There’s an old stand-up joke of unknown provenance about the indestructibility of black-box flight recorders, with a punchline about building planes out of black boxes. It’s often repeated onstage by inexperienced comics. Another unfunny joke, disinterred every four years by comedians everywhere, is the satirical presidential-campaign announcement.
In 2012, comedian Roseanne Barr actually ran for the nomination of the Green Party, but it wasn’t a joke at all. There’s never a moment in the documentary Roseanne for President! that Barr’s political convictions don’t seem sincere. She didn’t run as a stunt; she ran because she believes that the two major U.S. political parties are fundamentally corrupt.
The film includes shots of Roseanne puttering around her house in an apron while discussing politics with her boyfriend, Johnny Argent. There’s also a lot of footage of Barr’s campaign manager, Farheen Hakeem, traveling around the country stumping for Barr at Green Party events.
And this is the film’s buried lede: Hakeem busts her ass for the candidate while Barr conducts her entire campaign from her house via Skype. Hakeem stands in for Barr at a debate with primary opponent Jill Stein; she pulls a “Roseanne for President” float behind a bicycle; at one point, she swerves off the road to avoid an accident.
Hakeem is amazing, always energized and totally committed. Stein, meanwhile, traveled the country and campaigned in person, meeting voters and wooing delegates. She’s articulate and polished onstage while Roseanne is disheveled, squinting through her glasses at paper scripts during the events she bothers to attend. Of course, Stein won the nomination. But since she lost the election, the path is clear for an obvious 2020 candidate: Farheen Hakeem for president!
Roseanne for President!
Directed by Eric Weinrib
Opens July 1, IFC Center