Whoopi Goldberg on the Realities of Aging: "I Look a Little Bit Like a Dalí Painting"

If you think almost dying would keep Whoopi Goldberg down, think again.
If you think almost dying would keep Whoopi Goldberg down, think again.
Photo by Timothy White
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Spending almost a month in a New Jersey hospital suffering from double pneumonia and sepsis might put some folks in a bad mood.

But those folks aren’t Whoopi Goldberg.

“It wasn’t fun, but the experience, the more I look back on it, the more I’m chuckling,” says Goldberg, who, after being released about four weeks ago, is still on the mend.

Not one to waste a moment feeling sorry for herself, Goldberg used the experience as fodder for her new standup comedy show, Back From the Dead With a Smile.

“It’s all about the experience of sort of being a grownup and going through a grown-up, crazy time and all the ridiculousness that goes along with it,” she says.

Goldberg will share poignant and hilarious antidotes from her near-death experience as well as ponderings on life at the Seminole Hard Rock Friday, April 26. It's the first of only two exclusive shows scheduled at this time.

Some might find it surprising that Goldberg is doing standup at all. She certainly has a lucrative career as moderator of The View and has racked up countless movie and TV credits.

“Whoever expected to get any of these?” she says of earning enough awards to fill a storage shed.

But she hasn’t won just random accolades. Goldberg has achieved EGOT status, meaning she's one of only 15 people in the world who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony in competitive, individual categories.

“Who ever thought that I, a kid from the projects, would end up as an EGOT person?” she says. “Who even knew that was a word?”

Goldberg won the EGOT in only 17 years, making her the third youngest person ever to do so.

Yet she still does standup, the medium for which she won her first award — a Grammy — in 1985.

“I choose to because it’s fun for me,” she says. “It is me being me, not me being me for a television show or a radio show.”

Goldberg loves the intimacy of performing live, and says she’s been thinking a lot lately about how people are more alike than different.

“About 90 percent of the time, it turns out we’re all going through similar stuff,” she says, “especially if you are a woman of a certain age — which makes me laugh saying that.”

At 63 years old, Goldberg admits she still sees herself as a young person — an image that conflicts with the reality in the mirror.

“I look a little bit like a Dalí painting,” she says. “I feel like everything is just sort of sliding down my body. Where my chest used to be fine where it was, it is now making grooves in the ground. I don’t know what to do!”

The horrors of the physical and psychological aging process form the basis of her new show.

“It’s all the stuff we were and what we are now,” she says. “When other people see me, they see an older me. You know, you’re not the hottest thing in the room anymore and you're like, Whoa! What are you talking about?

But horror is not always a bad thing. In fact, for fun, Goldberg says she likes to escape the day-to-day craziness of the world by kicking the crazy up a notch.

“I like a good horror book,” she says of her minor addiction to Audible. “I like [stories in which] It’s under the bed or The vampires are coming or Why is there now a grassy knoll and why is it coming closer to the house?

Time does not seem to have mellowed her much, but Goldberg admits that being mature has its advantages.

“I enjoy pushing them around, because they’re young people and I can,” she says, laughing, about babysitting her beloved grandchildren.

Whether working, spooking herself with horror stories, or just hanging out with loved ones, Goldberg says she is happy and living the life she chooses every day.

“The truth of the matter is that I do all the stuff that is on my bucket list,” she says. “If I want to go on vacation, I go on vacation. If I want to go to Burning Man, I do. I have the life that I want. I’m really, really lucky.”

Whoopi Goldberg. 8 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; seminolehardrock.com. Tickets cost $50 to $130 via myhrl.com, ticketmaster.com, or 800-745-3000.

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