There’s only one Whoopi Goldberg.
The legendary comic, actor and personality is on a very short list of entertainers who have earned all four major American entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). Peers include Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Legend.
The feat is no wonder when you consider Goldberg’s diverse talents, personality and spirit, a combination that has allowed her to transcend any medium.
And while you might think you know Whoopi after witnessing one of her classic performances (“The Color Purple,” “Ghost” and “Sister Act,” to name a few) or watching her chat up current events on “The View,” it’s not quite the whole picture.
According to Whoopi, the closest you will get to meeting the real her is on tour.
It’s when she can truly lay all of the persona aside and just hang out with the people she loves to entertain.
Her new show, based on experiences of overcoming sickness and dealing with the realities of aging, arrives at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall this weekend.
Here’s what Goldberg had to say about the act.
Hi Whoopi. Can you tell us about the new show that you’re bringing to Sarasota?
It’s me talking about change. The name of the show is “The Resurrection Tour.” Because I was sick, and I feel like I got resurrected. It’s about all of the craziness that went into this hospital stay and learning about stuff that I just never knew anything about. You don’t know until you get ill, but hospitals are crazy places.
That’s a topic that a lot of people can probably relate to.
Oh yeah. You know that you have paid into your insurance forever. Or at least I have, because I’m old. And you think that you’ve paid for 40 years. And then someone tells you, well, you didn’t pay enough for us to let you have this procedure. And it’s like, what? Where’d the money I gave you go? How come it’s not in an envelope tacked to your door? Where’s my money?
A lady came in and she kept saying she was my advocate. And I said, but what are you advocating? Why are you here? I don’t know who you are! It was a whole thing. And people said, well, you just have to take it all with a grain of salt. And I keep thinking, no. That’s a big grain of salt.
So it’s about that, and it’s about not being 25 anymore and the humor that I find in it.
I go to concerts. I still go out and hang and do all kinds of stuff. But sometimes I’ll go to a concert and I’ll look over and I’ll think, damn, they’ve got some old people in this audience. And then I’ll pass something and see a reflection of myself and I go, oh my God, oh my God, I’m one of them. So it’s just all the surprising stuff. You think you’re going to be so different when you get older. But basically I’m still the same person.
It’s a state of mind, so they say.
Yeah, I think so. And I think about all the stuff I thought was going to happen as I got older. I thought we’d have Jetson cars and stuff. I thought weed would be legal everywhere by now.
Just all kinds of crazy stuff. So that’s what it is. It’s just me having a good time on a stage with an audience.
And it doesn’t really have much in the way of politics because I just can’t do it anymore.
Yeah. We tend to be living and breathing politics 24/7. It’s nice to get a break sometimes.
This is a perfect break. Because it just takes it away to something else.
You seem really excited to be on the road performing. What makes that experience special to you?
Well, I’m on the road a lot. I try to stay on the road. Because it’s good for me to just get kind of zen. Because it’s not a TV me, it’s not a TV show me, it’s not a movie me, it’s just me. It’s me talking to you. And just hanging out and having fun.
Do you have a springboard for your live show or do you just improvise?
I do both of those things. I improvise, and I try to hone things that I really enjoy talking about and that I want to take in a different direction. Some stories are stories that have been with me for a while. It depends on my mood.
For example, I was doing a show in New Hampshire. A lady came up to me. And she just hugged me. I’m not the greatest person to just kind of hug. But I thought, OK, I’m just going to be the better person here. But when this lady walked away from me, I smelled like her perfume. It was all over me. And I thought, what? Did no one teach you how to put this on? Isn’t there a book? Isn’t there somebody? And I said, OK, I can talk about that.
So that’s what happens. Things happen along the way and then they become part of the show.
You recently signed on to play the mother of the title character in the new animated musical “Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk.” Any chance that we’ll get a preview in Sarasota?
Probably not; probably not. That’s a good ask, though.
Do you have any other projects in the works at the moment?
I’m making clothing. I make medicinal products for women’s periods out of weed. My fingers are in a lot of things. Because if you don’t marry well you have to keep working.
You’re a pretty big advocate of medical marijuana, correct? It is just being introduced in Florida. What role has it played in your life?
Yes, I am. When I was younger I discovered that there are things out there that could help with cramps and things. But of course it was always illegal. And when California started to talk about legalizing it, I had been way past cramping. But still I have granddaughters who have cramps. So I decided I wanted to try to find a way to create something that might be able to take them away.
You know, marijuana was legal in the world for many, many, many, many moons. It comes out of the ground. People are concerned about young people having access to it. And I try to explain to them, it’s kind of like alcohol. Kids can get to alcohol also, but you do your best to keep it out of their hands. You have to look at medicinal weed in the same way. Take the illegality of it out of the equation and it really does change how people do things and what’s available to them. And I think it’s important.
I know people don’t understand it, and they feel like it’s a gateway drug. But the truth of the matter is that if you have an addictive personality, everything is a gateway drug. So you really want to be competent and be an adult about what you’re doing. And I think most people know how to do that.
I’m glad to see that the change is happening.
What keeps you inspired? We heard that you like your audiobooks.
I love my audiobooks. But I’d say what’s inspiring me right now is people. People sort of looking out for each other in ways that they weren’t four years ago.
There used to be more connectivity between us as human beings. Just face to face, talking. And I kind of like that. So I want to try to stay present and keep talking.
Details: 8 p.m. Saturday. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $67-$117. Info: vanwezel.org.