m not 100% sure, but my spies there, they said that,” Barr said, noting that she was “sad” at the idea.
“The whole thing is just so sad. It’s all so sad,” she said. “I’m just gonna keep on, having a great life.”
As for a return to TV, which had been rumored, Barr said she has no immediate plans.
“I don’t know — I’m 66. I’m kind of old. I feel old,” she said. “I think I’m just gonna do what I love for a while. I’m writing — it’s therapeutic.”