*Warning* – profanity is included in some quotes in this article.
Whoopi Goldberg keeps it real. The bold veteran of both stage and screen built her entire career around unapologetically interrogating headline news and ongoing social issues without blinking an eye.
The funny womanâ€™s uncompromising honesty and thorough explication of hot topics keep her audiences gasping for air. Ironically, the co-host and moderator of the hit ABC daytime series, The View, never intended to become a comedienne.
â€œI wanted to be an actor,â€ says Goldberg. â€œIâ€™m a storyteller, so I take a little more time. Comedy just gave me a chance to show people what I could do.â€
The riveting Grammy, Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning entertainer born Caryn Johnson performs before a massive audience at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
As she paces across the dark area that closely resembles her timeless Broadway backdrop, the humorist walks into a standing ovation smothered in an eruption of applause, whistles and shouts. Not a fan of flying at all, Goldberg arrives in Atlanta from New York City by tour bus precisely one hour and 15 minutes prior to showtime.
The iconic performerâ€™s expressive Drama Desk award-winning stage presence meshes together witty, nostalgic self-reflective personal narratives, alternating irreverent monologues and soliloquys topped off with her biting grin after every joke.
Goldberg grabs a thick book and opens it midway through her 90-minute set. â€œI have to write shit down because I canâ€™t remember anything,â€ says Goldberg.
A casually dressed Goldberg wears her thick chin-length dreadlocks pinned up. Anytime she wisecracks, the comic slowly paces across the stage in her bright pink crocs and green socks or takes a sip from her water bottle.
Having recently lost 30 lbs., Goldbergâ€™s self-deprecating remarks on her body type segues into sharing about her knack for eccentric footwear.
â€œPeople are fit on that show for the most part. I donâ€™t have that body,â€ says Goldberg.
From there, a carefree Goldberg, who proclaims her love for gadgets, critiques her ability to be in a good relationship, going so far as to jokingly compare her dissolved marriages to apps on mobile devices.
â€œItâ€™s a bitch,â€ she says. â€œIâ€™m not really good with people. I canâ€™t do it. I tried it four or five times. You actually have to listen to the other person. Thatâ€™s why I have a cat.â€
Laughter erupts and echoes throughout the hall.
Goldberg makes it perfectly clear through her cordless mic that sheâ€™s pissed off about controversial topics. She goes on to offer a disclaimer to audience members, suggesting that they exit if they deem her subject matter too offensive.
â€œThis is me talking me and using language I love,â€ says Goldberg in the midst of euphoria. â€œI like to let people know I donâ€™t look at it as cursing. I have very specific things that I do and talk about.â€
Goldberg literally drops the â€˜f-bombâ€™ the entire show. The groundbreaking Mark Twain Prize recipientâ€™s repertoire sort of resembles her day job on The View, which premiered its 18th season just four days prior to her performance.
The show has a complete set makeover. Panelists Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace now join Goldberg. â€œItâ€™s very comfortable,â€ she says. â€œTheyâ€™re all people I know.â€
Goldberg offers insights on domestic violence, technology, gay marriage, flatulence, legalizing marijuana, womanhood and age. Never one to subscribe to being politically correct, the straightforward human rights advocate and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador comments on society’s criticisms of President Obama.
â€œIf youâ€™re on TV, people run to you with shit,â€ she says. â€œPeople feel like they can say all kinds of stuff to you. Heâ€™s made shit a little easier for us. I have to be careful. I canâ€™t say â€˜What the fuck?â€™ on TV.â€
Goldberg, who admits that she tries not to be cranky, adds, â€œMaybe I have a skewed idea of how things should be, but shit annoys me. Iâ€™m a little bitchy. As you can see, Iâ€™m always in trouble with somebody.â€
For instance, ABC had an issue with Goldberg, who quit smoking two years ago, using her vaporizer pen. Her former singular-titled NBC sitcom bearing her first name was canceled after just one season. The subject matter is quite funny to Goldberg.
The network thought otherwise. â€œI got into some deep shit on that show,â€ says Goldberg with slight chuckling.
On the other hand, Goldberg says her monologue on the little girl who didn’t feel beautiful still resonates with many of her female fans across the globe. â€œItâ€™s a womanâ€™s piece,â€ says Goldberg, â€œand I didnâ€™t know that I was doing that.â€
Goldberg’s Emmy-nominated HBO documentary on trailblazing female comedienne “Moms” Mabley prompted her to produce her next project: a 10-part series on people of color in entertainment from 1860 to the present.
â€œThere isnâ€™t one place to find all of these amazing people,â€ says Goldberg.
Towards the end of her set, the jokester showed her appreciation to a few adoring fans. Goldberg shakes one ladyâ€™s hand. She hugs and takes selfies with a few of the elders in the audiences. An author of children’s books, Goldberg tells a few audience members with copies to wait so that she can autograph them.
Those moments and experiences allow Goldberg to maintain a sense of humility and gratitude about her success.
However, she refrains from discussing her friendship with deceased comedian Robin Williams, who co-hosted HBO Comic Relief along with Goldberg and Billy Crystal. â€œWhen I leave my house, I leave as Whoopi Goldberg, so I try to be a good person,â€ she says. â€œIf you listen to critics, youâ€™ll never do anything.â€
The show closes to thunderous applause, cheers and a unanimous standing ovation. Goldberg waves as she exits. Before she leaves, the comedienne takes another few minutes to reflect and express her gratitude.
â€œThere are lots of talented people in the world that wonâ€™t be able to do what I do,â€ says Goldberg. â€œItâ€™s just what I like to do. I realize that itâ€™s luck, and you guys make me remember Iâ€™m better.â€
Christopher A. Daniel is pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.
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