Fair warning: We did this interview with the lovely, funny and happily-available-for-15-minutes Whoopi Goldberg a few days before the "shutdown" was "resolved" by our "duly elected" "representatives." But idiocy does not have an expiration date, unlike the budget compromise, so her jokes still seem plenty fresh.
And a fun fact: The first trophy to land in Goldberg's EGOT case (see definition No. 5) was a Best Comedy Recording Grammy for her 1985 one-woman show, Whoopi Goldberg. You may know her from Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, but she's been doing this stand-up thing since before you were born (if you are presently an undergraduate at Butler).
NUVO: Whoopi Goldberg, what is wrong with this country?
Whoopi Goldberg: Laughs. Well, you'll have to wait to see my show to find out.
NUVO: Have you been working up material on the shutdown madness?
Goldberg: Who needs to work? The material just presents itself; it's so ridiculous what's going on!
NUVO: And can you find any hope in all the ridiculousness?
Goldberg: I think everyone's got some hope, but an absurd situation, a pretend situation. Even Republicans can see that, but they have to step it up. These are the people they let in the door; they let them in the party. They have to handle them because they're not doing a very good job.
NUVO: How do you balance having to talk almost every day on the air and then talking about some of the same things on stage? Do you ever run out of material?
Goldberg: Well, none of it's planned. I do what I feel when I feel it, and if it pisses me off, I'll probably talk about it in front of you. But not always.
NUVO: Is it satisfying to be able to sort of indirectly shape our discourse on politics and other issues on The View?*
Goldberg: I don't ever think about it like that, actually. Thanks for that, but it doesn't equate in my head that way. I go to work every day, and if there's some shit I can talk about that makes sense, and that I can illuminate in a direction that some folks haven't thought of, that's great. But it's a very fluid show.
The View: Goldberg replaced Rosie O'Donnell as a moderator and co-host on ABC daytime chat show The View in 2007. On her first day on the job, she observed that dogfighting aficionado Michael Vick grew up in a culture where using dogs for sport wasn't unusual, like "cockfighting in Puerto Rico."
NUVO: It does seem a little more legitimate than other daytime TV in terms of how it sometimes covers important topics and opens up the floor for different voices. Is that why you've stuck with it?
Goldberg: No, I stuck with it because I've got a contract. That's why I'm still there.
NUVO: What do you think of that contract now? Are you ready to move on to the next challenge?
Goldberg: Maybe. One of the things I try never to do is predict the future for myself, because it never works the way I want it to. I have another couple of years, and as long as I'm having a good time, I think it's a great gig for me. If it starts to be too traumatic, maybe it's not such a good gig.
NUVO: The big news about this show this summer was that "Jenny McCarthy* is going to kill your kids."
Goldberg: People said the same thing about me when they said they were going to use me. I don't have any control over who gets hired or how it gets down, but people will either dig her or they won't, and they can either watch the show or not watch the show. It's called The View, and folks are, I think, entitled to their view, whether people like it or not. That includes me and anyone else that people have been pissed off about. Everybody will get over themselves and make a decision about how they actually feel once they've spent time watching her. But I don't know if anyone can make a decision yet, because she hasn't been on that long.
Jenny McCarthy: We exaggerate: When ABC announced its hiring of the former model, who is totally sure childhood vaccinations can cause autism, Salon published a piece with the headline "Dear ABC: Putting Jenny McCarthy on The View will kill children.
NUVO: You mentioned never predicting the future, and I figure that applies to your career, which has always seemed pretty eclectic. Has there been a guiding philosophy behind those choices?
Goldberg: There's no philosophy, whatsoever. I take the work that's offered, and sometimes I've been really lucky, and sometimes it's been really weird. But I do what's there. It's not like I get hit with lots of scripts.
NUVO: What's that about?
Goldberg: I think it's because they have lots of people to choose from, lots of women. They weren't coming to me for Pretty Woman; they had other people to go to. When I see a script that I can maybe do a little something-something in, I do what I can. I have a good time, and I write and produce for myself, make documentaries. I'm always working; I'm never bored.
NUVO: What are you working on now?
Goldberg: I just finished a documentary on Moms Mabley*, the comedienne, that's airing on HBO in November. I'm trying to do a couple more documentaries about other performers of color — and note — that people may not know about. So I'm just trying to find those things that will be fun. I'm getting ready to go do Big Stone Gap*, which was a wonderful book, by a wonderful author. I did stuff for Lifetime. I work a lot!
Moms Mabley: Aka 'The Funniest Woman in the World.' Born in 1894, Mabley made a place for herself in black clubs in the '20s and '30s with her gravely voice and raucous material. White audiences caught on toward the close of her life, and appearances on TV (Ed Sullivan, Smothers Brothers) followed. Goldberg's documentary Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' To Tell You premieres Nov. 18 on HBO.
Big Stone Gap: Goldberg is starring alongside Patrick Wilson and Ashley Judd in a film based on Adriana Trigiani's series of novels about Virginia coal town with its fair share of eccentrics. Shooting began in late October.