A far cry from her habit-wearing, choir-leading days as Sister Mary Clarence in 1992’s Sister Act, Whoopi Goldberg delivered an obscenity-laced, politically-charged comedy routine Friday night in Barton Hall during Cornell’s annual Family Weekend.
“If you thought you were coming to see Sister Act, you were fucking wrong,” Goldberg said.
Dressed in a red Cornell hockey jersey, Goldberg arrived on stage with her band to sing The Doors’ “L.A. Woman.”
“You never expected this, did you?” Goldberg asked the crowd.
This question served as a symbol for Goldberg’s entire performance, in which she shocked audience members with frank talk about bathroom humor, her marijuana use and aging.
Known for her outspoken political views – made infamous by her sexually explicit remarks regarding President Bush’s last name at a John Kerry fundraiser – Goldberg wasted no time before bashing the Bush administration.
Goldberg said the government has made so many mistakes recently that it cannot cover them up anymore.
“Tom DeLay in handcuffs made my week,” she said, referring to the arrest of the former House majority leader. “When they took his mug shot and fingerprints, I thought I’d died and went to heaven.”
Goldberg also attacked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their handling of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in New Orleans.
“The guy who ran FEMA had no experience,” Goldberg said. “I’m nervous when there is a rainstorm where I live that no one is gong to come rescue me. The government can find you if you are delinquent sending checks to your wife, but they can’t figure out how to get money to people?”
Explaining that she was turning 50 soon, Goldberg also discussed aging and her changing body.
“Everything that was high and firm is now on the ground,” she said. “I decided I should go the gym. I should have saved that money for McDonalds.”
But to Goldberg, aging has some benefits.
“[Aging] is not as hard as I thought it would be … I can stay stuff now I would have never said before. I was the proper Whoopi,” she said. “If you are getting older, know that you are going downhill, but it’s a nice and slow ride.”
During the performance, Goldberg criticized American society for its preoccupation with technology.
“I don’t have a computer, because there is too much information out there,” she said. “I want to die not knowing something. Don’t e-mail me; write me a letter. Call me on the telephone, not the cell phone.”
Goldberg said she has recently turned to the Bible to comprehend events around her. “I’m focused on being a good human being and figuring out God” she said. “There are earthquakes, floods – things of biblical proportions – so I’ve started reading the Bible [to understand them].”
Handing out UNICEF Halloween donation boxes after her performance, Goldberg urged the audience to help the less fortunate and particularly the hurricane victims. Goldberg said she recently went to Mississippi to help with the hurricane relief efforts.
Goldberg attracted a diverse audience, from die-hard fans who asked the actress for a hug and a sip of her bottled water to an elementary school-aged aspiring comic looking for career advice.
Members of Ithaca College’s Sister Act Fan Club attended the performance costumed as nuns. The students performed songs from the movie, such as “I will Follow Him,” “My Guy (My God)” and “Hail Holy Queen” outside Barton with hopes of soliciting donations so they could attend the act. Fan Club member Sean Frasier, a senior at Ithaca College, said that the group meets regularly to watch Goldberg’s movies; Eddie is their current favorite.
“I’m a huge fan of Whoopi, but I’ve never seen her do stand-up before,” Frasier said. “I came tonight because I felt like I hadn’t experienced all of Whoopi yet.”
Katie Levine ’08, who attended the performance with her family, said she was shocked to hear Goldberg speak so openly about taboo topics.
“It was a little awkward when Whoopi talked about how our parents smoked marijuana when they were younger,” she said. “Also, I didn’t understand the parts about menopause, although my mom seemed to get the jokes.”
Goldberg rose to national prominence in the 1980s with her role as Celie in The Color Purple (1985). She is the winner of an Oscar for Ghost (1990), in addition to Emmy, Drama Desk, Grammy, Golden Globe, People’s Choice, Nickelodeon and NAACP awards.
Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer