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To say Sandra Bernhard is on a tear is almost redundant. She’s been on a tear all along. It’s what she does with her ironic, insightful and often acerbic observations on everyday life, sex, parenting, pop culture, wherever her wit takes her. This weekend it takes her to The Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora for one night only, Nov. 15, where she wraps up the North American leg of her Sandyland tour with an assist by her band, The Flawless Zircons.
“I’m an unapologetic liberal and sort of a ballsy salon broad, and that’s kind of always who I am and who I’ve always been, but you keep evolving as a person and it becomes multilayered,” Bernhard tells The Hollywood Reporter. “You always reflect where you are at in the moment, and you keep, hopefully, shedding your skin and growing. As you are in life, so you are in your art.”
As she is currently, Bernhard lives in New York with her partner, publicist Sara Switzer, and their 16-year-old daughter, the parenting of whom forms the basis for a portion of the show. Other segments include a bit about a childhood memory when Bernhard sent five dollars to Jackie Onassis as a donation for the John F. Kennedy Library, hoping fervently for a thank you letter in return. “I curate my material the same way for every show: funny things that I’ve said that I jot down, crazy experiences I’ve had along the way, things that make me laugh that I think will translate into making the audience laugh,” she said.
In the late ’70s, Bernhard became a fixture at The Comedy Store, where she was discovered by mentor Paul Mooney who, as head writer of The Richard Pryor Show, which ran for four episodes in 1977, gave her her first break. She peaked over the following decade, co-starring in Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy The King of Comedy opposite Jerry Lewis, whom she describes as “difficult” and “brilliant.” In the ’80s she was rumored to be more than friends with Madonna until she wasn’t, (“We were friends 24 years ago and time moves on,” she says. “I have no problem with her.”) Openly bisexual, she made TV history starring as primetime’s first openly gay character, Nancy Bartlett, on Roseanne from 1991 to 1996, and is returning to TV in Brooklyn Nine-Nine on a part-time basis as Gina’s (Chelsea Peretti) eccentric mother, Darlene Linetti. “We’ll be scattered throughout the season, I assume, if they get a good response and people seem to like me,” she guesses. “And Andy Samberg seems to like me.”
In the meantime she’s putting together all-new material for her Christmas show at Joe’s Pub in New York, and then she hits the road again in March for four dates in Australia.
“My line is ’50 is the new 80,’ ” jokes the 58-year-old comedian about the stress of touring. “It’s something that I’ll do throughout my life. I love performing, love entertaining. It’s not all social commentary. It’s crazy and funny and off the beaten track and kind of what I like to do.”
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