As much as some might like to complain about cancel culture, the topic sure seems like a boon to comedians. Just look at Roseanne Barr, who has begun promoting her Fox Nation comedy special (aptly titled “Cancel This”) with soundbites griping about her own “cancellation.” The latest object of her frustration? Jimmy Kimmel, who once called for people to treat her with more “compassion.”
In 2018, ABC fired Barr from its Roseanne revival after she posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, who served as Senior Adviser to Barack Obama during his presidency. During an appearance Tuesday on Fox News’ Outnumbered, Barr complained that she did not have ample opportunity back then to clarify that she hadn’t realized that Jarrett was black. (As she put it on her YouTube channelduring the summer of 2018, “I thought the bitch was white!”)
Barr, who apologized to Jarrett before later saying she regretted doing so, initially blamed sleeping pills for her tweet. She’s since also blamed her co-star Sara Gilbert for her dismissal—as well as Michelle Obama.
During her Fox appearance Tuesday, Barr said that ABC “knew that I had made a mistake, and yet they did not allow me to go on any of their other shows and apologize for it.” She emphasized that she should have been allowed on programs hosted by celebrities who’ve had their own “more egregious” controversies. As one example, she cited ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who apologized in 2020 for his use of blackface in past comedy sketches.
“Jimmy Kimmel and his [former] girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, they did blackface, and [ABC] never even said ‘It is wrong that you did that,’” Barr said Tuesday. “And they just let that go.”
In a 2020 interview with The Daily Beast, Kimmel admitted that the photos floating around the internet of himself in character as NBA great Karl Malone—complete with brown face paint—were “embarrassing.” But he also questioned the “intentions” of those who were calling attention to it.
“It was coming from the Donald Trump Jr.’s of the world, people who do a tremendous amount of damage to this country in order to elevate themselves and to make themselves famous and to make money,” Kimmel said at the time “And it just seemed like things were taken out of context and I wanted to put them back into context and move past it.”
Two years before that, Kimmel actually defended Barr when her ABC series first got taken off the air. In May 2018, he tweeted that although Barr’s Jarrett tweet was “indefensible,” “angrily attacking a woman who is obviously not well does no good for anyone.”
“Please take a breath and remember that mental health issues are real,” Kimmel wrote at the time. “The Roseanne I know could probably use some compassion and help right now.”
Beyond complaining about Kimmel during her Fox appearance, Barr also went on to say that some of her friends supported her both privately and publicly—although as she said that, she struggled to remember one of the most famous, her former colleague Judd Apatow. “Now I can’t remember his name, but I gave him his first job and he’s a huge director—not Joss Whedon, but the guy who directed 40-Year-Old Virgin,” she said. “He defended me, too.”
In June 2018, Apatow told Vanity Fair that he felt “very sad” for Barr, whom he believed to be struggling with mental illness and “crying out for help.” Apatow said that he and Barr had discussed her mental health struggles in depth and added, “I think you have a person who’s in a moment of success and maybe that’s uncomfortable for her, and whatever urges she has to be rebellious have overtaken her in some way.” He said that he did not believe she is a “hateful person.”