April 08, 2005
The Whoopi talk
Last night was another Unique Lives and Experiences night. We were fortunate to have Whoopi Goldberg to lend her unique view on the world. She spoke to a packed house at the Orpheum, just a little under 3,000 people. Arriving on stage, she made it obvious she was not one to just do what was expected. She ignored the podium totally, and proceeded to walk around the stage instead. Unfortunately, it meant I couldn't get a good view of her but at the same time, I have to say this was one of the best talks yet.

Introduced by the host as the veteran of over 80 films, and many other projects, she laughed as she walked out saying she always feels strange being introduced. 'Hearing me introduced is always weird...I always think - Wow, I'd like to meet that person and then realize it's me.'

She joked that she loved coming to Vancouver, as it's a great place to flee the US when things get too much. A lot of her talk hinged on aging and how life has changed so much over the past two generations. The evolutionary jump where babies arrive into the world with keyboards and a web address! So much has changed, not just physically, mentally but in the world. It's a crazy place out there. She cautioned on how the world today lets us forget connecting to other people and that taking the emotion out of connecting opens a bit of a Pandora's Box. In response to some of the world's problems today, she advised that sometimes we need to look backward sometimes in order to go forward.

It's strange...I had totally expected to see a class clown, a sort of stand up routine with maybe some political content and was pleasantly surprised to find a lady who had a great head on her shoulders and was someone I would love to know.

I found the question and answer section the most informative. The presenter was a newscaster from CTV, but Whoopi thought she had said SCTV. A completely different animal!

Something I didn't know about her was that she doesn't fly. It's been about 10 years now, but after several 'messages' of why she didn't belong in the air, she realized it was time to take the bus. On one occassion, a man actually passed away while seated beside her. Because of in-flight regulations and the fact he could not be declared dead while midair, he was left in his seat as was she. The presenter jokingly asked if they had to draw chalk around them!

In response to how she got her name, she responded "A little flatulence problem!". It was originally Whoopi Cushion (pronounced with a French accent). Goldberg is a family name - religion knows no colour and her family has been Jewish for some generations.

She's a shy person, as most comedians tend to be. Great in front of audience, but not so much one-on-one. Her childhood was molded by attendance at a Catholic school staffed by "penguins", an older brother whom she loves dearly and a Mom who was the most influential person in her life. Her mother taught her from a young age that you can either please a lot of people and be popular, or please yourself and be happy and surrounded by geniune friends. A very strong lesson and one that I strive to follow myself. "I go to bed ok", she smiled.

Upon being asked what she would like to give to her grandchildren, she replied that Granny is flawed, and that they should feel they can come to her with anything and she will always be honest.

On faith, she sees all faith as multi-layered. Her belief in herself on one level. Her belief in God in another. The ability to make changes is within yourself, and to remember that how can someone judge when God does not judge. She reminded us to know what we like, and never let someone tell us what to like. Profound words.

A question was asked of who she would invite to a dinner party of deceased people that had influenced or made an impact on her. It took her a while to come up with it, but what a dinner party it would be. Yul Brynner would be her date. Pamela Harriman (former ambassador to Britain) , King Tut, Shaka Zulu, Abe Lincoln, D.W. Griffith and John Kennedy would be there. She added Martin Luther King would be there, but he would show up late of course.

Something that impressed me is that while she is well known for doing charity work, she refused to name them. It's anonymous, she said. I respect that. In this day of self-promotion, it was refreshing that she didn't use this moment as a platform.

I was very impressed and am more a fan than ever. While I've always enjoyed her comedy, I had never really looked deeper. In fact, I was a little reticent to go last night as I was tired and wasn't in the mood, but left feeling very upbeat. She has had an amazing life so far, and I'm sure will continue to amaze us in the years to come.

The last in the series will be on May 3 and it will be Della Reese speaking. This has been my first experience doing the Unique Lives and Experiences series, but I'm definitely hooked. It's a two-fold experience...not only do I get a peak into some very amazing women's lives, I also get to reconnect with two ex-coworkers. We get together for dinner before the show, and as I don't get to see them every day any more, it's fantastic to chat and catch up. I always drive home in a happy mood. I'll be sad when these are over...and can't wait until next year's series is announced.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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