Twenty years before this video was produced, comedian Whoopi Goldberg took Broadway by storm in a one-woman show that established her as one of the wittiest, finest performers of her ...
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Twenty years before this video was produced, comedian Whoopi Goldberg took Broadway by storm in a one-woman show that established her as one of the wittiest, finest performers of her generation. The groundbreaking comic returns to the Great White Way in this HBO special that has her revisiting some of her earlier characters, such as the belly-aching druggie Fontaine, as well as new avatars such as Lurleen, a Southern belle facing menopause. Written by
Tyne Daly is credited for contributing "special lyrics". This refers to the song "Balding Pudendum" for which she composed the lyrics, to the tune of "Waltzing Matilda". Goldberg sings the chorus of this song while in character as Lurleen. See more »
Comedy is tragedy turned on its head, and Whoopi Goldberg is fascinating to the nth degree with her pitch-perfect comic routine as she becomes three vastly different characters, each one commenting on issues which affect them. Where most comics tend to try too hard to make people laugh she just comes out, plays each role with the grace of a ballerina, and lays her heart and soul out.
As Fontaine, the druggie, she offers a sharp observation of issues such as her thoughts stemming from a visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam where she came across the quote: "In spite of everything I believe there is good in this world." Her views speak for all of us when she talks about the fact that despite our political climate no one is being dragged out of our homes due to religion, or gender-preference, or political inclinations, or for speaking their minds, but that even so, people are watching, aware, at this country unfold.
Her routine as Lurleen, the Southern belle going through menopause and being vocal about it, is hysterical with a hint of darkness speckled here and there. She doesn't hold back much when talking about the many facets involved in a hot flash and the accompanying mood swings and it's hilarious to see her vent on what women I know have been saying for years: how insecure they've been made to feel when walking into a store and being gawked at by the younger set. The moment of darkness arrives when she tackles the issue of her son's protection and the momentary lapse into insanity as she contemplates suicide, and she words it beautifully, because again, there's always that moment in time when a woman has been faced by an insurmountable question.
By far, though, her routine as The Cripple, though the briefest -- only ten minutes long -- is the most affecting. Embodying the physicality of a disabled woman facing marriage to a man who truly loves her for the beautiful person she is, Whoopi, without going into too much pathos, brings the right tone and a grave dignity to this remarkable person who's only problem seems to have been being slightly different in a society who values "normalcy" and "perfection." When she imagines herself as a "normal" woman who can stand up straight, conduct an orchestra, and for once not have food fall out from her mouth, it's as if this woman were evolving from her limited physicality into a shining butterfly and I can see the beauty just bubbling over like sunshine. As the audience, I would fall in love with her too.
In short, in a mere 90 minutes Whoopi demonstrates the grace and beauty of being such a comedian that knows which buttons to press and which stories to tell. Excellent, haunting, poignant, and side-splitting all at once.
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