Over the last 30 years, Whoopi Goldberg has enjoyed one of the most eclectic and successful careers in all of show business. She was nominated for an Oscar in her feature film debut, “The Color Purple” in 1985. Five years later, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Ghost.” Since then, Goldberg has worked steadily on stage, TV, radio and film. She’s currently the moderator of the TV talk show “The View.”
Goldberg is one of only 11 people to achieve the grand slam of show business – the coveted “EGOT” – by winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Her performance tonight at the Durham Performing Arts Center will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. Goldberg recently spoke about her stage show, her abiding love of “Star Trek” and the business of being funny.
Q: What can people expect at the Durham performance – what is the format of the show?
A: It’s me talking for an hour and a half, basically, and having fun. Pretty much about anything that’s in my brain. Getting older. Sex. How odd everything is now. All those very peculiar things.
Q: I know you started in the theater, in New York, but did you ever do actual standup comedy when you were coming up?
A: No, people kept telling me I was doing standup. But I’m a monologist. I tell stories. People were hell-bent on letting me know who I was, and so they labeled me a standup. But I really just tell stories.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a performer?
A: Oh, yeah. That was always in the cards for me.
Q: What was it about acting that appealed to you as opposed to other avenues of performing?
A: Well, you can be anything. You can exist in any time. You can exist on any planet, if you want to. For me, the idea of being anyone from any era is just too good to pass up. And I loved watching films as a kid. I got to see many fine actors on television, so I thought: I’d like to do that.
Q: You’ve recently guest-starred on shows like “Glee” and “30 Rock,” and I remember a while ago you hosted a special on the anniversary of “I Love Lucy.” Do you have any particular TV comedy favorites, past or present?
A: Well, “30 Rock” is great. But I’m really crazy about “The Honeymooners.” Those times, and the kinds of situations that they covered, I just thought they were fascinating. Things like (the dance craze) the Hucklebuck. I mean, those were great performances.
Q: You had a recurring role on “Star Trek: The New Generation” as the alien bartender, Guinan. The story is that you were a hardcore “Star Trek” fan before you were even on that show.
A: Oh, I grew up watching the original “Star Trek” – I’m a sci-fi freak. I noticed that, before “Star Trek,” there were never any black folks – whether it was Japanese sci-fi or English sci-fi or American. We were never there! We were never on any of the planets! And then came “Star Trek” and boom! Not only were we there, we were the prettiest female in the universe.
Q: Lieutenant Uhura! Nichelle Nichols!
A: Uhura was all about gorgeousness. That was one of the first interracial relationships. That made it really special.
Q: I read that Kirk and Uhura had the first ever interracial kiss on American TV.
A: Oh, yeah. And don’t think they didn’t get into deep trouble about it. But here we are, really, in strange times again. We just get though it and then some new bull---- comes up.
Q: Do you want to weigh in on the Spike Lee versus Quentin Tarantino thing with “Django Unchained?”
A: Not that so much. You can like somebody’s work or not like somebody’s work. I’m OK with it. I think what we discovered four years ago, when Barack Obama became president, is that people were freaked out. I think they were more freaked out than they thought they were going to be. For four years, people were just kind of going, “Wow! He’s really the president.”
Q: You’re active in the Give A Damn campaign, which encourages straight people to support LGBT causes. Do you think we’ll see legal same-sex marriage soon, across all of America?
A: I do think we’ll see it. Because here’s the bottom line: Nobody can tell you who to love. Nobody can tell you they have to be white or black or Hispanic. If you fall in love with someone who’s a man or a woman, that’s nobody’s business. My phraseology is always – and I can’t wait to get down there, because I know I’m going to hear from folks – if you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person. Other that that, what does anybody care who gets married to who? What do you care?
Q: Have you performed down here before? When is the last time you were in North Carolina?
You know, I can’t remember. I’ve been trying to figure it out. I can’t remember.
Q: I see that you post pretty regularly on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Do you spend much time on social media?
A: I did for a little while, but I have too much stuff to do. I tried to keep it up, but my actual life won out.
Q: You’ve been making people laugh for a long time. Who are some of the people that make you laugh?
A: Oh, wow. Moms Mabley. Robin Williams. Billy Crystal. Richard Pryor. Those are the guys that make me laugh. I was lucky enough to know Phyllis Diller. Joan Rivers still makes me laugh. I just find that, anyone who had a sense of humor, I’m with ’em.